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Stalin and Durga

Rationalist Stalin Is Realistic Too, Lets Palanquin Tradition To Continue, A Religious Practise In Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin’s decision to allow ‘Pattina Pravesam’, by which the head of a mutt is carried in a palanquin by his disciples, is practical considering its ancient traditional significance. Rationalists may baulk at such practices but, when it comes to matters of faith, it may be best to leave it to the faithful than trying to introduce mandatory reforms. Not only did the CM assess the situation as one that would add to the existing anxiety around his tendency to favour minority rights, without much caring for the majority community but, also because he has a staunch believer living at his home, his wife Durga. The CM probably felt the need to maintain a happy balance. How does the voluntary action of believers, who wish to carry a living person in a palanquin, trample upon the rights of others, activists ask? The other side of the faith and rationalism divide, which is pretty well marked in Tamil Nadu. They point to rituals of other faiths that could draw criticism in equal measure on the yardstick of human rights. The CM told the seers that the ritual may go ahead this year and that the issue would be discussed in detail later. The woke crowd may, however, may keep the pot boiling. Only, for now religious peace was allowed to prevail.
Rahul Gandhi

Udaipur Chintan May Crown Rahul Gandhi Again, Reach Consensus On Next Two Year Plan

From the way the three-day brainstorming session of Congress in Rajasthan’s Udaipur took off on May 13 it was quite clear the focus would be more futuristic than post mortem — what happened early this year. It was decided that there would be no chintan over how it lost four state assembly elections. The shivir had already been renamed as Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir. That is how the Congress could emerge with a formula to fight its challenges in the next two years. A number of ideas were floated .There was a proposal to ensure that party leaders don’t give tickets to their kin or relatives without any work in the party, at least 5 years of prior work in the party will be required. Indicating the return of Rahul Gandhi back as AICC president, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken said “Any person who is holding the post continuously has to step down and a cooling period of three years in case that person comes back to the same post.” Rahul had quit as Congress president in 2019 accepting responsibility for the party’s rout. Udaipur shivir is being touted as a bid to crown Rahul again as Congress chief. Those close to Rahul are not sure if the Wayanad MP could be easily persuaded.
Jayeshbhai Jordaar

Bollywood Cinema Continues Its Flop Show Run, Missing Content Wakes Up Tinsel Town

One more movie has bombed at the box office. Ranveer Singh starrer Jayeshbhai Jordaar. It is the fourth actor driven film that has evoked poor audience response. Earlier, it was Bachchhan Pandey, Jersey, and Heropanti2. Only exception in recent times was Gangubai Kathiawadi; it had versatile actress Alia Bhatt and star director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bollywood stars and directors need to understand that a new class of audience is emerging post-Covid pandemic. These people not only seem to smell the film in advance but have also developed a palate for OTT content and South Cinemas. Akshay Kumar must have had maximum releases in the last two years but has a poor success rate. Salman Khan’s attempt to save Antim by visiting theatres did not save the film and even Tiger Shroff who has strong youth connect had the first flop (Heropanti2) to his credit. The South Indian cinemas are thriving on star power supported by a very strong content. But in Bollywood content seems to be given short shrift. The message that is coming out loud and clear is signing up top class stars is no insurance any more. The days of star power are over. Time Bollywood wakes up and smells the coffee lest the south based stars dubbing in Hindi will emerge as the real alternative.
Chintan Shibir

Congress Chintan Crushes Many A Rajya Sabha Dream, Adopts Modi's Age Bar Plan, Party Seniors Don't Make A Scene

Looks like the Congress is emulating PM Narendra Modi’s idea of setting an upper age limit for party posts. However these copycat ideas on age-limit simply caught Congress leaders by surprise as they were brought into the public domain even without a discussion. Senior Congress leaders were gripped by a sense of uncertainty. Now it is easy to see why a senior MP such as Kapil Sibal, 73, decided to give the Udaipur event a miss as he surely must not be depending on the Congress to find him a Rajya Sabha seat. Sibal is an MP from Uttar Pradesh where the Congress has just two MLAs. Party sources also said the guest lists to the chintan shivir seemed to have been drawn up very whimsically. “Most of the leaders from election-going states such as Himachal or Gujarat were missing. They have not called MLAs. It is as if the Congress does not want to have MLAs,” said the Telangana leader. “I would be shocked if I were invited. I know Congress leadership only wants to hear nice things. They want to put Rahul Gandhi back in the saddle. So they ensured discordant voices are kept away,” says a Himachal MLA. Yet in midst of all this pick and choose, Karnataka strongman D K Shivkumar managed to take a contingent of  50 people to Udaipur. Total number of delegates allowed: 430.

Shuttler Prannoy Records Indian History, Places India On Cusp Of Thomas Cup Glory!

H S Prannoy is the talk of the town. This 1.78 m tall shuttlecock player has placed India on the verge of a historic Thomas Cup glory. “Should India win the title in Bangkok come Sunday (May 15), it would be akin to India winning the 1983 cricket World Cup,” said Sanjay Sharma who played under Indian legend Prakash Padukone in the 1979 Thomas Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Prannoy got a direct entry into the men’s team. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) selection committee naturally chose players up to the Top 15 world rankings for the direct entry category, but made an exception in the case of 29-year-old Prannoy, ranked 23. The BAI General Secretary Sanjay Mishra said: “Since he has performed consistently at top international events, and also beat top players consistently, he was considered for selection directly, without having to participate in the trials.” And how well has the Thiruvananthapuram born Prannoy responded to the selectors’ call? Despite an ankle injury he downed Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke in the semi-final tie and Malaysia’s Jun Hao Leong earlier, in the quarter-finals. This after after Kidambi Srikanth and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty had done the spadework. Indonesia will be a tough nut to crack, and the boys coached by Padukone, Pullela Gopichand and Uday Pawar need all the luck to take India past the finishing line.

CSK’s Blames Captaincy Change Fiasco On High-Profile Market Guru Imported From Mumbai Indians

As the blame game comes to a close, defending champions in IPL-15, the Chennai Super Kings team thinks on its way forward. The confusion over captaincy and bidding around it that went haywire with the franchise seeking Dinesh Karthik and Shreyas Iyer for an interim period to take over from Dhoni is being attributed to high-profile marketing guru who was imported from Mumbai Indians. Unwilling to pay an exorbitant price for a new captain, CSK stuck with Ravindra Jadeja, an experiment that was a big flop because Jadeja lacked the urban, communicative qualities needed to be a leader. In order to stop any erosion of its billion-dollar valuation, CSK has swung right back to Dhoni, who has indicated that he will continue to lead the team till a settled succession plan is put in place. In any case, Dhoni will not retire from the arena without playing a match in his favourite city of Chennai and is expected to be in the saddle for IPL 2023 also. The franchise avers that there is nothing wrong with their links with Jadeja as a player and that he is free to stay and recover from the disappointment of having the captaincy taken from him. Dhoni remains the key to their immediate future plans and he is able and willing.
Tagore Medal

As Close Aides Face CBI Heat, Didi Cites Stolen Tagore Medal To Agency’s Discredit

With ongoing investigations by CBI on close associates, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has deployed a new weapon to run down the probe agency. On the 161st birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on May 7 Mamata pointed out that the stolen Nobel Prize medallion of Tagore was yet to be recovered by the CBI. “I still feel sad that the Nobel Prize has not been recovered. The incident dates back to the Left (Front) regime,” she noted. The medallion was stolen in 2004 from the museum at Visva Bharati University founded at Santiniketan in Birbhum district. The Prime Minister, is the chancellor of Bengal’s only central university – Visva Bharati. Then, CPI (M) Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had promptly handed over the probe to CBI which permanently closed investigations in 2009, citing lack of new leads. In 2016, the CID in WB had arrested a folk singer suspecting his role in the robbery.  In 2017 Mamata urged CBI to hand over the case to the state CID, which the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had declined. However, Tagore’s Nobel medallion, a replica of the actual gold medal, is not the only one stolen in recent years. Children rights activist Kailash Satyarthi’s Nobel medallion was similarly stolen from his Delhi residence in 2017 but, recovered by the Delhi Police within five days.

