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maratha morcha

Maratha Morcha Approaching Mumbai, Acid Test For Government

Countdown has begun to handle the situation arising in Mumbai with regard to the massive morcha which is entering the commercial capital of India to demand reservations for the influential Maratha caste. Lakhs of supporters under the leadership of Manoj Jarange Patil have expressed determination to secure reservation. On the other hand, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has once again appealed to the morcha organisers to wait for a Maratha caste census report that is being prepared now. After receiving the findings, the matter will be discussed in the state legislature in February to fulfil the assurance to grant the reservation, he has reiterated. While the morcha has been peaceful, the unprecedented response it has been receiving along the way is astounding. Thousands of bhakris and tonnes of rice and vegetables are prepared by many families voluntarily to feed the marchers. On the outskirts of Mumbai, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee has reserved its sprawling premises in Navi Mumbai by keeping its operations closed for Thursday and Friday to accommodate the gathering. Huge police deployments along the route and in Mumbai have been posted to handle the large crowds. The Republic Day celebrations all over will be taking place below the shadow of the morcha. Alarmed by the prospect of taking a slice out of its reservation quota, the OBC community has started gathering its forces to counter the Maratha show of strength. Their next move is awaited.
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Tata Group, All Set To Make The Big Splash!

That the IPLTwenty20 is a veritable cash cow was proved once again with the Tata Group not batting an eyelid to retain the title sponsorship of the popular franchise-based league. Two years ago Tatas had replaced the Chinese company Vivo as the title sponsor at a cost of Rs 370 crore. In the latest piece of action though, the Tata Group has chosen to shell out Rs 2500 crore for a five-year season from 2024 to 2028. Just come to think of it, the real estate giant DLF — not able to get a team – got the title sponsorship at Rs 40 crore a season in 2008. In that context, the Rs 500 crore average for one season after 16 years, has to be put down as a mind-boggling sum. No wonder the BCCI Secretary Jay Shah and the IPL Chairman, Arun Singh Dhumal have expressed delight at the final sum of Rs 2500 crore, well in excess of the base price of Rs 1750 crore. The IPL has seen a number of title sponsors including DLF, Pepsi, Dream11, Vivo and then the Tata Group. The Tata Group has a massive connect with cricket, especially in the inter-office tournaments in Mumbai. It had given employment to hundreds of cricketers and the likes of Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Sourav Ganguly were on its payroll.  The Tata Group has been a late entrant into the IPL bandwagon; it bagged the Women’s Premier League last year and for the second year running the Tata Group is all set to make the big splash! 
modi maratha

PM Modi’s Western Maha Poll Play, Exploiting Maratha Strongman Vijaysinh Mohite Patil

BJP is a worried party in Bharat today with the I.N.D.I.A. alliance, compounded with on-the-boil Maratha agitations, threatening poll prospects to better BJP’s 303 Lok Sabha tally of MPs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Solapur visit recently, ostensibly to handover 15,000 homes to bidi workers rallying under former Solapur city’s CPI MLA Narsaiah Adam Master, has deeper political purpose for Western Maharashtra. A source familiar with goings on told shortpost.in, “Maratha reservations issue is backed by every common Maratha Manoos. A Maratha DCM (Ajit Pawar) was strapped on to expand chief minister Eknath Shinde’s political reach to woo the Western Maharashtra belt that Maha Chanakya Sharad Pawar lords over.” Modi’s Solapur visit quietly endorsed his blessings for the Krishna-Bheema rivers interlinking project. The brainchild of Pawar senior’s former Maratha DCM Vijaysinh Mohite Patil was launched in 2003 to alleviate water scarcity in six districts and 31 talukas of Western Maharashtra. BJP’s Chanakya, DCM Devendra Fadnavis relaunched the flagship project a fortnight back in earnest (for completion) although (temporarily) rebranding it as the Sangli flood water stabilization (diversion) project due to ongoing legal disputes with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh over river water utilization. Before 2019 Lok Sabha elections Modi similarly visited Malshiras in Solapur soliciting the Vijaysinh Mohite Patil family’s sway over the Baramati, Solapur, Mhada, Pandharpur Lok Sabha seats (built through blood, political relations over three generations) in Sharad Pawar’s stronghold. PM Modi’s current outreach seeks to blunt the sympathy wave for MVA, negative fallout over Maratha reservations in the ensuing general elections.
modi ram

Is DMK Rattled By PM Modi's Two Day Visit To Tamil Nadu?

Has PM Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Tamil Nadu ahead of the consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya rattled the ruling DMK? Though his official visit was to inaugurate the Khelo India event in Chennai, PM’s continued presence in the state and his visit to Ram temples retracing Bhagwan Sri Ram’s steps in Ramayana has generated a lot of public interest and political buzz. His interaction with potential allies and instructions to state BJP head K Annamalai to prepare for a booth-level meeting at the earliest as a follow-up of his visit have revealed that the BJP is seriously planning  for 2024. His brief roadshows in Chennai and Srirangam generated a lot of interest. PM Modi visited Rameshwaram – where Sri Ram and Sita worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of jyotirling. He also visited Kothandaramaswamy Temple in Dhanushkodi. TN BJP leaders feel it is the success of Modi’s two day visit that has got the state government to ban watching live telecasts of Ayodhya Ram Mandir programme. FM Nirmala Sitharaman who is attending a Kamba Ramayana function at Kanchipuram protested attempts to stop temples from organising events to mark Ayodhya event. A BJP spokesperson said “We were told by the police not to organise any programme in the temple in Ambathurai (near Dindigal) village because of Christians living there. Can you believe this?” Meanwhile, the Kanchi Shankaracharya has already reached Ayodhya endorsing the Ram Mandir consecration.
CK Nayadu

It All Began With Col CK Nayudu's 100-Minute 152 Against The MCC

The name of Col. C.K. Nayudu conjures up when cricketers in whites representing India and England gird up their loins for another Test skirmish. According to the famous ‘cricketwallah ‘ of Indian cricket, the late  Rajsingh Dungarpur, it was the lanky Nayudu’s ransacking knock of 152 for the Hindus against RC Chichester-Constable Marylebone Cricket Club at the  Bombay Gymkhana on December 1, 1926 that set into motion India’s recognition as a Test playing nation at London’s Lord’s Cricket Ground (June 1932). Nayudu was a giant, admired by many and not so by a minuscule, did the palm tree hitting act for 100 mts. He smashed the MCC bowlers for 13 x 6s and 11 x 4. India’s Test story began here with this knock that impressed none other than Arthur Gilligan — he did not play the match against the Hindus — who recommended to the MCC that India is ready for Test cricket. Since India’s first Test, the nation has played 64 Tests at home, won 22, lost 14 and drawn 28. India won the last Test series 3-1 in 2021, but three years later England appeared prepared to repel India’s spin tricks, with the master plan being drawn by Head Coach Brendon McCullum and Captain Ben Stokes who will only bat and not bowl because of a left knee surgery he underwent last November. England has not won a series in India since 2012 when it beat the home team 2-1. So some tussle on the cards from January 25 at the Charminar City with Rohit Sharma at the helm.
mamata_019

Didi’s Solidarity Rally On Ram Mandir Inauguration Day

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee leaves no stone unturned to play the secular card. On January 22 — the Ram Mandir inauguration day — Didi has organised Sarba Dharm Yatra which will show her visiting Mandir, Masjid, Girja in Kolkata to establish her secular identity. Didi’s whose residence is near one of the renowned Kali Temple of Kalighat will be offering her prayers and then join the procession to convey the message of all-religion harmony. Her next stop will be at a mosque in Ballygunge, where she will be offering “chadar”. Following which Didi will light candles at a Church in Park Circus where a stage will be set up for the Peace and Harmony rally. According to Trinamool sources, no politician will be on that stage, instead representatives of all religions including Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Muslims will be present. Besides them only Mamata will be addressing the crowd on that day. It may be noted that the Bengal CM was invited by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for the inaugural function, which she declined citing that it to be a political gimmick by the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha Election 2024. Incidentally, Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari moved the court to stop Mamata’s solidarity march, but was declined by Calcutta High Court.
maratha march

