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The Sasikala copycat gesture of Jaya from balcony

BJP Keeps TN Options Close Gated, No Sasikala Card As Long As EPS-OPS Stay United

The BJP has devised a master plan for the three southern States that are the last bastions against the right – Andhra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The party has been stepping on the toes of regional parties, predominantly in Tamil Nadu, where they have been showing a tendency of setting the cat among the pigeons. The latest friction concerns former Jayalalithaa confidante VK Sasikala. When asked whether the BJP would accept her into their party, Nainar Nagendran said that indeed they would. This set off tremors with senior AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan wondering whether the growth of BJP was good for the State’s two Dravidian majors who have been ruling the roost alternately over the last 55 years. BJP chief Annamalai stepped in to clarify that the comment represented an individual viewpoint and that only the BJP’s Parliamentary board may decide on high-profile political entrants. So long as the two former CMs – EPS and OPS – stay glued together, there is little threat of BJP admitting the eternal political wannabe Sasikala – a backroom manipulator until her attempt at becoming CM was shot down by the top court. PM Narendra Modi also wants the AIADMK honchos to stay united and not be drawn into divisions. But, in case a split does come about, the BJP might just use the Sasikala card.

Grasim Dons War Paint With Rs 5000 Crore Budget, As Asian Paints Looks Outside The Segment

For decades, Asian Paints has led the pack in the Rs 60,000-crore plus paint industry. But with Grasim Industries, part of the Aditya Birla Group setting its sights higher, the competition will intensify.  Grasim has chalked up a Rs 5000-crore investment plan in the decorative segment which is growing at 11% per annum. This announcement by Grasim which has heft and gravitas to disrupt the market made competitors like Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Kansai Nerolac and Akzo Nobel sit up and take notice. Grasim’s foray into the segment will be backed by their existing leadership in cement, white cement and putty business. Paint is a high growth market and the pie is large enough for everyone to share, industry observers say. There is no denying that leaders like Asian Paints will not find the going easy anymore. Sajjan Jindal group’s JSW has also entered the space, so cut-throat competition is bound to see ad spends growing with margins coming under pressure. In fact, Asian Paints read the writing on the wall and made public that it was looking beyond paints.  Recently, the company picked up 49% stake in White Teak Company selling lighting and fans and will increase its stake based on the response. Time will tell which company remains in the black and which moves into the red.


Apex Council Of MCA Upset With Pawar’s Counter Play To Appoint Ombudsman Dilip Bhosale

The Tata IPL-15 came as a welcome breather for quarrelling factions within the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) who shifted their focus to conducting the 21 league matches. The MCA was able to deploy its resources to run the games virtually incident-free. The association earned much praise from BCCI Secretary Jay Shah and Rs 12 plus crore for bailing out the BCCI in these pandemic times. However, an uneasy calm prevails now in MCA’s corridors of power over the matter of accepting Justice (Retd) Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale as its Ethics Officer and Ombudsman (EOO). Multiple sources caught in the vortex of the sensitive matter told that former MCA President Sharad Pawar, who still commands a lot of clout in matters of the association, is in favour of Justice Bhosale’s appointment. He is the son of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Babasaheb Bhosale and a former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.  The reason for rancour is that Justice Bhosale was appointed at an AGM, the present MCA Apex Council had actually called off, but still conducted by a fair number of members, who elected a chair and obtained post-facto validation from senior advocate Darius Khambata. Now, the Apex Council, due for elections in a few months, is showing the barndoor defence to all persuasions!
Arvind Kejariwal

AAP Says Security Withdrawal Just Temporary, Punjab HC Feels Move Unnecessary

Following singer Sidhu Moosewala’s broad daylight murder, the Punjab government has been directed by the High Court to restore the security cover of 424 people, which it had earlier withdrawn. During a hearing in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, the AAP government had claimed it had withdrawn the security of 424 people only for a few days. Responding to a PIL moved by a Congress leader OP Soni against his security down-grade, the government told the court that the security covers of the 424 VIPs would be restored after Ghallughara Diwas on June 6, which is observed as a day of protest against Operation Blue Star. Incidentally, a day before Moosewala’s murder, the AAP government had highlighted it as ‘crackdown on VIP culture’ on social media. But then the government got cornered only because of Moosewala’s death.  In a plea against his security downgrade, Congress leader Soni wanted to know how a report of security withdrawal with a list of VIPs came into the public domain. It is being said that Punjab police is being stretched beyond state borders to provide security cover to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal; also special cover for his key aide for Punjab area — Raghav Chadha.  Chadha, a Rajya Sabha MP almost functions like a de facto Punjab CM.
Aparajita Sarangi

BJP’s Odisha Core Committee, Without Spokesperson Aparajita Sarangi, Seeks Blueprint To Upstage BJD

BJP’s firebrand and outspoken Odisha MP Aparajita Sarangi, who is also BJP’s National Spokesperson, well known for her high decibel opposition pitch against BJD CM Naveen Patnaik missed out on a berth in the BJP’s newly constituted 17-member Odisha Core Committee. BJP President JP Nadda heads the committee. Only long serving senior BJP members with relevant experience apart from others the BJP thinks will add value and insight have been inducted. Some core committee members include: Baijayant Panda, Dr Sambit Patra, Jual Oram, Pratap Sarangi, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Biseswar Tudu, Suresh Pujari, Samir Mohanty and Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo. This Odisha Core committee has been formed to prepare for the 2024 general election. The purpose of this committee is to chalk out BJP’s blueprint for the state to win as many seats from Odisha in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The Committee will sit together, think together and work together taking stock of progress made on a monthly basis. Clearly, BJP has understood the need to reinvent itself since the agenda of criticizing Naveen Patnaik and his party Biju Janata Dal BJD did not cut much ice with the people or even taken them anywhere.
Gopalan and Farooqui

R Gopalan and MF Farooquii

Tamil Nadu Business Houses Set New Trend, Appoint Ex-IAS Officers As Chairmen

This IAS class of officials possesses the uncanny ability to stay relevant all the time. They don’t just disappear into the sunset after superannuation but, simply don a new avatar. Their utility never dissipates and, their experience in government simply can’t be brushed aside. Probably, they are capable of bringing to the table an entirely new perspective. It is no wonder then that two leading industrial groups of Chennai have drafted ex-IAS officers as chairmen for their enterprises. Sundaram-Clayton Limited (SCL) has appointed R Gopalan, a bureaucrat who served Tamil Nadu as well as the Centre, as its chairman and, another Chennai-based company Ramco Cements followed suit onboarding MF Farooqui, a retired IAS officer to the same post. Of course, both Gopalan and Farooqui have served on the boards of SCL and Ramco Cements respectively for a while now. But their elevation to the top slot in the organisations has forced many long-time watchers of these family enterprises to sit up and take notice.  This is the first time that these industrial conglomerates in Chennai have adopted such a course. Larger benefit of having experienced bureaucrats as chairmen notwithstanding, the move is also seen as a step towards splitting the CMD post. At least in these two instances, it appears to be a case of striking two mangoes with one stone!

After Stalin’s Intemperate Speech, VP Naidu Does A BJP Breach, Eyeing Presidency From Opposition Perch?