Environmental Norms Are Rough Shod, With NGT Fines At Odds, Government Needs To Use The Rod

It is no thanks to the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) vigilance that both, the private sector and government-owned companies brazenly breach environmental laws and, very happily pay the prescribed fines. The reality is that the importance of environmental conservation is not given its due consideration with the NGT mandated penalty system not a functional and practical deterrent. Observers say, tougher measures are needed for the private sector and government-owned companies like NTPC, Indian Oil, BPCL, Singareni Collieries and others that boast of a track record of repeat environmental violations. Without the government’s continued commitment, NGT cannot deliver results by itself and, sadly, tough government intervention is only seen in the wake of intense public pressure. Take the case of the Vedanta Group which had to shut down its Thoothukudi plant, over Sterlite’s pollution issue. No lessons appear to have been learnt from it. Recently, NGT fined Vedanta Rs 25 crore for the expansion of the Lanjigarh factory in Odisha without due EC clearances and also levied a Rs 25 crore penalty upon Hindustan Zinc for violating environment norms in Rajasthan. Sometime in 2017, Vedanta was asked by the Chhatisgarh government to shut down its 1200 mw Balco power plant for violations of environmental norms. Harsh measures yielded results and today, Balco’s power plant is one of the best energy conservation units in the country.

Stalin Forges A Grandiose Plan, Shifting Administrative Capital To Mahabalipuram

Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai is adept at ferreting out information from rival camps. Consider the impact of his ‘Breaking News’ regarding Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s hidden plans to carve out a brand-new state assembly complex at Mahabalipuram. Could it be similar to Putrajaya the Malaysian administrative campus, 25 km south of Kuala Lumpur? The DMK could be planning to build a rival monument to the 7th century world Heritage Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram! Grandiose dreams cost mucho money. Annamalai claims that the Government Order is already out, to acquire 6,000 acres of land, the initial smoke screen, ostensible Office of the DMK party, before embarking on the next phase of ambitious construction. Naturally, rival political parties termed the extravagant plan as a “scientific siphoning off, of the mega budget.” And already, allegations of six powerful ministers acquiring over 100 acres through benami purchases are flying thick and fast. Public memory still rankles over how J Jayalalithaa overturned all that Kalaignar built in 2006, on the Omandurar Estate by converting the massive complex into a tertiary hospital. Conflicts apart, fact is that much of the area at the Fort St. George complex belongs to the army, making it hard to expand and modernise. So, given the strong opposition, can Stalin and company still pull off his grandiose plan?

Sliding Viewership On Netflix, Prompts Subscriber Tariff Rejig, For More Online Clicks

Netflix watched its subscription base lose around 900,000 viewers with 700,000 losses attributed to the Russia-Ukraine war and, 200,000 blamed upon other markets. To arrest viewership loss, Netflix is introducing a password sharing fee in the U.S. and other markets. It intends to generate more revenue from existing subscribers, one connection with multiple users. First introduced in Latin American markets, a progress report is awaited but, media pundits predict a further downslide of 10 to 13% in the U.S.A, post launch. After all, the choice is multi-fold. In India too, things aren’t moving as planned. Despite a first mover advantage, Netflix couldn’t hit the bullseye. Indications that more than 50% of content under production is on hold including season two of Delhi Crime. The current Indian content has failed to achieve desired traction milestones. An overhaul, review and new creative ideas are on the cards. Netflix slashed subscription rates a couple of months back to Rs 149 for its mobile pack and Rs 199 for mobile/TV packs. An update is anticipated. Netflix started with a bang with series like Fauda, House of Cards, Peaky Blinders, Money Heist, Friends and Indian series like Sacred Games. Renewed interest piqued through the Korean Series — Squid Game, 365 Days, and now Kota Factory. The latest blockbuster attraction — Gangubai Kathiawadi is expected to renew viewer interest in Netflix.
Pankaj Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director of Hero Cycles

Munjal’s Foot Is In Europe’s Door, 150 Mn Pound Invested In UK E-Bike Plant

Pankaj Munjal of Hero Cycle’s fame has ambitiously big plans to strengthen the company’s presence in overseas markets, particularly across Europe. His company Insync Bikes Ltd has geared up to manufacture top end e-bikes at Trafford in the United Kingdom. Munjal, who visited UK to unveil his plans, told, “Manchester has given us more than what we had expected or planned.’’ The immediate future plan involves development as part of the budgeted £150m group-wide investment. His Manchester-based Global Design Centre has innovated an e-bike with artificial Intelligence functions that will incorporate advanced technologies such as Google services integration and introduce anti-theft systems and advanced telematics. Approximately 300 e-bikes will be manufactured every month at Trafford and priced at £3000 per piece. These e-bikes are expected to hit the road by August-September of 2022. The company received an award for being a Fast Track Indian company in the UK from among 900 companies surveyed by Grant Thornton in its India Meets Britain tracker report. Despite difficult conditions in the UK and Europe, Insync Bikes ranked 7th on the growth rate parameter. If the Indian experience is an indication, it will be among the top four players, sooner than later
Murugappa Group

The TVS’ Separate Family-Business Model, Contemplated By Murugappa Group Since Its Perfectly Legal!

The South Side Story is always exciting. Family enterprises are a dime a dozen in this part of India. Some of them, especially in Tamil Nadu, are iconic names. These two industrial groups are definitely a name to reckon with, and they are trend setters in many ways. The TVS group, for instance. This venerable industrial house – comprising four families – has recently chosen to go their separate ways legally. With families expanding through fresh generational additions, the TVS group has done a remarkable job of succession planning. Now that they have separated legally, each family within the larger TVS tree has unhindered leeway to chart out their own individual paths. The Murugappa group, too, is another reputed name. It was the first to hit upon the idea of a group corporate board many summers ago, to delink the family from the management of their various enterprises. The Sanmar group under the late N Sankar took a cue from them. It was, however, a different matter that Murugappa junked the group corporate board a while ago. The Murugappa group, if grapevine is anything to go by, is now looking to emulate the TVS model of separation. Will the TVS model be the template for amicable resolution of succession planning in family businesses?

Why Are Mumbai Commuters Shying Away From Taking Goregaon-Dahisar New Metro Lines

Mumbaikars facing an intense heat wave are scrambling for the comforts of air-conditioned local trains but, shying away from taking to the AC metro network, particularly new Metro lines between Goregaon and Dahisar. Buoyed by the generous 50% drop in AC train fares from Rs 65/ km down to Rs 35 per km, the fare cut has bolstered daily passenger footfalls from an average of 3385 daily passengers in April 2022 to 9116 AC passengers on May 5. This is in complete contrast to the almost-empty AC Metro trains running between Goregaon and Dahisar. A month since its inception, daily average footfalls recorded are around 27,000 passengers — 10 times lower than its carrying capacity of 3 lakh passengers daily. It registers maximum footfalls only on Sundays. Plagued by issues like last mile connectivity, technical glitches and less frequency has meant that the office-goers find it unreliable. Failure to link with the existing popular Metro line between Andheri and Ghatkopar is also a major drawback. Activists like Vidyadhar Date attribute its lacklustre response to poor planning by planners who never use public transport. It is evident. Metro rakes are running with a thin crowd right above the congested Western Express Highway with packed BEST buses, both AC and the non-AC ones. The issue seems to be regarding intermodal passenger connectivity.

