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Party Hopper Rita Bahuguna’s Son Follows Suit, Jumps Off BJP Bandwagon Over Denied Ticket, Joins SP

On the last day of polling in Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s son Mayank provided ample fodder to TV channels with his diatribe against the BJP leadership that denied him the ticket from the Lucknow Cantonment seat, his mother had won in 2017. Soon after joining Samajwadi Party, he sought to know why he was denied while Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj was allowed to seek re-election from Noida among and other dynasts were made ministers in the Modi Government. Joshi tried to make out how the party was not strictly implementing the ‘one family, one ticket’ policy uniformly. The BJP was only interested in giving Brahmin leaders a tough time — he declared mindful of SP’s agenda to win over the Brahmins, it’s new supporter base. Mayank’s outburst, dragging in big names has naturally upset BJP leaders who were appalled when he sought to equate Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who has also been BJP president, with his mother, Rita Bahuguna. “How can there be a comparison? Rajnathji has built the party. Pankaj as a child must have been raised on the laps of senior leaders. Ritaji has been party-hopping,” said one UP leader. Rita Bahuguna, who was minister in the Yogi Government till 2019 has never reconciled to life as a Lok Sabha MP.
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Is The Devout Durga Stalin A Dichotomy In A Rationalist DMK?

TN’s first couple, Chief Minister MK Stalin and wife Durga are as distinct as chalk and cheese. Atheist Stalin contrasts his very devotional better half. Is this mere public posturing? Recently, on Maha Shivratri day, Durga and daughter Senthamarai were among the foremost worshipers of the beautifully decked up presiding deity, Kapaleeshwarar at the centuries old Mylapore temple. Clad in a shimmering tissue zari Kaanjivaram, her hair neatly tied with jasmines that adorned her long plait, she simply epitomized the image of a strikingly beautiful South Indian woman. She became the presiding devotee in the ambience of the revered deity. A few days later, she sent social media channels into a news frenzy when she took part in the chariot pulling at the famous Swetharanyeswarar temple at Thiruvenkadu, the Budha Khsetram (Planet Mercury). How does non-believer Stalin compromise with his ardently religious wife? Stalin has empowered Durga to be a woman of substance, a poster girl for Womens’ Day. There are those who say, it is just a political ploy to perpetuate the rationalist ideology on which the DMK was founded. Yet others aver that the first family, late Kalaignar’s brood may posture differently in public but, is very religious in reality. Insurance comes in many forms…Divine Insurance is much sought after by even the most powerful.

Jyotiraditya Scindia and Mihai Anghel

As (Operation) Ganga Flowed Through Romania, Scindia Held Back, Buried Differences With Anghel, Focussed On Gratitude

Truth is often the first casualty of war – even rescue operations @Operation Ganga, as seen in the recent polarization triggered by a video gone viral on India’s Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Mayor of Romania’s commune Snagov, Mihai Anghel. The edited video starts with Scindia’s narrative at the Romanian shelter and, how students were helped to board planes with pet dogs. “Talk about (plans). Not dogs,” the good Mayor interrupted in a way that will clearly not be seen as good manners anywhere. “Let me decide what I am going to speak on,” responded Scindia firmly and yet, politely, “Stand back kindly.” Anghel then lost his cool advancing angrily towards him: “Hey, hey I provide shelter here, I provide food to all these, not you. Just tell them when they leave home, when?…” He backed off after inflicting another unnecessary blow, probably taking Scindia to be an Indian embassy official. “I understand, kindly stand back, thank you very much,” Scindia resumed explaining the travel plan before concluding, “So let me place on record my thanks to the Romanian authorities.” What is clearly a case of language-misunderstanding and, frayed nerves (in a war-zone with millions of refugees seeking safe shelter after the Russian invasion of Ukraine) has still not been put to rest with leading publications and parties spinning their very own customized political narratives.

Stalin’s Heir Udhayanidhi Into Full Time Real Politics, To Shrug Off Reel Life After One More Movie, So Dad Goes National

Udhayanidhi Stalin has signed up with Mari Selvaraj for a movie titled Maamannan (Emperor) which could be his final serious film role. Once the movie is completed in the next few months, Stalin’s son will move to politics full time, probably by the end of 2022. His father and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is keen that his line of succession is made amply clear. When Udhaya was first tipped for a cabinet post during Tamil Nadu’s ministry formation in 2021, it did not come about because of his commitment to films, not because Stalin was wary of bringing in his kin into the political mainstream to avoid nepotism charges. With Stalin taking an interest in what happens in national politics for the 2024 general elections, he wants his son to help more with party affairs. Also, the second rung leaders behind senior minister Duraimurugan are not seen as charismatic enough for the family to encourage them to assume party leadership roles. Once he comes into the Cabinet, Udhaya will be the anointed as the successor to take forward the Karunanidhi political legacy in Dravidian Tamil Nadu. His exclusion till now was no concession to niceties as the DMK is very much a family party and, the scion will be expected to take up the responsibility.

MCA Presidential Polls: Will It Be Dr Vijay Patil Vs CM Aide Milind Narvekar?