On May 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Chennai, where he launched Rs 31,000 crore worth of centrally-funded projects in Tamil Nadu despite which, Chief Minister MK Stalin tried to humiliate him. Two days later, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu went all out to praise late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi while unveiling his statue in Chennai. As soon as Naidu agreed to unveil the Dravidian stalwart’s statue, BJP cadre had opposed the move on social media. Naidu accepted the DMK invite as it seems the end of the road for him as his term ends in August. The DMK was elated. The party’s mouthpiece Murasoli, in its editorial showered encomiums on Naidu over his speech. The paper also dwelt on Karunanidhi’s long and strong association with Naidu. It said he had replied to the party’s critics during his speech. It recalled his comments when Karunanidhi was arrested in 2001 by the erstwhile AIADMK-led government. It was equally happy that Naidu had taken pot-shots at the step-motherly treatment that the BJP led government was meting out to the state governments led by Opposition parties. “If the States grow, the country grows,” he said.  What does Naidu gain by pandering to DMK? He will never be Modi’s candidate for Rashtrapati.  So, is he trying to position himself as the Opposition candidate for Raisina Road?
Nitish kumar

Why Nitish Kumar’s Caste Survey Doesn't Worry BJP

After an all-party meeting when Bihar CM Nitish Kumar announced a caste-based survey in the state, he appeared a bit triumphant. He could not conceal his happiness that he had driven a wedge between the state BJP and the Centre on the issue. The Centre had expressed its inability to conduct a caste census after the experience of socio-economic survey of 2011 census. He had the satisfaction that Bihar BJP leaders were fully backing the caste survey. Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal denied there was difference between the Centre and the state unit on the caste survey. “Let us get one thing clear: what the Bihar government is going to undertake is a caste survey, not a census. Census comes under the Seventh Schedule and that it falls within remit of the Centre. As for Caste survey, Bihar is not the only state to undertake such a survey. Telangana, Karnataka has already done it.” He pointed out that BJP’s support for the caste survey was incumbent on keeping out Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims. Also keeping out certain Muslims from claiming OBC status. Politically, of course, it is seen that Nitish Kumar has pushed the caste survey idea because the Centre had introduced a quota for the economically weaker section. With the lines of social justice getting blurred among parties, the JDU has been desperately trying to push “contradictions” within the BJP and failing.
Anup Ratnaparkhi

Indian Bankers, Bureaucrats In UK On The Move: ICICI’s Anup Joins Ribbon Plc

ICICI Bank’s blue-eyed boy Anup Ratnaparkhi, who currently heads Branch Banking and NRI operations in the UK, has put in his papers.  Thirty-nine-year-old Anup, who had a 14-year long stint, is joining the London-based Ribbon Plc as Chief Commercial Officer. This venture has been promoted by his former ICICI boss Asesh Jani. It is an AI powered technology company that promises to offer a hyper-personalised digital experience to users. Ribbon is loaded with features including an embedded payments marketplace, access to deposits, FX, Crypto & Equity trading platforms. It was Asesh who had spotted Anup’s talent in ICICI and moved him up from Hyderabad to London. The scene at the State Bank of India, UK is no different. Most professionals posted here from India are currently in a flux. Most of the senior staffers who were transferred out of India have completed their term and will now return to India. This includes SBI UK head Sharad Chandak, ED Sanjay Pandey and COO Anurag Joshi. Elsewhere too, it seems to be the season of retirements or transfers. Gayatri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner in UK is into farewell party mode as she retires in September. Meanwhile, Rohit Vadhwana (IFS) who is First Secretary for Investment & Trade and also handles the Press portfolio, has been posted to Kenya.

Green Jackfruit Powder Can Help Control Your Sugar Problem

A decade ago, he was told that he couldn’t head an incubator company being set up by Microsoft because he had no start-up experience. James Joseph, a 25-year tech veteran, took a year’s sabbatical to write a book – which was when he saw his future growing outside his study window in Kerala: a jackfruit tree. The idea that hit him fructified further when he met a diabetic parish priest, who told Joseph that raw jackfruit had brought his sugar down. He researched it, and came up with Jackfruit365, a flour made with green jackfruit. “This is a diet supplement for diabetics and has beneficial effects when used as a replacement for an equal volume of rice or atta,“ he says. “But it should not be compared with medicine.” Along the way, he won the 2020 National Start-up Award for Food Processing and found another supporter: Infosys co-founder and billionaire businessman Kris Gopalakrishnan, who has provided his start-up with the all-important corporate connect. “CII, especially Kris, wants more members to use Jackfruit365 as an example to foster more such partnerships,” he says. Why? “I am an admirer of James and his entrepreneurship,” Gopalakrishnan explains. “So I talk to my industry colleagues and government officials about the product and how James has established the benefits of using it. He alone is responsible for jackfruit becoming the state fruit of Kerala.”

TN Whistleblower Savukku Shankar Makes News Splash, Police Files FIR Then, Backtracks Fearing Whiplash

It is amazing how Chennai-based Achimuthu Shankar has transformed himself from a social media journalist to a whistle blower folk hero. He gained both fame and notoriety as Savukku Shankar, choosing a self-styled sobriquet. Savukku in Tamil means whip. Shankar who started his vigilante career in the TN Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption, had extraordinary talent to sniff out corrupt deals. Naturally, this angered a vast array of bureaucrats and politicians in TN.  Savukku paid the price; he was jailed and tortured for two months. Currently he is once again in the news for the wrong reasons though. His name along with BJP leader Maridass appear in a hastily filed FIR by overzealous TN police against the 90-year-old media house, Ananda Vikatan and its sister publication Junior Vikatan. Junior Vikatan, a bi-weekly tabloid, exposed the phenomenally murky growth of a real estate conglomerate, G Square, alleged to be close to the first family, which turned sensational. The FIR indirectly warned “zealous “journos and vigilantes of certain Lakshman Rekhas they should not cross. This police action saw journalists across Chennai raising a storm of protest. These protests coincided around the time of the Prime Minister’s planned visit to the state. Top police officials, fearing journalists may greet the PM with black bands, quietly withdrew the FIR against Vikatan Press, Shankar and Maridass.
Motorcade for Hardik

The Captain Hardik Pandya Transformation, Leading Him Towards Team India Coronation?

The campaign began after Hardik Pandya emulated Shane Warne, taking his debutant team to the final and winning the IPL. He is now tipped as a future Team India white ball captain. It’s not only his star turn with bat and ball that was impressive. His zen-like calm as skipper throughout the season was also notable, though he lost it when Shubman Gill declined a third run, and he was left facing a Warne-like ripper that pitched outside leg stump and spat as it spun to catch his outside edge. But, as Gill anchored the chase to a triumphant finish, it was well-deserved coronation time for Pandya. Controversy was his middle name as the tattoo-loving admirer and owner of the most expensive watches was once suspended for a sexist comment during a celebrity TV interview. Captaincy transformed him into a studious, responsible leader who has curbed his flamboyance to contribute meaningful contributions. Having faced the axe from Team India for not being able to bowl through a painful phase following back injury, Hardik worked his way back and bowled at close to 140 kmph in IPL to make his point. He was in winning teams four times before but, the 2022 win was special and it has spurred his ambition to contribute to Team India well enough to break a 11-year World Cup drought.
Hardik Pandya with IPL Trophy

Gujarat Titans

Tendulkar Joins The Hardik Pandya's Hurrah Parade, After Gujarat Titans Captain's Great IPL Escapade

The IPL Twenty20 competition is a different ball game from turning up for India duties. Performances in the most popular league may be put down as a flash in the pan but, Hardik Pandya, not long back known for his bling fetish, has refreshingly improved his excellent run of form in the TATA IPL-15; as a batter, bowler, fielder and now, as captain. Hardik’s makeover was applauded by his former Mumbai Indians icon Sachin Tendulkar on his Youtube show #SachInsightT20. “It has to be celebrated, Hardik has been a stand-out as a Number 4 batter and captain. He has outsmarted the opposition,” said the former master blaster. Hardik was the Titans’ highest run getter with 487 runs and chief wicket-taker in the title match. What’s so significant about these numbers is the manner in which he exhibited his gifts all through the tournament. In the final he broke the back of Rajasthan Royals taking 3 for 18 and chipping in with a weighty 34 runs with his bat. Hardik is being dubbed as a hero now, but his true test will come up against a strong South African Twenty20 team that will lock horns with KL Rahul’s team from June 9 in five matches. Hardik is a genuine talent though. The Indian team would hope that his lower back doesn’t flare up again!