In TN, BJP Is The New Political Destination, As Numbers Of AIADMK, DMK Leaders Jumping Ship Gains More Traction

Tamil Nadu BJP, under former IPS officer K Annamalai, has turned vibrant. Despite a motley crew – only four MLAs – the issues Annamalai has raised has piqued interest for the saffron party. Even DMK leaders and relatives are keen to join BJP, many of them unsure of surviving the generational shift within DMK. With CM M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi assuming a bigger role, seniors in DMK are feeling side-lined. Many MPs are considering moving out. Former AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa Ramaswamy was first to join BJP. After that, some sitting DMK MPs evinced an interest to enrol before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. While Sasikala Pushpa became BJP vice-president and former DMK MLA A G Sampath got a similar post. Significantly, Suriyaa Siva, son of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva, joined the BJP saying he was ignored in the Dravidian party because of the ongoing cold war within. His exit may not affect his father as they were not on talking terms. Suriyaa’s entry into Kamalalayam BJP in T Nagar Chennai will, however, shake up the DMK. What must worry the DMK leadership is talk of more seniors shipping out.  All in all, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to Chennai has really paid off.

Photo: Twitter/RaghuRaju_MP

Kharge Invoked Motilal Nehru On 6th May, Sought Entry To Parliament’s Central Hall On Off Day, Just To Say Happy Birthday

On May 6, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s office received an unusual request from the office of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, about a handful of Congress leaders seeking access to the Central Hall of Parliament. The manner in which the request was made, when Parliament was not in session, seemed a little odd. Kharge wanted to garland the portrait of Motilal Nehru on his birth anniversary. Normally, when a portrait of a dignitary is to be garlanded, the Lok Sabha makes necessary arrangements for it. Leaders are then invited to come and join in paying tributes. For some reason Kharge decided to pay tribute to Motilal Nehru — a former Congress President in pre-Independent India — inside Parliament. It’s not clear whether he wanted to flaunt his loyalty to the Gandhi family or, if he was trying to assert his tenuous status as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha — a position that the Congress may find difficult to hold on to beyond two months with many party MPs in Rajya Sabha set to retire. The Congress needs a critical tally of 10% of the strength of the House or, it will meet the same fate as it does in Lok Sabha.

BCCI Uses Indigenous Talent, Little Third Party Engagement, Saves Rs 35 Crore In IPL-15 Entertainment

The BCCI has pulled out all stops to run the Tata IPL-15 without engaging a third party. Barring a few players catching the Covid-19 bug that necessitated relocation of venues for two matches featuring the Delhi Capitals, the league has gone on without a glitch. From 2008 to 2020, the high-end revenue generating Twenty20 competition was supervised by the IMG, the New York-based sports management company. The BCCI parted ways with it at the conclusion of the 13th season in the UAE. The financial agreement with the agency had run into problems in 2008, before it was reworked to Rs 27 crore per season. The agreement was revised in 2017 with an augmented fee. “It’s an achievement. No doubt about it. The IMG had engaged a few of its own officials and many Indians. The BCCI has engaged perhaps the same local talent to run the show and saved Rs 35 plus crore,” said a former BCCI functionary. The BCCI paid a compensation of around Rs 100 crore to the Emirates Cricket Board (in 2020) and a little less last year. It has committed to pay Rs 60 lakh per match to the four associations (Mumbai, Maharashtra, Cricket Club of India, and DY Patil); and the compensation money adds to Rs 42 crore as host fee. All good for the faithful in India.

Maddy’s Directorial Debut Features Rocket Science, ISRO Scientist’s Trials, Tribulations Had Rocked Indian Conscience

Known for his gentlemanly demeanor, actor R Madhavan who enjoys a pan India appeal finds himself zooming into space with his directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. The biopic is based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, former scientist and aerospace engineer from ISRO, who was falsely accused of espionage. Written and directed by him, Maddy as he is popularly known essays the key role. He has chosen a story as thrilling as a rocket launch into space, and also depict Nambi’s life who was jailed, tortured and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and acquitted subsequently. Making amends the Indian government decorated him with a Padma Bhushan. Maddy has struck platinum as the film will be screened at Cannes on May 19, in the prime time 9 pm slot, as India’s entry for the Red-Carpet world premier and inaugural of the 75th Independence Day Palaise De Festival. “As a debutante, of course, I am nervous, I hope Rocketry brings glory to India “. The movie made in three languages – English, Tamil and Hindi – was extensively shot in France, Canada and Georgia. The world premiere is on July 1, 2022. Madhavan’s choice of subject that has all the ingredients — intrigue, skull-duggery and glory – seems the best lift-off for a debutante.
Sourav Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly May Be One Of Two President’s Nominees, Sent To Rajya Sabha For BJP

There is a strong buzz that former Indian cricket captain and incumbent BCCI president Sourav Ganguly could be the President’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha. In that event, he will follow in the footsteps of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, the first ever sports person nominated to the Rajya Sabha or to the Council of States in 2012 by the UPA Government. Ganguly’s nomination seems a distinct possibility as the second sportsperson after boxing champion Mary Kom was appointed to Rajya Sabha in April 2016 and has completed her term. Speculations around Ganguly as Rajya Sabha MP gained currency following Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Sourav Ganguly’s residence over dinner with his family last week. A day after Shah’s visit, Ganguly also spoke of his close relations with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He similarly showered praise on minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim. Once elevated as a Rajya Sabha nominee, Sourav Ganguly, who is worshipped as an icon in Bengal, may no longer feel pressured to manage the balancing between the BJP and TMC.  Aware of abounding conjecture, Ganguly asserted he has known Amit Shah since 2008. “While playing, I used to meet him. There’s nothing more than that”. He also pointed out that as BCCI president he worked closely with Shah’s son, Jay Shah who is BCCI secretary.
Raj Thackeray

Raj Thackeray Helps BJP Woo North Indians, Disturb Sena’s Vote Bank

It can be announced over loudspeakers now that the BJP won the first round of battle with the Shiv Sena. Rest assured, the MNS chief won’t object to it as the credit for the BJP’s stupendous feat goes not just to the party’s astute political tactics but also to Raj Thackeray.  According to experts, the BJP is fully aware that no other party uses the Hindutva card better than them, and that it is the first choice for people following that ideology. Therefore, it gave Raj Thackeray enough room to perform his stunts. Lapping up the opportunity to resurrect his outfit that was virtually becoming irrelevant in Maharashtra politics, the MNS chief managed to confuse Shiv Sena workers by invoking Hindu Hriday Samrat, the late Balasaheb Thackeray. However, seeing Thackeray’s rising stature the BJP was quick to cut him down to size. Political analysts assert that the BJP won’t allow any non-BJP leader to become the torchbearer of Hindutva. Hence, the party’s MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh Brij Bhushan Singh was brought into the picture. Singh warned Thackeray that he will not be allowed to enter Ayodhya until he apologizes to all North Indians with folded hands. Thus, along with disturbing the Shiv Sena’s vote bank, the BJP earned the goodwill of North Indians — all thanks to Raj Thackeray.
Heropanti 2

Tiger Shroff’s Needs Better Than Heropanti2 Content, As Bollywood Stars Fall Essaying Stories With No Real Intent

After Akshay Kumar (Bachchan Pandey), Bollywood star Shahid Kapur (Jersey) too disappointed fans. Then Tiger Shroff’s latest movie Heropanti2 bombed at the box office. Surprisingly, audiences preferred to go to theatres to watch the dubbed version of Kannada movie KGF 2 and not Heropanti2. This was strange! Has something gone wrong for Bollywood that audiences refuse to even enter cinema halls? Marathi films like Sher Shivraj and Chandramukhi drew better crowds than Tiger’s movie. Trade pundits are at pains explaining that the true villain is poor content. Be that as it may, Tiger Shroff needs to reinvent himself.  Sculpted body, martial fights and dance cannot propel his career much further. The 32-year-old action hero — son of Jackie and Ayesha Shroff — impressed everybody in his first movie Heropanti in 2014.  This was followed by hits like Baaghi and War. In War his talent came to the fore against Hrithik Roshan. Well-wishers feel Tiger, with a huge fan following, should pick and choose his scripts and directors; stop working with directors who aren’t really film makers. He has a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline like Ganapath, an action film directed by Vikas Bahl and the remake of Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan with Akshay Kumar.  Both movies will decide Tiger’s future. Will the Tiger roar or whimper? Only time will tell.