Maratha Reservation Demand Catches Shinde Govt In A Cleft Stick, May Snowball Into Law & Order Problem

The Maratha reservation demand is likely to snowball into a major law and order issue for the Maharashtra government since lakhs of supporters of the agitation leader, Manoj Jarange Patil, have been asked to reach Mumbai in a walking march which is to begin from Saturday, 20 January. Patil has declared that an indefinite fast will start from 26 January if the demand is not met by then. Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s appeal to Patil in particular and the Maratha community in general not to agitate has not evoked much response so far. While Patil is firm on staging the protest march and fasting, the government has continued its efforts to avert any alarming situation in Mumbai or anywhere else in the state. Shinde has repeatedly assured Patil that the government is positive towards the demand and would adopt an enactment accordingly in February in the legislature. He has reiterated his promise that the reservations for other sections of society would not be affected while granting a reservation for the Maratha caste, the most influential group in Maharashtra’s politics. In response, Patil has challenged the government to present the data about delivering the caste certificates to the Marathas as belonging to the Kunbi community. If the government claims that 54 lakh such entries have been found, let it come with the statistics of actual grant of certification, he has challenged.
Mohammed Salim

CPI (M) Keen To Forge Alliance With Cong In Bengal, But Is GoP Ready?

The CPI(M) in West Bengal has largely voted in favour of an alliance with the Congress but with a rider. The heavyweights at Bengal headquarters in Alimuddin Street have made it categorical that the Congress will have to make its position clear on alliance for 2024 general election since the Congress high command seems to be in favour of alliance with Trinamool Congress. According to sources, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim has explained to the party’s rank and file that it will keep fighting BJP and Trinamool in the state. Significantly, Salim has also made it categorical that if Congress manages an alliance with the Trinamool and at the same time look for holding hands with CPI(M), the Left will come out of such a tripartite alliance. The state secretary of CPI(M) has made it clear that there will be no ‘reconciliation’ with the Trinamool. According to political analysts, CPI(M) decision of going alone in Bengal is mainly because of the results of panchayat elections and last year’s civic polls which shows that the combined vote share of the Left, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front – which stood at a meagre 10% in the 2021 assembly election – has crossed the 20% mark in the panchayat election. Interestingly, CPI(M)’s share of vote percentage has gone up from 6% to 14% in comparison to 2018’s panchayat elections.
modi TN

PM Modi's Southern Sojourn: Focus On 4 States Ahead Of 2024

It’s only the third week of January, yet PM Narendra Modi has already visited South three times — with one visit to Kerala, Andhra and Karnataka thrown in, and twice over to Tamil Nadu, including this time to inaugurate the Khelo India on January 19. His visit to Chennai was quite packed with political buzz. No, it isn’t just the idea of the PM’s brief road show in Chennai that is being talked about. It is the rush among   leaders of regional parties to have an audience   with him, in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Everyone wants to make the best use of the couple of hours that the PM will be spending at the Raj Bhawan. He is going to be spending the night there, before he leaves for Trichy to visit the holy city of Srirangam as part of his 11-day anushthan before consecration of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. At least 3 leaders– Premalatha Vijayakanth, widow and heir apparent of late actor Vijayakanth, who is heading the DMDK will be meeting him. TTV Dinakaran of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam and nephew of VK Sasikala, and former CM O Paneerselvam have also sought time. Meanwhile, it is learnt that former CM and AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami has made it clear that he may not be attending the mandir consecration because of “pain” in his leg.
milind deora

Milind Deora's Exit Forces Cong To Go On Damage Control Mode

So what is driving out leaders like Milind Deora out of the Congress in Maharashtra? Lack of popular mandate? Or short shrift from Rahul Gandhi and his team? Possibly loss of access to Rahul Gandhi. In fact many of Rahul’s close aides were surprised that when Deora exited there were reports that he had no access to Rahul and was actually seeking to reach him through an appointment via Jairam Ramesh. But then, Milind is not alone. It is being said senior Maharashtra leaders like former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former CM  Prithviraj Chavan have also been getting a raw deal from the former Congress President. Neither Shinde nor Chavan have been able to meet Rahul in the past few years. Reportedly, BJP had reached out to Shinde to switch sides and are also tapping his daughter Praniti Shinde, Maharashtra PCC working president.  When the Congress came to know of the BJP’s overtures to the father-daughter duo, it got into damage control mode. While efforts were made to molly-coddle senior Shinde, the AICC ensured Praniti was aboard the special aircraft that carried leaders from Delhi to Imphal to launch Nyay Yatra. Though BJP leaders have denied reaching out to Shinde, Congress sources feel Praniti is being eyed as a fresh face for   Solapur Lok Sabha seat. If Shinde joins BJP it would bring closure to controversy over his remarks on Hindu terror that he had made at Congress’ Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in 2013 that RSS and BJP were running terror camps.
Nalco

NALCO Invests In Lithium Exploration & Mining Projects In Argentina

Odisha-based public sector giant the National Aluminium Company (NALCO) is one of the largest integrated Bauxite-Alumina-Aluminium-Power Complex in Asia. This 44-year old Navratna is getting into Lithium exploration and mining, the much sought after minerals globally. It is learnt that NALCO is making lead investment in Lithium exploration covering five Lithium blocks in Argentina supporting India’s ‘Atmanirbhar’ strategy. NALCO’s CMD Sridhar Patra was in Argentina recently to finalise the investment plans. NALCO’s move to get into lithium exploration, popularly known as white gold, comes at the back of India’s whopping lithium import bill of Rs 23,171 crore for FY 2023. NALCO in its exchange filing said that these five lithium blocks in Argentina will cover an area of 15,703 hectare will entail an investment of Rs 200 crore. The Indian government-owned Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) has signed an Exploration and Development Agreement with CAMYEN, a state-owned enterprise of Catamarca province of Argentina, for exploration & mining of five Lithium blocks in Argentina.. Sources say, India’s entry into Argentina is the first strategic move. The larger strategy is to get into the Lithium Triangle through tie-ups, acquisitions, partnerships and long term leasing of lithium reserves spread across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
thangalam revolver maharaja

Netflix Flexes Movie Muscle With Surfeit Of New Releases For 2024

Recently, Netflix disclosed its first ever entertainment audit with most details ever for any streaming service. It just didn’t happen because the service suddenly felt it had to share its eyeballs count and trail with viewers and other stakeholders. The trigger was the conflict that erupted between Hollywood labour unions and content originators who demanded more compensation. Netflix decided to go public with what its viewers watched and wanted, which succeeded most and which global entertainment industry could shore up Netflix growth. 55%accounted for original shows and 45% for other producers who used the platform. The Night Manager was voted the most watched show. No desi show made the list. Sure enough Netflix has now spiced up its act in more ways– the line-up of new Tamil and Telugu movies has made its Indian viewers gasp. Imagine the feverish anticipation for Magizh Thirumeni’s Vidaa Muyarchi with Ajith in your sitting room, Director S Shankar unravelling Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2, Director Pa. Ranjith called the thrill shots for Vikram’s spectacular gold rush saga Thangalan, Sivakarthikeyan SK 21, and that Johnny come lately Vijay Sethupathi in Maharaja. The female showstoppers were not far behind. Keerti Suresh is slated to come into your homes as Dream Warrior and Revolver. Even as Bollywood tanked, Tamil and Telugu films were on a roll. Now with 2023 a comeback year for Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu story writers and producers are all set to cater to more esoteric choices.
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iamsrk