Can Kangana Buck The Downhill Trend, Retain Bankable Star Status Again?

Since releasing on May 20, Kangana Ranaut starrer Dhaakad earned a measly Rs 3 crore indicating its box-office status. Kangana can now boast of four consecutive flops including Thalavi, Panga, and Judgemental Hai Kya; although Manikarnika did reasonably well. The fiercely independent, strong minded-star had proved she can carry a movie single-handedly without needing the crutches of the Khans, Kapoors or, even the Kumars. Lately, however, she is going through a bad patch as far as her movies are concerned. Every star has experienced cyclical ups and downs, be it Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan or, Rekha. Does the string of flops make Kangana any less a bankable star today? A senior trade analyst says, “It will be difficult for her to get the same kind of investment that she got in the past. Films already on the floor will continue but a correction is bound to happen in the way her (future) films are made.” Currently, she has two films in the pipeline – Sita and Tejas.  The latter is produced by Ronnie Srewvala. Perhaps, the fiery star with strong political leanings is making up with people on the Bollywood front. She was recently spotted at Salman Khan’s event. Bollywood watchers say her best hope could be Tanu Weds Manu 3 which Anand L Rai is planning. She could bounce back again.
MCX Logo

First Commodity Exchange Of Bangladesh, Harnesses Indian Expertise Through MoU With MCX

The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) has signed an MoU, to provide technical support for Bangladesh’s first commodity exchange. The Chittagong Stock Exchange has decided to launch Bangladesh’s first commodities exchange, on futures markets next year and roped in MCX to draw up the regulations and bye-laws, the settlement methods, besides providing tech and infrastructure support for the new exchange. MCX which is working on a five-year plan is scouting for talent to manage and work on the project. The new exchange is expected to provide competitive pricing and rationalise price manipulations in the commodities sector in that country. The exchange is also expected to provide farmers with greater liquidity. The exchange is expected to trade in gold, tea, agricultural produce, iron ore etc. MCX, India’s first listed exchange, is a commodity derivatives exchange that facilitates online trading of commodity derivatives transactions, thereby providing a platform for price discovery and risk management. The Exchange, which started operations in November 2003, operates under the regulatory framework of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). MCX offers trading in commodity derivative contracts across varied segments including bullion, industrial metals, energy and agricultural commodities, as also on indices constituted from these contracts. It is India’s first Exchange to offer commodity options contracts, bullion index futures and base metals index futures contracts.
Rahul and Priyanka

Rahul- Priyanka Pick Rajya Sabha Candidates In Turns, Regional Congress Aspirants Left In The Lurch

There is much disquiet within the Congress over its list for Rajya Sabha elections next month. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra have nixed senior Congress leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, the torch bearers of the G-23 grouping, in their quest for a Rajya Sabha berth from Rajasthan and Haryana. Sharma, confident that friend Bhupinder Hooda would get him elected to RS finds himself stranded, as Rahul has thrust AICC in charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken, who partly handled Punjab upon Hooda. Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel, who publicly pitched for Priyanka as a RS candidate was told to get Rajiv Shukla elected. Party sources say Baghel’s aversion to giving another term to retiring MP Chhaya Verma had prompted him to accept the Bihari candidate Ranjeet Ranjan. Of the 10 candidates, only P Chidambaram is contesting from home ground Tamil Nadu. Priyanka has imposed Imran Pratapgarhi, an AICC Minorities Cell chief, a young rabble-rouser from UP on Maharashtra Congressmen. Priyanka also sent another favourite from UP Pramod Tewari to Rajasthan. Rahul got fanboy Randeep Surjewala a RS berth from the same state. All this rush made Sanyam Lodha, an MLA in poll-bound Rajasthan to raise the son of soil bogey. AICC functionary Jitendra Baghel wants a break-up of candidates as the UP BJP list represents an array of castes.
Nitish Kumar

JDU Union Minister’s Proximity To Modi Gives Nitish Kumar Heartburn, Bihar CM Denies RCP Singh Third Rajya Sabha Term

Bihar politics is apparently on the cusp of an implosion with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refusing to nominate to Rajya Sabha Union Steel Minister RCP Singh, his one-time number two in Janata Dal United (JDU). By denying Singh a third term in Rajya Sabha, Nitish has ensured that he will have no one from his party in Narendra Modi’s cabinet.  With RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav further getting embroiled in the IRCTC scam and the CBI registering FIR against Lalu Prasad Yadav his wife Rabri Devi, daughters Misa and Hema, for taking land from candidates in exchange for jobs in Railways between 2008-2009, Nitish Kumar’s option of walking out on the BJP to join hands with a tainted RJD also don’t exist. At present, his party with 44 MLAs is supported by BJP which has 77 MLAs. JDU sources said RCP Singh got into trouble because of his public praise of PM Modi. “Nitish wants slaves. If only RCP Singh had praised Nitish along with Modi, he would have remained a minister,” rued a JDU leader. Modi may use him in Bihar. Probably why Singh actually expressed his “gratitude” to Nitish after being denied a Rajya Sabha seat. “I am grateful to him. Whatever he has decided is in my interest.” Of the 44 JDU MLAs, Singh holds sway over a majority.

Mount Road’s Tall LIC Tower Will Be Dwarfed, By 25 Storeyed Office Block, Exploiting New FSI Rules On TVS Plot

Chennai is set to soar high. The old man on Mount Road, the 13-storey LIC Building, for long the only noticeably tall landmark in an otherwise vertically challenged city used to growing sideways rather than upwards, will soon get company. A 25-storey tower block of offices is coming up on the old TVS plot. Whether vertical growth is defined as progress would depend on the point of view. But, with a change in government, came a significant FSI change – from 3.5 to 5. You can think what you will of how such changes come about, the most obvious being the use of financial clout by the builders’ lobby.  The fact is the Brigade group of Bangalore, with its political connections and heft, will be the first to take advantage of the higher FSI with a landmark building that will dwarf the nearby LIC structure, old Chennai citizens described using the Tamil phrase – Heightu da! A lot of changes are also on the cards for what used to be the centre of the city’s business district, with many old firms likely to sell out to builders in the CBD. TVS’ R Dinesh, who inherited the old HQ of the reputed TVS group on Mount Road along with the Honda dealership, was the first to cash in on the new FSI.

Another Rajasthan Minister’s Revolt, Seeks Disempowerment From CM Ashok Gehlot, Has Nothing To Do With Sachin Pilot

Is Rajasthan too going Punjab way for the Congress ahead of the 2023 assembly polls? In a grim reminder to what used to be complaints against Capt Amarinder Singh for excessively relying on bureaucrats, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is facing similar complaints from one of his ministers who publicly offered to step down. In a tweet, Sports Minister Ashok Chandna said: “Honourable Chief Minister, I have a personal request to you, that by freeing me from this cruel ministerial post, the charge of all my departments should be given to Kuldeep Rankaji, because anyway he is the minister of all the departments. Thank you.” Chandna’s protest should worry Gehlot as it comes ahead of Rajya Sabha elections next month — he is the second MLA to raise a banner of revolt. The first dissenting note was struck by tribal leader and MLA Ganesh Ghogra who had a row with the state bureaucracy over land deed distribution. Ghogra resigned on May 18 saying that despite being an MLA of the ruling party, he is being ignored. Turbulence in the Congress is of course sweet music to the BJP. Yet it will be important to see how Gehlot survives this attack within. That too when it’s not coming from a usual suspect like Sachin Pilot.
Rajat Patidar