BJP Digs Up Dirt On AAP Government, Dismissed Cop With Drug Links Sent For Bagga’s Arrest

BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, in an expose on the AAP Government of Punjab, has cited the posting of notorious policeman K S Sandhu (Kuljinder Singh) as DSP (Detective), Mohali allegedly at the behest of main accused in the Bhola drug case Sarabjit Singh. Sirsa said Sandhu was used to carry out the illegal action of picking up BJP spokesman Tajinder Singh Bagga from his home yesterday. Sirsa further said that DSP K S Sandhu was the notorious Kuljinder Singh, who was posted as DSP (Detective), Mohali on instructions of drug lord Sarabjit Singh. He also played an audio of a purported conversation between Punjab DGP and the drug lord. “Why was this ‘defaulter cop’ Kuljinder, with links to criminals, used by the AAP Government to pick up Bagga? Why is Punjab favouring a dismissed cop to do its hatchet job?” he asked. Meanwhile, a petition filed by the Punjab Government before the Punjab & Haryana High Court in the Bagga case was adjourned to May 10 as the matter pertained to a different Bench, according to ASG Satya Pal Jain representing the Delhi Police. Explaining Bagga’s release, he said the BJP leader was taken into Police custody after the search warrant was issued by a competent Delhi police officer. His medical examination was conducted; he was produced in court and the court released him.

With Covid On The Ebb, T20 Pandemic Will Spread, To Five Indian Metro Hubs

Indian cricket is all set to return to normalcy with the BCCI allotting the five match Twenty20 internationals against South Africa to five affiliated associations of Delhi, Odisha (Cuttack), Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam), Saurashtra (Rajkot) and Bengaluru. The series will be played from June 9 to 19.  For the first time in two years, famished cricket fans in the four cities (excluding Bengaluru) will get to see the Indian stars in action in their own backyard. The BCCI will begin fiscal 2022-2023 with a revenue between Rs 450 and Rs 500 crore, and the associations too, will make money out of in-stadia advertising. However, a matter of high import pertains to the selectors picking a Rohit Sharma led team along with Head Coach Rahul Dravid and fixing a few niggles before the Asia Cup Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 slated for the Australian summer. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the white ball home series has been held in Ahmedabad (5 against England and 3 against the West Indies), in Pune (3 against England) in Kolkata (1 against New Zealand and 3 against the West Indies), and Lucknow (1 against Sri Lanka) and Dharamsala (2 against Sri Lanka).  Now its Bharat darshan for the teams, but nevertheless, good news for cricket fans!

Bengal Cong Is Down & Out, Adhir Chowdhury Holds All Round Clout, Insults PC Out & Out!

Two days back senior Congress leader and lawyer P Chidambaram was heckled by Congress legal cell members, even called a TMC agent, when he appeared in the Calcutta High Court to oppose a PIL filed by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress group leader in the Lok Sabha. The Bengal Congress leader did not express remorse over the incident and instead chose to describe it as a spontaneous expression of outrage by the party’s legal cell. His defence that he wasn’t even present in Kolkata was at best, a weak explanation. The case pertains to the 2017 sale of the West Bengal government’s entire 47% stake in Metro Dairy to Keventer Agro, the project’s only private partner which, a short while later, sold 15% of its stake to a Singapore-based firm at a higher price. Adhir Ranjan filed the petition in 2018, demanding a CBI probe into what he alleged was a scam. What some Bengal leaders can’t understand is how Chowdhury continues to wield multiple posts — he remains PCC chief though he failed to win a single seat in the last assembly elections. Besides, he continues to be the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. And to top it all, he continues as leader of the Congress group in the Lok Sabha. No doubt, Chidambaram will find a subtle way to settle the score.

After Punjab Police's Clean Chit, Sunil Jakhar Will Gatecrash Congress Udaipur Meet

In a major relief for former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, the Jalandhar Police has written to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) saying that no case was made out of the complaint filed against Jakhar over alleged “casteist remarks” he purportedly made in reference to former CM Charanjit Singh Channi during a TV interview. A complaint was filed against Jakhar by  Jalandhar-based Vijay Kumar. The police said there was nothing on the basis of which a case could be registered as the complaint was made by a “third person” who was “not the alleged victim” and hence had “no locus standi” to register a case against Jakhar. Besides, the police investigations also revealed that portions of Jakhar’s bite to the TV channel was edited out and then re-joined, giving it an out of context connotation. Jakhar has welcomed the clean chit from the police insisting that the TV interview was projected “out of context”. He is keen to attend the Udaipur Chintan Shivir (May 13-15) where he wishes to air his views. “I am not invited but will certainly make it a point to go there,” he says. Ironically, he is not alone. Many Congressmen are likely to land up in the “city of lakes” just to thrash out a few points.
PC and Stalin

Stalin Wooed For Rajya Sabha Nomination, DMK Sway Over Four Seats May Help PC Avoid Political Flatline

Pleasing M K Stalin is the new found mantra in Tamil Nadu for Congressmen. Having completed a remarkable journey as Chief Minister for a year Stalin, the chief executive of the state, feels like the “most wanted man” thanks to the reputation he has earned for helping out old friends and associates, bestowing favours. The one party wooing him most at the moment is the Congress, with veteran P Chidambaram bent upon getting the Rajya Sabha seat the DMK can spare in the elections slated for June. Of the six seats, DMK can win three on its own steam and, one more with alliance party votes. It appears the AIADMK’s two seats are also in heavy demand with party seniors, who are out of power in TN, seeking a ticket to keep their high-profile political careers going. Among them are D Jayakumar, C Ve Shanmugham, JCD Prabhakar, Gokula Indira and C Ponniyan. Congressmen aiming for the upper house also include TNCC President K S Alagiri and EVKS Elangovan. Former Union Finance Minister Chidambaram has gone one up on rivals, however, following his recent visit to Stalin’s home to seek the favour, something his party high command has also assented to. PC has enough clout in TN to get his way to extend his Rajya Sabha innings and prevent his political graph exhibiting a flatline.

Anandiben, Tamilisai, Dhankar In The Fray, Frontrunners For President’s Post Come July?

Who will occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan when the term of the current President of India Ram Nath Kovind’s ends in July? Speculations are rife about Kovind getting a possible second term or Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu being elevated. Well-placed sources reveal that Governor of Uttar Pradesh and former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, her counterparts from West Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankar and Telangana, Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (also Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry) are front runners for the top post. Names doing the rounds for Vice President’s post include, Draupadi Murmu, ex-Governor of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh Governor Anusuiya Uikey, Kerala’s Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Karnataka Governor Tawarchand Gehlot. The BJP is seeking a distinct profile having a loyalist tag, to fit in with BJP’s national ambition to widen its Hindutva vote bank while being representative of societal segments of importance.  Opposition parties representing West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are failingly trying to prop up a consensus candidate. Exploiting this BJP hopes to enlist support for its candidates from Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. Both are learnt to have agreed to support NDA candidates. Patnaik’s support will go public once NDA announces its candidates. Everybody knows the final decision rests with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who may spring a surprise.