SRK’s Love-Hate Relationship With Paparazzi

The optics seemed to suggest that he had changed. Shah Rukh Khan who won the CNN-News18 Indian of the Year 2023 award was at his charming best, regaling the audience with his gig and humour. In his speech, Khan said that he is not just the Indian of the Year, but of all years. “I am the Indian of all ages.”  His demeanour gave indications that from now all is going to be well between him, film scribes and paparazzi. But, it did not. Recently, the actor stepped out of a building in Bandra covering his face with a hoodie and seemed to be in a bad mood. When a paparazzi tried to click his photo, the Superstar for no reason snapped at him; he hit the phone of the pap and walked away, and surprisingly, even his long standing manager Pooja Dadlani did likewise. A pap said, “He behaves well with the media when he wants to or when he is at a big event like an award night, wedding or Eid function.” King Khan was one of most media friendly superstars. He set the trend of celebrating birthdays and festivals with scribes and paparazzi. What changed him? Some say, the media went overboard while reporting on his son Aryan Khan’s drug case. Plus many had written him off for not giving good hits. In 2023 he proved his detractors wrong with a series of hits like Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki.
firoz manoj

Firoz Tarapore (left) and Manoj Chacko

FLY91: Connecting The Dots On The Country’s Small-Town Aviation Map

Start-up regional carrier FLY91 has just signed its first agreement with an international operator, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, to induct its first two ATR 72-600 aircraft. The Dubai-headquartered company is a global aviation services provider with over 35 years of experience, whose leasing and engineering divisions serve over 170 customers around the world. With this deal, signed between FLY91 founder Manoj Chacko — former vice-president of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines – and Dubai Aerospace chief executive officer Firoz Tarapore, takes the Indian company a step farther in its aspiration to make air travel accessible to every Indian. The professionally-funded airline’s vision is to enable the next 100 million Indians to take flight, with its focus on regional towns reflected in the selection of the ATR 72-600. These aeroplanes have been specifically chosen to enable efficient and sustainable operations from most regional airports in the country, serving tier-2 and tier-3 towns all over India. This also follows the flight path of the Indian government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) regional connectivity scheme, which aims to develop smaller regional airports to allow common citizens easier access to aviation services. The commercial operations are expected to begin in February. The airline, headquartered in Goa, was originally scheduled to take off in October 2023, with a plan to go national gradually in only about five years. It has obviously redrawn this plan. Fasten your seat belts!
Rahul MKStalin

TN Poll Alliances Still Not Firmed Up

The poll alliances in Tamil Nadu seem far from settled. Asked about the sealing of seat-sharing arrangements in the I.N.D.I.A bloc, all that the senior DMK minister Duraimurugan would say was that things were moving smoothly. But there are tugs and pulls, with at least one major party in AIADMK trying to change the scenario by offering more seats (12) to the Congress than the DMK (6 or 7) is ready to offer. Also, voices are being heard in I.N.D.I.A bloc from the likes of the AAP that the bloc may be better off without the DMK as the party’s stand on Sanatana Dharma has spoilt the Hindu vote bank for the alliance. But given MK Stalin’s loyalty to members of the Congress first family, it is unlikely that the matter of a few seats would see the alliance come unhinged. Stalin might convince the DMK to allot nine seats to the Congress to keep the front intact. His son has also been told to tone down the anti-Hindu rhetoric till the elections and not to sully the pitch to the electorate, which already has reason to ditch the DMK because of the corruption clouds that are gathering over a few major figures. The Muslim also have reasons to feel cut up as they see the DNK as not having done enough for them, including in the non-release of prisoners.
Modi_narassaya

Modi To Visit Solapur On CPM Leader’s Invite

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slated visit to Solapur in south Maharashtra will be significant for two reasons. Firstly, he will be arriving at the invitation of a CPM leader. Secondly, it will be his second state tour within a week’s time. As Maharashtra is the second largest state which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, Modi’s focus on it is being interpreted as a strategy to propagate his bid for the third consecutive term to rule the country. CPM firebrand leader Narasayya Adam has invited Modi to inaugurate a huge housing scheme the former MLA conceived for the unorganised working class. Modi had performed the bhoomi poojan of the scheme in 2019 and had promised to inaugurate it while responding to Adam’s appeal at that event. Adam was criticised at the time by several Opposition leaders for this gesture but had remained firm and has now extended the invite to the PM. During the visit, Modi is expected to green flag several infrastructure projects for that region, situated along the border with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. A traditional Congress bastion which had elected veteran leader Sushilkumar Shinde repeatedly, the Solapur LS seat has been won by the BJP in 2014 and 2019. Given the various political permutations and combinations, the BJP is keen on retaining it this time, too. Modi was in Nasik and Mumbai on 12 January. Hence, his Solapur visit is viewed as a shot in the arm for the state’s Mahayuti ruling alliance.
SKY shivam

BCCI

Hardik Pandya Watch Out, India Getting Ready For The "SuryaShivam" Show!

Shivam Dube has struck the iron when it’s hot by knocking over the Afghanistan bowlers in the Twenty20 series outings in Mohali and Indore. It’s the time of the year when the locals in the northern plains and central India would devour the hot lip-snacking chole bhature, but those who thronged the stadium at Mohali and at the Holkar Stadium got a taste of the elegant and fluent left-hander’s stroke play and hitting. In the absence of the injury-stricken Hardik Pandya, the selectors in Ajit Agarkar, S Sharath, Shiv Sundar Das, Salil Ankola and Subroto Banerjee looked at Dube and the latter has not let them down. Dube is 30 plus and his style of going after the ball makes him a perfect fit for the 120-ball stuff of cricket. In his first 18 turnouts for the men in blue, he did not bat on seven occasions and was not out five times, but he had the talent which the selectors have recognised. Two unbeaten knocks of 60 and 63 against the fierce competitors from Kabul have almost confirmed his berth in the Indian team for the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 under the Manhattan and Caribbean skyline. His average is 45.83 after 20 matches at five positions in the batting order, but it is at No 4 now that he has staked a strong claim. Once Suryakumar Yadav returns to the fold, India can make the most of the “SuryaShivam” show! Why fret over Hardik Pandya?
mk udhaya

Udhayanidhi Upset With Dad Stalin For Delaying Elevation?

Udhayanidhi Stalin is upset with his father? Perhaps, yes! Udhayanidhi who was expected to be elevated as Deputy CM did not turn up at the residence of his father to take his blessings on Pongal on January 15. Because his father, DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on January 13 dismissed ‘rumours,’ speculations that his son is being made deputy CM. Stalin also asserted he is healthy. Such rumours were being spread by those opposed to the January 21 DMK Youth Wing Conference in Salem, to be held under its chief Udhayanidhi, Stalin said. At a time when youth across the state were getting ready for the Salem conference, those engaged in rumour-mongering “spread false information about my health,” he said in a Pongal greetings message. “I am healthy and cheerful. I am working, working, working,” the 70-year-old leader added. Interestingly, the news of the elevation of Udhayanidhi was apparently leaked to the media from quarters close to Stalin’s family. But other power centres in Stalin’s family apparently told him to delay his elevation — because it won’t go down well before voters ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Also it will give a handle to the opposition, particularly the BJP, to reiterate that the DMK, like the Congress, is plagued by dynastic politics. So Stalin decided to put it off till the Lok Sabha elections? Perhaps, say insiders. As a preparatory step before his elevation, Udhayanidhi even met Modi on January 4 to ostensibly invite him to Chennai for the Khelo India Games in what he described as a “courtesy call.”
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Odisha Govt’s Nabin Health Card Scheme’s Technical Glitches Frustrate People

With BJP making every effort to topple his government, the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, like a grandmaster, is always several moves ahead. But, unfortunately for him, his health care plan — considered a masterstroke — may not give him the expected political mileage, if the registration deadline of January 16, 2024 is not extended. An average Odia is not too familiar with online registration to avail of cashless free treatment for critical ailments at the private hospitals. The healthcare scheme branded as BSKY Nabin Card is facing too many technical glitches as a result people have to literally go from pillar to post to fill in their forms. Sometimes the ‘Add Family member’ button stops working, and the interface ‘freezes’ after adding two members. Sources say there is a gap in the awareness drive and competency level to address glitches both at schools, panchayats, SHG and social media level. Fed up with repeated technical glitches and short deadlines many people in sheer frustration have given up on BSKY Nabin cards. There is a chorus to extend the registration deadline date. Is the Patnaik government listening?
Ishan dhruv

Ishan Kishan Out, Dhruv Jurel In!

