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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.
Collage Maker-15-Feb-2023-01

@NayantharaU and @MalavikaM_

Clash Of Beauties: Malavika Mohanan Takes On Lady Superstar Nayanthara

Malayalam and Tamil cinemas sexy and outspoken star Malavika Mohanan is hissing like a cat on a hot tin roof. And no one can miss her direct and indirect references to Lady Superstar Nayanthara, now elevated as King Khan’s heroine in Jawan under production. Nayan has proved her versatility in movies like Aram, Naanum Rowdy Thaan, Raja Rani. Malavika was on the warpath last year too, baiting Nayan in veiled ways. There was the reference to Nayan’s scene in a movie where she had full makeup on for a hospital scene in which she played the patient. Mohanan shot her sarcastic arrow, “Guess even in a death scene such stars will flaunt full makeup”. Ouch! Now Mohanan is busy giving gyaan about why female stars should not use titles like Lady Superstar. Reportedly, Nayan is the highest paid heroine in south charging around Rs 10 crore per movie. Malavika herself is a drop dead gorgeous looker, and has been noticed in Petta, Master and Maaran. She is young, sought after and has miles to go before she takes off her makeup. Then why the barbed arrows? Currently shooting for Christy, maybe she is seeking publicity, even getting trolled by Nayan fans. Malavika has made social media handles sizzle. Is she eyeing the Lady Superstar title?
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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.

Karan Johar requesting young actors to take a cut in their fees

Are Stars’ High Fees Making Bollywood Movies Unviable?

Finally, Shah Rukh Khan’s controversial movie Pathaan has broken the Bollywood jinx. It’s a runaway hit with collections crossing the Rs 475-crore mark. But for Pathaan the last two years have been a disaster for the Hindi film industry with all movies involving top actors like Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, Ranveer Singh, Rajkummar Rao bombing at the box office. The only saving grace was Kartik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. Has the success of Pathaan emboldened producers to announce new projects? Not really. No producer is confident to invest in Hindi films because here, the stars walk away with a major portion of the budget by way of their fees. It may be recalled that the Telugu Film industry went through a similar phase; they hit the pause button, did some introspection followed by correction. Now, they are up and running. In the case of Bollywood, producers have hit the pause button and hoping there will be correction. Seeing the writing on the wall a worried Karan Johar while hosting Bigg Boss – Season 16 made off the cuff remark requesting young actors from Kartik Aaryan to Varun Dhawan to Ranbir Kapoor to cut their fees. Will they? Meanwhile, statistics show that there has been a significant drop in the number of new films announced in the last one year; those films released in 2023 are only backlogs. Clearly, it’s a wakeup call for Bollywood stars.
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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).
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Mumbai Cricket Association's Thumbs Up For Women's League, But It Should Do Much More For Cricket!

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) deserves a pat on its back for conducting a four-team women’s league with seven matches being played under lights at the Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai is the winner of the Ranji Trophy for 41 times, and for long, it has been the powerhouse in Indian cricket; the India captain Rohit Sharma is from Mumbai. That the MCA has taken the lead in putting in place a Women’s League — that can only expand in the future — points to a positive thinking by its Apex Council steered by its President Amol Kale and Secretary Ajinkya Naik. An initiative for a defray of around Rs 5 lakh, plus the prize money, is no big deal for MCA, but the lead it has taken has the potential to cause ripple effects in India. Established and budding talents in and around the Mumbai Metropolitan Region played in the inaugural league; now the MCA must walk the extra mile and become proactive in spreading the game to schools and colleges. It is also not too late to explore the feasibility of founding a multi-day league for the top clubs, to start with, for men. This will sustain the supply line for the Ranji Trophy tournament. An annual contract for its senior men’s team would also be in order. The MCA should not dilly-dally this financial aspect that provides security to the uncapped players.
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. 
Collage Maker-10-Feb-2023-02


Ashwin & Jadeja Continue Their Successful Run With 100 Plus Wickets Against Australia

