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Is BJP Trying To Push TMC To Divide West Bengal On Ethnic Lines?

On February 20 this year, the West Bengal State Assembly passed the resolution against the attempts to divide Bengal by voice vote. This move clearly indicates that the ruling Trinamool Congress government has found itself trapped in the mire of separate statehood demands by the Tribals of North Bengal and citizenship status for the Hindu refugees of South Bengal. At a time when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is countering BJP’s move of implementing Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Bengal, she is also hounded by the demands of separate statehoods out of North Bengal such as Greater Cooch Behar for Rajbanshis and Gorkhaland for the Gorkhas. While, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung constituted Bharatiya Gorkhaland Sangharsha Samiti committee to lead their demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, Rajbanshis leader Ananta Maharaj, head of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association, has also demanded a separate state of Cooch Behar. Interestingly, Matuas, lower caste Hindu refugees living in districts of North and South 24 Parganas and Nadia are hopeful about their citizenship through the implementation of CAA. Moreover, State BJP leadership had assured the Matua community that the Centre is committed to implementing the CAA and also luring the Rajbanshis and Koch, with the assurance of converting North Bengal into a Union Territory.

Mystery Solved: NCP Formed Government With BJP In 2019 To End President’s Rule, Admits Pawar

NCP president Sharad Pawar’s suggestive response to a query about the swearing-in of an alliance of BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and his nephew Ajit Pawar in the morning of 23 November 2019 is indirectly endorsed by former Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The mystery is becoming murkier as Ajit’s resolve to maintain silence over the sensational development is disregarded by Pawar. “Where is the need for Ajit to speak? Would the President’s Rule have been lifted if there were no swearing-in?” Pawar said obliquely on Wednesday (Feb 22) in Pune. Fadnavis had revealed a few days ago that the two-party government was formed with Pawar’s blessings and knowledge. Last month, NCP leader Jayant Patil, too, had remarked that the alliance was formed so that President’s Rule could end in Maharashtra. Patil had hurriedly retracted the statement but Fadnavis had reiterated it a few days ago, reopening the debate. In spite of the provocation, Ajit has been declining to discuss ‘a long past’ incident. However, his uncle has decided to give credence to whispers that all this planning was hatched for making Uddhav Thackeray the chief minister by showing that an elected government could be formed in Maharashtra. Koshyari said in an interview in Dehradun while backing this supposition, “Leaders of both parties came to me, showed me signatures of the supporting MLAs. I administered the oath to both.”  

Tamil Cinema Top Star Dhanush Makes A Status Statement

The startling bouffant hairstyle, bushy beard and the unmistakable blaring blue Kurta, are enough to make several statements. But Kollywood top star Dhanush is unabashed even as he shows off his huge mansion at Poes Garden, a stone’s throw away from father-in-law Superstar Rajinikanth’s opulent residence. The gruhapravesam was minus his estranged wife, Aishwarya, who had joined hands for the Bhoomi Pooja of this rumoured Rs 150 crore residence. Dhanush had his parents and close family on display on this auspicious day. Memories also dredge up the wedding scene on November 18, 2004 with Thalaiva busy introducing Dhanush to his guests at his residence, the ceremony venue, attended by late JJ and a host of cinema luminaries. Dhanush has come a long way. To his credit one must acknowledge his cinematic success and how he has shaped his career as a bankable star. The crossover from masala movies, his last outings, Thiruchittrambalam, Karnan and Asuran have all made his mark as an actor, spontaneous and serious. His latest release Vathi (Teacher) on February 17 is doing well at box office, collecting Rs 21 crore in the first three days. Brother Selvaraghavan, a top director, released his Bhagasuran on the same day in which he is in the lead. But, it grossed just Rs 3 crore. Sibling rivalry is not the point here…just that Dhanush has arrived in more ways than one, despite his average looks.

Modi Gives Jaishankar Carte Blanche To Counter Soros Narrative

In an apparent move to effectively counter the narrative of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros and his ilk, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be getting his ministers to do all the talking. Doing all the heavy lifting was foreign minister S Jaishankar who was speaking on a range of issues — from army deployment in the LAC to land occupied by China since October 1962; he was exposing the Congress in a detailed interview to ANI. He was the second minister after Union Minister Smriti Irani to be deployed after Soros attacked Modi. Jaishankar who was Foreign Secretary between January 2015 and January 2018 and had joined Tata Sons post retirement revealed how he was surprised when PM Modi called him in 2019 to be part of his government. He said his father K Subrahmanyam, who passed away in 2011, was one of India’s most prominent national security strategists.” He became, at that time, probably the youngest Secretary in the Janata government in 1979. In 1980, he was Secretary, Defence Production. In 1980 when Indira Gandhi was re-elected, he was the first Secretary that she removed. And he was the most knowledgeable person everybody would say on defence.” Jaishankar said his father was also a very upright person, “Maybe that caused the problem, I don’t know”. And after that, he never became a Secretary again. He was superseded during the Rajiv Gandhi period for somebody junior to him who became a cabinet secretary. It was something he felt…we rarely spoke about it. So he was very, very proud when my elder brother became secretary.”
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Sanjay Raut Says CM’s Son Has Given ‘Supari’ To Attack Him

Uddhav faction Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has stunned the political circles in Maharashtra by alleging that notorious gangster Raja Thakur has been given a contract (Supari) to attack him by chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant, also MP. In a letter written to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, Raut said that Thakur is an ill-famed goon from Thane. While Shinde’s career began from Thane, Shrikant was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kalyan in Thane district. Thakur is a history sheeter from Thane, presently out on bail. Raut’s grave charge has come a couple of days after former chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan has complained to the police that he has been followed by certain elements and expressed apprehensions about his own safety. Raut says in his letter, released to the media, that incidence of threatening elected representatives and attacking them has been on the increase though it is not Maharashtra’s culture. A copy of the complaint is sent to Thane’s commissioner of police as well. Raut’s complaint needs serious attention, according to his party leader Aaditya Thackeray. However, it has been trashed by senior minister Shambhuraj Desai, who said, “Raut levels false allegations without producing any evidence. This is a design to defame Shrikant Shinde.”
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Preoccupation With Adani Issue Robs Cong Session Of Any Focus, Agenda

For all the hype about celebrating Bharat Jodo Yatra somehow there is no enthusiasm for the upcoming 85th AICC plenary session at Raipur among Congress leaders. No, it has nothing to do with the ED raids on Chhattisgarh Congress leaders. It is because party leaders feel the Congress is not able to set a strong political narrative and is forever getting bogged down in responding to the agenda set by PM Narendra Modi. Party sources feel there are so many issues affecting the common man but the Congress got trapped into focussing on just one issue – the Adani Group. It was perhaps just as Modi wanted.  “We have wasted an entire Parliament session on Adani. Our AICC session will also be lost in the haze of the Hindenburg report. It is possible that there will be no substantial message from the plenary for the cadres,” observed a Congress leader from South. Besides, there is no clarity if elections would be held for 50% of positions in the Congress Working Committee – that is for 12 positions in the policy making body. “It will all depend on what is decided at the steering committee meeting on February 24,”says a party leader. Predominance of the Adani issue has also hit the drafting of AICC resolutions. That is, subjects committees for various resolutions did not even meet once to finalise resolutions.