Of late, politicians have become proactive at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), an institution known for producing World class cricketers and winning the prestigious Ranji Trophy. People who have been in the news this month, for either visiting the Wankhede Stadium in some connection or the other are: Aaditya Thackeray, a State Cabinet Minister and son of CM Uddhav Thackeray, CM’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar, who even tossed the coin at the interschool Harris Shield final, and State Congress Chief Nana Patole. Wonder what Sharad Pawar, the go-to-man for MCA matters for over two decades must be making of all the hubbub around it. MCA’s AGM is around, and elections are not far away and, its 330 plus voting members drawn from the maidan clubs, schools, colleges, corporate, State and Central government offices are already mulling over the people they should align with. No one knows which way the wind is blowing for the President’s position — Dr Vijay Patil or Narvekar. Elections are scheduled in October. Pawar who has done the most for MCA, especially on the infrastructure front for the game and other benefits for the members, may, even at the ripe age of 81, have a big say on the MCA election matter. Surely, BJP’s Ashish Shelar, a former MCA vice-president close to Home Minister Amit Shah must be giving him ball by ball commentary.
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Putin’s Abrasive Action Puts Abrasive Maker Carborundum Universal In A Spot

The world has indeed termed this as an abrasive action by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russia-Ukraine military face-off has certainly thrown the nation states across the globe in a tailspin. The ongoing war between the two hostile neighbouring nations is bound to have far-reaching implications for the international community. Nearer home in Chennai, this business group is keeping its fingers crossed. The abrasive action of Putin has put this abrasive maker in a tight spot.  Carborundum Universal (CUMI), a Murugappa Group company, it may be recalled, acquired 84% of the ordinary shares of Volzhsky Abrasive Works (VAW), located in the Volgograd Region of Russia, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, CUMI International Ltd., Cyprus, for a consideration of around $37 million sometime in 2007. The Russian venture fetched CUMI a PBT of Rs 1,350 million during 2020-21. The company expanded the capacity of the nitride bonded silicon carbide facility at VAW. This was ostensibly done to provide the company the capability to address the increasing global requirement of nitride bonded refractories for non-ferrous and waste-to-energy applications. Well, the dynamics have completely changed now. With the two countries at loggerheads, a sense of uncertainty has gripped Indian business in Russia. An abrasive action has put this abrasive maker in a bind, it appears.
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Madras Race Club To Make Invitation Cup A Festival Of Revival For Racing In Its Diamond Jubilee Year

The Madras Race Club, oldest in the country, started in 1777 by the Brits has been a pulse pounding draw for the glitterati and moneyed of Chennai for years. Invitation Cup and Derby’s drew legendary thoroughbreds and even more iconic breeder owners from across the country, to mix and mingle, bet and brag over chilled beer and gimlets, events that bring in money on weekends for the race course. Late MAM Ramaswamy, that enfant terrible corporate King, breeder and racing aficionado ruled the roost and the racing scene as well. Then, one fine day, three decades ago, Kalaignar Karunanidhi halted horse racing in its tracks, citing a vague rationale. The Race club had to eschew its marquee event, like an emperor without clothes back then. MAM was a super legend, having won 9/Invitation cups. Race enthusiasts still talk about one exciting race when MAM‘s horse, Star Haven was pitted against actor Sanjay Khan’s Khartoum. Most unexpectedly, Khartoum won and the crowd roared its delight. MAM’s son MAMR Muthiah is now preparing for this weekend’s Invitation Cup, in which Forest Flame and Star is Born, Juliet and Own Opinion are being touted as probable winners. So what about the ban? The DMK has just lifted the ban. The public is mulling over this change without any rhyme or reasons provided.

Mamata's Uneasiness Over Jai Shri Ram Chants Comes To Fore In Uttar Pradesh, When Confronted By Hind Yuva Vahini Protests

TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee’s uneasy equation with Lord Shri Ram came to the fore in Uttar Pradesh, his birthplace, where there is no avoiding Rama’s political themes either. When Didi reached Varanasi to campaign for Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav, the Bengal CM’s cavalcade was blocked by Hindu Yuva Vahini members carrying black flags and chanting Jai Shri Ram. A Vahini functionary said the protests were justified in the wake of the “genocide of Hindus in Bengal” after which Mamta had the gall arriving into Kashi. By chanting Jai Shri Ram aloud, “We want to bring to her notice that this part (read state) of Bharat was always the land where Sanatan Hindus dwell unlike Bengal, where one may insult Hindus and still get away with it. This is Uttar Pradesh.” For Akhilesh, campaigning in Ayodhya for a party candidate, the protests against his ally was quite embarrassing. Mamata, who faced protests on her way to Dashashwamedh Ghat to see the ‘Ganga Aarti’, got off the vehicle and faced the Vahini crowd. She boarded her vehicle only after police personnel took the activists away.  It may be recalled that Mamata walked out of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary celebrations in WB in January 2021 after crowds chanted Jai Shri Ram even while sharing the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Photo : Twitter

Before March 10 Results On Five State Polls, Political Churn Begins In States For 2024 Pole Positions

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi recently regaled audiences in Chennai, at the release of Chief Minister MK Stalin’s autobiography One Amongst You, about how his mother Sonia Gandhi used google to discover the age of the DMK leader. Complimenting Stalin for looking young at 69, Rahul suggested he must write another book sharing his secret to good health. While the book launch brought together Opposition parties such as Congress, DMK, RJD and CPI (M) on one platform ahead of 2024, the book itself is being translated into Hindi while projecting Stalin as national leader. A section of the DMK is pushing for Udhayanidhi to take over as CM, wanting Stalin to move base to Delhi for a national role, since Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats. It is almost like watching an action replay of happenings in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee, who got her biography written even as nephew Abhishek keeps snapping at her heels to take-over, is hoping to clean sweep all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Meanwhile, when senior DMK leader TR Baalu called upon Congress President Sonia Gandhi, he was in for a surprise. She apparently asked him about phone calls Home Minister Amit Shah had made to Kanimozhi and; even sought to know the frequency and purpose of these phone calls.
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Rahul Gandhi Picks Poll Strategist Sunil Kanugolu To Counter Prashant Kishor In South