Photo Credit: RCB Instagram

Discarded At Player Auctions, Rajat Patidar Plays RCB Match Winner, @ Just Rs 20 Lakh

Rejected outright by all 10 franchises at the big player auction for the Tata IPL-15 in Bengaluru, Indore-born batter Rajat Patidar proved how the talent scouts hunting for gifted players were wrong in their assessment of his class and calibre. Even the United Spirits owned Royal Challengers Bangalore, which played him in four matches in season 2021 did not have a second look at him at the auction. But ‘kismet’ has its own ways to bring luck for a player. RCB chose the Madhya Pradesh bombarder as a replacement for the injured Luvnith Sisodia after the league had got off the ground and RCB had lost two matches. Being an uncapped player (not played for India in any format), the CTC to the Bangalore franchise was a meagre Rs 20 lakh. Patidar showed glimpses of his hitting ability in six matches before blasting away to glory with a 54 ball unconquered 112 with 7x6s and 5x4s. The Return of Investment on a start-up like player was humongous; the RCB eliminated the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group owned Lucknow Super Giants from the playoffs and got within striking distance of the title match. Former England captain and a busybee on Twitter, Michael Vaughan, described Patidar’s match-winning knock as: “Talk about producing when it really counts…incredible.”  A discard at the IPL auction, Patidar became overnight famous with a gem of a knock.

AR Rahman Asks Mani Ratnam To Reshoot Portions Of ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ To Better Sync With His Music?

Cinema-goers in Tamil Nadu are eagerly awaiting the September release of Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan, the five part literary Tamil classic of late Kalki. But the Kollywood chatter tower is abuzz with speculation that the film release date may be delayed. Reason: AR Rahman wanted some parts of the movie to be reshot, more to align with his music, as he is not happy with how some scenes might sync with his captivating music. Kollywood is shocked. Mani Ratnam, the master of cinematic excellence must have never encountered such requests. He is well known for his creative collaboration, not disruptive collision. It is also hard to believe that Oscar winner Rahman would interfere in Ratnam’s creativity. With an ensemble cast of Aishwarya Rai (playing the lead), Trisha, Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Sarath Kumar, Keerthi Suresh, and Prakash Raj, one would think Ratnam had enough divas to choreograph, and conjure that magic to the screen with his stamp of class even for the mass. Meanwhile, Mani Ratnam fans are keen awaiting the release of the first Part 1 this September and they are sure it will be a rewarding experience. And everybody knows such hiccups apart, once the film is screened Mani Ratnam’s signature will be all over.

Nalco’s Alumina Refinery located at Damanjodi, Odisha

Naveen Patnaik Smelts A Dream, Making Odisha Hub Of SE Asia’s Aluminium, After Steel

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s new dream is to make Odisha India’s aluminium capital and the global aluminium hub. Not without reason too. The state enjoys the true boast of 54% of the aluminium smelting capacity through NALCO, Vedanta and Aditya Birla manufacturing units in India. Of course, this is backed by the state’s rich reserve of 2 billion tonnes of bauxite. NALCO has already chalked out an investment outlay of Rs 30,000 crore towards expansion and diversification to be completed by 2027-28. It has also entered into a JV with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation to set up a state-of-the-art Aluminium Park in Anugul costing Rs 428.95 crore, estimated completion by 2023-24. The Aluminium Park located next to NALCO’s plant will promote downstream aluminium industries with common facilities including logistics, testing, simulation, prototype development and skill development facilities. Joining the chorus is Anil Agarwal of the Vedanta Group that is also planning a Rs 10,000 crore investment to set up an Aluminium Park at Jharsuguda in Odisha to bring in SMEs and MSMEs under one single roof so they can procure the hot metal from Vedanta. With Patnaik transforming the state, Odisha has emerged as the new investment destination of India.

From Punjab CM Aspirant To Prison Clerk, Inmate Sidhu Will Be Served Rosemary Tea, High Fibre As Per Diet Chart

Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment for a case of road rage that ended in death of a person, will now be working as a clerk at the Central Jail of Patiala. And believe it or not the test cricketer has to even undergo a training of three months for this job. He will be paid a daily wage of Rs 30-90 which will be credited to his bank account. He will essentially be taught how to brief lengthy court judgments to prison inmates and compile jail records. It might indeed seem quite an effort for a man who wanted to be Chief Minister of Punjab. Yet at the same time Sidhu has been spared the travails of having to eat jail food. That is because of his special medical condition. According to media reports, since Sidhu has been diagnosed with obesity and metabolic disorder such as pulmonary embolism and left-leg deep vein thrombosis, he has been advised to follow a diet chart. He has been advised a high fibre, low carbohydrate and low fat diet primarily comprising fruits and vegetables. Early in the morning, he will be given Rosemary tea, white gourd juice or coconut water, while for breakfast he will be served a cup of lactose-free milk with one tablespoon of flax, sunflower, melon and chia seeds mixture.

Once Again Stalin Will Lay Claim To Sri Lanka’s Kachchatheevu, To Push PM Modi’s Hand On Island Reclamation Issue

India has extended more than just emergency aid, arranged for finance from the IMF, door delivered medicines, foodgrains and fuel to our trouble-torn neighbour, Sri Lanka. The scale of this spontaneous and timely humanitarian aid is now overshadowed by raising the issue of repossessing the Kachchatheevu island, a 285 sq km land area in the Palk Straits, a mere 17 km south of Rameshwaram. In 2013, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Resolution about reclaiming Kachchatheevu, and now the DMK government headed by MK Stalin is pushing for it. Reason: Recurring skirmishes between the two nations, incidences of arrests of Indian fishermen. They are regularly detained and punished by the Sri Lankan Navy. Reportedly, the new Sri Lankan PM is planning to accede Kachchatheevu to India for a 99-year lease. India ceded Kachchatheevu in 1974, but has not succeeded in getting Sri Lanka to sign a mutually advantageous deal. As recently as March 5, 2022, when both countries held a virtual meeting of the 5th Working Group of Fisheries, India requested a humane approach to this issue. It is learnt that during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Tamil Nadu and Stalin may bring this vexatious issue up with him.  
Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Nawazuddin Siddiqui Says Art Cinema Has No Takers, Can Circulate At Film Fests But Not In Theatres

While at The Kapil Sharma Show to promote Heropanti2, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was asked to define art cinema, “Art cinema means …when 8 people watch it.” The cynical comment from some who studied at the National School of Drama, New Delhi and made a name in art cinema was disliked by patrons in the art cinema world. But, that is what success does to people. Siddiqui, who was at the Cannes Film Festival, is a rank outsider who made it big in Bollywood in spite of his ordinary looks. The 48-year-old actor made his debut with a small role in Aamir Khan’s movie Sarfarosh. He struggled for a decade before making it big and movies like The Lunchbox, Manto, Raman Raghav to name just a few. Reportedly, he is the sole actor in the world with 8 films selected and screened at Cannes. Salman Khan took a shine to him, and cast Nawaz in two films. The first actor to make his mark in the OTT world with Sacred Games finds there are no takers for his films. While at Cannes he told Union minister Anurag Thakur that films that get appreciation at festivals find no place for a theatrical release. He continues to make news be it for his messy marriage or building an all-white bungalow in Mumbai’s western suburb.
Nitish Kumar

Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Nitish Kumar May Lose Bihar For Courting Lalu Prasad Yadav!