Airport Privatisation: Stalin Seeks Share Of Proceeds In Proportion, Demand Echoed By Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand

Airport privatisation has turned into the new sore-point conflict between the Centre and states. After privatisation of four major airports, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru the Union government is getting ready to privatise another 25 airports operated by the Airports Authority of India including Chennai and Kozhikode, valued at around Rs 10,782 crore. Even as the short list of four Tamil Nadu airports were planned for 2022-2025, it has raised the hackles of chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states who are up in arms against the move towards privatisation. TN Chief Minister M K Stalin unequivocally said that if the Centre was bent on privatising airports, the state too must get its share of the proceeds as compensation for transferring assets to a third party. TN Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu brought out a policy note, while presenting a request to the state to acquire 65 acres of Patta land for Chennai airport. “… the value realised through privatisation or transfer of assets to a third party. Such revenue must be proportionately shared with the state government, reflecting the huge investment in land made by the state government.” Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo, Jharkhand FM Rameshwar Oroan have also come out in support of Stalin’s demand and thrown a spanner in the Union Government works. Federalism is evolving quickly with such vociferous voices.

Ajay Devgn Courts Hindi Controversy To Avoid Rocky Landing On Runway 34?

Every producer-director suffers pre-release jitters. Ajay Devgn has also caught anxiety before the release of Runway 34 in the wake of South Indian movies, dubbed in Hindi, smashing box office records and newer audiences veering towards OTT. So, he apparently courted controversy over Hindi with Kannada star Kichha Sudeep. There is little doubt he reaped good publicity too but, Devgn could not anticipate fresh controversy to emanate from another quarter. The Federation of Indian Pilots has thrown turbulence his way and stated, “The profession of airline pilots was unrealistically portrayed in the movie and may create apprehensions in the minds of nervous fliers. While we all enjoy being entertained and appreciate the artistic licence of a movie director, a thrilling tale should not be perceived as a true depiction.” Cinema buffs saw through Devgn’s story content, for stark similarities it bears to two acclaimed aviation dramas. The Captain, a 2019 film, portrayed the real-life drama of Sichuan Airline Flight 8633 which made an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuagliu International Airport after its cockpit windshield crashed. The other is the 2009 Clint Eastwood production Sully starring Tom Hanks. The flight from LaGuardia, was hit by a flock of geese forcing an emergency landing on the Hudson river with 155 lives on board. Sully was grilled by the National Aviation Safety Board while Devgn faced baritone Bachchan.
Amit Shah

Amit Shah’s Southern Sojourn, Secret Parleys With DMK; Bommai here to stay

An interesting aspect of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to Chennai was that he stayed at the CRPF campus at Avadi, instead of residing at Raj Bhavan. That is because he was scheduled to next visit Puducherry. The buzz about Shah’s visit and that staying outside Raj Bhavan also allowed the Home Minister to schedule a number of appointments, including a meeting with an emissary of an influential leader of the DMK. Though there is speculation about who the leader was, it looks like everything was done so that it stayed below radar and eluded the prying eyes of the TN police. Meanwhile, Shah’s visit to Bengaluru on May 3, coinciding with suggestions by senior BJP functionary B L Santosh that only his party has “courage” to change a Government, put the Basavaraj Bommai Government in a spot. However, in an anti-climax of sorts, Amit Shah met with veteran leader B S Yediyurappa and other state leaders at Chief Minister Bommai’s residence over lunch; significantly BJP office-bearers meeting was called off. Bommai enjoys full backing of Yediyurappa. BJP sources admit changing Bommai, a Lingayat leader, would be a huge risk for the party.  Endorsing Bommai, BJP national secretary Arun Singh says “Bommai is a common man. People like him for the way he is working for the poor and farmers under PM Modi’s leadership.”
Dhoni NS

Mahi Back At The Helm Of CSK’s Billion Dollar Ship, Could Still Make Playoffs, Pleasing Sponsors TVS Eurogrip

Super Kings and that brought about a stunning transformation in the body language of the team. Unlike Mumbai Indians, CSK were never out of a mathematical chance to still make the playoffs. With 8 points in the kitty, after five games, they still have potential to reach 16 points. Early season debacles were owed to very conservative bidding at the player auctions, where reps of ‘Srini Mama’ and his daughter Rupa were apparently inert and hardly picked up players of high value.  The change of captaincy, effected after the deal was signed, had offended the main sponsor TVS Eurogrip, who had shelled out Rs 100 crore. Miffed at the change in captaincy, and a lacklustre Ravindra Jadeja not looking the part to rev up the team, they pressured Srinivasan to bring back Dhoni as captain. Srini was concerned about any possible drop in valuation of the team, currently rated at around $1 billion, and impact on future sponsorships. There was only one way out of the impasse, bringing Dhoni back to the helm. CSK may or may not make it to the playoffs but they look like a competitive team now. The fans are mighty pleased and the sponsors are happy.

DMK Drops Audacious Plan, To Usurp 160 Acre Raj Bhavan, As Governor RN Ravi Causes Too Much Heartburn

The face-off between Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister MK Stalin keeps hitting a new low every day. The latest grouse for DMK, after the snowballing on the NEET issue, is about the right to appoint University VC‘s, till recently a prerogative of the Governor. DMK’s shadow and alter ego, Dravidar Kazhagam headed by K Veeramani held a town hall meeting to publicize his state wide yatra to convey the alliance’s displeasure with the Governor that CM Stalin also attended. Veeramani shared strategies to take on the Governor. The few, who were privy to the meeting, were stunned by a suggested plan to annex Raj Bhavan, one of the largest stately gubernatorial residences in the country. Another alliance partner Sinthanai Selvan of Viduthalai Chiruthaigai Katchi told Stalin that the Raj Bhavan, housed on 160 acres of land, is under the state PWD ministry. He cited instances when former Chief Ministers J Jayalalithaa and Kalaignar had planned to relocate the Secretariat at Fort St. George to sites like Queen Marys College, Anna University. Stalin sensibly sought legal opinion on the audacious takeover plan for Raj Bhavan, and found his answer. The current economic status of TN rules out any such misadventure. Besides, and more importantly, merely changing his residence does not effectively change the Governor?
Jaishankar & MK Stalin

Tamil Nadu CM Enjoins With MEA, To Depute Chief Secretary To Coordinate Aid For Sri Lanka

Looks like the Modi Government has decided to keep the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu in the loop, at least on Sri Lanka. With a possible PM Narendra Modi trip to Colombo and, considering DMK’s uneasy equations with the Rajapaksas, Delhi thought it better to have DMK on board. That is why, responding to the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s resolution — passed in mid-April — seeking permission to supply rice and essential medicines as aid to the troubled island nation, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar conveyed to Chief Minister M K Stalin that the state’s request to provide assistance to Colombo may supplement what is already being provided by the Government of India (GoI). Jaishankar added that Sri Lanka preferred inclusive distribution. An effusive Stalin thanked the Jaishankar and responded that the state government would consider deputing TN Chief Secretary to coordinate with GoI while supplying the relief material. Interestingly, the MEA’s approval for Tamil Nadu’s aid to Sri Lanka comes even as state BJP chief K Annamalai visited Jaffna on invitation from the Ceylon Workers Congress.  Annamalai was critical of the DMK Government for trying to politicise the aid issue without mention of the help GoI was already providing to Sri Lanka that includes, financial credit of US $3 billion, 4 lakh tonnes of fuel and 40,000 tonnes of rice.