In order to checkmate poll strategist Prashant Kishor hired by KCR in Telangana, Rahul Gandhi has made an elaborate plan to counter him. The Congress leader has picked his onetime protégé Sunil Kanugolu — who worked with 5 parties and with PK in 2013. Sunil who worked with the DMK in 2019 LS polls and worked for the AIADMK in the Tamil Nadu assembly polls has been roped in via AICC functionary Manickam Tagore. Rahul recently informed party leaders from Karnataka and Telangana that Sunil would closely work with them. Unlike PK, Sunil has been asked to join as a senior AICC office bearer and will undertake his new responsibility — most likely as political economist Praveen Chakravarty 2.0. Party leaders of course wish to ask what would be the ideological commitment of professional election strategists like Sunil who closely worked with the BJP and, which AICC High Command vehemently demands of its leaders.  A Telangana leader pointed out how Sunil was hired by KCR before PK had joined him.  Switching over from DMK to AIADMK overnight also indicates he is just a professional ready to do a job. But what is nagging Southern leaders is why Sunil a close friend of Amit Shah, is not being deployed in Gujarat but in Karnataka and Telangana where Congress victory has a high probability?
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Odisha’s Opposition Bites The Dust In Panchayat Polls, As Naveen Patnaik's BJD Juggernaut Is On A Roll!

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has once again triumphed over opposition political formations in Orissa. In the recent Panchayat elections, his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD)decimated BJP and Congress bagging 765 of the total 851 Zilla Parishad seats. BJD was able to install 30 Zilla Parishad presidents in the 30 districts, placing a question mark on the future of both BJP and Congress.  All this was achieved although Patnaik did not hit the campaign trail. His work speaks for itself; he has transformed Odisha over the last two decades and won people’s hearts. This win may have implications for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.  BJP’s MP, Basant Panda attributed BJD’s sweeping electoral success to the BJP’s own failure to convince people to not vote for the BJD. Both BJP MP Pratap Sarangi and Niranjan Pattnaik, President of Odisha Pradesh Congress blamed their losses on the financial might of BJD. Political analysts say both BJP and Congress are now giving lame excuses. They will need to put a strategy in place to beat BJD’s organisational skills and mass appeal of the electorate. And even if they do, will they get a State leader who can match the charisma of Naveen Patnaik?

As Cracks Develop In AIADMK, Sasikala Gets Her Foot In The Door To Follow In Amma’s Footsteps

The Stalin era in Tamil Nadu’s politics was firmly established, even as the wounded AIADMK tried to make its way back into people’s hearts. Probably, the return of Jayalalithaa’s aide and confidante Sasikala and nephew TTV Dhinakaran are viewed as vital to rebuilding a political challenge in the unending Dravidian narrative of TN politics. So long as former CMs Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) stood united, the remnants of Poes Garden rule in Sasi and her nephew were disallowed entry to the party HQ on Lloyd’s Road. Breaking that unity was key to the reunion that Sasikala was dreaming of. She was able to force a crack through her old scheming ways, favouritism and heroine-worship based politics. DMK’s success in the recent state assemblies, came after the 2019 debacle when just one MP, OPS’s son, was elected. AIADMK swept the remaining 38 Lok Sabha seats in the state, then also ruling the roost in the state legislature. In the 2021 assembly polls EPS-OPS were not totally wiped out but, local body polls saw a decisive sweep by the DMK, prompting the need for a united AIADMK. That may, however, mean a big loss for EPS, not so much for OPS, who was Chinamma’s choice for acting CM whenever Jaya had to eschew the gaddi.

New Subscription Rules By RBI, SEBI For IPO To Hit HNIs, See Grey Market Vanish

Come April 1, 2022, the IPO market will witness three major changes that will immensely benefit retail investors. First, as per RBI stipulation, investors cannot borrow over Rs 1 crore from NBFCs to apply for an IPO. Second, SEBI has split the current HNI category into two. The first part, 1/3 of the bucket size of HNI portion, is for Rs 2-10 lakh and, the second bucket size of Rs 10 lakh and above  is for HNI-Non-Institutional Investors. Third: change in lock-in period for anchor investors from current 30 days in two bucket groups: 50% shares will have 30-day lock-in and balance 50% for 90 days. Clearly, institutional investors are uncomfortable with the 90-day lock-in with good reason. The last three months saw all new age companies losing around 50% values since their listing. Allotment for HNI category, in case of oversubscription, would be similar to the retail category with one lot per applicant.  For example, in the Rs 2 lakh plus category it would be just Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, it would be Rs 10 lakh in the Rs 10 lakh plus category. The new rules will see unrealistic over subscriptions by over 200-300 times disappear to more realistic levels in turn, making grey markets vanish. It will also force promoters to price IPOs more realistically.