Stalin’s March 1 Birthday To Bring Opposition Leaders Together

As Stalin’s birthday falls on March 1 his ambition to play a bigger national role might be further fueled. Already, efforts are on to make the occasion grand with leaders of the Congress including its President Malikarjun Kharge and others likely to attend. Bringing all the Opposition together against the BJP is an ambition that Stalin has nursed for long, especially more so since 2019 when he backed Rahul Gandhi to be the face of the Congress and the united opposition’s prime ministerial candidate. However, Stalin is not for other efforts like those of the Telangana CM KCR’s idea of another front without the Congress and Mamata’s TMC in it. More of a traditional politician who has stood by old friends, Stalin is inclined to back the national party as the main binding force for gathering opposition to the ruling BJP. Towards this, he has also asked his DMK party to spare no effort to make victory in the Erode East bypoll a resounding win with a big margin so as to send out a message. Having allotted the seat as per convention to the party that had lost its MLA to death and to the father of the deceased in a poignant gesture, Stalin has put 12 ministers on the job, including his son Udhayanidhi to make victory big enough to matter.

ED Raids In Chhattisgarh Ahead Of AICC Meet Worry Congress Party

Clearly upset by ED raids on its leaders in Chhattisgarh in connection with the mining and coal levy scam ahead of AICC plenary that is going to be held between February 25-26 in Raipur, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said “The raid on our Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh by the Modi government by misusing the ED shows the cowardice of the BJP before the Congress convention in Raipur”. The Chhattisgarh government has been a great source of financial back-up for the party. Kharge felt the raids were being carried out because of the success of Bharat Jodo Yatra. “We will firmly face this attempt to crush democracy”. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed the ED raids were the result of his posing three questions every day for 14 consecutive days. “We have asked questions of the PM directly on how he has helped Gautam Adani perpetrate this giant fraud. The raids happened at 5 am on PM Modi’s instructions. This is clearly the politics of vendetta, politics of harassment and this is supposed to be a curtain raiser for the 85th Plenary of the Indian National Congress.” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed the charges and said “Any agency first collects data and only then action is taken. No action is executed with a sense of revenge.” She also said that Congress should learn to listen while sitting in the Parliament.
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Testing Tuesday For Eknath Shinde And Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray are bracing to face Tuesday for a number of reasons, the most important being a Supreme Court view on the status of the ‘Shiv Sena’ MLAs and MLCs. Owing to the Election Commission decision to declare the Shinde faction as the official Shiv Sena party, several thorny issues are likely to erupt. As the SC is scheduled to take up various matters relating to the developments in Maharashtra on Tuesday, Uddhav has announced that he will not abide by the EC’s verdict as his side has challenged it and is awaiting the Apex Court’s fiat. On the other hand, Shiv Sena party has made it clear that the whips issued by it will be binding on everyone elected on the Sena symbol of bow and arrow. As this could apply to himself and his faction, Uddhav will be in a quandary if any SC judgment proves inconvenient for his side. At the same time, Shinde supporters are now looking forward to a meeting of the Shiv Sena national executive, to be held on Tuesday (Feb 21) after they possessed the Sena office in the Maharashtra legislature complex on Monday (Feb 20). The executive will meet tomorrow at Hotel Taj President in south Mumbai. The future course of action will be charted out at this conclave. 
Sena Bhavan 1jpg

Sena Bhavan Will Remain With Uddhav, Next Battleground

The Election Commission’s decision to allot the name and symbol of the Shiv Sena to the faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde will not affect the ownership of ‘Shiv Sena Bhavan,’ the headquarters of the party for decades. The imposing edifice at Dadar in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park locality is associated with the memory of Balasaheb Thackeray. Legally, the structure is owned by a trust and hence is not likely to be covered under the EC verdict. Sena (U) leaders have maintained that all the Shakhas (units) of their party will continue to occupy the offices from which they have been operating for a long time. The issue of Shiv Sena Bhavan’s ownership was a topic for discussion for a while after the Shinde faction formed government in the state. However, it went into oblivion as the CM’s followers announced that they would be finding a separate office for their entity, but in the same vicinity. The search for a suitable office space is now expected to resume. The issue was raised again after the EC’s Friday (Feb 17) decision but the Sena (U) has firmly ruled out any change in the status of Shiv Sena Bhavan, saying it is part of the emotional life of every party worker. Uddhav Thackeray has already made it clear that he will continue to fight. His battle will be conducted from the Sena Bhavan.
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Is Midterm Election A Possibility In Maharashtra?

The Election Commission’s decision about the change of guard in Maharashtra is interpreted as a signal for a midterm election, considering the possibility of the Supreme Court ruling against the Shinde-Fadnavis alliance government. As the EC’s verdict is in favour of the Shinde faction, which has now the Shiv Sena name and symbol, leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – comprising the Sena (U), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – are assessing the likelihood of the dissolution of the assembly by the government to force a snap poll. If this happens, the Shinde faction and the BJP will be better equipped to fight the election, according to thinking in MVA circles. Though the alliance is in a celebratory mood, its leaders have concentrated all their efforts on the two assembly byelections in Pune since any MVA win at this juncture can result in loss of face for the BJP, the dominant partner of the alliance. Interestingly, NCP president Sharad Pawar has already advised Uddhav that there would be no point in criticizing the EC’s decision since it is a constitutional body. “Instead, choose a new symbol and go ahead,” said Pawar. In this age of information technology, it will be easy to transmit the new symbol all over the state, he pointed out. Citing the splits in the Congress and other parties, he recalled how the new symbols were accepted by the electorate.
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George Soros Sparks A Big Fight, Over His Push For Regime Change In India

As long as George Soros remained behind the scenes and quietly backed the Congress or endorsed Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra nobody could complain. However for some inexplicable reason the 92-year old Hungarian-American billionaire investor known for political activism chose to issue a statement attacking Indian democracy and speak against PM Modi using the Adani issue. It clearly showed his deep involvement in the country’s politics. Known for pushing regime changes across the world, Soros claimed Adani’s woes “will spur democratic revival in India.” This sparked a war of words between the BJP and Congress. Even as one Congress leader Praveen Chakravarty shared Soros statement reported by the Financial Times where he said “Modi may dodge answering questions about Adani in Parliament and in India but he cannot escape from foreign investors”. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh was quick to distance the party from Soros “Our Nehruvian legacy ensures people like Soros cannot determine our electoral outcomes”. In a quick rebuttal to Soros, Union Minister Smriti Irani said “George Soros not only attacked PM Modi but also the Indian democratic system. Soros wants some “hand-picked” people to run the government here “pliable to his needs for making his nefarious plans successful”. She made it clear that the government would be watching with interest the kind of money — one billion dollars that Soros’s Open Society Foundations — would spend to achieve its goals.
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Sanjay Raut Alleges Plot To Liquidate Him, Fadnavis Dismisses Charge

Shiv Sena (U) MP Sanjay Raut’s allegation that there was a sinister design to liquidate him in jail custody has been ridiculed by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “Raut says something in the morning but does not remember it the same evening,” Fadnavis remarked. Raut had made the allegation while he was interacting with the media after calling on family members of Ratnagiri-based journalist Shashikant Warishe, killed last week under the wheels of a speeding vehicle. Warishe had been articulating the grievances of would-be project affected persons, who were protesting against the proposed oil refinery in the area. Following allegations that the journalist was killed by a member of the pro-refinery lobby, Fadnavis announced the establishment of a seven-member SIT to probe the incident. Raut said, “I am doubtful if the investigation by the SIT will be carried out honestly.” He reiterated that Warishe was killed and that it was not a death in a road accident. All three CCTVs where Warishe died were not functioning at the same time while footage from other CCTVs was not becoming available; the eight workers at the petrol pump nearby had been pressured not to give a statement, Raut said. The MP warned that the plot to eliminate him was known to many and he would throw more light on it at a proper time.
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Thundering Silence From DMK Govt On Murder Of Soldier Shocks The Nation

There has been a thundering silence on the part of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu about the murder of a soldier who was beaten brutally to death by a DMK Councillor and his goons in the western part of the State. The Chief Minister MK Stalin, who announces solatium for any kind of deaths, including in road mishaps and drownings, has also kept silent though he was visiting the very parts where the gruesome event took place. Had it been a case of lynching of a suspected cattle smuggler in the cow belt in India, the left and liberal media would have gone to town on how lawless the country has become. But here were two brothers who are both jawans in the Indian Army who were outnumbered and clobbered by goons, including by the sword carrying local leader of DMK. It might have been a petty quarrel over drinking water being used for washing clothes by the wife of the soldier in the village, but exploded into a gang fight thanks to a power-crazed local chieftain. However, not even the Defence Minister of the land or the Home Minister tried to get to the bottom of the event. The local government is hiding conveniently behind the cliched “Law will take its course” as the perpetrators had obviously to be arrested by the local police.
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Erode Bypoll: Circus Or Comedy Show?