Rahul Is Not Lord Of Drinks At Wedding Do, Night Club Video Turns Viral From Kathmandu

The Congress went all out defending Rahul Gandhi’s night out in Kathmandu, even as the video of his evening at the nightclub has gone viral. While his evening at Lord of Drinks was picked from a Facebook post, the fact that Rahul had reached the Himalayan kingdom, along with three of his friends, was confirmed by a report in Kathmandu Post. He was apparently attending the wedding of his Nepali friend Sumnima Udas on May 3. Sumnima, a former CNN correspondent, was getting married to Nima Martin Sherpa. The bride’s father Bhim Udas, former Ambassador of Nepal to Myanmar, confirmed that he “had extended an invitation to Rahul Gandhi to attend the wedding of his daughter “. Latching on to the invite, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Rahul had not landed in Nepal without an invitation, alluding to PM Modi’s  surprise visit to Islamabad in December 2015 to celebrate former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. “Maybe after today, PM Modi and BJP may decide it is illegal to attend a wedding. Last I checked, having a family in this country, having friends in this country, attending weddings, engagement ceremonies was a matter of our culture and civilization. It has still not become a crime in this country to marry, be friends with someone or to attend their wedding celebrations,” said Surjewala.

After Covid Lull BCCI Is On Cricket Tourney Spree, Domestic Players Earn A Good Living Vying For Ranji Trophy

The BCCI deserves a pat on the back after conducting domestic cricket tournaments this year. Last year, it could not due to the Covid pandemic. This year, however, BCCI ensured domestic cricketers found opportunities to play and earn a livelihood. Applauding the BCCI initiative, former GM, Game Development, BCCI, Prof Ratnakar Shetty said: “The decision to conduct the Ranji Trophy, although with a revised format, was a welcome decision by the BCCI. It provides a platform for budding talent and also badly needed monetary help to first class cricketers.”  Since 2003, when the BCCI resolved to share 26% of a certain portion of its annual income with cricketers — 13% each to the national and domestic cricketers — India’s consistently performing first class cricketers playing for the Ranji Trophy and other senior tournaments earned over Rs 20 lakh per season. The annual outgo now for the national men’s team was in excess of Rs 100 crore. The senior teams (men and women) receive an annual retainership. But the sheer size of domestic cricketers — the ballpark figure is between 800 and 1000 cricketers — makes the overall sum disbursed to them much higher. So, this year, it’s not only the cash cow IPL the BCCI is conducting, but also the Ranji Trophy, the bread-and-butter tournament for domestic cricketers.

Elon Musk The New Owner, May Purge Absolute Indian Free Speech Censors From Twitter

Is Elon Musk picking up a bias against Indians? It would appear so if emerging dramas follow an early trend in which the world’s richest man, out on a spree to buy his favourite toys, has had bones to pick with Vijaya Gadde, a lawyer of Indian origin, even as the status of Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal is under a cloud after the acquisition. Vijaya, top censorship advocate at Twitter had taken decisions to keep out contentious content in 2020 and she was fiercely defended by Twitterati after the Muck onslaught. As owner of the company, Musk will have the power to fire key individuals and Parag may be the a name on that purging list even if he had picked up a reputation as a top engineer who had helped transform Twitter’s developing projects, including letting algorithms guide moderation software.  Musk’s ‘absolute free speech’ platform may be up for confrontations with India, which has been thin-skinned to the extent of being the country asking for the most tweets to be taken down. Musk’s ties to China with his Tesla electric cars, which are not being allowed free access if they are not made in India, might also put him on a collision course with India. His obsession with the number 420 places him in a piquant position with the number in India’s IPC that is to do with cheating and fraud.

R To L: Jatin Das,Bhajan Sopori and Mayadhar Raut

Union Government Evicts Artistes From Government Quarters, Welcomed For Six Years, Had Overstayed For Decades

A recent Union Government move to forcefully evict eminent artistes, including Padmashree awardees from government quarters located in plush localities of New Delhi, has angered the denizens of the arts and culture world. These artistes were permitted to stay for 6-year-terms but, many have even continued to stay on since the 1970s. Some of the artistes include: painter Jatin Das, Kathak dancer the late Pandit Birju Maharaj, Santoor player Bhajan Sopori, Odissi dancer and Padmashree awardee Mayadhar Raut among others. The BJP government thought it prudent to get out of the cycle of never-ending extensions and held consultations with the national artistes who were overstaying in government allotted quarters even as they simultaneously pursued legal options to secure stay orders from courts. Policy makers and lawmakers questioned whether national artistes should continue receiving such perpetual government patronage of free housing. The government thought it prudent to evict them post December 31, 2021 after serving them final eviction notices.  Observers say, if the government has a legitimate role in pursuing art and culture, it must set out broad inclusive policies and create an environment, so that, eminent artistes, researchers, scientists, writers and poets can have a special place that’s conducive to working, teaching and interacting with like-minded people. And that place does not necessarily have to be New Delhi.

Stalin To Induct Son Udhayanidhi Into TN Cabinet On DMK Govt’s First Anniversary, May Get Dy CM Rank

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin no longer wants to continue in charade mode. Of course, party seniors and youth wing sycophants are pressuring him to anoint son Udhayanidhi, as cabinet minister with Deputy CM rank. It could well be on May 7, the first anniversary of DMK‘s storm troopers regaining power after 10 long years. The celebratory mood is evident. Even when Udhayanidhi delivered his maiden speech in the State Assembly recently, mother Durga and wife Krithika eagerly watched him from the spectator’s gallery. Having essayed hero roles in at least eight Tamil films, playing to the gallery was a cake walk. The plan to elevate him in party ranks is not just a politically astute move, considering that simmering family/palace intrigues keep rearing its ugly head regarding step aunt MP Kanimozhi, prickly uncle M K Alagiri and, a cohort of Stalin’s brothers as potential rival claimants. Simultaneously Stalin has co-opted son Udhayanidhi into the family trust and boards, Anjugam Trust, the party’s bellwether Trust Fund, Murasoli and the family brand TV channel Kalaignar TV. Once the political pecking order and the purse strings are unequivocally marked, family claimants are likely to back off. Stalin seems to have the astuteness and wisdom of his father woven into his signature style of firm handling of the party and the government. Yet another son rises.

Not Many Takers For Bollywood Remakes, South Indian Stars Shine Pan India, Make Hay

Two distinct trends emerged from Bollywood. It has run out of original story ideas resorting to remakes of popular south Indian movies increasingly, to maintain the Hindi film industry churn. Secondly, it is a bad copycat. Two remakes Laxmmi Bomb and Bachchan Pandey, starring Akshay Kumar failed the box office collections. Latest to join the flop list is Jersey, featuring Shahid Kapur and Mrunal Thakur. Producer-director Ram Gopal Varma tweeted: “The DISASTROUS fate of the film JERSEY in Hindi signals the DEATH of REMAKES for the simple reason it has been proved multiple times, that dubbed films like #Pushpa #RRR #KGF2 are doing far better than originals, if the content is good.”  It’s very likely that no south (Indian) film with good content will sell its remake rights. Kannada superstar Kiccha Sudeep rubbed it in saying Bollywood was struggling, with even its dubbed versions in Tamil and Telugu failing at the box office. Southern stars have stormed the film industry and assumed Pan India (actor) identities. One of the reasons for Bollywood taking a hit on the stories front is because most good writers have shifted to OTT platforms. It’s about time the Bollywood fraternity came together and scripted a strategy to regain eroding industry hold. Will Bollywood get its next ACIONS right?