Maharashtra Rationalist Group Sought Chitra Ramkrishna's Arrest Under ASBMA For Appointing 'Himalayan Guru' As NSE COO

A little-read news piece got buried in the avalanche of revelations on Chitra Ramkrishna, her shenanigans at the National Stock Exchange and more. The interesting news has lost relevance now thanks to the identity disclosure of Ramkrishna’s ‘Himalayan Guru’ – Anand Subramaniam — her right-hand man at the NSE.  A couple of days before the bombshell caused a blast, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (superstition eradication committee), founded by the late rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, had submitted a memorandum to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), also Mumbai Police seeking the arrest of the NSE’s former CEO and MD under the Anti- Superstition and Black Magic Act. Pointing out that Subramanian’s appointment as the exchange’s COO in 2013 had cost the NSE Rs 5 crore, the Samiti said the entire case was an embarrassment for India, as a highly-educated person like Ramkrishna took advice from a self-proclaimed guru. “MANS has brought it to the notice of CBI and Police Commissioner Mumbai that according to the Act it is an offence to claim divine powers and deceive people on the basis of it,” the organisation had said. “The current case is a clear incidence of a person holding important public office working under the influence of superstitious beliefs and hence doing harm to the greater public good hence we have decided to take up this issue.”
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Fake Insta Post Warns Aussie Cricketer Ashton Agar’s Partner Against Pak Tour On Pain Of Death As Pak Rigs Up 4000 Strong Force

A fake Instagram post, its origins possibly in India, threatened Australian cricketer Ashton Agar with a message to his partner. It is believed the post was aimed at scaring the Australian cricket team that is touring Pakistan after 24 years and which is scheduled to hold its first practice session on Wednesday (March 2). The social media message was assessed as not credible. The post – “Your children will miss their Father if he comes to Pakistan. Our snipers will blow his head” — was clearly wrong as Agar and his partner have no children. Security agencies analysed it and assured the Aussies that there was nothing to fear. Having lost the New Zealand tourists on the day of their first scheduled international match last year, the Pakistan security establishment will put in place a 4,000 strong police cordon around the Aussies for the 3-Test, 3-ODIs and one T20I series. Pakistan-born Australian Test batsman Usman Khwaja brings a unique flavour to the tour as he visits his country of birth and where he has relatives. But the tour bio-bubble rules are so strict that he may not get to meet them. A successful tour for Australia, known to be very fussy about security in Asia, may generate hope in Pakistan that Team India also travel there soon.

OpGanga: Modi Misses Sushma Swaraj’s Humane Outreach Rushes Four Ministers To Ukraine Neighbourhood

One former colleague Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly misses, while handling the outpouring of parental pressure of over 15,000 students stranded in war-torn Ukraine, is the late Sushma Swaraj, former External Affairs Minister. Swaraj became known for introducing a humane touch in the ministry and, directly communicating with people via Twitter. At various times of crisis in the Gulf region, whether the hostage crisis in Iraq or, evacuation of Indian nationals from war-torn Yemen, Swaraj was visibly active. Her famous tweet “Even if you are stuck on Mars, the Indian Embassy there will help you,” remains etched in public memory. This time around, to assure parents about the wellbeing and safe return of their children, Modi instructed four ministers to supervise the evacuations from Ukraine’s neighbourhood. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will be based in Romania & Moldova, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju in Slovakia, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in Hungary while Minister of State Gen VK Singh is stationed in Poland. The MEA’s new twitter handle @opganga stays connected to stranded students. In a major setback to India, Naveen Shekharappa, a fourth-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, hailing from Karnataka was shot by the Russian army in Kharkiv while he was in a queue to buy groceries. Meanwhile, PM Modi called on the IAF to join evacuation efforts; the IAF is expected to deploy its several C-17 aircrafts as part of OpGanga.  
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Alia Bhatt’s Big Ticket Gangubai Kathiawadi Arrival, Gets Established Divas In A Twist

Those who questioned Alia Bhatt’s calibre to play Gangubai Kathiawadi have been forced to eat their own words and, Kangana Ranaut tops the list. The actress had said she didn’t expect the movie mafia’s film to do well. While Kangana taking pot-shots against top actors, to increase her social media influencer reach is plain to see, even those within Bollywood were unsure if the woman-centric film would do well at the box office and, with Alia in the lead role. In fact, only a handful of women-centric films have managed to get good numbers at the box office. Gangubai Kathiawadi has surprised everybody. Trade experts say that film is getting a good draw and business could have been 20% more had cinemas opened to 100% capacity. While there is no comparison between Alia and Deepika Padukone has been made, although the self-proclaimed Queen of Bollywood thinks so, there is little doubt that Alia has arrived which may be giving heebie-jeebies to the established likes of Deepika. Twenty-nine-year-old Alia, who debuted as a child artiste, got her first big break in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year. Avid cinema goers were impressed by her performance in Raazi, Gully Boy and, Highway just to name a few.  
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Photo : Twitter

Shreyas Iyer’s Distinct Play Cut Sri Lanka Down To Size, Even Without Virat, KL, Surya and Pant By His Side

Shreyas Iyer carved a niche for himself in the three match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka. Without his individual stroke making ability, India may not have found it easy against the Emerald nation that flew from Australia where it lost a series 1-4. Sri Lanka has been trying to rebuild its team after the retirement of its top guns Muthiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vasa, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara. So it was no surprise that it was beaten hollow in the Twenty20 internationals, with Shreyas knocking off 204 runs off 117 balls with unconquered scores of 57, 74 and 73 and scoring at 10.46 an over. An impressive batter raised in the tough environs of Mumbai’s highly competitive maidan cricket, Iyer has positioned himself for a middle order slot in the Indian team in all formats. Recently he made a Test century on debut against New Zealand at Kanpur and followed it up with a half century in the second innings. Injuries have kept him out of a few series, but he has been the bright spark whenever he has returned. Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant were absent from the series against Sri Lanka and Iyer grabbed his chances with both hands and demanded a place in the playing XI in the future series.