Dhruv Jurel has played a dozen Ranji Trophy matches for Uttar Pradesh, two for India ‘A‘ recently in South Africa and one for Central Zone, and the BCCI’s national selection committee has told the cricket fraternity in India — in the circumstances caused by a petulant Ishan Kishan’s non-availability —  that the soon to be 24-year old from Agra is the best stumper after KS Bharat. Jurel is selected in the India team for the first two Tests against England to be played in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. He has scored 790 runs with 249 against Nagaland as his highest. After the ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa four years ago, the grapevine has been rife with his exceptional talent and it was not a surprise when Rajasthan Royals chose him for IPL 2023. The selectors are impressed with Jurel’s work as a ‘keeper, but his selection for the longer version of the game in the third season of his first-class career has still puzzled a lot of people. The serious injury to Rishabh Pant opened an opportunity for Bharat who has done duty in five Tests. Then Kishan got two chances against the West Indies last July before KL Rahul donned the big gloves in the two-Test series in South Africa, which may have got Kishan’s goat!  He created a vacuum by choosing to break from the ranks in South Africa, citing mental fatigue and at the first opportunity, the selectors, chose to come down hard on the erring cricketer’s attitude from Jharkhand. Has Kishan paid the price for erring?
Arvind Mallika

Cong-AAP Alliance Unlikely To Take Off

Guess it is in the nature of I.N.D.I.A. front, you could be a member of the group and still not belong to it. Well that is what is happening to at least two main stakeholders in the I.N.D.I.A. bloc — the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Leaders of both the parties met for the first time early this week to discuss seat sharing arrangements for the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, with the Congress expressing the desire to contest four of the seven Lok Sabha seats, and the latter seeking to expand the scope of the discussion to include an alliance in Gujarat, Goa, and Haryana. The Congress leaders, however, told AAP representatives that their current mandate was limited to discussing seat sharing in Delhi. Interestingly, the Congress leaders did not even mention Punjab. Congress sources pointed out that the AAP was mainly interested in increasing its footprint across India and was keen to fall back on the Congress apparatus to grow. Delhi Congress leaders are not too comfortable working with Arvind Kejriwal. With ED noose tightening on Kejriwal, political analysts point to the way even an obliging Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann — who has been relentlessly flying Kejriwal around in state aircraft – had decided to make himself scarce for once and pushed off for a 4-day vipassana break in Andhra. “Our Punjab unit is determined to fight the Lok Sabha polls on their own. But for the electricity subsidy, the AAP Government has done nothing here,” says a Congress MP from Punjab.
modi ram bhakti

Focus on Ram Bhakti Says PM Modi In An Audio Appeal

Ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an audio message posted about the 11-day ‘anusthan’ (special ritual) that he will follow from January 12 as prescribed in the scriptures, which have to be followed before consecration. For the first time the audio connect did not dwell on temporal matters; it was entirely his way of telling the nation to focus on Ram bhakti and get away from the political distraction of boycotts of the consecration. The audio message posted on his official YouTube channel, he explained he was going to Ayodhya “only to represent people of India during the consecration”. With this, Modi ably silenced some cynical shankaracharyas who were questioning his spiritual competence to participate in the consecration ceremony. He also sent a message across to the political class in India not experiencing the reality of Ram Mandir. Modi also spoke about starting his ritual from Nashik Dham-Panchavati, a sacred land where Bhagwan Shri Ram spent a lot of time. Though Modi did not specify what the ritual is going to be,it is likely that he may undertake a fast. Abstaining from food is not unusual for him. During the navratras, he is known to abstain from food.
Eknath_004

CM Shinde’s Followers On Offensive, Threaten Action Against Aaditya, Sanjay Raut

Even as sparring over the verdict of Maharashtra legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar is raging, the Shiv Sena faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde has gone on the offensive against the bloc led by Uddhav Thackeray. An immediate fallout could be a threat to start breach of privileges action against rival Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and MP Sanjay Raut for their utterances against the speaker and the state legislature. In fact, Raut was the object of an inquiry for similar reasons in March 2023, too. This was after members from the ruling BJP and Sena had objected to his alleged comments wherein he had described the state legislature as “chor mandal”. Raut repeated the remarks on 10 January, immediately after Narvekar had pronounced his findings whereby MLAs from both Sena factions were spared of disqualification. Likewise, Aaditya could face action for calling Narvekar ‘shameless’ (Nirlajja) in front of channel cameras. Besides the privilege proceedings, the Shinde camp has started maintaining that as the rival faction MLAs will continue as members of the house, they will have to honour the party’s whip on the floor of the legislature. In a sharp retort, the Uddhav faction has claimed that it has been recognised as a different political party by the speaker so the whip compliance does not arise. Both sides have taken a combative stand, giving ample indications that the battle will go on in court of law as well as on the street.
chalo thrissur

For BJP It Is Chalo Thrissur

The BJP, which is yet to open its account in Kerala, is eyeing the state’s cultural capital, Thrissur to deliver its first Member of Parliament. The electorate of Kerala’s cultural capital, Thrissur, which has amidst it the Vadakkuumnathan Shiva Temple and the World famous Guruvayur Krishna Temple, is being wooed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself. After holding an impressive road show at Thrissur on January 3, 2024, Modi is returning to Thrissur on January 16, this time in the garb of attending the marriage of film star – Suresh Gopi’s daughter at Guruvayur Temple. Gopi, a former Rajya Sabha member, was the BJP candidate from Thrissur in the 2019 elections where he came third behind the UDF and LDF. The only silver-lining in the election was the BJP vote share increasing from 11.5 % in 2014 to 28.2 % in 2019. The increased vote share plus the constituency’s demographics — 58% Hindus, 24 % Christians and 17 % Muslims — has made the Thrissur seat BJP’s best bet. Also, BJP’s Christian outreach programme which seems to have received a favourable response in Kerala despite the issues in Manipur, has spurred BJP and Modi to have a second road show in neighbouring Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala on January 17.  After assembly election losses in Karnataka, Telangana and losing their Tamil Nadu partner, AIADMK, BJP is pulling out all the stops to woo the South Indian electorate.
Bazball

Will England's 'Bazball' Style Succeed In India?

The five-Test home series against England will begin at Uppal in Hyderabad on January 25. Ever since the former swashbuckling New Zealand batter Brendon McCullum took charge as Head Coach from Chris Silverwood, and Ben Stokes took over from Joe Root, the Three Lions team has been playing the game in an aggressive and entertaining brand that’s come to be known as ‘Bazball’ style. The pitches curated by the associations in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamshala are most likely to be on the slower allied with variable bounce,  but this sluggish nature of the pitch may not deter England from adhering to the ‘Bazball’ that sustained interest in the ‘Ashes’  series in the English Summer of 2023. The full Test series at home is part of the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship and hence big points will be at stake for each Test match. In the previous four Test home series against Australia, India won 2-1 and qualified for the final. Anticipating slow pitches that will afford a turn from the first session of the first day, England has packed its side with four spinners and has scheduled a training camp in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Hyderabad only three days before the first Test. After outplaying South Africa in the Cape Town Test, India skipper Rohit Sharma hinted at the ball turning from day one of a Test match.  What has to be seen is whether England will stick to the ‘Bazball’ style right through the series and mount pressure on the smart spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Rudi Papiya

BJP Emulates TMC & CPI (M), Turns To Tollywood To Spread Party’s Vision Ahead Of Lok Sabha Polls