Bihar is undergoing political sickness, with the BJP and JDU drifting apart. The alliance came apart due to Nitish Kumar’s newfound love for Lalu Prasad Yadav. CBI raids followed and recovered hard evidence against the Yadav family, in the land-for-railway-jobs scam. The CBI, sources point out, may arrest multiple family members among Laloo’s big family. Tejaswi Yadav was in London with RaGa when the raids occurred. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has felled many birds with one stone, cutting Nitish Kumar down to size for breaking ranks and for sleeping with the enemy is nothing new for him. The CBI actions have cut off political options Kumar planned with the RJD due to the railway scam where job aspirants parted with 5 to 10 bighas of land for government jobs. Clearly, Nitish Kumar finds himself between the devil and the deep blue sea. No Congress option to go to, since Bihar’s Congress party will likely switch over to the BJP with his own party facing an imminent collapse. Shah has underlined his remote control over the Bihar government from New Delhi and emphasized plans by BJP to take over Bihar’s political administration, sooner than later. And the Congress is silent for the moment.
Kapil Sibbal


Congress Legal Eagle Sibal To Nest Separately In Rajya Sabha, Finds Independent Support From Samajwadi Party

In a major setback to the Congress, senior leader Kapil Sibal quit the party and filed his nomination for the Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party. SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav was present when he filed his papers. Sibal said he now wishes to be an independent voice in Parliament and added that he resigned from the Congress on May 16, a day after the Udaipur Navsankalp Shivir concluded. Sibal is the third Congress leader to quit after Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel. Interestingly, Sibal’s move to quit came a day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi accommodated most of the G-23 leaders in two panels she set-up as a follow-up on the Udaipur declaration. Sibal, who was the main brain trust behind the G-23 leaders’ move to demand accountability and transparency of Congress leadership two years ago, had skipped the Udaipur meet. It is being said Sibal was actually spoiled for choice as far as Rajya Sabha seat goes — RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and JMM chief Hemant Soren were both keen to field him. Sonia Gandhi was not keen to sponsor Sibal as party candidate in the wake of his recent public averment on the leadership of the party. Gandhis are presumably upset with Sibal because of the reverses they have suffered in the National Herald case.

Kartik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa2 Breaks Bollywood Jinx, Karan Johar Who Dropped Him Blinks

When Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan dropped Kartik Aaryan from their respective projects over “creative differences” the industry felt it was the end of the road for this Gwalior boy. However, the big daddies of Bollywood were proved wrong, thanks to the late Sushant Singh Rajput, industry support followed Kartik Aaryan. Three producers signed him on right away including Anees Bazmee for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. The movie is a hit and raked in more than Rs 55 crore at the national box office. Kartik has broken the Bollywood jinx of the box office and his performance silenced those who wrote him off. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is like the oasis in the desert for Bollywood that witnessed five big releases bombing consecutively involving top actors Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff. Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn also failed miserably with Runway 34 as did Rajkummar Rao’s Badhai Do. Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar had also flopped. A worried Karan Johar, set to release Jug Jug Jeeyo conceded Aryan’s success without naming him. Johar exuded happiness on the Friday Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 release while hoping the streak continued. Kartik has three films in the pipeline with many producers waiting to sign him on.

Adani, Piramal In Race To Acquire Union Govt Stake In HLL Lifecare, Declined Kerala Govt May Decide To Play Unfair

The Rs 5,138-crore HLL Lifecare (formerly Hindustan Latex) headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is attracting many suitors. This follows the Government of India’s November 14, 2021 decision to hive off its entire stake in HLL Lifecare. Around seven suitors including the Adani Group, Piramal Healthcare, two Kerala based companies advised by two former CMDs of HLL Lifecare, a fund besides NRIs. HLL Lifecare, which started as a condom manufacturer sold under the brand name Moods, is today a health care company in the truest sense. It has a Pharma business, makes medical devices, runs diagnostic centres, manufactures sanitary napkins and blood bags etc. The company has seven factories, four in Kerala and one each in Belgaum, Manesar and Indore. Today the company operates 220 pathology labs, 47 imagery centres, six labs under the Hindlabs brand and 253 pharmacies across India. Both Adani and Piramal are keen to acquire it. The cash strapped Kerala government, however, could play spoilsport since it wants to take over the company although its offer was declined. The company’s turnover jumped three times from Rs 1739 crore in 2019-2020 to Rs 5138 crore, the profit marginally lower than the previous year. The jump in turnover was a result of enhanced non-core activities including huge purchases and supplies of Covid vaccines, surgical masks and gloves for various State Governments and hospitals.

BJP Adheres To One Ticket Per Family Norm, Denies MLC Ticket To Yediyurappa's Son Vijayendra

In a bold move, the BJP national leadership has decided not to accommodate BY Vijayendra, second son of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, to the Karnataka Legislative Council for the upcoming June 3 Legislative Council elections. The BJP can win four of the seven seats of the Legislative Council for which MLAs will elect the members. The party has picked up former Deputy CM Laxman Savadi, secretary of the BJP state unit Hemalatha Nayak, president of BJP SC Morcha Chalavadi Narayanaswamy and S Keshavaprasad. Interestingly, Vijayendra’s name was recommended by the state BJP core committee. But central leaders decided against it. With one son BY Raghvendra, already a Lok Sabha MP, Yediyurappa himself a MLA, the BJP was not keen to give ticket to one more family member. It was felt Yediyurappa’s every wish had been accommodated – including his close aide Shobha Karandlaje being made a Union Minister. Of course the reason for denying MLC ticket to Vijayendra is because he had been exploring the possibility of setting up a breakaway political group – revisiting Karnataka Janata Paksha set up by his father during 2013 assembly polls. Reports of his meetings with Congress leader Siddaramiah have also emerged. With this action, the BJP has sought to grow out of Yediyurappa narrative. The party is betting on Bommai’s governance and Modi’s leadership.
Dinesh Karthik


Gavaskar Wants DK As Batter In Indian T20 World Cup Team, Little Master Endorses Kartik’s Classy Form, His World Cup Dream!

Dinesh Karthik has thrown his hat in the ring for a place in the Indian team for the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 in the Australian summer this year. The smart stumper from Chennai is 36 and the selectors — all bowlers — believe that the keeper-batter who has played in two Twenty20 World Cups in 2007 and 2010, and scored 57 runs in five innings for an average of 11.40 has to be put on trial again for the big event Down Under. Karthik played his last Twenty20 international in February 2019.  He has now been selected for the five match Twenty20 series against South Africa to be played at five cities from June 9. Rishabh Pant is in the squad as first ‘keeper and vice-captain to KL Rahul and so Karthik will play as a specialist batter. None other than Sunil Gavaskar pushed his case saying: “Form is important. They say form is temporary and class is permanent and if a classy player is in form, then you must pick him. The way he is batting currently he should be considered and included as a pure batter and wicket-keeping should be an added option. Don’t think about his age.” For Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL-15, Karthik scored 177 @no7 in seven innings with a strike rate of 11 plus an over.
K C Chandrashekhar rao


KCR Doles Out Lakhs To Punjab-Haryana Farmer Families, Eyes National Politics During Visit To Delhi

At first it just seemed ambitious Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, was taking a leaf out of the play book of his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin. Just as Stalin had visited Delhi in April, met with AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and visited a Delhi Government school to learn about “innovation in education” KCR followed a similar schedule. Except that the Telangana leader added an extra dimension to the Delhi visit — reaching out to farmers. He made pay-outs to families of farmers who died during the course of the agitation against the now-repealed central farm laws. He travelled with Kejriwal to Chandigarh to hand over cheques worth Rs 3 lakh to 24 farmer families from Punjab and five from Haryana. The two CMs were joined by Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann. Would these pay-outs help Telangana farmers? Of course, not. Rao lauded Punjab farmers for fighting the farm laws that were rolled back “If farmers want, they can change government. It is not a big thing. From where the power comes, it comes from us,” he said. Ironically, farmers in Punjab are now up in arms against the AAP Government for a whole range of issues including a bonus on wheat, MSP for maize and waiving of loans.
Semmalai of Salem

AIADMK's Semmalai (in shawl) may get Rajya Sabha ticket

EPS-OPS Agree To Disagree On One Rajya Sabha Nominee, So, Semmalai It May Finally Be

Former CMs of Tamil Nadu Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) have agreed upon one seat each for the Rajya Sabha elections due on June 10 but, the process got held up as EPS shot down one name proposed by OPS. While EPS’ choice is senior party leader S Semmalai, the proposal of OPS to nominate Syed Khan from Theni district is a problem because he had convened a district meeting calling for Sasikala’s return to the party fold. Meanwhile, sensing an opportunity, senior leader and former minister Jayakumar from Chennai has sought a nomination to the Rajya Sabha. With ongoing investigations against him by the DVAC besides charges being pressed by the ruling DMK, Jayakumar has pleaded for the seat in a bid to ease off the heat on him once he becomes a member of the Upper House. A vocal critic of the Stalin rule and one of his party’s spokespersons, the senior member was under pressure lately. There are other former ministers too seeking the seat and fomenting tensions in the ties between the two senior leaders, currently in total control of the party and in harmony after settling the Sasikala issue by agreeing to keep her out. While Semmalai seems a shoo-in, the second candidate could be just about anyone.