For over a decade Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have teased and taunted batters and turned out to be stellar performers with the ball. Both finger spinners of the off-break and orthodox left arm variety, have stamped their class against Australia in a home series. Ashwin had 50 Australian scalps before the start of the first Test at Nagpur and Jadeja, 49 for a total of 99 in eight matches of the 2012-13 and 2016-2017 series. On Thursday (Feb 9), Jadeja sporting a ponytail on his return to Test cricket after seven months, plotted the downfall of five Australian batters and Ashwin mopped up three to take their tally past the 100-plus mark against visitors from the antipodes. These two are now 41 wickets away from Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble’s combined collection of 148 wickets against Australia at home. Ashwin and Jadeja will get a chance to bridge the gap in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Ashwin had crossed Kapil Dev’s record of 434 wickets in his 85th Test and on the first day of his 89th Test, he crossed the 450 wicket mark. He and Jadeja have proved to be the most effective pair after Ashwin and left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took a bucketfull of wickets in home conditions. The success of Ashwin and Jadeja will determine India’s passage to the ICC World Test Championship final.

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.
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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?
WhatsApp Image 2023-02-10 at 15.31

Tamilnad Mercantile Bank To Rope In External Consultant For BPR

Its financials have been strong all the while. Yet, this over 100-year-old private bank has consistently hit the headlines for all wrong reasons. After many twists and turns caused by internecine quarrels among promoter groups belonging to the Nadar community, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) finally made its maiden foray into the capital market on September 5 last year. A new Managing Director S Krishnan took over the bank a day prior to its IPO. Krishnan has his job cut out. Having come out with good Q3 numbers – first quarter results since it went public in September last, Krishnan is on a mission to take TMB pan-India and make it a much more efficient bank to compete effectively with its peers in the industry. He is now toying with the idea of going for a business process re-engineering (BPR). TMB is looking to engage the services of an external consultant to come out with a detailed report on BPR, and recommend solutions for the bank on the way forward. The BPR initiative is intended to bring about a rethinking in the way TMB does its work. The objective is simple: to improve customer service, cut operational cost and become efficient. The BPR could focus on the analysis and design of workflows and business processes within the organisation. It’s transition time at TMB!


The Ball That Settled The Series

Long after the final ball will be bowled in this series, the one delivery that sealed the Australians fate will be remembered for long. Two of Australia’s finest batsmen of today were together and making a match of it when Ravindra Jadeja, on a comeback trail, gave that delivery a little more air. On the cusp of a landmark, Marnus Labuschagne could not resist the temptation, overbalanced in failing to connect his intended drive to the ball that turned teasingly past the bat and the debutant keeper grabbed the chance to whip the bails off in a flash. Jadeja is no Bishen Bedi but he is a clever bowler who knows that he is not a big spinner of the ball to bowl too much beyond the wicket to wicket line. He keeps it on the spot at a brisk pace and with variations like the straight ball and the arm ball together present quite a challenge for visiting batsmen in Indian conditions. He may have won the series for India already with that ball beating Labuschagne and then sealing it with the splendidly directed arm ball that went through Steve Smith’s gate. He dismantled the Aussie challenge in those two deliveries, but it was the first one that broke the camel’s back. If this series looks over already, it is all down to Jadeja’s cleverness. Give him credit for it.
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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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Just Chill With Latest Movies If Stuck At Chennai Airport

Time was when Chennai airport was just workhorse functional, fliers comparing it to the glittering breathtaking Changi, and feeling second class. Frequent construction for cosmetic renovation was always knocking the fliers’ rush. Suddenly this not so glamorous poor cousin airport has emerged as an attractive, talked about airport. Parking bays, arrival and departure bays, all spruced up. But it is the mint new AeroHub adjoining the airport with an umbilical aero bridge that is now raved about. Even before the mall has come up, PVR cinemas have thrown open a razzle dazzle multiplex of 5 screens to showcase favourite films, all on the fly.  Delayed flights, overnight transfers, waiting for technical glitch to resume your flight will turn into a fun experience as you walk across the bridge, drink, dine and dawdle over the latest film. The foyer decor, seating for 1150 people, Dolby sound , reclining seats, ample legroom, crystal clear projection on 5 screens , with Audi2 and Audi4 offering luxe viewing will definitely take the pain out of flying . Not just fliers, but outsiders are also welcome to come, drop a load of money on the peripheral attractions. Tamilians may appear stodgy and serious…but finally what they present in terms of entertainment and deluxe experience reminds one of Rajini’s dialogues, ”Naan lateaa vandalum latestaa varuven “ (I may be late, but I am the latest).
LeBron breaks NBA all time record