Congressmen Grudge Priyanka’s PK Plan, Constant Presence At 10 Janpath, And Her Growing Domain

One thing the much-publicised engagement between poll strategist Prashant Kishor (PK) and the Congress leadership has done is demonstrated the capacity of the two sides to keep future options open. At the same time, the PK-Congress engagement pushed Congress President Sonia Gandhi to take decisions; to usher in changes — at least in election-bound states. Like revamping Himachal, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. While in Haryana, Sonia decided to completely back Bhupinder Hooda, handing the PCC to him, in Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath opted out of heading the CLP in order to prepare for the 2023 assembly battle.  Now it’s easy to see why leaders like Digvijay Singh are betting big on the Udaipur brainstorming session scheduled in May for the emergence of a rejuvenated Congress. Engagement with PK also brought to the fore the Priyanka-Rahul divide. Sources point out that it was only Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who backed PK while Rahul was less than enthusiastic.  In this context, party leaders questioned Priyanka’s dominating role over Congress matters, she was seen taking an interest beyond her limited domain of Uttar Pradesh. “She is in charge of UP. Why did she operate out of a porta cabin from 10 Janpath and not AICC? She wants her finger in every pie. Rahul has never done that,” says a miffed Himachal leader.

Photo : BCCI/IPL

Great Call By The SunRisers' Marans To Retain Umran Malik In Team, With Imminent Call Up Jammu Express Is Living Indian WC T20 Dream

SunRisers Hyderabad’s prospects of advancing to the Tata IPL-15 playoffs will be known within the week or, thereabouts. It ought to have forced a win against Gujarat Titans at Wankhede Stadium the other night but caved in, to the pyrotechnic batting displayed by Rahul Tewatia and Afghan spinner Rashid Khan, to get placed 3rd on the points’ table, with five wins and 10 points. It was a skirmish that once again focused the spotlight on budding fast bowler Umran Malik, who took his first fifer in any competition. Hats off to the franchise’s conscious decision taken last December to retain the virtual unknown, from Sunjwan — a village on the outskirts of Gujjar town in Jammu Union Territory. The SunRisers’ advisors Muttiah Muralitharan and Tom Moody had articulated Malik’s retention as an investment for the future. Their decision is reaping rich rewards for the franchise owner, Kavya Maran, who proactively placed bids at player auctions for IPL-15 held in Bengaluru. Malik’s potential (he had replaced indisposed left armer T Natarajan last year) and now, after only 8 matches this IPL season, he is already primed for an India call-up because of bowling speeds at 150 kmph. He has scalped 15 batters so far from 8 IPL-15 games with a four-wicket haul and a fifer. Great call by the Marans to retain Malik at Rs 4 crore.


Thomas-Jakhar Stripped Of Posts In Cong Party, Rahul Doubted Thomas’ Anti-Modi Integrity, Official Word Says Anti-Party Activity

No one in the Congress party believes former Union Minister K V Thomas, known to have easy access to 10 Janpath, was censured by the A K Anthony headed AICC disciplinary committee only for attending CPI (M)’s meeting in Kannur, Kerala. Thomas had also hailed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the “pride of Kerala”. In the past, Anthony himself attended functions of rival parties. What got Thomas into trouble then? Buzz is that he fell out of Rahul Gandhi’s favour as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), an office he held between 2014 and 2017. Rahul was upset that Thomas failed to bring out a single report faulting purchases made by the Modi Government when he headed PAC, any report to bolster his chowkidar chor hai campaign. Thomas makes way for Mallikarjun Kharge. The Congress chose to club the disciplinary action against Thomas and former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and announced the removal of both leaders from all held party posts in view of their “anti-party activities”. The joke is on the Congress leadership where Jakhar is concerned as he held no positions. A miffed Jakhar, who didn’t reply to the AICC show-cause notice, said: “I have been longer in Congress than anyone else.” His only fault, he claims, is that more MLAs backed him as CM after Capt Amarinder Singh’s exit.

Photo : Twitter

PM Modi Shrugs Zero Traffic Rule, Takes Metro During Peak Hours In Delhi; TN CM Stalin Shuns Black

Aware that political VIP culture doesn’t go down well with citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoids travelling during peak hours in Delhi. When he has to, he takes the metro to avoid discomfiting commuters. To attend NIA meetings or events in South Delhi, Modi opts for the metro.  His standing instructions: wherever possible, traffic may not be halted. Taking cue from Modi, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai and his ministers also decided to eschew this ” zero traffic rule” when commuting in Bengaluru. CM Bommai issued an order stating he does not want the zero traffic rule applied for him. The Bengaluru Traffic Police also issued an order to keep traffic signals free even when ministers travel and ambulance fare also allowed to travel. Meanwhile, reports indicate that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, whose autobiography titled One Amongst You was released recently, is irked by news media persons.  A reporter from a leading English daily was not allowed to cover the function presided over by Stalin since he was sporting a black shirt. This colour code is peculiar in a state that celebrates the colour black in Tamil films.  From superstar Rajnikant to popular film numbers celebrating the colour black– Karuppu tan enukku pidicha colouru.

Sonia Bites The Bullet, Onboards G23 As Per Prashant Kishor’s Poll Arithmetic, Buries The Hatchet!

Looks like there is finally going to be a truce in the Congress for 2024. Nearly two years after they wrote to her seeking wider consultation and involvement, Congress President Sonia Gandhi reached out to rebels who have been questioning the way the party is being run. In a gesture that is bound to be reassuring to the Congress cadre, Sonia picked most of the prominent G-23 leaders to be part of subject committees for the Udaipur brainstorming session of the AICC between May 13 and 15.  From Ghulam Nabi Azad to Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari to Mukul Wasnik, most of the G-23 leaders were placed on the six different subject committees. They were expected to prepare papers for the brainstorming session for Congress delegates. While Azad and Tharoor are on the political committee with Mallikarjun Kharge as convenor, the economy committee headed by P Chidambaram has Sharma and Tewari, the farmers committee is headed by Hooda and the organisational committee is headed by Wasnik. Some prominent G-23 signatories did not make it to Sonia’s list including Kapil Sibal, Prithviraj Chavan, Renuka Chowdhury and Vivek Tankha. Brainstorming on the five state assembly results, scheduled in the first week of April, was delayed by the pre-occupation of the Gandhi family to dissipate intra-party disillusionment.

Prashant Kishor’s Electoral Analytics For Congress, Prescribes Hard Life For Rahul, To Halt Modi’s Progress!

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s fresh overture to Congress, a 78 slide PPT is under review. A Congress G23 member says, “PK reached out four months ago. His formal enrolment or associate role was left open ended. We did not ask him to enrol although he had set some preconditions. We wanted to know his role play? His single-minded agenda to defeat Narendra Modi connects with us.” PK next met Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in New Delhi. Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan told, “I also had a long (45 minute) meeting with Ms. Gandhi on April 14, submitted suggestions to enthuse demoralised party cadre after results of state assemblies. Decision on PK’s PPT is awaited and pertains to internal party issues, I may not discuss. The Party Chief asked where difficulties exist and sought suggestions.” Another Congress leader says PK is clear that only a broad arrangement of like-minded (anti-Modi) political formations can overcome BJP. Says he, “Importantly, PK charts a clear course for Rahul Gandhi, who must decide to be Prime Minister and if so, eschew party presidentship. Rahul must assume leadership of opposition in Lok Sabha, a disciplined lifestyle. It is hard work, getting up early, reading the day’s agenda, and 9:30 am attendance in Parliament. Moot question is whether RaGa will warm up to PK’s advice after returning from his foreign tour? Will he, won’t he?