Walking the same path of the CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bengal BJP, has created a new cell, ‘Cultural Promotion’ within the Election Management Committee to promote its ideologies and visions. It may be noted that CPI(M)’s Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), the cultural wing, has always been used in election campaigns. Ditto TMC. Incidentally, BJP’s Cultural Promotional Wing will be having two divisions namely ‘Loksanskrit Dal’ and ‘Path Natak’ to be handled by actors Papiya Adhikary and Rudranil Ghosh respectively. Papiya’s association with films and commercial theatres (jatras) will be catering to BJP’s needs. Moreover her dance group ‘Mukti’ mainly stages programmes which will help BJP to spread its political messages. However, Papiya refused to give any details about the arrangement but admitted to having been present during the recent BJP’s election management committee meeting. Even Rudranil unwilling to speak about the development, but is learnt that he directed the theme song that the state BJP made ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s meeting in Kolkata. BJP sources said that this time, the BJP wants him to set up small street drama groups all over the state and stage dramas as part of Lok Sabha election campaign. It may be recalled that both Papiya and Rudranil joined the BJP before the last assembly elections where Papiya contested from Uluberia South in Howrah and Rudranil from Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata, which neither could win.
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Secret Pact Between BJP And AIADMK Is Out

AIADMK staying away from the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls is part of a master strategy worked out by the party’s head honcho Edappadi K Palaniswami and Amit Shah. The secret pact, arrived at as a Tamil-English interpreter from Karnataka was the only other person present at the one-on-one meet, was to enable the taking away of minority votes from the DMK by presenting an alternative in an independent AIADMK that is back to where J Jayalalithaa had kept it. There is no doubt that the DMK has suffered quite a few image hits recently, with the first conviction of a minister for graft and another sitting in jail as a minister without portfolio. The heavy rains of the monsoon in 9 districts around Chennai and the extreme south also led to undermining of the ruling party’s dominant political stature. So much so, there is an opinion shared by some Congressmen that it is time the party broke its DMK ties and accepted more seats that the AIADMK would offer it. One of those who is leading this campaign is currently being disciplined for suggesting PM Modi is more popular than the party’s scion Rahul Gandhi. DMK is planning on cutting the Congress seats down to just six to give itself a better chance to get the number of seats that would give it much bargaining power in any post-poll scenario.
vicky katrina

Instagram

Has Marriage Transformed Katrina Kaif?

One of Bollywood’s prettiest star Katrina Kaif seems to have transformed herself post her marriage to Vicky Kaushal. Katrina who has completed 20 years in the film industry is not the same standoffish, arrogant and introvert person, says trade people who are closely watching her career graph. She is now accessible, affable and exudes a certain sense of warmth when she meets paps and film journalists. The new Katrina was visible at the sneak peek of the Tamil version of the trailer of her upcoming film Merry Christmas in Mumbai. The star who was once dating the likes of Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor always had a shield around her. Was it because she was not comfortable with Hindi language? Katrina who started her odyssey in 2003 with Boom has acted opposite all top stars and is remembered for her item number chikni chameli in Agneepath. Salman Khan with whom she has done one too many films became a mentor and friend. He played a big role in her career. Salman Khan had an aversion with the media so maybe it was rub-off effect on his girlfriend. Even Ranbir Kapoor whom she dated always kept the media at arm’s length. But, to her credit insiders say she is a thorough professional who stays away from Bollywood politics. But when Vicky Kaushal came into her life he was quite open and he helped her to break the shield around her.
Mani kamal

Will Mani Ratnam’s ‘Thug Life’ Be The Father Of Gangster Movies?

Fans are already panting and chomping at the bit in anticipation of Mani Ratnam’s Thug Life, Kamal Haasan’s 234th movie produced by Rajkamal Films and Red Giant movies with AR Rahman scoring the music. Of course talk immediately veers to the Hollywood Godfathers of Gangster films, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone, who set benchmarks for edge of the seat classics. Mani Rathnam is no novice, his classics Nayakan and Dalapathi are still etched in film buff’s memories. Fresh after the super hit two part Ponniyin Selvan, Rathnam is chiselling Thug Life frame by frame, directing some of the most talented south stars — Kamal, Jeyam Ravi, Dulquer Salman and Trisha. Kollywood has created a promising bag of tricks to keep fans asking for more till the release of the film. Apart from cannily posted tit bits on social media, the trends for pre-marketing promos are getting more sophisticated. Thug Life trackers are getting to savour goodies like glimpse videos which post new additions to the already formidable cast. Imagine the anticipation for Joju George fans (his recent multi-dimensional films Puli Mada, Joseph and Iratta have set the screens on fire) with his glimpse video for Thug Life. Gautham Karthik is also in the lineup. But the actor who really hit the target is Aishwarya Lekshmi, the Ponniyin Selvan underplayed glamorous siren. Kamal and Mani Rathnam, the conniving cousins are about to make gangster film history with Thug Life.
modi patnaik

Why Is PM Modi Visiting Odisha

Speculations are rife that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Odisha possibly in the third week of January, just before the Ram Lala consecration ceremony. BJP sources say senior leaders like JP Nadda and Amit Shah will be accompanying the PM. However, the PMO is yet to make a formal announcement of the PM’s scheduled visit. Modi visited Odisha last year to take stock of the worst train accident in Balasore. This time speculation is, Modi is visiting Berhampur as part of election agenda. He may address gatherings at Gopalpur, sources say. Why is the PM visiting Odisha? Sources say Modi is determined to correct the bonhomie image of him and chief minister Naveen Patnaik. He is keen that BJP make inroads in Odisha and its possible only if he takes Patnaik head on at his home turf Ganjam. Also, it has been proved that the BJP’s state unit on its own is not in a position to give tough fight to well entrenched BJD juggernaut. Opposition BJP chief whip Pavan Majhi in the Odisha Assembly said “Our focus is on increasing the party’s strength and forming the government in Odisha.” For BJP ruling Odisha has been a pipe dream, except western Odisha they have little penetration elsewhere. The state’s five time CM Patnaik remains confident that he will continue to remain in the driver’s seat.
modi _Gate

Modi’s Friday Visit To Maharashtra Awaited By Ruling And Opposition Parties

The storm created by Maharashtra legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar’s judgment, which has rejected demands from both sides to disqualify certain MLAs from either side, will continue in judicial forums and on ground, too. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray has summarily rejected the verdict, announcing that it will knock on the Supreme Court’s doors. The Congress and the NCP have supported Uddhav’s criticism. This situation is expected to cement the I.N.D.I.A front in the state further, accelerating the on-going talks about seat sharing for the Lok Sabha election. On the other hand, the ruling three-party alliance is feeling exhilarated as it appears certain that chief minister Eknath Shinde will continue in office till the Apex Court takes cognizance of the matter. The million dollar question is: when will it happen. Considering the functioning of the Apex Court, it will be too optimistic to expect it to take up and dispose of in a short while. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Maharashtra on Friday, 12 January, to inaugurate the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project is likely to prove a game changer. The PM is likely to make some major announcement for the state, especially owing to its contribution in the celebrations planned for 22 January in Ayodhya. His comments about the present political development, hence, are awaited with baited breath by both sides.
Kalaram temple

Thackeray’s Politico-Religious Masterstroke, Emulates Social Crusaders Over Kalaram Temple