The Erode bypoll campaigning seems to have all the ingredients of a comedy show. The two main contenders DMK supported Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan and BJP backed AIADMK candidate Thenarusu have almost become cameos in a blockbuster show. There are 77 candidates in the fray. Imagine the plight of the Election Commission (EC) in allotting voting symbols for this ensemble cast! The EC with much creativity taking a leaf from Montessori learning has allotted Pineapple, Scissors, Bindi, Pillow, Ludo, Cycle, Pressure Cooker, Jackfruit, Watermelon, Bangles , even Chillies and many more in a comedy of errors . Reportedly, the DMK is rumoured to have pumped in Rs 150 crore, and some of its high profile ministers have been given the whip to camp there, do whatever it takes to win. A few DMK stalwarts are trying out their culinary skills…making parathas and potato bondas as starters while free TASMAC liquor flows, even as hordes of voters are sequestered in hastily rented marriage halls to keep them out of the clutch of other “influencers“. Stalin’s son-in-law Sabareesan is camping in the battle ground. A DMK councillor stole the show by parading on a Camel during campaigning. With so much underhand activity, the EC has sealed 16 election offices in a bid to curb anti-constitutional moves. Ten such centres are DMK’s.
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K Annamalai and Sasikanth Senthil

As Elections Get Tricky, Both BJP, Cong Rely On Ex -Officers Who Had Once Served Karnataka To Face Polls

It is interesting to see the way both BJP and the Congress have come to rely on two former bureaucrats who had once served Karnataka to fine-tune their battles for upcoming assembly elections. While the BJP decided to send Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai to oversee the elections — the 2011 IPS officer who belonged to Karnataka cadre and will now be assisting Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Mansukh Mandaviya. Annamalai has the advantage of knowing and speaking Kannada. The Congress has for some time now appointed a Karnataka cadre IAS officer Sasikanth Senthil who quit service in 2019 to head its Karnataka PCC war room. Like Annamalai, Senthil also belongs to Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, PM Modi-Amit Shah zeroed in on a combative Annamalai as they were impressed with the way he brought the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP into the reckoning in a short time. In fact, Modi ensured that Annamalai was given larger responsibilities as the Tamil leader was twice sent on a visit to Sri Lanka. Annamalai visited the island nation early February this year and also in May 2022. In February, Annamalai mainly went to inaugurate the Jaffna Cultural Centre, which was built with a grant from India. The Jaffna Centre is described as a magnificent example of India-Sri Lanka development partnership. India was keen to see that benefits of the Jaffna Centre were reaching Tamils in the island nation.
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Pune Byelections: Will Amit Shah’s Visit Tilt The Scale In BJP’s Favour?

The two Pune assembly byelections to be held at the end of February will prove decisive in many ways as they will test the respective clouts of the two warring sides. While the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is still grappling to quell the rebellion which is causing concern to its candidate, the BJP is feeling buoyant since its veteran Girish Bapat, called Kasba’s Tiger, has declared his resolve to participate in campaigning. Pimpri-Chinchwad MVA nominee Nana Kate has been handpicked by NCP leader Ajit Pawar. This decision has been challenged by one of his supporters, Rahul Kalate, who has filed nomination as an independent. Kate’s fight is becoming difficult since Kalate had polled substantial votes in 2019 as NCP’s candidate. Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar has declared the support of Vanchit Aghadi to Kalate, saying that he had sought it. Ambedkar had only recently announced his electoral pact with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, a major MVA partner. The seat was held by BJP’s Laxman Jagtap, whose demise has caused the byelection. In Kasba Peth constituency in Pune, the reigning BJP had some anxious moments as Bapat had pleaded inability to campaign due to indisposition. However, Union home minister Amit Shah’s Pune visit scheduled over the weekend has changed the scenario, with the BJP heaving a sigh of relief.


New Anti-Copying Directives In Maharashtra Face Parents Ire

The new anti-copying campaign being pushed strongly by the Maharashtra government for the forthcoming 2023 Class X and Class XII board examinations, has met with much criticism especially from the parents, who took it up with Raj Thackeray, demanding his intervention. The state government has withdrawn the existing provision of distributing question papers 10 minutes before exams and has ordered closure of photocopy shops located within 100 metres of exam centers, believed to be hubs of distributing question papers. Schools have also been asked to emphasize to parents about criminal action that could be taken if students are found indulging in exam malpractices. The board also reminded that indulging in exam malpractices will mean barring them for five subsequent exams. While the Class XII board exams begin on February 21, the Class X exams begin on March 2 in Maharashtra. This sudden focus on anti-copying measures has met with much criticism from parents, who say that the board should be more considerate towards students who are just recovering from academic disturbances for the past two years caused by Covid. “At a time when students are struggling with lack of writing practice and trying to cope up with their concepts after loss of academic learnings due to Covid, it is unfair to launch such campaigns at this juncture,” says Anubha Sahay, of the Indiawide Parents Association.
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Is PM Modi's Foray Into Dausa Giving Anxious Moments To Sachin Pilot?

Sachin Pilot did not seem his usual spirited self at the kisan lunch that he hosted in Delhi. It was held soon after the launch of a part of Delhi-Mumbai Expressway in his home turf Dausa by PM Narendra Modi. What particularly bothered the young leader was that Modi had addressed a rally soon after inaugurating the expressway. Was he worried by PM Modi dedicating to the nation, the 246 km Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway? Modi had also laid the foundation stone for 247 km of National Highway projects to be developed at a cost of more than Rs 5940 crore. When asked if PM Modi’s forays into Dausa bothered him, the young Congress leader underplayed it. He said that Dausa was his pocket borough; that he could win elections there even if he were to be sitting in Delhi. But then neither the BJP nor Modi are taking the year-end elections in Rajasthan lightly. “For the last nine years, the Central government is continuously making huge investments in infrastructure”, Modi remarked as he noted Investments worth more than Rs 50,000 crore for the construction of highways in Rajasthan. Congress leaders concede that the Modi government has been doing remarkably well in infrastructure. “The Modi government is apparently the best in terms of delivery on infrastructure in the last 30 years. That is how governments like the one in UAE have found, “notes a party veteran.
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Better Late Than Never: Uddhav’s Outreach To Non-Marathi Communities To Create New Voter Base

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray is on a spree to meet prominent leaders of various communities in a bid to spread the party’s outreach beyond just the Marathi-speaking population. He has been using the visits to castigate the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over different thorny issues. Last week, Modi had inaugurated the new academy of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Aljamea tus Saifiyah Arabic Academy, in Marol in Mumbai’s Andheri area. The event is viewed as part of the BJP’s plan to liaise with sub-sections of minority communities. Uddhav too visited the newly inaugurated campus. He was accompanied by his son and MLA Aaditya, a former minister under him. The Thackerays met the head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. A week ago, Uddhav had attended the Anjan Shalaka Pratishta Ritual of the highly revered 13th Tirthankar (Jin), Vimalnath Bhagwan. The ceremony was held at the Jain Temple near Walchand Heights in Bhayandar West, a BJP stronghold on February 9. He was also blessed by Jain muni Acharya Yashovarma Surishwarji Maharaj. The third such initiative was Uddhav’s presence in Goregaon where he interacted with North Indians at a rally. He roundly attacked the BJP, Modi and former governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. “Uddhav is conveying the message that the Shiv Sena under his leadership is changing,” according to one of his close supporters.
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I-T Officials "Survey" BBC For Tax Evasion, Cong Defends It Even As BJP Slams Broadcaster As "Most Corrupt"