Naveen Patnaik’s Subtle ‘No Tariff Hike’ Request, Has OERC Doing Balancing Act

The Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), currently hearing the annual revenue requirement to fix bulk supply price for 2022-23, was subtly asked by the state government to disallow tariff hikes sought by power utilities.  The popular Naveen Patnaik government has told OERC to find a win-win solution for all stakeholders. “The balancing act of finding a solution without consumer tariff hikes is the prerogative of OERC, which is doable,” an industry expert says. The rationale for “no power tariff hikes”: The Four Tata Power DISCOMs in Odisha especially, TPWODL posted excellent results for the nine-month period in the current financial year. Their performances contributed to a total of Rs 600 crore regulatory surpluses.  In the regulatory framework, DISCOMs are permitted pass through of reasonable expenses and only 16% return on equity (RoE) and hence, the possibility to adjust the Rs 600 crore revenue surplus of Tata DISCOMs suitably while accommodating pass through of genuine expenses of GRIDCO, OPTCL and other state generation companies (OHPC & OPGC) with no increase in retail tariffs for consumers in 2022-23.  The quality of power supply and consumer services in the State are expected to improve with capital investment of Rs 2000 Cr by the Odisha Government over the next 2-3 years.
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Now Trending In UP, “Tumne Namak Khaya, Namak Harami Na Karna”

After the first two phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh concluded the BJP heaved a sigh of relief. Unlike the dire predictions of a decimation for the party in western UP, both phases went off smoothly for the party with internal surveys indicating a much better than expected performance too. The two phases also featured the Mainpuri and Karal assembly seats from where SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav contested. Notwithstanding, the scheduled rallies for the remainder of the UP poll tour, Modi switched his focus on the Punjab poll challenge, a well-placed source revealed. “The first two phases were consciously scheduled to cover the difficult political terrain where BJP feared anti-incumbency. This did not happen and the remainder phases encompass BJP strongholds. We may fall shy of the 2017 mark but are winning the UP polls,” the source said. Meanwhile, a trending poll slogan reverberated in the remaining phases, “Tumne Namak Khaya Hain, Namak Harami Na Karna” (You have had the salt of this government, do not betray us now). Simply put, in the remaining phases where BJP seeks to consolidate its traditional votebanks in Eastern and Northern UP, the free rations, DBT cash transfers and other benefits are being leveraged to hold sway over voters. The BJP denies it started the new trending story though terming it a people’s calling.
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Photo : Twitter

Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat Holds Luncheon, Claims Majority Wins For Congress, Eyes CM's Post Again

Long before the bookies predicted a Congress win in the Uttarakhand state assemblies, former party CM Harish Rawat threw a celebratory lunch. The select few present witnessed Rawat’s claim on Congress winning the elections with a tally of 48 from the 70 assembly seats.  Oddly, there were few believers in his party over his predictions, most convinced it was Rawat’s ploy to prop himself up for CM if the Congress party won. “It is going to be a very close call in as many as 15 seats. The election can simply go either way,” said a senior Uttarakhand Congress leader. Rawat was very upset as he was not projected as the CM face and so, claiming a decisive win while staking his claim to the top office. Rahul Gandhi is learnt to be backing CLP leader Pritam Singh. As for the BJP, which is banking on PM Narendra Modi’s charisma to be voted back to power, the party admits that the organisational network in the hill state is a treacherous terrain. Even as Pushkar Singh Dhami instilled some hope among the party cadre, many seniors including former CMs worked overtime to defeat the BJP. Even for the Congress, the return of ex-party leaders like Harak Rawat into the party-fold has not proved to be a smooth affair.

Bookies Bet On Congress In Uttarakhand, For UP On Yogi’s Saffron Attire, While Punjab, Goa Will Go To The Wire

The bookmakers’ odds is one barometer to predict poll outcomes. Their dynamically fluid odds are to be taken under extreme caution, changing as they do by the minute depending on inputs or, even the sheer weight of money at stake. Without exit polls in the currently extended election schedules, bookies are the best guide to assess likely poll outcomes. Bookies had tipped BJP as favourites to retain Uttar Pradesh but, odds had indicated a sharp climb down for the ruling party from the 2017 high of 325 seats to a mere 150 wins. First phase polls (two rounds) in western UP, which had the party worried, did not fare as badly as earlier projections said and the BJP now expects to win 225-plus seats. The Punjab odds have changed and expect a closer fight, uncertain of a clear Congress majority, though the party will likely win the Uttarakhand polls clearly, say bookies. Going by the odds, Goa is also too close to call though bookies slightly favour BJP over the Congress while Manipur is yet to vote. The bookies’ assessment may not be crystal clear on sure winners but provide a good enough poll prediction.

Photo : Fotocorp

Corporate Misgovernance Stands Exposed By Chitra Ramkrishna’s NSE Scam, Was Always The Handmaiden For The Big Boys

 The fast unfolding drama around Chitra Ramkrishna, the erstwhile MD of NSE, has pushed the issue of Corporate Governance back into focus. Breached more than it is practiced, it is the most widely abused term in the corporate world. Instances are a dime a dozen of vociferous proponents of corporate governance gave it a go by to suit their own interests. A trip down memory lane reveals this hard truth. When co-founder NR Narayana Murthy returned to head Infosys again, he brought his son Rohan along with him! A revered personality in the corporate world, he subsequently turned activist of an unusual kind. He went ballistic in public against the Infosys board, triggering the ouster of chairman R Seshasayee. In like manner, it still remains a mystery how a member of the search panel for the appointment of a chairman for Tata Sons landed the coveted job for himself. The mystery deepened when Cyrus Mistry was unceremoniously thrown out subsequently. “How could I go against the Tatas?” an independent director put it succinctly. It is easy to preach but, difficult to practice. When it came to cutting his stake in his bank the banker, who headed the panel on corporate governance, prevaricated. Corporate governance appears to follow a “heads I win, tails you lose” maxim. NSE isn’t so unique experience after all.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Kumar Vishwas' Terror Charge On Kejriwal To Dent AAP Prospects In Punjab?