LeBron James Breaks World Record, Climbs Mt Everest Of Basketball

In climbing the Mount Everest of professional basketball, LeBron James of the LA Lakers has recorded one of sport’s greatest achievements. Having overtaken Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s 38,387 points, the 38-year-old is now the pro sport’s highest ever scorer. While Jabbar had taken 1,560 games to build his career tally, LeBron made it in just over 1,400 appearances. Jabbar was on hand to celebrate the moment when the game between the LA Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder was stopped the moment the record was broken. “Breaking records is a benchmark of human progress”, Jabbar said graciously. Michael Jordan (32,292) holds the record for the most points (30.1) per game, LeBron is fifth on that all-time list. Marked for greatness early in his life, LeBron’s 38,390 could well go over 40,000 points before he calls it a day. He intends playing at least one game with his elder son Bronny before he hangs up his boots. LeBron has considerable achievements to his name in the books. He has won at least one NBA title for each of his three teams and been the NBA’s MVP four times. LeBron has received many accolades for his game skills and his leadership qualities. One of his teammates in Cavaliers captured it best when he said – “It’s not just his body. It’s not just his process. It’s not just his intention. It’s his brain.”
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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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New Trends In Bollywood: Fans Don’t Mind Their Favourite Stars Tying Knots

Once upon a time in Bollywood it would have meant hara-kiri. Not anymore. At the peak of their career Kiara Advani and Sidharth Malhotra got married. This seems to be the new trend in Bollywood. Most of the actors and actresses are not really working on their image post marriage; it is simply because the audience and the fans continue to follow and fantasise about their stars.  According to social media expert there is so much of them out in the public domain that fans are fine with marriage and even children (Kareena Kapoor). The mysticism of the stars of the earlier days used to generate curiosity and fans fanaticised about them and these worked in the favour of the actors those days. Then stars had to project a certain image – they are single. Age, marriage and children were taboo. Then popular heroes or heroines were not seen with their families in public function or filmy event.  For instance, both Juhi Chawla and Aamir Khan hid their marriage. But times have changed; Bollywood topguns have got married – Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, Ranbir Kapoor-Aliya Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif. Those in the trade feel that it is only working in favour of the married celebrities as they get more opportunities for endorsements, ground events and even films and other projects.
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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.
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If It's Australia, It's About Baggy Green, Mental Disintegration And Final Frontier!

The team that has immortalised the Baggy Green cap is in India, and no wonder there is so much buzz around it because of the quality of the pitches (speculated though) that will be rolled out for the four Tests at Nagpur, New Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Australia needs to win one Test and India much more to proceed to the final of the ICC World Test Championship in London. Pitches in India in the past have been notoriously described as dubious, snake pits and what not. A few decades ago, Steve Waugh chose the mental disintegration strategy and labelled a Test series in India as the final frontier. He succeeded against most countries, but not in India. He lost 1-2 the famous series of 2001 when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman turned the Kolkata Test around on its head with a 376 run stand. India went on to win the Chepauk Test too. The present captain, Pat Cummins, who won the home Ashes series against England 4-0 and beat Pakistan in its backyard 1-0, is hoping to outwit India in India for the first time in nearly 19 years. Cummins has not lost a Test series, but he and Australia know that India will be a tough nut to crack at home. In the last four home Test series against Australia, India won 10 Tests as against Australia’s one win.

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.”    
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CII All Set To Launch Indian Corporate Cricket League

India is a cricket-crazy country. The IPL (Indian Premier League), which followed immediately after M S Dhoni-led Men in Blue winning the World Cup in Mumbai, has now become one of the largest annual sporting events in the country. From this year we will have a women’s premier league as well.  The cricket mania is now really expanding. Industry body CII is now gearing up to hold Indian Corporate Cricket League (ICCL).  It is a national-level initiative of the industry body. This will be a pan-India exercise, done at the behest of the Sports Ministry.  It will happen across India in each state. At state-level, it will have a round-robin format. The Tennis Ball cricket will have T-10 matches at state-level in round-robin format. Post-qualifying round, it will take the T-20 format. The CII is reported to have commissioned the services of an event management organization, which will be entrusted with the job of providing end-to-end logistic and related support facilities for the conduct of the ICCL across the country. CII is hoping for a participation of 25 teams in each state in the round-robin level. If grapevine has to go by, the Union Sports Ministry is reportedly keen that this kind of a pan-India corporate initiative is spread to other sports such as kabbadi and the likes. Sports at long lost is given its importance. That’s a welcome sign, indeed.