As I-T officials searched the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai, a huge political slugfest broke out between the Congress and the BJP for “targeting” UK’s public broadcaster. While the BJP charged that the BBC was “most corrupt organisation”, diverting profits, the Congress maintained that the BBC was being targeted because of its recent documentary on Gujarat riots. Tax official sources however clarified that the authorities had conducted a “survey” on the broadcaster’s premises in India, in view of the BBC’s deliberate non-compliance with the Transfer Pricing Rules and its vast diversion of profits. As a result, several notices have been issued to the BBC. However, the BBC has been continuously defiant and non-compliant. Tax officials said this was a survey, not a search or raid, and that the phones of BBC staff would be returned. BJP leader Gautam Bhatia said “If any company or organisation is working in India, they have to comply with the Indian law. Why are you scared if you are adhering to the law? The I-T department should be allowed to do their work. BBC is the most corrupt organisation in the world. BBC propaganda matches with Congress agenda.” Coming to BBC’s defence, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said at a time when his party was demanding a JPC probe into the Adani issue, the government was going after the BBC.
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Accusations, Counter-Accusations Fly Thick And Fast Between Pawar And Fadnavis

The bout of accusations and counter-accusation between the BJP and the NCP over the formation of government in Maharashtra by Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar soon after the 2019 assembly elections has now enveloped NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Though he has washed his hands off the whole affair, the BJP has challenged Pawar to come clean. “Ajit had come to your residence that morning to tell you about taking the oath with Fadnavis. You wanted it done in the interests of a stable government,” a BJP tweet said. The intriguing episode has been reopened by Fadnavis, whose second term as CM lasted just for 80 hours. “Sharad Pawar himself had blessed our coalition,” Fadnavis had revealed to a news channel. “If needed, I shall complete the story at a proper time,” he had indicated. Immediately thereafter, Sharad Pawar expressed displeasure over the ‘disclosures’ by Fadnavis. “I was holding Fadnavis to be a gentleman,” he said in anger but refused to say anything further. Detractors of Pawar point out that even after so much has happened, he continues to refuse to endorse Ajit as the next Maharashtra CM. Of late, Ajit has been attacking the BJP in more and more fierce language. This change in the otherwise cautious leader has been noticed and being discussed in hushed tones in the state.
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Congress Fears Rise Of Justice Nazeer As Andhra Governor May Hit Its Vote-Bank In Karnataka

The manner in which Opposition parties reacted so negatively to appointment of retired Supreme Court Judge S Abdul Nazeer as Andhra Pradesh Governor was best summed up by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.”The whole eco-system is once again in full swing on the appointment of a Governor. They should better understand that, they can no more treat India as their personal fiefdom.” The Congress was in the forefront of crying foul. It was understandable. It is not because of what it officially stated as reasons for opposing Justice Nazeer’s appointment — that is, it was opposing it on principle as it had come soon after his retirement on January 4 and hence was “a great diminution and a great threat” to the independence of the judiciary”. To justify its opposition it cited Arun Jaitley’s remarks in September 2013 when he said that the desire for “a post-retirement job influences pre-retirement judgments and that it was a threat to the independence of the judiciary”. Justice Nazeer was part of the bench that had delivered landmark verdicts on Ayodhya, Triple Talaq and Right to Privacy. The Congress was basically worried about Justice Nazeer’s Karnataka connection. He hails from coastal Karnataka and in a polarised state, his elevation is bound to have political impact during state assembly elections. Significantly, in his farewell address as SC judge Justice Nazeer had quoted a sanskrit shloka that resonated most with him “Dharme sarvam pratishthitam tasmaad dharmam paramam vadanti. It means everything in this world is founded on ‘dharma’, hence, it is the ultimate supreme.”

LTTE Prabhakaran Is Alive, Crazy Claim By Pazha Nedumaran

Of all the crazy things heard in recent times this one must take the cake. Former Congressman and Indira Gandhi’s aide Pazha Nedumaran claimed that the long-dead Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is alive, safe and in good health. He also claimed the LTTE chief would soon make a public appearance. This flies in the face of the internationally revealed event when Prabhkaran was captured in Sri Lanka. Reliable sources in Sri Lanka averred then that far from being treated as a prisoner of a civil war, Prabhakaran was treated as a terrorist who had to be shot. The then Sri Lankan army chief, after briefing the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the capture of the most wanted terrorist, flew down to the scene of Prabhkaran’s capture and is said to have personally pulled the trigger on him. His body was then dragged to a pond and shown to the world as having been killed in the battle against the LTTE. Not only was Prabhakaran eliminated thus, but also his minor son who was also disposed of as Colombo was said to have conveyed to the Army General that no DNA of the man who waged a decades-long war against Sri Lanka should survive. The story of Prabhkaran’s capture and shooting has been documented by those in the thick of events at the end of the civil war in 2009.

Twist Pe Twist: Anil Deshmukh Jailed For Not Joining BJP, Alleges Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress party president Sharad Pawar has alleged that his party leader Anil Deshmukh had been sent an offer to join the BJP to avert jail custody. Pawar said at a public meeting in Wardha that 130 raids were conducted on people close to Deshmukh. “This was unprecedented in the country. Rejecting the BJP’s offer, Deshmukh had said that he would rather spend life in jail than deserting his party. Deshmukh was lodged in custody for repudiating the offer,” Pawar alleged. Corroborating Pawar’s charge, Deshmukh said had he accepted any such offer, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would have collapsed much earlier. In another allegation, Deshmukh said the much-discussed ‘No.1’ supposed to receive Rs.100 crore per month from dance bar owners in Mumbai was not himself but was then Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Ridiculing Deshmukh’s claims about the so-called offer, senior Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan said Deshmukh himself had approached the BJP twice before the 2019 election to join. “If he is confident that rejecting this offer was the reason for his internment, he is now free to prove his innocence before court.” Deshmukh was released from jail custody in late December after spending 13 months behind bars. He reached his hometown Nagpur after a gap of 21 months last week. He was given a victor’s welcome by NCP supporters.