Stalin On Renaming Spree For Kalaignar, Holds His Horse Chariot At Thiruvarur Ther

Changing names of roads, landmarks is the favourite pastime of Indian politicians. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is no different. He plans to rename the famous East Coast Road leading to Mahabalipuram to Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road. Questions abound whether Stalin is emulating the BJP that rampantly changed names of places and cities, as Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj, notwithstanding expected protests.  Stalin won’t stop at roads alone, it seems and is striking at the very roots of devotion and the Saivite culture. Thiruvarur Ther is a revered car festival that gained in grandeur and devotion over the ages from the Chola kings’ time, with the chariot of Thiruvarur Thiagaraja Swamy being Asia’s biggest temple chariot at 96 ft height and 300 tonne weight. Stalin plans to change the name of the temple car street from Thiruvarur Ther Veedhi to Kalaignar Veedhi. Thiruvarur is the birthplace of the Carnatic Music triumvirate –Thiyagaraya, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syma Sastri. Thirukkuvalai, in the hinterland of Thiruvarur is the birthplace of the Late Kalaignar. This name change prompted a massive protest rally by the BJP. Seeing the huge round of protest the DMK government decided to dial down for now has put the name change plan on hold. Seeing BJP’s protest a wag commented, sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. True That.

Centre's Curb On Tanker Operators Drawing Well Water Hits Mumbai's Infra Projects

The recent strike by the 1800-odd water tankers operators in Mumbai (May 9-13) showed how Mumbai city gets its way despite contrary stipulations. The operators had stalled supply of non-potable water to the city following restrictions introduced by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), effective from April 1, 2022.  The new stipulations cap ground water extraction by commercial water tankers to 15 tankers full water per well. Tankers must also fill water within a 200 metres radius of a borewell, set up a digital water flow meter with telemetry and get no-objection certification for water extraction. The water tanker lobby also provides non-potable water for various critical projects in the city like the Coastal Road project (300 tankers of water daily@ 10,000 litres per tanker), Mumbai Trans Harbour project (80 tankers), railways (150 tankers). They also supply water to various building construction sites and hospitals and even residential societies. Not surprisingly, Mumbai was badly hit and the state government intervened assuring them of taking up the issue with the Centre. While CGWB introduced the regulations, it does not even have an office in Mumbai and the penal/ legal action is to be executed by local Collectors, under state government jurisdiction. So, while the regulations stay on paper as of now, the tankers are back on the streets where life goes on as usual.
Priyanka Gandhi

Karnataka Congress Chief DK’s Proposal Catches Priyanka’s Fancy, To Emulate Grandma Indira Gandhi And Rajya Sabha Entry?

Congress leaders from Karnataka are vying with each other to field Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a Rajya Sabha candidate from the state. While it is unclear whether Priyanka has decided yet, her attendance at the birthday bash of Karnataka PCC president DK Shivakumar at Udaipur, on the last day of Nav Sankalp Shivir on May 15, was an indication. She even cut the cake and handed Shivakumar a slice. Karnataka Congressmen who witnessed the event are certain Priyanka will accept their Rajya Sabha proposal. They want Priyanka’s entry into their state’s politics to boost electoral prospects in the 2023 state assembly polls. “We have enough MLAs to elect an MP,” a senior Karnataka Congress leader said. The BJP declared candidates for all four seats from Karnataka. Priyanka’s baby steps into parliamentary politics in Rajya Sabha would see her emulate grand-mother Indira Gandhi, who became a Rajya Sabha MP, in the initial years of her politics. It is quite another matter that Indira Gandhi represented Uttar Pradesh (between Aug 1964 and Feb 1967) in the Rajya Sabha, served as I & B minister before ascending to the PM’s post.  With Congress winning two assembly seats and registering a mere 2.3% vote share in the UP 2022 polls, Priyanka may feel inclined to venture into electoral polls as an MP in 2024.
India's Nikhat Zareen poses with coach Bhaskar Bhatt after winning gold medal at the 12th IBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Istanbul on Thursday, May 19, 2022

Boxer Nikhat Zareen with coach Bhaskar Bhatt

Nikhat Zareen’s Deadly Punches Land Her The Title, Wins $100,000 Cash Prize, The Lass Has Proven Her Mettle

Every punch landed just right for Nikhat Zareen in Istanbul, Turkey. At only 25-years-old, she punched her way to glory, scoring 5 -0 jury verdicts in all five bouts to win the gold medal and a cool $ 100,000 (Rs 77.52 lakh) cash prize. The young pugilist from Nizamabad, Telangana was not allowed to compete in a trial bout with the more famous Mary Kom prior to the Tokyo Olympics. She has proved her mettle now within the flyweight category (50-52 kg) at the International Boxing Association organized Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Istanbul. Since 2011, when she won the World Junior Women’s Gold at Antalya, Turkey, she had secured financial support from entrepreneur Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao. “Jerry is also supporting Maharashtra’s upcoming woman boxer Alfiya Pathan. More corporations and individuals must support boxing. Now, Nikhat should compete in both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year and the Asian Games in China (postponed because of the pandemic),” said a happy Kishan Narsi, former international referee-judge and technical expert. Nikhat, who beat boxers from Mexico, Mongolia, England, Brazil and Thailand to win $100,000 in prize money was introduced at the World meet in Belgrade (Serbia) last year. Two other Indian women Parveen and Manisha won bronze medals and a cash prize of $25,000 each (Rs 19 lakh).
Rahul Gandhi.

Miffed RaGa Flays SC Ruling, May Snap Ties With DMK For Felicitating Father's Convict Perarivalan

Rahul Gandhi is apparently upset over the DMK Government’s handling of the AG Perarivalan case. One of the convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Perarivalan, served 31 years of his jail term before being released by the Supreme Court on May 18. The verdict may pave the way for the release of six other convicts in the case. An upset Rahul asked close aide Randeep Surjewala to issue a statement against the judgement even as he was traveling to the UK to speak at the “Ideas for India” conference and “India @75” at the Cambridge University. Tamil Nadu Congressmen are questioning Surjwewala’s attack on the Modi Government over the case, not DMK.  “At least Delhi delayed it out of respect for Rajiv Gandhi. It is the DMK which has not cared for assassination of Rajiv Gandhi,” said an anguished Congress leader. Congressmen were particularly upset with the manner in which Chief Minister MK Stalin immediately felicitated Perarivalan and his mother in his office. “What was the rush? Does the life of a PM have no value in this country?  If we had any self-respect, we should have snapped ties with the DMK. Why should we cling to them for the sake of a Rajya Sabha seat?” asked a partyman.