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.
Shubhman Gill


Litmus Test Awaits In-Form Shubman Gill Against Australia

Shubman Gill has been in good nick this season; he has collected plenty of runs, boosted by a maiden Test century in Bangladesh. He sustained his form in the home white ball series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand piling up 567 runs in six innings with big scores of 116 against Sri Lanka and 208 and 112 against New Zealand. The lean right-handed opener also showed his class with a lovely knock of 126 not out in the last Twenty20 match against New Zealand at Ahmedabad. In such great touch with the willow, executing splendid ground and aerial shots, Gill is virtually coercing the team management to pick him for the four Test series against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India has to be on the positive side of the results in order to travel to the UK for the ICC World Test Championship title match in June. Gill is likely to be a walk into the XI because Shreyas Iyer needs time to mend his back ailment, but he will find the Australian bowling combination tough to deal with. He looked the part making 259 runs in three Tests of the 2020-21 series in Australia, but thereafter he did not set the home series against England on fire in early 2021. But with another one year of international cricket under his belt, he must be feeling a bit better before the litmus Test against Pat Cummins and company.
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The Heroes Of 90s Are Reclaiming Their Place In Bollywood With A Vengeance

The heroes of the 90s are making a comeback in a big way. Ajay Devgn started the return trip to the box office with Drishyam 2 which grossed Rs 343 crore worldwide and is still running in cinemas. His arch-rival and Badshah of Bollywood has broken records with Pathaan’s worldwide collection crossing the Rs 600 crore mark and is still counting. Shah Rukh Khan who had a super flop like Zero is back with super dialogue hitting out at the newer stars who think they have replaced them. Pathaan’s popularity is affecting new releases. Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzaada was to release on February 10 but has now been postponed.  Does it signify solidarity? Though the makers say it is out of respect for SRK, it seems more out of concern for Kartik who has taken himself to be a ‘Shehzada’ of the industry. Likewise Salman Khan had a big flop in Antim is returning with Kisi Kaa Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan on Eid. Trade is saying it will open to about Rs 40 crore on day one. Akshay Kumar who had strings of flops has about 10 films in the pipeline. His film Selfie, a remake of the South film Driving Licence, looks interesting and could be a box office hit. Aamir Khan has taken a back seat as an actor and is now focusing on production and knowing the man he is definitely going to make a comeback in a big way.
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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.
Narendra Modi

Modi To Visit Mumbai Second Time In Three Weeks, Why?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second Mumbai and third Maharashtra visit within 50 days is being planned to highlight the importance the BJP attaches to the city and the state in view of the elections scheduled in the near future. With this visit scheduled on February 10, Maharashtra will be the only state to boast four Vande Bharat trains, two of them just within the state. The other highlight of Modi’s upcoming visit will be the opening of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s Arabic Academy in Andheri East. The sect’s head, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, will be present on the occasion, a community official said. Modi’s acceptance to attend this event will endorse the BJP’s systematic efforts to reach out to various sections of the minority population. One Vande Bharat train that Modi will flag off will be on Mumbai-Solapur route, the other will link Mumbai with Shirdi on February 10. The Mumbai-Solapur Vande Bharat train will cover the 455 km distance within six and a half hours while the Mumbai-Shirdi Vande Bharat train will traverse the 340 km distance in five and a half hours. Already, two Vande Bharat trains ply in Maharashtra. The first started running between Mumbai and Gandhinagar. The second, linking Nagpur and Bilaspur, was shown a green flag by Modi in December.
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Centre's Largesse For Karnataka Has Cong Worrying About Poll Outcome