With the votes cast and EVMs sealed, it may now be told that the star of Punjab’s assembly elections was neither Charanjit Singh Channi or Navjot Singh Sidhu but, the humble poet and former AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who hijacked the political narrative from the Congress. Vishwas recalled how AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal sought the support of separatists.  “One day, he told me he would either become CM (of Punjab) or first PM of an independent nation (Khalistan),” recalled Vishwas. AAP, seen as a front-runner in Punjab polls, got dented by Vishwas’s terror-tag for Kejriwal. Though the effect his claims will have on the electorate remains to be seen, both BJP and Congress demanded to know, with Rahul Gandhi asking, “Why is Kejriwal silent on these allegations? Just say yes or no, is he lying or not?” He also cited Kejriwal regarding his overnight stay in the house of ex-militant Gurinder Singh during the 2017 assembly elections. Vishwas, who contested against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in 2014 and lost, was given Y category security by the Centre. A livid Kejriwal has strangely taken on Vishwas but, in his UP rallies and questioned PM Modi’s consultations with “a Ghaziabad poet on terrorists, instead of the security agencies.”

Kiran Bharti and Shaukat Khan

Amid Religious Polarisation Priyanka Gandhi Bets On Three-Decade-Old Hindu-Muslim Love Story

With polling for UP state assemblies due in Purvanchal and Awadh, polarisation on basis of religion and caste is at its peak. However, within all the hate, a fragrance of love is in the air too. A three-decade-old Hindu-Muslim romance is winning hearts of people in Bahraich district where Muslims, OBCs, SCs constitute over 50% of the electorate. Kiran Bharti, a Hindu-Dalit, and Shaukat Khan’s love story started in Delhi University’s North Campus in 1992. “I was then the secretary of the Delhi University Students’ Union,” Shaukat told, adding that he always wanted to get into electoral politics. However, in 2012, BSP supremo Mayawati advised him to let Kiran be the face and asked him to work from behind the scenes. Since then the duo has bagged the majority of Muslim and SC votes in Balha. In 2022, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi too fell for their love saga. Sources in the UP Congress claim Kiran and Shaukat’s jodi was hand-picked by Priyanka. “She has played a masterstroke. The party that was never in the fight is now the prime challenger in the region,” a local BJP leader confessed, adding that the couple’s influence is seen in the adjoining seats as well. “No matter which party they contest from, they’re always the first choice of Muslim and SC voters,” he claimed.

Photo : Fotocorp

Controversy Queen Kangana Ranaut's Latest Offensive On Alia Over Gangubai Kathiawadi, As Father Mahesh Bhatt Turns His Back

Award winning actor cum filmmaker but, ever controversial, Kangana Ranaut’s recent jibe at Alia Bhatt over the latter’s movie Gangubhai Kathiawadi was in bad taste say Bollywood insiders. Is the 34-year old Kangana, a known BJP sympathizer, only trying to enhance her social media presence further?  Kangana has been speaking out via social media platforms on all major issues and, was instrumental in changing the narrative in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Has she now targeted Alia over her enmity with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt? Generally, Bhatt senior would have jumped to his daughter’s defence through a tweet but, he has instead adopted a ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ strategy. Alia called Kangana’s video cute while quoting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. It may be recalled that Mahesh Bhatt had launched Kangana in Gangster and there were videos of her praising the filmmaker but, today both stand swords drawn. A majority in the film industry avoids Kangana, some boycott her while fence sitters like Ekta Kapoor cash in on her public controversy and, has signed her up for the most fearless reality show Lock Upp. Apparently, Kangana asked Ekta to sign up her bete noire Karan Johar for the reality show. In 2020, lyricist Javed Akhtar had filed a defamation case against her.
Dilip vengsarkar

Vengsarkar At 125th Harris Shield Inauguration Asks MCA To Run Intercollegiate Cricket

Dilip ‘Colonel’ Vengsarkar has worn many hats in his distinguished career. He was raised in the maidans of Mumbai at Matunga Gymkhana, Shivaji Park, Azad, Cross, the Oval and many more, and he played for the interschool powerhouse King George, for RA Podar College and Bombay University before cutting his teeth in the domestic and international cricket and earning the sobriquet “Lord of the Lord’s” for scoring three Test centuries at the famous London venue.  He excelled as Chairman of the BCCI Selection Committee and as Head at the National Cricket Academy. He was also a vice-president of Mumbai Cricket Association for four terms. The Lodha Cricket Reforms has stalled a significant role for him at the MCA and the BCCI, but a person who has the eye to spot talent recently appealed to the MCA to run the city’s intercollegiate cricket. And according to Jagdish Achrekar, Treasurer, MCA’s Apex Council has acceded to Vengsarkar’s request. The former India captain’s plea to MCA came at the Nadeem Memon organised 125th anniversary inauguration of the MSSA Harris Shield at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India. More than half a dozen former Test cricketers graced the occasion where the CCI President Premal Udani extended support to school sports and the Dubai-based Shyam Bhatia’s Cricket For Care Foundation presented kits to 40 needy schools. It was in this gathering that Vengsarkar highlighted the importance of intercollegiate and University cricket.

DMK Decimates AIADMK In Local Body Polls: Is It The Beginning Of The End?