In Footsteps Of Najma Heptullah: Anusuiya Uikey's Career Trajectory

It is interesting that Anusuiya Uikey will exit as Chhattisgarh governor to replace La Ganesan as Manipur governor. Ganesan will assume the post of Nagaland governor. In being appointed as Manipur Governor, Uikey follows in the footsteps of Najma Heptullah, who presided over the Raj Bhavan till August 2021. Like Najma, she too joined the BJP after quitting the Congress. In fact, Congress sources say Uikey chose to quit the party following her differences with senior leader Kamal Nath. At the time of President’s elections last year there was strong speculation particularly among Congress leaders that PM Modi would pick Uikey as she belonged to the Scheduled Tribe community. Since her appointment as Chhattisgarh Governor in 2020, Uikey had several run-ins with the Bhupesh Baghel government in Chhattisgarh. She rejected the state government’s proposal to convene a special session of the assembly to introduce a Bill to circumvent the now repealed farm laws and another Bill to increase reservation for SCs and STs.  As for the appointment of Ramesh Bais as Maharashtra Governor, BJP sources say it is a reward for an OBC leader who has considerable influence in Raipur, Chattisgarh, which goes to polls at the end of this year. With the latest appointments, Modi has strengthened state BJP chief K Annamalai’s hands and according gubernatorial positions to three party veterans — La Ganesan (shifted from Manipur to Nagaland), C P Radhakrishnan (Jharkhand) and Tamilisai Soundarajan (Telangana).
Collage Maker-11-Feb-2023-12

Sharad Pawar Evasive About Ajit As Next Maharashtra CM, Speculation Revives About His Plans

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar’s equation with his nephew and opposition leader Ajit has always remained a subject of intense curiosity.  Pawar’s evasive response to a party MLA’s call to make Ajit Maharashtra’s next chief minister has now led to a spirited revival of earlier conjectures about his plans for the future. NCP MLA Nilesh Lanke, considered a close confidant of the NCP boss, had made the appeal in a Pune public meeting in presence of Ajit.  There is a firm perception that Lanke is being groomed by the party to contest the next Lok Sabha election from Ahmednagar district, a stronghold of the NCP. He is always found in the entourage of Pawar. The MLA had said, “We must make Ajitdada the next chief minister. Under his leadership, Maharashtra will record 25 years’ progress within five years.” When Sharad Pawar was quizzed about Lanke’s resolve at Nashik, he cryptically said, “Everyone is entitled to whatever he wishes. But you need to have numerical strength. Had the NCP been the largest party in the state, we could have taken decisions by consulting our party colleagues. However, as we lack that position today, I feel it would not be proper to comment on this.”  It is recalled that Ajit had taken oath as deputy chief minister with Devendra Fadnavis as CM in 2019. The coalition had survived for barely 72 hours.

Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Annamalai’s Tech-Backed Collection Drive Impresses Rivals

Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai seems to have impressed the high command with his accomplishments within the state. Result: the ruling party DMK is indeed uncomfortable with him. Impressed by his performance the party recently appointed Annamalai poll-in-charge of Karnataka. Meanwhile he is getting ready to start his padayatra to galvanise people around BJP in the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha elections. To partially fund the padayatra the state BJP is on a big collection drive. The target is Rs 100 crore by February 15 and party functionaries have been given targets of Rs 1 crore, Rs 50 lakhs, Rs 25 lakhs and Rs10 lakhs. Post that Annamalai will set out on his padayatra across TN. It is learnt, that the apparatchiks are on overdrive, meeting traders, businessmen, angel investors, corporates and the public, turning Valentine’s Day to Love for the BJP day — open your hearts and wallets generously. Even as rumblings about the election bonds of the party and other strong arm methods to mop up money are cited by the griping opposition, what hits them hard is the chutzpah of Annamalai in devising tech backed systems to give receipts for funds collected. The fund drive even has QR code for digital transfers.  Clearly, everything above is aboard and transparent.
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Congress Meeting In Mumbai Without Patole, To Mollify Balasaheb Thorat

All India Congress Committee’s Maharashtra in-charge H K Patil is scheduled to visit Mumbai on Sunday (Feb 12) in a bid to end the feud kicked up by the angry missive of legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat to complain against state congress president Nana Patole. The meeting of top leadership will be marked by the absence of Patole, who is at the centre of the bickering within the party. Thorat is convinced that Patole played a political game to corner and defame him over the legislative council election in which ‘independent’ Satyajeet Tambe trounced the ‘official’ Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate by a massive margin. Patole repeatedly indicated that Thorat had engineered the plan. The fact that Thorat and Tambe are close relatives had given a different colour to the infighting, culminating in Thorat’s resignation. Given Thorat’s long association with the party, the high command has decided to rush Patil to mollify the warring factions. Thorat has already sent out feelers that he has not ‘resigned’ his post but has merely ‘complained’ to express his displeasure. Given his loyalty, the high command has asked Patole to remain away from the crucial meet, party leaders feel. Patole has declared that he would be busy with the campaigning for the two assembly byelections from Pune later this month and hence not present in Mumbai on Sunday. 

Cong MP Rajani Patil Who Secretly Shot & Circulated Rajya Sabha Proceedings On Feb 9 Suspended

Taking a serious  view of unauthorised posting of a video relating to the Rajya Sabha proceedings purported to have been put in the public domain on February  9, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar announced suspension of Congress MP Rajani Patil for engaging in the “unwholesome activity” for the current session. Patil could miss out on the entire Budget Session, first part of which ends on February 13 after which Parliament goes into a recess. Announcing his action in the Rajya Sabha, Dhankar said the senior MP from Maharashtra who is also AICC J&K in-charge was found to be engaged in “this unwholesome activity”. “I took a serious view of it and did all that was required. As a matter of principle and to keep the sanctity of Parliament, no outside agency’s involvement could be sought,” said Rajya Sabha Chairman. However, since the matter concerned the proceedings of the House, Dhankar said “We had primary material. I’d not name the senior members with whom I interacted this morning. But I invited them to my chamber and sought guidance that if such a situation happens what should be the way out. He said the entire matter would be probed by the Privileges Committee and till we have the benefit of the recommendation of the Privileges Committee for consideration of this august House, Dr Rajani Ashokrao Patil is suspended for the current session”.

Rajasthan CM’s Budget Gaffe, Cong First Plays Down Then Points To Discrepancies In PM's Reply In Parliament

In a major gaffe, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot was caught reading last year’s budget in the state assembly for nearly 10 minutes. It was only when the party chief whip stepped in that Gehlot stopped and apologised for the oversight. The BJP was quick to slam him for being callous and “poorly invested in matters of governance”. For a change, BJP leader and former CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who has been bailing out Gehlot in the past four years, refused to hold a brief for him. She said, “When I used to present the Budget, I used to check my papers at least thrice before presenting it. Here the CM went on reading for eight minutes.” Gehlot’s gaffe is more or less a throwback to what happened with veteran leader S M Krishna who as Foreign Minister had read out portions of Portuguese Foreign Minister’s speech at the UN Security Council way back in February 2011. Coming to Gehlot’s defence, senior AICC functionary Rajiv Shukla tried to shift the blame to officials. He also tried to  point out there were discrepancies in the two sets of figures given by the PM regarding households connected by tap water –“in  the Lok Sabha PM Modi had talked about 8 crore households, in the Rajya Sabha the figures were given as 11 crore households. We are not making an issue.”

After Modi’s Third Maharashtra Visit, Amit Shah To Be In Pune Next Weekend

Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Pune on February 18-19, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third visit to Maharashtra on Friday (Feb 10). Shah’s visit assumes significance in view of the two assembly byelections to be held on February 27, in Pune’s Kasba Peth and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Demise of both BJP MLAs has caused the byelection. While the Pimpri-Chinchwad assembly constituency had just one claimant, the wife of deceased MLA Laxman Jagtap, the scenario in Kasba Peth was somewhat testing for the BJP as sitting MLA Mutka Tilak’s family members were desirous of getting the party nomination after her death. As the party did not do so, rumblings of discontent were heard for a short while. Sensing the opportunity, Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi has fielded Congress nominee Ravindra Dhangekar. The visit of Shah is expected to enthuse the rank and file to ensure the victory of BJP’s Hemant Rasane. Shah has accepted two functions in Pune. In the first, he will release a book, ‘Modi@20,’ on February 18. He will tour the ‘Shiv Srushti,’ a historical complex conceived and designed by late historian Babasaheb Purandare on February 19, the great day for Maharashtra since it is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shah’s presence will add colour to the BJP celebrations.
Guv & Mamata (1)

Are West Bengal BJP Leaders Up In Arms Against The State Governor?