The Union Budget announcement to allocate Rs 5,300 crore for the Upper Bhadra Project in poll-bound Karnataka seems to have completely upset the Congress, which instead of welcoming the allocation slammed the Centre for failing to allocate even a quarter of the total funds required to implement the project. Leader of the Opposition K Siddaramaiah said the project is estimated to cost around Rs 23,000 crore and the Centre has agreed to fund only around a quarter of the project. “Moreover, it hasn’t clarified whether the allocation was for a period of one year or five years.” While Siddaramiah appeared critical, Karnataka Congress leaders concede that the Centre’s move in the Budget for drought prone regions would have an impact on people living in the state’s drought-prone districts of Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Tumkuru and Davangere and could influence poll outcome. Party sources feel Centre must have extended a helping hand only because of chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s track record as Irrigation Minister; apparently he is also known to deliver results. A major lift irrigation scheme, the Upper Bhadra Project envisages lifting up to 17.40 thousand million cubic (TMC) of water in first stage from Tunga to Bhadra and lifting 29.90 TMC of water in second stage from Bhadra to Tunnel near Ajjampura, in Tungabhadra sub-basin of Krishna basin. In 2021, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry approved a national tag to the project with an estimated investment of Rs 16,125 crore.

The Woman In Red Dominates Parliament

Nirmala Sitharaman has evolved, over her terms as finance minister. From briefcase to Bahi Khata to a red covered tablet, her budgets too have traversed the gamut of potholed roads and paved runways. This year, presenting her McDonald’s (Burger, Nuggets, Fries and Cola) populist budget, she stunned Parliament in Red Avatar, the way of fire. Gracefully clad in a red handwoven ILKAL silk saree, made in her Rajya Sabha borough, Karnataka she must have made the women member’s envy her. Dharwad’s Aarathi Hiramath and artist Rukaiva Bandunavar were given just 10 days to create this heirloom for an anonymous client, and now the duo are drenched in praise. Was Sitharaman sending a message in her Durga Avatar? Was it a subliminal warning to that encircling cabal that her government saw red in all coincidental portends hitting her party, en masse? The tea leaf readers and talking heads are on overdrive… Sitharaman has raised the battle conch of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra. The lady in red can give as good as she gets in power dressing.
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Kasba Peth Assembly By-Poll: Acid Test For BJP As MVA May Play Spoilsport

By-election to the Kasba Peth assembly constituency in Pune is proving to be a potential battleground among the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners while the BJP is yet to decide upon its candidate after the demise of its sitting MLA Mukta Tilak. The last date for filing of nominations is February 7. A traditional BJP stronghold, the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena (U) have claimed the right to contest, trying to junk the assertions made by the other MVA constituents. However, the two Congress parties are serious claimants as the Sena had always left this seat for the BJP under the two-party electoral adjustment. Sitting Pune BJP MP Girish Bapat had been winning the seat successively. It was won in 2019 by his party’s Mukta Tilak with a thumping margin. Her untimely demise has caused the by-election, which will be a major test of strength between the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance and the MVA. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, too, has declared its intention to contest from Kasaba though it is not taken seriously. Internecine differences have surfaced over the probable candidature as each MVA party has at least half a dozen hopefuls. On the other hand, the BJP also is treading cautiously since it is determined to repeat its victory in the constituency. It will face a tough task to endorse a candidate, party leaders admit.

Green Signal: West Bengal BJP Leaders Woo Muslim Voters With An Eye 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending out a clear message on the need of wooing the minorities, a new buzz in Bengal BJP is reaching out to the muslims since the community comprises nearly 30% of total voters and BJP must reach out to them to garner votes ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha election. Out of 294 Assembly seats in Bengal, 125 are muslim-dominated and Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 90  of those seats in the 2021 Assembly poll taking her party tally to 213. However, incidents like Leftist student leader Anis Khan’s death and the arrest of Indian Secular Front MLA, Naushad Siddique, the scion of Furfura Sharif in South 24 Parganas, one of the muslim dominated districts have raised questions against TMC. Interestingly, besides Congress and CPI(M), BJP too led movements against the arrest of the minority MLA.  Minority Cell chairman Charle’s Nandi has recently stated that muslims in Didi’s tenure are the “most poor and backward”. Sources in the saffron camp said that a two-wheeler rally will be taken out in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies which are majorly dominated by Pasmanda muslims to sharpen its outreach among this socially backward muslims. Moreover, the state BJP which has a minority morcha cell, in the 41 of the 42 Parliamentary constituencies, held a residential training camp for its minority leaders and workers at Berhampore in the muslim-dominated Murshidabad district. Will all these efforts yield dividends? That’s the moot point.


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.