Erstwhile Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will emulate his social crusader grandfather Prabhodankar Thackeray, social reformer Sane Guruji and Indian constitution’s architect Dr BR Ambedkar, come January 22. He will seek blessings from Lord ‘Kala Ram’ coinciding with Bharatiya Janata Party’s installation of ‘Ram Lalla’ at Ayodhya. Thackeray received no invite to attend the Ram Mandir ceremony over severed ties with BJP but, through this political masterstroke, intends to hold sway over the 48 parliamentary constituencies in Maharashtra. Thackeray’s party smartly tied up with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) over a seat sharing formula being worked out currently and hopes to attract Dalit votes in addition to his party’s traditional vote bank. Angry Shiv Sainiks anxiously await general elections to vent their rage over alleged political betrayal by former compatriots now under CM Eknath Shinde who rebelled against the heir of the late Sena supremo even as Uddhav has smartly tapped into the Dalit vote bank. In the early 1900s Maharashtra’s social crusader Sane Guruji and subsequently, Dr Ambedkar launched crusades to allow Dalits prayer rights at the KalaRam temple. Thackeray is certain his traditional vote bank will be bolstered by the Dalit community that had even given his party (under late Balasaheb) a run for its money in its own backyard of Mumbai city in the late 1970s. Thackeray has also put the Congress and NCP allies on guard by deputing colleagues to attend I.N.D.I.A’s seat sharing meet while locally insisting on the tiger’s share in Maharashtra.
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Sharad Pawar Resolves To Retire After Current Rajya Sabha Term

NCP president Sharad Pawar has declared that he would not contest any election after his present Rajya Sabha term ends two and a half years later. Pawar has been at the receiving end over his age since his nephew Ajit Pawar has time and again advised him to take rest ‘at this stage of his life.’ Hitting out at him, Pawar has said that he entered politics in 1959 and has never taken a holiday. Moreover, when Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister, he was 83. Pawar quipped that he was elected by people to the parliament and hence needed to complete his term in the upper house. Pawar heads a myriad of organisations and is quite active in participating in their activities. He hates any talk of retirement. Ajit, therefore, has been harping on his age at every given opportunity. Irked by his constant needling, Ajit’s cousin and Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, MP, has remarked that Ajit has turned 65 and is now a senior citizen. Her implied message was that he, too, should consider retiring. This has once again highlighted the bitterness between the uncle and nephew as Pawar has reiterated that the doors of his party are permanently closed for Ajit and his supporters who walked out of the NCP in July 2023.
Shivsena ES

Maharashtra Govt’s Fate To Be Decided On Wednesday, Suspense Builds Up

Wednesday, 10 January 2024, will be perhaps one of the most important days in Maharashtra’s history as state legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar is scheduled to deliver his verdict on the disqualification petitions against chief minister Eknath Shinde and his several supporters. Narvekar has indicated that only highlights of the 500-page judgement will be read out tomorrow at 4 pm in Vidhan Bhavan and the detailed verdict will be available later. Even as suspense is building up about the fate of the three-party government in the state, Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have expressed confidence that the petitions will be rejected by the speaker. Shinde said he had the majority, which was the main test in a democracy. Moreover, the Election Commission had recognised his side as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena and hence he was hopeful that justice will prevail. On the other hand, Sena’s rival faction chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar have taken grave objections for two meetings Narvekar had with Shinde at the latter’s official residence over the past week. “It is highly suspicious that the judge is calling on the accused,” Uddhav told the media on Tuesday while Pawar felt that it would have been better if Narvekar had not met the CM in this situation. While 34 petitions have been filed in the matter, over three lakh pages of various documents had to be perused, Narvekar has revealed.
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‘12th Fail’ Could Be A Riveting Case Study For IAS Training At Mussoorie

2023 was definitely the Year of the Phoenix for Bollywood. From the troughs of box office damp squibs, despair and taunts about learning from south filmmakers, Bollywood regained its respectability, and above all bankability. Movies like Jawan, Pathan, Gadhar 2 and Animal brought cheer to stakeholders with the box office jingling. Even as established stars were basking in the glory, quietly, almost sneakily a less known hero, Vikrant Massey vaulted onto the screen with 12th Fail! This just about Rs 20 crore budget film has set the audience agog, amazed and astonished. Not for impossible stunts and a fantasy formula but a riveting reality check that has set the country talking. Abhishek Bachchan wrote on X, “12th Fail is the best film of 2023”. The stormy siren of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut who had earlier referred to Massey as a cockroach, now says Vikrant is the new Irfan Khan. There are others who say “A leaner Sanjeev Kumar, Massey is incredible “. Briefly 12th Fail is the poignant story of Manoj Kumar Sharma from the wilderness of Chambal who dares to dream of becoming an IPS officer. Massey and his portrayal are bound to launch many such aspirants from the heartlands of rural India.  It is quite known that UPSC is one of the toughest exams to crack. We predict that Massey’s compelling performance may inspire many youths. Who knows 12th Fail may be a case study at the Academy in Mussoorie.
Rohit virat

BCCI

Kafkaesque Ways Of India Twenty20 Team Choices!

The selection of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma for the three-match Twenty20 series against Afghanistan is akin to Kafkaesque because these two much-celebrated batters have been overlooked by the selection committee since the ICC World Men’s Twenty20 semi-final against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 10, 2022. It appears now that the leading lights of this format are certainties for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held this June in the USA and Caribbean. India has played 25 internationals of the shortest version after the last World Cup in Australia, without these two, won 16, lost seven, and tied one match and the match against Afghanistan in the Asian Games final in Hangzhou was called off due to rain. Kohli has played 27 Twenty20 matches across five World Cups and Sharma 39 across eight World Cups. Sharma was part of the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup that India won under the helmsmanship of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Over the last 14 months, the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya have been close to the spectacular. This is apart from Suryakumar Yadav who has led the second brigade well; leading by example he has amassed 857 runs. When the selection for the World Cup arrives, will the above-mentioned get their due or be dumped? India’s Twenty20 team post the last World Cup semi-final when it was thrashed out of sight by England, has to advance and not look back.
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Udhayanidhi To Be Appointed Dy Chief Minister Before Stalin Goes Overseas?

The talking heads and wise seers of the DMK are busy communicating on the Jungle drums. Speculations, strategy analysis and data mining are in feverish mode. Naturally. It seems TN chief minister MK Stalin wants to be poll ready in all respects before being poll bound. Of late, Stalin has had niggling health issues exacerbated by a punishing schedule. The 72-year old has been advised an overseas health tuning check-up which was long overdue. With two big high profile events — the Global Investors Meet on January 7-8 carrying heavy payloads and DMK Youth Wing meet on January 17 when Udhayanidhi is all set to play the stellar role in the succession plan as chief of the Youth Wing. Stalin, according to sources, will soon appoint his son as the Deputy CM, so that pecking orders are clearly demarcated in his absence. Another factor that may be a source for concern is from half-sister Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a possible challenger to the succession plan, Kanimozhi who celebrated her birthday on January 5, was seen working noticeably for flood relief in Thoothukudi, then flying to Chennai to pay homage at her father’s and Arignar Anna’s memorials, then rushing to get Stalin’s blessings, and getting a call from superstar Vijay wishing her. All these optics were significant indicating that she is no push over.  It is being speculated that Stalin may announce Udhayanidhi’s elevation soon before going for overseas check-up.
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Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi In Jitters As Cong May Contest All 48 Lok Sabha Seats

The Congress high command’s fiat to the Maharashtra unit to send in recommendations for all 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state has expectedly created a question mark about the seat-sharing formula that is yet to be worked out. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge held a meeting with state Congress chief Nana Patole and senior leader Balasaheb Thorat, among others, to assess the party’s prospects in Maharashtra. Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik, too, was involved in the exercise. Patole has been asked to submit recommended names to the party headquarters by 10 January. This unilateral decision has confused the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the NCP’s Sharad Pawar faction since each is desirous of claiming the largest slice. Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, too, has added to the suspense by demanding a fair share of seats from the Maha Vikas Aghadi, failing which he has threatened to field candidates in every LS constituency. Sena MP Sanjay Raut had earlier created a sensation by announcing a tentative seat sharing formula but the party had to backtrack when the two other partners strongly objected to any such arrangement. Raut had enraged the Congress party by advising it to ‘start from a scratch’ since its only one candidate was successful in the 2019 election to the parliament. Amidst all these developments, the Congress party’s directive to the state unit has become viral, adding to the riddle. 
sharmila reddy

Cong Picks Sister To Take On Jagan, Will Deviousness Deliver Andhra?