Ever since CV Ananda Bose took charge as West Bengal Governor in November 2022 he has been all praises for chief minister Mamata Banerjee and shares cordial ties with her unlike his predecessor and now Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar. But this has not gone well with BJP Bengal leaders. It was visible in a series of events.  First, during ‘Hatey Khori’ (first writing), a ceremony observed during the Saraswati Puja in the presence of Didi BJP leaders gave the event a miss. More. Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari tweeted, “Doesn’t glorify the dignity of Raj Bhavan”. In another instance, when Bose praised and compared the CM to erudites and Presidents of India Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, APJ Abdul Kalam at a function where she received an honorary Doctor of Literature from Kolkata’s St Xavier’s University. Again, Adhikari reacted saying that the Governor’s speech resembled a rehearsal for the customary speech to be read out at the beginning of the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly. Surprisingly, despite the governor being appointed by the Centre, the state BJP leaders staged a walkout on February 8, during the Governor’s maiden address in the State Assembly, raising slogans and tearing papers as they protested against “corruption” by the ruling TMC. Why?
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PM Modi Takes On CPM-Cong "Unholy Pact" For Tripura Poll During His 90-Minute Rajya Sabha Speech

PM Narendra Modi was in his element as he spoke for nearly 90-minute in the Rajya Sabha on the motion of thanks on President’s address. He did not let the din of shouting Opposition MPs affect him and spoke with his sense of humour intact. Referring to how some people had problems with names of government schemes with Sanskrit words, Modi said 600 government schemes were in the Gandhi-Nehru family’s name. In a jibe at the Gandhis, he asked “If Nehru was such a great person, why did the family shy away from using ‘Nehru’ surname.” He was more keen on sending out a message to poll-bound Tripura where the CPM has tied-up with the Congress to take on the ruling BJP in next week’s elections. That’s why he elaborated on the contradictions of the Congress-CPM alliance and pointed out how the first Marxist government in India was dismissed by Nehru within months after it had won a mandate in Kerala. “Elected governments were toppled 90 times! Who were those who did that? A Prime Minister used Article 356, 50 times and that name is Indira Gandhi. In Kerala, the Communist government was elected which wasn’t liked by Pandit Nehru and was toppled in 1959. In Tamil Nadu too, governments of veterans like MGR and Karunanidhi were dismissed by the Congress. Sharad Pawar’s government was toppled too. We have seen what happened with NTR when he was in the U.S. for medical treatment; attempts were made to topple his government.

Eyebrows Raised As Devendra Fadnavis And Praful Patel Praise Each Other

When Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s powerful leader Praful Patel were patting each other on the back for their various individual virtues, the political circle was agog with speculation, to the extent of forecasts hinting at Patel’s change of loyalty. Both leaders shared the dais at Gondia, Patel’s hometown, to laud his father Manoharbhai’s 117th birth anniversary. Incidentally, only a couple of days ago, Patel’s certain properties were seized by the Enforcement Directorate. Amidst various rapid political permutations and combinations churning Maharashtra politics, eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Fadnavis had accepted the invite to attend the gala event. The rumour mill received extra grist as the venue is the base of state Congress chief Nana Patole, a former BJP MP, who had defeated Patel in the hustings in 2014. Sensing the possible fallout, Patel said Fadnavis was gifted with exceptional leadership qualities and added that both held discussions on a variety of subjects. Reciprocating, Fadnavis said they were political adversaries, not personal. Patel has been elected from Bhandara-Gondia LS constituency several times and is presently a RS member. Considered to be NCP president Sharad Pawar’s closest confidant, the ED’s order to attach some of his prime real estate properties in Mumbai were being interpreted as a signal for Pawar. The Gondia meet is hence considered significant.
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Clockwise : Manik Sarkar, Amit Shah, Mamata Banerjee & Pradyot Bikram, Manikya Debbarma

Can BJP Keep CPM At Bay And Retain Power In Tripura?

Leaders across parties – BJP, TMC, CPM, TIPRA — have converged at Tripura as it goes to poll on February 16. This North-Eastern state has come to prominence since its last election in 2018, after BJP ousted the 25-year old Communist regime. While BJP is desperate to hold on to the state, the CPM, keen to be back in the driver’s seat, has entered into an alliance with the Congress and Trinamool Congress. And the new entrant is the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha, a regional party floated by former royalty Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, after leaving the Congress. Interestingly he is going solo. Up for grabs is 60 seats. BJP is aware of its shortcomings as it failed to live up to voter’s expectations that accompanied its swift rise in 2018 winning 35 seats. So it did mid-course correction by replacing chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb with Manik Saha. With nine states slated to go to polls before the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to win all the states. Towards this, its senior leaders like the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have trooped into Tripura and kicked off their election campaign. Likewise, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in tow with her nephew Abhishek Banerjee had camped for two days. The result of this four- cornered fight will be known on March 2.
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A Confident Modi Fobs Off Rahul's Attack On His Govt In Style

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in full form and at his sarcastic best as he took a jibe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for targeting his government on the Adani controversy as he spoke in the Lok Sabha. Rahul, who participated in the debate on January 7, was not present when Modi made his initial remarks. In fact, half way through the speech, the Congress benches had staged walk-out as Modi amplified attack on UPA years of governance. Congress MPs trooped back only when Rahul Gandhi walked in. “I was watching yesterday. After the speeches of a few people, some people were happily saying, “Ye hui na baat.” Maybe they slept well and couldn’t wake up (on time),” said PM Modi. Interestingly, Modi interrupted his speech to thank Shashi Tharoor for staying back and not joining the walk-out.”Those who are drunk in arrogance and think that only they have the knowledge, feel that only by abusing Modi will a way come out, that only through false, nonsensical mudslinging on Modi will a path be paved. It has been 22 years, they still have a misapprehension.” Asserting that trust in Modi was not born out of newspaper headlines, not through faces on TV.  “I have given my life, every moment of mine for the people of the country, for the glorious future of the country,” said Modi. He was under no compulsion to reply to Rahul’s specific charge of Modi-Adani linkages as he did not back it with proof. They are no longer part of Lok Sabha records.
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Local-Global: Modi Makes A Style Statement Wears A Recycled Bandhgala Jacket, Kharge Sports A Louis Vuitton Scarf

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who replied to the motion of thanks on the President’s address in the Lok Sabha was spotted in the Parliament in a sky-blue Bandhgala jacket giving a message about sustainability. The jacket, presented to him by Indian Oil Corporation, was made out of recycled PET bottles. Indian Oil has adopted uniforms for retail customer attendants and LPG delivery personnel made from recycled polyester (rPET) and cotton. Interestingly, Modi sat through Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge’s speech in the Rajya Sabha where he questioned how wealth of one of the closest friends of PM Modi increased by 13 times in 2.5 years. “In 2014, it was Rs 50,000 crore while in 2019 it became Rs 1 lakh crore. I don’t know what magic happened that his assets touched Rs 12 lakh crore in just two years,” Kharge said. Ironically Kharge, who attacked Modi for helping industrialist Gautam Adani was spotted wearing a Louis Vuitton scarf. Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep  Dhankar pulled up  Kharge for calling PM Modi ‘Mauni Baba’ an angry Kharge hit back  saying “If I speak the truth, is it anti-national? I’m not anti-national. I’m more patriotic than anyone here. I’m a ‘bhoomi-putra”. It took FM Nirmala Sitharaman to effectively put down Kharge for quoting Vajpayee on rajdharma or reeling out data as it was completely infused with insinuation against PM Modi and “that’s why what we are objecting to.”
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Congress Leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Nana Patole

Maharashtra Cong Leader Balasaheb Thorat’s Resignation Drama Confuses All

Maharashtra Congress legislative party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat’s purported ‘resignation’ from the post has become mysterious since he himself has made an about turn, saying that it was just a letter written to the high command to express his ‘anguish’ and not his resignation. While Thorat has been receiving open and tacit invites from the BJP and the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) to join, his sudden volte face has unnerved his supporters who don’t understand what stand to take. Similarly, his detractors are flummoxed due to the same reason, unable to welcome him or condemn. The confusion was kicked off by state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who declared that his party would welcome Thorat into its fold. Some NCP leaders, too, are reportedly wooing him in view of his clout in the sugar-rich Ahmednagar district. Thorat and his late father Bhausaheb have been representing the assembly constituency for over half a century. While Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole was projected as the villain of the episode involving Thorat’s ‘resignation’ all this while, the new revelation has created a question mark about Thorat’s next move. His nephew Satyajeet Tambe’s legislative council election win last week is viewed against this background since Congress leaders have blamed Thorat for the defeat of the official Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate in that contest. Hence, most Congress leaders are tight lipped about the quick turn of events
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AIADMK Thenarusu and Congress Elangovan

DMK Backed Cong Vs BJP Supported AIADMK: Who'll Win Erode Bypoll?