PHOTO: Twitter

Sallu’s Casting Director Fetish, Makes Industry Bosses Squeamish

Is Salman Khan playing Bollywood Sugar-Daddy? So, it seems and, has been for some time now. Few are vocal or, even make it an issue preferring to instead, quietly drop out of projects. His growing interference came to fore once again when his favourite Bigg Boss contestant Shehnaaz Gill was signed up for Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali. Sources say Salman took issue with producer Sajid Nadiadwala, his best friend, over the star cast including co-stars Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade. Salman apparently pitched Zaheer Iqbal and Aayush SHarma for the respective roles instead. Probably, one of the reasons Sajid walked out of the Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali project. It appears that economic viability does not bother Salman. Those who have known him closely say he always got involved with star casting and pushed his personal preferences for films he signed up for. Even in the past, he did the same to co-star with Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor. In recent times Daisy Shah and Jacqueline Fernandez were his choice of co-stars. He was also the one who pushed Katrina Kaif for Bharat after Priyanka Chopra opted out. Sometime back a well-known and favourite director of the actor preferred to shelve his film rather than giving into the actor’s whims and fancy over who he should sign up or not.
Siddhu and Jakhar

For Punjab Congress It’s A Double Whammy, Sidhu Goes To Jail While Jakhar Joins The BJP

It was a double whammy for the Punjab Congress.  First, former Punjab PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu got sentenced to a one year jail term by the Supreme Court in a 34- year old road rage case, after leading the Congress in the state with disastrous results in the assembly polls two months ago, paving the way for AAP’s rule. In an equally interesting development former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar enrolled with the BJP. In a massive setback, Sidhu was forced to surrender before court to serve out his year-long “rigorous imprisonment”. “Will submit to the majesty of law…,” he tweeted. The apex court was responding to an appeal against its own order of 2018 which set aside Punjab & Haryana High Court order saying there was no evidence the man could have died of a single blow. But it held the cricketer-politician guilty of causing hurt to a senior citizen. In 2006, the Punjab and Haryana High court had convicted Sidhu of culpable homicide and sentenced him to three years in jail. In 2018, Sidhu approached the Supreme Court, which set aside the order. Meanwhile, with Jakhar joining BJP, Punjab Congress leaders say others are set to leave the party as well. PCC chief Amrinder Singh Warring is being blamed for the exits.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram Eye Rajasthan For Rajya Sabha Entry As Kapil Sibal Takes Jharkhand route?

Filing nominations for 57 Rajya Sabha vacancies spread across 15 states will begin next week and continue till May 31.  Yet, in the Congress informally, there is a sense that opportunities will be far and few and spread in a way no one feels they have got a raw deal. The buzz so far is that prominent G-23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is keen on a Rajya Sabha seat, will be accommodated from Rajasthan. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is willing to accommodate Azad from the first two regular vacancies. For the third seat, the party has advised beleaguered leader P Chidambaram to go for it. This third seat will require support from independent MLAs, who are already backing the Government. It is being said that Kapil Sibal could be moving from UP to Jharkhand. Vivek Tankha could move from Madhya Pradesh to the lone vacancy in Chattisgarh. Even then there is no clarity on who would come from Maharashtra, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. While it is still possible, Mukul Wasnik could clinch the Maharashtra seat, even as Rahul Gandhi may try to push for his close aide Praveen Chakravarty from Tamil Nadu. In Haryana, Bhupinder Hooda has refused to accept Randeep Surjewala as a RS candidate. There could be a dark horse like the old party hand Janardhan Dwivedi.
Arivu with Stalin

Perarivalan hugging Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin

Model Prisoner Perarivalan Has Paid His Debt To Society, Supreme Court Sets Him Free

Tamilians celebrated the release of AG Perarivalan, aka Arivu, from incarceration by the Supreme Court that invoked its special powers under Article 142. Terming Perarivalan totally innocent in the conspiracy to assassinate former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 would be untrue. A known LTTE sympathiser Arivu actively involved in small jobs like ferrying cassette tapes of regional news about ongoing events in Tamil Nadu. He was a member of the team that made dry runs to meetings of Rajiv Gandhi and PM VP Singh in Chennai. He was not part of the innermost circle that planned the assassination considering the many layers of secrecy existing in the militant organisation, LTTE and, how its Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran operated. He procured two 9-volt batteries for the one-eyed member of the assassin squad, Sivarajan, who may have used these in the belt bomb, taking a leaf right out of a Frederick Forsyth novel, which the assassin wore and triggered when ostensibly garlanding Rajiv Gandhi. Arivu was a model prisoner, who served more than a life term for his role in the LTTE sponsored political assassination. Having paid his debt to society he may not be begrudging his freedom now. Most LTTE sympathisers then harboured ill will against Rajiv Gandhi, for ordering Indian Peace Keeping Forces to intervene in Sri Lanka during the ethnic crisis.

Saraswat Brahmins’ Goa Conclave, To Channelise Community Business Spirit Over One Day

Saraswat Brahmin entrepreneurs from across the globe will converge in Goa come September 10, for the first Annual Conclave. The Saraswat Brahmin community of business leaders from different parts of the world joined hands and formed the Global Saraswat Entrepreneurs Chamber (GSEC) in 2019, resurrecting the nearly 30-year-old Saraswat Chamber of Commerce set up by Suresh Prabhu, senior BJP leader and former chairman of the Saraswat Cooperative Bank. This one-day conference is expected to draw some of the biggest names from the community including, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, singer activist Hemaa Sardesai, hoteliers Vithal Kamat (Kamat Hotels Group), Raghunandan Kamath (Natural Ice Creams) and Marathi actor Ashok Saraf to name just a few. The underlying objective of the conclave “to build a wise, vibrant and prosperous community ecosystem for Saraswats in business and profession,” says Siddharth Sinkar, founder director of GCSE. The Saraswat community is primarily known as an ethical and philanthropic segment of society that channelised and harnessed cumulative energies for collective excellence in society. In the fields of business and commerce the community has been a frontrunner in the banking and cooperatives sectors.
Chidambarams, father and son

Will CBI Raid Foil Chidambaram’s Chance Of Getting A Rajya Sabha Ticket?

Scratch a politician and foreign accounts will pop up. This is not a particular Indian phenomenon. From the day Indira Gandhi was heard asking about Sanjay Gandhi’s watch after he died in a light plane crash it has been known Indian politicians revelled in stashing money away from prying Indian eyes. But it must be said it’s not particularly bright to keep stashing money when it can act better as capital, which is what smart businessmen keep telling politicians. The troubles the Chidambarams, father and son, are going through are not new to them. They may be the cleverer lawyer types knowing that money should be shrouded in several layers to make it difficult for snooping bureaucrats, no great shakes when it comes to analysing hidden money games, to ferret out. At a time when Chidambaram is trying to convince the Congress high command (read Sonia Gandhi) that his Rajya Sabha innings must continue through the seat so magnanimously offered by Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK, the latest set of CBI raids may be just an inconvenience. In fact, the grand old party might honour PC with a longer run in the Upper House thanks to these perennial raids, one of which was so poorly handled that some operatives were hanging from the roof of the former finance minister’s house in New Delhi when he was to be arrested.
Congress Chintan Shibir

NavSankalp Chintan Shivir: Kerala Cong Leader’s 5 Minutes Fame, Resigns From Fishermen’s Body And Plays Political Game

When news of Thrissur MP TN Prathapan’s resignation as National Chairman of the All India Fishermen Congress came in, everyone felt an idea of NavSankalp Chintan Shivir — about fixed tenure of 5 years — had kicked in. But then senior Congress leaders were quite surprised. Was Prathapan jumping the gun? After all, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had announced a compact Task Force that would be set up to drive the process of internal reforms that “are essential and that has been discussed in different groups at Udaipur.”  The task force was to cover all aspects of reforms with focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls including appointments to party posts. The composition of the Task Force was to be notified in the next ttwo-three days. Prathapan’s colleagues felt he was probably trying to grab some five minutes of fame. “Don’t take Prathapan seriously — this is just his antics. The task force will take a call on all aspects of what Soniaji has said,” said a senior Kerala leader. Incidentally it was AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik who had proposed a 5-year tenure freeze for party posts. Wasnik feels everyone must get a chance at the top.  “I have put in 24 years — held various positions; I have been a general secretary for 20 years. I held it even as a Union Minister in the UPA Government.”