Buoyed by its electoral successes in Karnataka and Telangana, the Congress is looking to resurrect itself in Andhra Pradesh, where it was decimated following the bifurcation of the state in 2014.  Towards this end, the Congress has inducted Sharmila Reddy, sister of Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The party hopes that Sharmila will take on her brother. Sharmila has been promised a Rajya Sabha berth from Karnataka and a suitable AICC position to deliver Andhra — elections to the state assembly will be held along with Lok Sabha. This devious strategy of the Gandhis to play the sister against the brother in Andhra has stunned many Congress leaders. Party sources recall that CBI and ED cases against Jagan were filed while UPA was in power. In this backdrop it is not clear how Sharmila’s move to invoke legacy of her late father and Andhra chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), who died in 2009, work in Andhra and for the Congress. It is being said Jagan did reach out to convince Sharmila via an uncle from joining the Congress. But then Sharmila has been in touch with Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar ever after the Congress won Telangana– a state where Sharmila feels she did her bit to help the Congress by keeping her party (YSRTP) out of the fray. It is another matter that Telangana CM Revanth Reddy did not want any role for Sharmila in his state as she hailed from Andhra. With a track record of working as national convener of YSRCP, Sharmila has resented Jagan for not recognising her contribution when he swept to power in 2019. Some sibling rivalry this!
hrishit mansi

Two Students Develop App To Help School-Level Pupils Be College Ready

Two 16-year-old school students, Hrishit Deb of K.R. Mangalam World School, GK-II, New Delhi and Sri Mansi Katuri from Emerson High School, McKinney, Texas, US have developed an app that offers career counselling. Called Kwicon, this app is aimed at empowering students with transformative education, practical experience, mentorship, and networking for personal and professional growth. This app was among top 400 innovations presented at the prestigious ATL Marathon 2022-23 which is Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission. Significantly, Hrishit pointed out that with Class 10-12 board examinations due in a month, students undergo stress and concerns about the fact that if they can’t get the desired marks what will be their career options. There are an increased number of mental health cases post examinations. A recent survey across schools in India says that a whopping 80% of students are clueless about what they need to do after the board examination.  Only 15% of students between Class 9 and Class 12 are sure of what courses to pursue. The survey also revealed that only 50% of parents have clarity about their children’s career path. Kwicon app allows students and alumni to connect based on shared interests, majors, and career goals.
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BCCI

Rohit Sharma "In Form" At The Newlands Press Conference!

Rohit Sharma used the words “shut up”, strong language from the captain of a team which had stunned South Africa by seven wickets in a game of cricket that turned out to be the sensationally shortest in Test match history. Rohit was an angry man, and he blew his top firing salvos at people griping at pitches that often afford copious turn from the first day of a Test match in India. It’s all the same he meant, excessive sideways movement of the surface (abroad) or a big turn from day one in India. He pointed at big cracks on the pitch at Newlands, a pretty venue because of nature’s gift in the form of Table Mountain. Rohit was in the ‘mood’ even to point fingers at the authorities for their prejudice while evaluating pitches. To sum up, Rohit voiced his opinion most directly. The spicy pitch that was exploited by the Bumrahs, Sirajs and the South African speed merchants resulted in the conclusion of the Test in 642 balls. There have been timeless Tests of eight balls an over, but a conventional game at the highest level — allotted 450 overs (90 overs a day) — is supposed to end on the fifth day. But the Newlands pitch for the second Test was full of life and it presented a series-levelling win for India.  All in a jiffy!  South Africa’s head coach and selector, Shukri Conrad dubbed the Test as a slugfest.
akshay kumar

@akshaykumar

Will 2024 See The Return Of Akshay Kumar?

If 2023 belonged to Shah Rukh Khan whose three films grossed around Rs 3,000 crore then there are every chances that 2024 could see the return of Akshay Kumar. The 56-year old actor has three big releases including Bade Miyan Chote Miyan directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. The movie with Tiger Shroff is not a comedy but an action-packed film that could be a big draw. Kumar also has Skyforce and a multi-starrer Welcome to the Jungle to be released in December 2024. It may be recalled that Lady Luck had been eluding actor-producer Akshay Kumar for the last two-three years; he had series of flops. But, Trade Analyst Girish Wankhede says, “With nearly Rs 1,000 crore riding on Akshay Kumar …the total earnings of his four releases could cross the Rs 4000-crore mark.”  The first to hit the big screen will be Bade Miyan Chote Miyan in Eid in April with an approximate landing cost of 300 crore. This will be followed by Singham Again’ in August wherein he has a cameo along with Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh. It is Rohit Shetty’s cop universe which is unlikely to fail with an estimated budget of 350 crore. His third release, Skyforce will be in October. Its cost is around Rs 150-200 crore. And Akshay’s big release of 2024 — Welcome to the Jungle, will happen during the Christmas season. This multi-starrer movie budgeted around Rs 300 crore is expected to do well.
Eknath shinde_002

Opposition Attacks Shinde Govt As 17 Project Shifts From Maharashtra To Gujarat

As more and more businesses, government offices and projects move to Gujarat from Maharashtra, the ruling BJP-led Eknath Shinde’s government faces much flak from the Opposition. The backlash started after the shift of the Vedanta-Foxconn project from Maharashtra in September 2022. Since then there has been much criticism of over 17 projects that have favoured Gujarat over Maharashtra. This includes Mahanand, the state government co-operatives milk brand being brought under the National Dairy Development Board, which operates from Anand, the home base of the Amul brand. This attracted criticism that unlike the governments in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that came out strongly in support of their own local state milk brands namely Aavin and Nandini over the expansionary tactics of Amul, the Maharashtra government’s milk brand tamely let Mahanand play second fiddle to Amul. The shifting of the diamond market from Mumbai to Surat that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too has caused much concern in Maharashtra over loss of employment, business opportunities and overall downsizing of Maharashtra’s financial significance. The latest grouse is the shift of India’s first submarine tourist project from Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg to Gujarat’s Dwarka. The increasing dominance of Gujarat in many aspects of Maharashtra evokes strong public sentiments here, has now emerged as a strong political issue that the Opposition parties are wasting no opportunity to capitalise on in this election year.
modi MK

Has PM Modi’s TN Visit Left Stalin Speechless?

The Tiruchirappalli state visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the airport inaugural did not go well for Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, who came back to Chennai with eye watering and irritation. His planned opening of the very popular annual Chennai Book Fair was cancelled, even as Udhayanidhi Stalin and minister for education Anbil Mahesh were deputed to take his place. Stalin was headed straight to a well-known Vision Institute for an eye check-up. But this eye problem seemed much less severe to the CM when compared to his mood that had turned visibly irritated at the PM’s event. Just when Stalin started his welcome speech, an excited Mexican Wave with “Modi, Modi” rented the air and Stalin was literally speechless. The PM had to signal for quiet during Stalin’s speech…naturally, the turn of events irritated him. But this kind of rally call is not new to him; just in April, when Modi had come to Chennai with Union minister L Murugan, the DMK cadres meted out the same crowd call….”Stalin, Stalin”, and minister Murugan could not continue his address. Had Modi finally dented the seemingly unconquerable Dravidian Aura? A survey by the DMK top guns revealed that a large section of the front rows were filled with BJP followers who reached the venue by 7 am while DMK cadres trooped in by 8.30 am. This after DMK senior minister KN Nehru and others were tasked with collecting big crowds. Looks like BJP paid DMK with the same coin.
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Aaditya’s Pole Positioning Before Maha Poll, Dares CM Shinde To Roll Back Rs 250 MTHL Toll

Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray threw the gauntlet at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over the Rs 250 tariff to traverse the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link by demanding a roll back, free ride instead. The day before Thackeray @33 years young tweeted development works started utilizing his MLA funds in Worli. Indications are clear of Aaditya assuming leadership (Maha CM) positioning for forthcoming state assemblies. A BJP leader tells shortpost.in, “Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray consciously pushed his son to hold pole position on the political racetrack even during the 2014 alliance with BJP. To Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consternation, Aaditya turned up for meetings scheduled with his father in New Delhi. After Maharashtra’s 2019 assembly elections Thackeray senior formed the MVA alliance with NCP, Congress though Devendra Fadnavis’ promised that Aaditya as DCM would be groomed over five years to become CM of Maharashtra in 2024.” Another source revealed, “Even parleys to seal the deal with NCP for the MVA alliance nearly broke down after Uddhav proposed Aaditya’s name for CM. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar baulked, threw sheaf of papers he held in the air and then, convinced the undivided Shiv Sena Chief to take up the mantle of government.” In 2004 Balasaheb Thackeray prematurely announced free electricity for agriculturists if Shiv Sena was elected to power. Then Congress CM Sushilkumar Shinde hijacked the plan before the code of conduct was enforced and returned his party to power. Eknath Shinde may not, however, bite the bait or, will he?
MTHL

Pleasant Surprise For Motorists, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Toll Will Be Rs 250

The Maharashtra government has come out with a pleasant surprise for motorists as it has announced that the toll tax for cars using the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) will be Rs 250 for a single trip. It was expected that the toll amount of Rs 500, as recommended by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), would be endorsed by the state government. The Centre’s conditionalities, too, stipulate the toll charge of Rs 500. However, at the cabinet meet on January 4, the state has decided to charge Rs 250 for a one-way journey that would take merely 20 minutes against the present duration of hours needed to travel the distance. Named ‘Atal Setu,’ the fuel required to cross the link will be just a litre against the present requirement of around seven litres to travel by the existing road. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate the 22-km link to the nation on 12 January in a grand function, to be held at the location of the upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport. The time and cost overrun have affected the project which was scheduled to be ready in 2022 at a cost of about Rs 18,000 crore. Now, it is estimated to cost over Rs 21000 crore.  Modi, too, is expected to make some major announcement at the inaugural in view of the impending Lok Sabha election later this year.
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South’s Popular Star Malavika Mohanan Slams IndiGo Service

Making her Tamil film debut in Petta, this classic Malayalee beauty, Malavika Mohanan has mesmerised her fans in every film since Master (with Vijay), Maran (with Dhanush). Her classic good looks and proven talent gave her the boost to be cast with Chiyan Vikram in the soon to hit screens, Thangalan, yet another KGF story about the Kolar Gold fields . This story is about a tribal leader Thangalan and his valiant fight with the British rulers to save his gold mine from being overrun. Malavika had to train intensely for her role, especially for the Silambam martial art. The movie slated for release on January 26 has now been postponed. Malavika in the meanwhile has signed up for a Telugu starrer as the heroine of star hulk Prabhas. With such exciting professional activities, she still finds time to express her views on social media. When a looker and actor write, the audience are drawn to such posts. Imagine the effect her post on the poor service of IndiGo Air had on her 1.2 mn followers. She took to X to convey her unhappiness with the bad service and rude staff on her flight from Jaipur. “My career is going places, but Indigo service is not what one expects. “IndiGo of course responded with the usual come back…we shall definitely look into this matter and get back to you.”
ChhaganBhujbal_003

Bhujbal Garlands Savitribai Phule, Opponents ‘Purify’ Statue

Politicians of all shades always talk of secularism, social equality and fraternity but when something contrary to their policies occurs, they forget all lofty principles and do exactly what they charge their opponents for. This was seen recently when senior Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal paid tributes to Savitribai Phule, hailed as founder of girls’ education in India. The event, Savitribai Phule’s birth anniversary was celebrated in Naaygaav in Satara district. Bhujbal garlanded her statue and gave a brief speech. Soon after he left, workers ostensibly belonging to the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) bathed the statue with milk and performed what is popularly known as purification ceremony to undo what the OBC leader had propitiated. In recent months, Bhujbal is the object of hate for the protagonists of the Maratha caste’s reservation demand. Bhujbal has been opposing this and holding public rallies to mobilise resistance to the demand. The irony is that several top NCP leaders have made controversial statements in connection with certain castes and faiths although they insist that they are rationalists and take oath of office ‘solemnly’ instead of ‘in the name of God.’ Incidentally, purification is a Hindu ritual practised by most of its followers but not by the so-called seculars. Tension prevailed in the area when the statues of Savitribai and Jyotiba, her husband and a social reformer, were cleansed with milk though no untoward incident took place.
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Adani’s Foes Uddhav Thackeray And Raju Shetti Shake Hands

How politics brings strange bedfellows together has been endorsed once again after a meeting between farmers’ leader Raju Shetti and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. A former MP and BJP’s sympathiser, Shetti had walked out of the arrangement after he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Meanwhile, Uddhav has teamed up with the Congress and the NCP’s Sharad Pawar faction. Shetti was a sworn foe of Congress parties over farmers’ demands. In the changed atmosphere, Shetti has shaken hands with Uddhav as both are opposing the Adani group’s projects in Maharashtra. While Uddhav has declared war against Adani over the Dharavi slum redevelopment plan, Shetti has alleged that the Adani group is making preparations to divert the Patgaon dam’s water from Kolhapur to neighbouring Sindhudurg district for electricity generation in its power plant there. Shetti has reiterated that the Union government has favoured Adani by slashing duty on soybean oil, hitting domestic growers of the oilseed. Shetti’s outburst against Adani and his talks with Uddhav have led to guessing new combinations in political circles. Shetti had invited the ire of top leader Sharad Pawar over the sugarcane growers’ agitation but patched up later with him. It was said at the time that he had switched sides to get nominated to the state legislative council. Now, his adversaries have charged that Shetti is mending fences with Uddhav for the next Lok Sabha election.
Metro

Odisha’s Metro Rail Project: An Election Gimmick Or Serious Intent?

With Lok Sabha elections a few months away all states are investing in infrastructure projects to reap the electoral dividends. The Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is no different. Without the Centre’s support he has announced a metro rail project involving a big investment of nearly Rs 6,000 crore. In the first phase, the 26 km long rail line will connect Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. This is the single largest investment made in any infrastructure project in Odisha. The state has signed a pact with DMRC and expects the project to be completed in four years. The underlying objective of the rail project is to reduce the road traffic density. Political analysts are asking why is Patnaik going solo without seeking investment from the Union government? Reportedly, Patnaik government has been chasing the Union government for years to support this project but did not get any positive signal. Instead of waiting endlessly, the Patnaik government decided to go on its own. This is a flagship programme under the 5T Initiative that will also symbolise the emergence of a new Odisha. The Opposition BJP dismisses it as an election gimmick and it will be shelved once the elections are over in 2024. Only time will tell.
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Fadnavis Hits Back At Uddhav, Says Shiv Sena Had No Role In Babri Razing

The verbal war between the BJP and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) over taking credit for the Babri demolition in 1992 is intensifying by the day. Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis took it to another level. Fadnavis revealed that the Sangh Parivar activists had been asked not to claim credit for the demolition and hence had never done so. He was livid since some Sena leaders, including Uddhav Thackeray, have castigated the BJP by asking about its contribution in the razing of the disputed structure. In a sharp retort, Fadnavis said the entire world knew that LK Advani, Uma Bharati and Murli Manohar Joshi were among those present in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 while not a single Sena activist was involved in the demolition. Replying to questions about Balasaheb Thackeray’s statement that “I am proud if the demolition is carried out by Shiv Sainiks,” Fadnavis said that it was done in response to a media question, nothing more. However, those people who did not venture out of their house were trying to claim credit for the demolition, he said, taking a dig at Uddhav. He said he himself had attended the Kar Seva in Ayodhya repeatedly and was once in jail, too.  “The moment the structure came down was so joyful that it can’t be described in words,” recalled Fadnavis.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.