It was a landslide victory for DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance in recently held corporation, municipality and panchayat elections. AIADMK was decimated. DMK won all the 21 corporations, 130 out of 138 municipalities and, 350 out of 489 town panchayats. AIADMK had won 10 civic corporations in 2011. Flashback to the MGR-led AIADMK, that ruled from 1977to 1987. MGR, the popular star, quit DMK in 1972 frustrated with corruption and the authoritarian culture of the founding family. When terminally ill MGR chose his protégé and film star, J Jayalalithaa, to be his successor. The AIADMK thrived under Amma’s rule. She kept the DMK at bay for 10 years. TN’s electorate is not binary and; savvy enough to punish or reward, in equal measure. Corruption, in-fighting, leadership duels in AIADMK, coupled with the Sasikala factor seems to have done the party in. The BJP, after initially befriending the AIADMK, has seen the writing on the wall and begun distancing itself. Under TN chief K Annamalai the BJP wants to become a political force to reckon with on its own. The fresh poll results clearly indicate Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s model of governance has got the people’s mandate. Stalin also dreams of becoming a deputy PM of India and, is grooming his son Udhayanidhi to take over the mantle from him.

Vijayan with Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade

Red Flags Turn In To Red Carpet, As Kerala CM Courts Investment

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is a changed man. In his heydays, as a CPM trade union activist he red flagged businesses, organised strikes, hartals and lockdowns. But as CM now, his government has rolled out the red carpet to turn Kerala into a popular business investment destination. Recently, he visited the UAE and wooed investors. Ironically, trade union leaders in his party are busy closing down or threatening MSMEs in the name of Nokku Kooli, an euphemism for extortion. What takes the cake is two controversial decisions by Vijayan’s government. After Air India was privatized, handed over to the Tata Group, the Kerala government took back land it provided for AI’s headquarters in Trivandrum. The logic: the land was provided when AI was a Government of India undertaking. For the record the original owner of the land, the Royal family of Travancore and AI had paid for the land. The same government is courting another Tata Group flagship, TCS to set up offices in Trivandrum’s Techno Park. The other googly Vijayan delivered is over the Trivandrum airport, set up in 1932, run by Adani Group. Post privatization, the Left government has placed one too many hurdles on its expansion plans. It will be interesting to see how the Adanis tackle this challenge even as they are struggling to develop a greenfield Vizhinjam port, also located in Trivandrum.

Get To The Bottom Of The Chitra Ramkrishna Case: PM Modi Tells Officials

Looks like there will be no let-up in the probe against the “mystery Yogi” who gave divine instructions to former MD & CEO of the National Stock Exchange, Chitra Ramkrishna. At an official weekend meeting, PM Narendra Modi made clear that investigations must be conducted thoroughly to delve into the depths (gehariyan) of the scam. This means Ramakrishna will not get away with pleading innocence for having taken instructions from a godman who resided in the Himalayas. The official keenness to get to the bottom of the story is also because Ramkrishna, a qualified CA, was connected with an influential political family, a father-son duo, from Tamil Nadu since 2012. It was this connection that helped her secure the coveted job in 2013. Sources close to Ramkrishna, keen to protect her, are peddling multiple theories including one, about the yogi being a finance ministry bureaucrat besides speculative assertions about him. He was probably a Karnataka cadre officer, once a close aide to the senior Tamil Nadu leader. Interestingly, the political class seems very keen to see a bureaucrat is made the fall guy in the Chitra Ramkrishna episode so it fails to impact their political space.
IPL Teams

Capital War To Break Out Over IPL Media-Digital Rights, As Reliance, Amazon Square Up For The Big Fight

The Indian cricket field will soon witness a major turf war of a different kind, a battle for media and digital rights. Amazon and Reliance Industries, two corporate majors locked in a head-on battle for physical shopping space in Future Retail, will also flex their muscles to bid for the 2023-2027 IPL rights. Valuations have breached the stratosphere already with talk of bids reaching $7 billion dollars and, many other giants ready to do battle as well. The previous 5-year cycle that attracted a consolidated Rs 16,347.5 crore from Star-Disney ends with the 15th IPL featuring 10 teams and more matches than were on offer under the 8-team format. Disney-owned Star India may have to reach deep into its pockets to take on the global e-commerce giant Amazon with its Prime Video OTT pay channel, even as India’s industry and commerce behemoth Reliance, with a broadcasting arm in Viacom18, opens up its considerable war chest to bid for what is seen in broadcasting as an everyday Super Bowl with a 2.5 billion worldwide audience. The BCCI may unbundle the TV and digital rights. IPL has probably already factored in its Rs 7,000 crore a year rights earnings, which is believable as cricket is king in India and IPL dishes out magical live sport entertainment.

Saha Cites Dravid And Ganguly, Does Not Name Media Intimidator

L’ affaire Wriddhiman has been rather unkind to the sports journalists’ fraternity in India, in particular with the former India stumper refusing to name the alleged sports journalist who sent him intimidating messages. Wriddhiman Saha, who has been brutally told the truth that he is on the way out of the India scheme of things because he is considered to be too old to be a No 2 man with the big gloves, has brought into the public domain the conversation India Head Coach Rahul Dravid had with him about the improbability of his future roles in India cap and red ball cricket during the recent tour of South Africa and a text from the BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, assuring to protect his place in the India team. But the Bengal-based stumper has still not revealed the name of the sports journalist who has behaved like a loon to say the least. No professional sports newsperson would resort to such unethical means to extract news from a sportsperson. Saha, a long time understudy to Mahendra Singh Dhoni has played 40 Tests that mirrors the permanency he enjoyed in the Test team, but of late the dashing Rishabh Pant has been anointed as the No 1 stumper across all formats and Kona Srikar Bharat, 28, being looked at as the immediate standby. But the big question now is, will Saha name the uncouth media person?