Sports Ministry’s Four-Year Investment In Badminton Yields Rich Dividends, As India Lifts Thomas Cup

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) can take credit for the Indian men’s badminton team’s trailblazing Thomas Cup win, prevailing over Asian giants like Malaysia and Indonesia and the European powerhouse, Denmark. The SAI, which has been proactive and hands-on supporting sports federations and Elite Athletes, is an Independent organisation under the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Over the last four years, it had funded badminton to the tune of Rs 67.19 crore, in particular for the men and women players’ training and competitions overseas. In the last 12 months the SAI defrayed the cost of 14 international exposure tournaments, Rs 4.5 crore, to the Elite players. The SAI also engaged foreign coaches for the singles and doubles players. Soon after the win in Bangkok, the SAI said: “The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports has contributed to the unprecedented success of the team… A 10-week National Camp in January helped raise the fitness levels of the players. The support to engage Mathias Boe as coach to assist the doubles combinations has been significant as well.” Former All England men’s singles winner and Chief National Coach Pullela Gopichand — who along with the legendary Prakash Padukone are responsible for popularising the game — told that he is optimistic of the SAI extending support to the junior players. A big shabash to the SAI for providing succour to Indian sport and its athletes.

Zoya’s The Archies Film Takes Star Kids On, Kicks Up Online Storm, Bollywood Insider Vs Outsider Debate Rages On

The untimely death of Sushant Singh Rajput kicked up national outrage over nepotism and debate on the outsider vs insider discrimination in Bollywood.  Zoya Akhtar’s latest project The Archies adds more grist to the mill. This film, directed by an established insider Zoya, will launch Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, Sridevi’s daughter Khushi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agatsya Nanda. Interestingly, the parents of all these star kids have respective home productions but, are being launched by Zoya Akhtar, the unconventional producer known for his content driven cinema.  It is an unconventional launch for the youngsters. While Zoya cannot escape nepotism allegations as she chose the Bollywood insiders to star in the film. One would have thought SRK and Big B would avoid playing it up on social media out of fear of being trolled but, both just went ahead and tweeted emotional posts. Guari Khan wrote: `Suhana you did it’ and Amitabh Bachchan said, “Rise of the Son’’. The nepotism debate was immediately sparked off online as netizens passed judgement on the actors as white kids minus a Suhana Khan. Whether it was talent or nepotism that launched these star kids will be settled soon enough. Yes, these star kids will have to prove to the world that they carry the genes of their superstar parents.
Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar Shocks & Surprises, Nominates George Fernandes Aide Anil Hegde To Rajya Sabha Seat

In an unexpected move, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar nominated a low-profile Janata Dal (U) office-bearer Anil Hegde as the candidate for the by-election to his party quota Rajya Sabha seat. The seat became vacant after the death of MP Mahendra Prasad. Hegde will only enjoy a short term until April 2024. Nitish was keen to send party functionary Hegde to the Rajya Sabha to help him secure his future. Hegde was a close associate of the late George Fernandes, had functioned as JD(U)’s national election officer. Party sources say the CM wanted to ensure Hegde was able to draw a pension. Initially, Nitish considered sending him to the Bihar Legislative Council.  “I have been living in the JD(U) office in Patna for the past 12 years,” said Hegde, who hails from Bengaluru. Hegde has for long been the JD(U)’s national election officer, responsible for coordination between the party and the Election Commission during assembly and parliamentary polls. In securing the party nomination, Hegde has edged out many others who were in the race including the party’s national secretary general K C Tyagi.

Tesla’s Roll Out In India Hits Make It In India Fire Wall!

Looks like Tesla may not roll out its EV in India anytime soon. Sources say Tesla recently transferred some key officials out of India to alternate global markets in APEC, Middle East and the USA. This indicates that Elon Musk, who was keen on the Indian market, has decided to move on for the time being. Indianconsumers will buy what’s produced in India by Tata Motors, Mahindra, Morris Garage, Hyundai and Maruti presently. Primarily, Tesla chose not to enter the Indian market because of Indian government policies. Given our relationship with China and Modi’s push for Make in India, the BJP government was averse to allow made in China Tesla cars, boosting Chinese employment, but marketed in India without an immediate commitment to manufacture in India? There are several reasons Musk may have put India on the back burner. Firstly, current EV sales touch barely 1% of total auto sales in the country which does not make economic sense for Tesla to set up a unit in India. Secondly, with 100% import duty, Tesla will become over priced in the Indian market. Thirdly, India is not yet ready with its infrastructure, including road worthiness and charging stations. And, fourth reason is Indian insistence on a long term manufacturing commitment, distinct from being considered like a test pilot case.

OTT India Grows Regional Traction, Induces Faster Netflix Contractions, Leading To Viewer Tariff Rate Attractions

As if competition from local Indian players was not enough, mainline OTT players are now facing heat from a fresh wave of regional players. Following in the footsteps of Zee 5, Sony Liv, Voot et all are MX Player in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Bengali, Alt-Balaji and Eros in Hindi, Hoichoi in Bangla, Aha in Telugu, now expanding into Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, Manorama Max, Neestream and Koode in Malayalam, Kanncha Lannka in Odiya, My Toonz (Kids OTT in Hindi and English). And, so many more are still lining up. Why is the Indian market turning out to be a different ball game? None of the big players are standalone entities like Netflix. Disney has the backing of Star group and Hot Star, Amazon Prime has Amazon Shopping and online services, Zee 5 has the Zee TV group, Sony Liv is with Sony TV group, Viacom 18 boasts of Paramount + while Sun Next has the parent Sun group. And if this was not enough, there is a new entrant in the form of the James Murdoch-Uday Shankar combine tying up with Reliance’s Jio Cinema. Competition is sizzling up in the OTT space with viewers beginning to feel like kings.
Kamala Hasaan

Kamal Haasan's Dirty Dance Gets Vocal, Makes Political Angst Focal, Hasn't Had Enough, Sings Pathala Pathala!

In just four days of streaming on YouTube, Kamal Haasan set a world record crooning the first song from his action-thriller movie Vikram. The electric rhythm and electrifying lyrics of Pathala, Pathala (can’t have enough) have sent his legion of fans into ecstatic frenzy. Kamal’s team pulled out all the stops to make Vikram and its music a customised stimulating experience. The ensemble cast including 67-year old Haasan has Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh, Kalidas Jayaram and, a cameo by Surya. No prizes for guessing the ingredients for this potpourri action thriller directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj in which Kamal dons khakhi. It is pure Chennai petta rap like Bombaiya, full of irreverent political innuendos, taking on both the Center and the ruling party, besides other public Rasputins. Sweet revenge for all his failures? Ultimately, what nails this song is Kamal’s energetic tempo of dirty dancing that has pumped up hysteria. A crazed fan adds, “What Rajini got with a lifetime of style, Kamal has belted out in one song “. Is Janaki meant to take on a Tamil Nadu BJP functionary? Already, an obfuscated vigilante has filed a case against the song for its controversial lyrics. Both Kamal’s political avatar and cinematic charisma sorely need an upturn. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be pathala, pathala….just not enough.


We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.