It’s the ‘Hand’ versus ‘Two Leaves’ in Erode East finally. The call given by the State BJP for a united fight against the ruling DMK to defeat the Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan was heeded, thus ending a protracted faction fight within the AIADMK. The OPS candidate withdrew, so too did TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK candidate. It is now a straight fight in the bypoll which may show how popular the DMK alliance is and whether the people have forgiven or forgotten the faction fight and are willing to support Edappadi Palaniswami’s ‘majority’ AIADMK candidate Thenarusu. Getting the party symbol of ‘Two Leaves’ was a big thing as none of the players who are opposing the ruling party DMK wanted the legal tangle to stretch so much as to make the ECI freeze the symbol. The ruling party’s front may be strong enough to win the seat with a good margin as those in power generally do. But it is important that for the sake of electoral democracy that a united opposition take on the government of the day. There may be no anti-incumbency feeling yet after a couple of years of Stalin rule and there are doubts about the intentions of the faction leaders who have all withdrawn their candidates but may still not get in the fray to support the common candidate. The challenge for EPS, who has majority support within his party, is now to prove he is the undisputed leader.
Rahul Gandhii

Rahul Gandhi Uses Lok Sabha Floor To Make Libelous Charge Against Adani, Rail Against PM Modi

After stalling Parliament for a few days over the Adani controversy, the Congress finally got back to work on January 7. Rahul Gandhi took the Lok Sabha floor to make allegations linking PM Modi to billionaire Gautam Adani, perhaps hoping he would be spared legal consequences. An MP enjoys the privilege to speak freely and what is spoken inside the House is not liable for any scrutiny. Oddly, Rahul’s speech did not evoke much response by way of cheering or thumping of desks even from Opposition benches as states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have projects that are being executed by the Adani Group. But then so do Congress ruled states like Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. He wanted to know how Adani’s net worth had increased from $ 8 bn to $140 bn between 2014 and 2022; how the businessman had gone from 600th to second rank when the BJP came to power in 2014. He wanted to know from Modi “How many times did Adaniji join you later on your foreign trip? How many times has he reached you after you landed in a foreign country?”. He also asked how much money Adani gave to the BJP in the last 20 years. He seemed most upset that GVK-GMR, who controlled airports under the UPA era, were forced out using agencies like ED and I-T. Six airports including the Mumbai airports were” handed over” to Adani after 2014.
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Thackeray Vs Thackeray: Shinde Faction Plans To Field Nihar Against Cousin Aaditya Thackeray

Shiv Sena (U) party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya is likely to face his cousin Nihar in the next assembly election from Worli in Mumbai if plans of chief minister Eknath Shinde’s Sena faction materialise. A practising lawyer, Nihar is the son of Uddhav’s eldest brother Bindumadhav, who died young in 1996 in a road accident. Aaditya has been on the offensive over the past few days, challenging Shinde to contest against him any time. “Let us face each other in Worli or Thane. The choice will be yours,” Aaditya has said repeatedly. His Sena (U) followers are taunting the chief minister for being ‘scared of a 32-year young’ as Shinde has not reacted to the provocation. However, plans to persuade Nihar to jump into the fray are now under discussion. Nihar was the first member of the family of Balasaheb Thackeray to support Shinde. He had said, “Shinde is the true representative of Balasaheb’s ideology.” The association became firmer when Nihar became part of the legal panel representing the Shinde faction in the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. As Uddhav is a member of the upper house, Aaditya’s Worli assembly constituency will become one of the most prestigious electoral contests in Maharashtra. The fight will become national news if two Thackerays take on each other.

RSS ‘Clarifies’ Mohan Bhagwat’s Remark, Says No Slight To Brahmins

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reference to the learned section of society has been wrongly interpreted and it does not mean the Brahmin caste, the organisation has clarified. What Bhagwat had meant was ‘scholars,’ RSS has conveyed. Bhagwat was addressing a birth anniversary event of Sant Ravidas in Mumbai on February 5. He said the Sant had spent his life to accord dignity to work and not to caste. In the speech, Bhagwat had used the word ‘Pandit.’ Very soon, the speech report began making rounds of social media and the RSS had to ask news agency ANI to come out with a clarification as it had covered the event and reported it. At the same time, a statement has been issued by RSS leader Sunil Ambekar. Both have hastened to clarify that the meaning Bhagwat had in mind was ‘Vidvaan’ (scholar) and not Brahmins. Bhagwat’s ‘exact’ statement has been quoted by Ambekar as, “…Some Pandits speak of caste-based divides on (the) basis of Shastras, it’s a lie. It’s his exact statement…” Ambekar has emphasised.  The controversy has the backdrop of a whispering grievance that the RSS has been treating the Brahmin community unfairly although it was the anchor of the organisation in its fledgling years. In the Mumbai speech, Bhagwat had also said that we were misled by the caste superiority illusion which has to be discarded. These differences were exploited by others and outsiders ruled us, Bhagwat had observed.
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Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Scindia Attack Shashi Tharoor For Praising Pervez Musharraf

Former Pakistani prime minister Pervez Musharraf’s death provoked a sharp exchange of words between the Congress and the BJP. He was a Pak general who was responsible for the Kargil war in 1999 that claimed so many lives and was responsible for the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001. Yet it didn’t stop Congress MP Shashi Tharoor from fondly recalling his annual meeting with Gen Musharraf at the UN and how he “found him smart, engaging and clear in his strategic thinking.” As a former MoS for external affairs Tharoor defended his praise of the Pak general saying he was raised in an India where “you are expected to speak kindly of people when they die”. A Congress leader eulogising a Pak General who attacked our country during Kargil War could not go unchallenged. That too after PM Modi had recently named 21 Andaman & Nicobar Islands after Param Vir Chakra awardees as recently as on January 23. At least two Union ministers —  Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rajeev Chandrasekhar  took on Tharoor. Chandrasekhar hit out at Tharoor for finding peace in a person who “inflicted terror, a backstabbing conflict and tortured our soldiers in violation of every International law”. Scindia wondered whether the Congress was on “a hath-se-hath mission” with the enemy? “An Indian ‘national’ party’s leader first casts doubts on our soldiers’ act of bravery in Pulwama. Then another one eulogises Musharraf who was responsible for the Kargil war.”    