LSG Captain KL Rahul’s Method Batting Is Just Fine, As MI Opener Rohit Sharma Fails To Shine As T20 World Cup Looms

Stylish opener KL Rahul has been playing like a true professional in the Tata IPl-15. Rahul and Rohit Sharma were the victims of Pakistan left arm seamer Shaheen Afridi in the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 last year in Dubai. Six months later both are using the IPL with 14 league matches to fine tune their game — facing the new ball at the start — for the next edition of the World Twenty20 in the Australian summer. While Sharma has come a cropper, unable to steer his team Mumbai Indians to a single win in eight matches, Rahul has scored two methodical centuries — 103 each — both against Sharma’s team. Former India Head Coach Ravi Shastri had predicted that Rahul could be in the running for the Orange Cup given to the highest aggregate scorer in the league. Shastri told Star Sports:  “He’s got a solid all-round game, the technique is good, he’s got all the shots, great temperament, and good presence of mind. The responsibility of leading a new franchise (Lucknow Super Giants) is getting the best out of him.” Rahul is a rock solid opener who understands the importance of his contribution to the team that has been weighty. His three figure knocks have helped his team, Sanjiv Goenka’s LSG win and put it on the road to a playoffs berth.

Photo : Twitter

Stalin Side-lines Finance Minister PTR, Picks Industries Minister Thennarasu For World Economic Forum

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR), who was encouraged by Chief Minister M K Stalin, to develop a working relationship with the Centre and interact with FM Nirmala Sitharaman seeking ways to improve state finances is being side-lined gradually. For the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting scheduled next month, Stalin has deputed Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu instead of PTR.  The CM’s pick has apparently surprised state bureaucratic circles. Thennarasu is brother of  Lok Sabha MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian. The buzz in DMK circles is that by opting for Thennarasu, Stalin has sent a message to the party cadre that his son Udhayanidhi’s supporters do enjoy certain privileges. At Davos, the TN government is likely to set up a special lounge for the entire duration — May 22-26. A while back Stalin had deputed Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma. Subramanian and Thennarasu to meet the Governor R N Ravi. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes and Thennarasu said that the main agenda discussed was about the anti-NEET Bill. It was Thenarasu who conveyed Stalin won’t attend his tea party. While leaders from some other Indian states are also likely to visit Davos. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some senior union ministers are also expected to participate in the WEF summit, one of the most high-profile congregations of the world leaders

Andhra CM Jagan Reddy Taking Bus Yatra All Around, As Rumours Of Mid-Term Polls Gain Ground

Rumours abound that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy may call for snap polls two years before his tenure ends. He has a long way to go to implement his welfare schemes to win back the confidence of the people. However, of late, there have been reports that Jagan has decided to go to the people and spend most of the time touring different parts of the State to oversee the implementation of his welfare schemes and get direct feedback from the people. The recent reshuffle of the cabinet and the appointment of YSRC regional coordinators, district party presidents and in-charge ministers ahead of the party plenary in July gave rise to a talk in political circles as to whether Jagan was contemplating early elections. Jagan is going to tour the districts as frequently as possible to communicate with people, his vision for the State. He reportedly instructed the AP State Road Transport Corporation authorities to keep ready two bullet proof buses with all the facilities for his district tours. Hereafter, Jagan will travel only in these bullet proof vehicles. During the tours, the chief minister will conduct Racha Banda (public forums) with villagers and also visit village secretariats to oversee their functioning. As usual opposition BJP is completely clueless about Jagan’s next move.

Vignesh Shivan Lines Up Nayantara Starrer For World Premiere, As The Two Will Become One In Near Future

Vignesh Shivan and K Town superstar Nayantara are set to tie the knot, an event fans have waited for with baited breath. The couple has been dating, dating some more, and on a still dating status for long now. Further testing how much more waiting besotted fans could take…the couple’s production company Rowdy Pictures is now ready with Tamil romantic comedy Kaathuvaakila Rendu Kathal for worldwide release on April 28 April. Directed by Shivan, starring crowd puller Vijay Sethupathi, pitching his love to two of the most winsome ladies from down South, Nayantara and Sexy Samantha Ruth Prabhu, she of Pushpa The Rise and The Family Man hit series, and spiced up with Anirudh Ravichander’s hot music, the film makes no pretensions to serious cinema. The cherry on the cake, the film will be distributed by Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Red Giant Movies. The makers plan to simultaneously release a Telugu dubbed version as Kanmani Rambo Khati. What more could fans want? The excitement quotient has doubled with the film’s teasers promising a romantic comedy, a raunchy race, rife with ribald dialogues and the promise of a hero Rambo romancing two hot heroines — Khadija and Kanmani. If fantasy and escapism is what fans are seeking, this movie is already paisa vasool.

Prashant Kishor’s Congress Dalliance Sustains, Even As TRS Signs Up I-PAC For Election Race

It appears election strategist Prashant Kishor is running rings around India’s political parties with his well-researched understanding of the voter behaviour, besides insights into which seats swing on what issues. But his former poll research company Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), from which he had disassociated himself, has signed up with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). While Sonia Gandhi, in her own political despair, is said to be inclined to accept Kishor’s help though it comes with conditions like his wishing to be like a working president while she remains the figurehead, senior Congressmen are not convinced. Insider dope has it that despite Kishor’s dalliance with TRS supremo K Chandrashekar Rao, which included a two-day stay at his residence, Sonia might accept Kishor into her party. There may be a bundle of contradictions in Telangana where Congress must fancy its chances of a comeback in the face of disillusionment among the people with KCR’s style of governance. But Congress will be left hoping that people might understand that a common cause unites not only KCR but also the Left who oppose Congress in Kerala but are on the same page when it comes to national affairs. No decision is likely before Kishor’s one year of self-declared detachment from politics which comes to an end in early May, however, a week of drama is on the cards.

As UK Prime Minister Inaugurates JCB Factory In Gujarat, Amit Shah Says Stop Bulldozing Illegal Shops, Homes For Now

In stark irony, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson inaugurated a JCB manufacturing factory at Halol in Gujarat. The bulldozer with claw-like extensions, has become the contemporary mascot for an aggressive Indian mainstream politics today and used rampantly to raze encroachments, even homes of offenders stoking communal fires in BJP ruled states. The use of the bulldozer to get even became quite the rage in UP, MP and lately New Delhi, before it ran afoul of the Supreme Court for being pushed into action at Jahangirpuri of north Delhi. Under the prompting of the BJP head of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), bulldozers had cleared shops in front of a mosque. The message for the minority community over allegedly stoking communal passions, resorting to stone throwing during a Hanuman Jayanti procession that was taken out by the majority community was loud and clear: do not take the majority for granted. Even as the issue boiled over into the top court, a voice of reason was said to have come from one of the highest in the land. BJP insiders revealed that Home Minister Amit Shah had sent a message down the ranks to keep the bulldozers at bay for now, idling in parking lots for the time being. With the message already conveyed, the Home Minister wants to maintain peace, at least for now.

Electric Scooters Bursting Into Flames Cause Concern In The Booming Electric Vehicle Industry

The recent fire that destroyed 20 electric scooters manufactured by a firm in Nashik, Maharashtra, has set the cat among the pigeons in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, which has already got the jitters over several isolated instances of spontaneous combustion of EVs. Why and how does this happen, is the question in the minds of everybody? There’s a lot riding – literally – on electric two-wheelers, more than cars and three-wheelers even as sales in the segment have rocketed nearly 500% in just one year. According to the government’s VAHAN portal, 2021-22 saw the producers laughing all the way to the bank with well over a quarter million EVs sold, compared to mere 40,000 sales in 2020-21. Chetan Maini, Co-Founder & Vice Chairman at SUN Mobility, the pioneer in the EV world who created India’s first electric car REVA, gives a variety of possible reasons: “Such things can be caused by poor cell selection, defective cells, poor thermal management, manufacturing issues and poor charging management amongst others.” According to his fellow Bengalurite Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO of Altigreen, which started off in 2013 creating EV technology and now manufactures electric three-wheelers, these products were “not engineered in or for India”. Whatever the cause, the hope that it can be controlled – and soon — is universal, with EV being widely seen as the future of mobility.


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

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