Dr RG Anand

JP Nadda's Mega Wedding Reception For His Son Leaves A Bitter After-Taste

BJP President J P Nadda held a gala wedding reception for his second son Harish in a Delhi stadium on February 5. It was held in such pomp and style that guests were simply overwhelmed, so were the hosts it seemed. From high profile dignitaries such as President Droupadi Murmu, PM Narendra Modi, Vice- President Jagdeep Dhankar, former President Ramnath Kovind, UP CM Yogi Adityanath to a swish set of foreign envoys to all BJP CMs, MLAs and MPs and the media – there were simply too many VVIPs guests. Unlike Arun Jaitley who would have normally held three to four receptions for comfort of his guests, Nadda went for an overkill — a mega one. Party sources said a record 25,000 invites were sent out. It was as if Nadda had decided to make most of the one-year extension he had secured in office. After all, PM Modi had reposed faith in him to lead the party for 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Never mind if his home turf Himachal was lost by less than 1% votes. Significantly, Modi spent about 40 minutes at the reception. Besides, there were far too many guests than invitees. And there were such long queues at food counters that many guests simply made a hurried exit as they didn’t want to be jostled as at least one dignitary did.

Maharashtra & Karnataka Compete To Woo People Of Border Areas

In a bid to match the Maharashtra government’s announcement to extend ‘cultural funding’ to the Marathi-speaking areas along the border with Karnataka, a provision of Rs 100 crore has been declared by Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai for the Border Area Development Authority. The BJP government in Karnataka is completing its five-year term this year and will be presenting its last budget on 10 February. In view of the ensuing election, Bommai has made the populist announcement. Although the tension prevailing over the border feud has subsided, Bommai’s counter-announcement could provide another provocation for the protagonists from the neighbouring states to take up cudgels again. He has stated that the amount would be provided for in the budget for expending in border areas for education, industry, infrastructure development and for promoting Kannada. Earlier, the Karnataka government had made a provision of Rs 25 crore for these areas. Maharashtra’s Marathi language minister Deepak Kesarkar had declared that financial provisions would be made by the state to create facilities for educational and cultural activities in the Marathi-speaking border areas.  Bommai’s announcement has come to counter this move, it is felt. The border dispute has been holding fire for several decades and is now before the Supreme Court. Both states have fielded top-notch attorneys to reinforce their claims. Though the situation has remained peaceful after initial skirmishes, the initiatives by both the states are considered potent.
nirmala sitarama new

Nirmala Sitharaman: Don't Focus On My Saree, Look At The Budget

Two days after she presented the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman opened up on how she felt about the media focusing more on her saree than on the Budget and didn’t know whether “to take it positively or negatively, I have no clue about it”. She wondered if a male FM presenting a budget “wearing a black colour suit or jacket” would be asked a similar kind of question. She was responding to an audience question on the sets of India TV’s Aap ki  Adalat. “Don’t look at my saree, hair or its colour, rather look at my budget,” she pleaded. At least three observations made in this interaction stand out. One is the FM’s reaction to Robert Vadra’s comment on the Adani issue. She wanted to know if he had come “clean” on the land that he acquired in Haryana and Rajasthan and was amazed at his “confidence” to offer comments on Adani.  On the Adani issue, she said “it is not a matter relating to the government, regulators are looking into it” and referred to state governments who had invited the industrialist to set up projects. “Modi Ji never does this. He always prefers open and transparent bidding through tenders. The Rajasthan government gave land for his project. The Communist government in Kerala invited him to carry on with the port project. If you (Left) don’t like him, jaa kar hata do ji“. She also made an important disclosure: in the Modi Government, “we don’t give instructions on phone to ED, I-T”.
Ajit Pawars

Ajit Pawar’s Revelations Raise Hackles, Congress Livid

Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar’s sensational disclosures about the victory of Congress rebel Satyajeet Tambe in the legislative council election for the Nashik graduate constituency and Uddhav Thackeray’s perceived failure to prevent the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra in June last year are likely to become a bone of contention within MVA. The revelations have angered Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole as Tambe defeated official MVA nominee Shubhangi Patil by a huge margin. Tambe had claimed that he had not received the required authorisation from the Congress in time and hence was forced to contest as an independent. Ajit had said that NCP president Sharad Pawar himself had advised his Congress counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge to field Tambe but things didn’t work out that way. Similarly, Ajit said that Sharad Pawar had alerted then chief minister Uddhav about the possible rift in the Shiv Sena but the latter had replied that he did not expect his MLAs to walk away from him. The dramatic change in Maharashtra occurred soon thereafter. So far Uddhav or the Sena (U) have kept mum about Ajit’s utterances. Patole has objected to both statements, saying that though the NCP was holding the home portfolio, the Uddhav government fell. The matters will be taken up in the next MVA meeting with the NCP, he announced.
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Cong Puts Capt Amarinder Singh's Wife & Patiala MP On Sack Notice

Six months after her husband and former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh joined the BJP, Patiala Lok Sabha MP Preneet Kaur has been suspended and given a show-cause notice to explain why she should not be expelled from the party for indulging “in anti-party activities”. Explaining the action against Kaur, Disciplinary Action Committee member Tariq Anwar said the party was getting regular complaints from PCC president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring about Kaur for indulging in anti-party activities and the state unit has been pushing for disciplinary action against her. “Kaur was working for her husband and our Punjab unit wanted us to take action against her,” said Anwar. For the moment, the AICC decided to suspend Kaur and issue a show-cause notice to her to explain within three days as to why she should not be expelled. It seemed odd that the Congress should take punitive action against a Lok Sabha MP just a year ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Besides, the party’s number from Punjab will take a hit with the death of sitting Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary in Bharat Jodo Yatra. Only last month, the party saw the exit of senior leader Manpreet Badal to the BJP.

Maharashtra Legislative Council Election Shocker For Shinde-Fadnavis And MVA

The severe jolt received by the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance in the legislative council election in Maharashtra has generated shocks on both sides as each has lost a prestigious seat or two from its assured traditional area of influence. The ruling alliance lost both Vidarbha seats, Nagpur and Amaravati, which the BJP had been holding for a long time. Similarly, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)lost the Raigad seat, which the BJP has won for the first time. The decision of Nashik seat victor Satyajeet Tambe about his future plans is yet to become public. Overall, the ruling alliance’s performance is considered dismal especially since deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is known to wield clout in Vidarbha area. The defeat of BJP’s Amaravati nominee Ranjit Patil, a confidant of Fadnavis, is intriguing since almost 6000 ballot papers bearing his name have been declared invalid in a battle he has lost by just over 3000 votes. The rules require that a voter has to indicate his or her first and subsequent preferences. As Patil’s was the only name marked, the votes were rejected. Rather than pleasing MVA, the outcome has sparked off a war of words within as Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has decided to admonish the NCP for some of its leaders’ remarks in connection with the election in Nashik.
WhatsApp Image 2023-02-03 at 11.25

The Mystery Deepens, Who Killed 23 Russian Oligarchs?

The mysterious deaths of at least 23 elite Russians have sparked a global murder mystery. But no one seems too bothered as the war rages on in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin is busy threatening the world with nuclear weapons and spouting war rhetoric. What media investigators looking into the issue are asking is: how can so many billionaires with bodyguards and the best healthcare just drop dead? Many people are suggesting Russian President Vladimir Putin is involved but they are too scared to come out in the open. The string of deaths started just before the Ukraine war while the manner of death has varied from strokes and suicide to freak accidents like falling off a speeding boat or a simple fall down the stairs have also cropped up. Oligarchs, aged between 37 and 73, have been disappearing, among whom have been military leaders, billionaire oil and gas oligarchs, top business executives and high-ranking public servants. The common thread is the deceased’s elite status in Russian society and the wealth they have amassed during their ascent to the top of their industries. Several were either closely tied to the Kremlin or outspoken opponents of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. An anonymous Wikipedia user created a page entitled “2022 Russian Mystery Deaths” which began a running count of the fatalities. Putin and his state are not averse to using violence and coercion. Meanwhile, the string of oligarch deaths is expected to continue.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.