Family Run Enterprises Heave Sigh Of Relief After SEBI Climbdown On Splitting CMD Post

This news comes as a much needed relief for many family-run enterprises.  In a sudden about-turn, SEBI decided to make splitting of the posts of chairperson and managing director (CMD) by listed entities voluntary and not mandatory. A dozen such enterprises thrive in the Dravidian land. With one too many family members within such enterprises, splitting the CMD could have triggered considerable tensions within such enterprises. The consequences for them would have been a lot severe if it was enforced with a stricter fiat from the market regulator? What made the regulator do a U-Turn? One can debate the volte-face endlessly. One thing is sure, however. Regulation by force has often proved ineffective, and hasn’t really delivered the intended result. We have seen this happening in the unfolding Chitra imbroglio in the NSE. The entire governance structure at NSE appears to have gone for a toss. Will more rules solve the problems? They won’t. Be it in the re-nomination of the Maran couple on the board of Sun TV Network or the infamous Tata-Mistry imbroglio, corporate governance has been a consistent casualty. It reflects the erosion in the value system of society. The Venu Srinivasan and R Dinesh-led wings in the now partitioned TVS group have gone for non-family members to chair some of their boards. That’s refreshing. Laws often don’t get the right result.
devendra uddhav_bmc

BJP To Keep Mum Till BMC Polls, Then Target Maharashtra's First Family And Raut's Kin

Maharashtra is on edge, focused on forthcoming BMC elections, the semi-final match for Lok Sabha and assembly prospects of 2024. BJP says the 416 seats it won in January’s Nagar Panchayat polls is proof the voter base of third placed Shiv Sena with 301 seats (NCP/376 and Congress/297) is eroding. Truth being, Sena fared well in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar with limited success in Konkan. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has entrusted the task to raise Sena’s tally in BMC to over 100 corporators to son and suburban Mumbai’s guardian minister, Aaditya Thackeray. Meanwhile, erstwhile BJP CM, Devendra Fadnavis seeks a CAG audit over financial irregularities in Mumbai’s jumbo Covid centres, apparently run by unregistered medical operators, with familial ties to Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut. Did Raut make a distressed late-night call to Amit Shah recently? Union Minister Narayan Rane said Maharashtra’s politics will change post March 10 which was interpreted as fresh efforts to dislodge the MVA government. “Post BMC polls no elections are scheduled in Maharashtra till 2024. After March 10 fresh efforts will commence to dislodge the MVA government. Whether this means cases registered against the CM, his wife or Raut’s kin being arrested has to be seen. After March 10 they will come to us,” a BJP leader told Clearly, the battle for BMC has begun.
Naveen Patnaik_006_twitter

Photo : Twitter

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik Prays, Meets The Media, So Rumours Of Ill Health Fizzle Out Before Panchayat Polls

Every time Odisha faces a poll, the rumour mills work overtime regarding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s fragile health. Patnaik knows this game is played by opposition parties to cut into his vote base. Now, with Panchayat elections around the corner, Patnaik took the wind out of the opposition sails by addressing the media while on a visit to the Lingaraj Temple. “I am fit and fine,” he conveyed to waiting newspersons. Although appearing slightly under the weather he fronted supreme confidence. Voters in Odisha know Naveen babu’s health is not in the best of pink but, they simply adore and love him for his delivery. No other chief minister in the country enjoys his kind of popularity. The rumours of his ill health also served as a wake-up call to his party, the Biju Janata Dal. Succession talks on taking over the mantle of the BJD have begun. While there are no clear answers, political analysts feel the BJP which was waiting in the sidelines for years feels the inevitable political vacuum being created and its double engine formula may fill this space in the coming days.

Photo : Twitter

President Kovind, Vice President Naidu Mingle With The Crowd And Meet Friends, As Their Tenures Reach The End

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is spending his last few months in office reaching out to old friends from across the aisle. This was on display when he made a point to call upon senior DMK leader Arcot Veerasamy during his visit to Chennai recently. Veeraswamy, who is undergoing medical treatment for a fractured leg, was the Power Minister in the Karunanidhi Government (2006-11) and, close to the late DMK supremo M Karunanidhi. His son, Kalanidhi Veerasamy is at present Lok Sabha MP from Chennai North. Naidu spent about 15 minutes with Veerasamy.  Naidu’s businesswoman daughter Deepa Venkat also lives in Chennai. Likewise, a week after Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhawan was thrown open to the public, President Ramnath Kovind invited Supreme Court judges to come visit. Guests led by Chief Justice N V Ramana, accompanied by his wife, grand-daughter and brother judges went for a stroll. A lawyer by training, Kovind played a perfect host to the CJI’s grand-daughter, Sriya, a kindergarten student, showering her with chocolates.

Stalin’s Deputy PM Plan Counts On Congress Alliance, Or Not At All?

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin would like to be a player on the national scene but, on his own terms. While his ambition to the Deputy Prime Minister’s post isn’t a secret anymore, the Tamil Nadu CM won’t pursue it unless ally Congress fits into the scheme of things. Stalin feels Mamata Banerjee is no national leader, not KCR, Uddhav Thackeray or, Pinarayi Vijayan either. Stalin will only play ball if Congress is in the loop. After openly promoting Rahul Gandhi’s PM candidature before the 2019 polls, Stalin will not abandon him and his party. Stalin looks at Mamata Didi’s national front initiative as a meeting of non-BJP CMs in New Delhi to forge unity for a combined national opposition ahead of the 2024 polls. Stalin is convinced on Congress’ national party status and, cling to its coattails forgetting old grievances against Indira Gandhi for sacking the DMK government and put Stalin in jail under MISA, no more relevant after decades of built-up friendship. He sees no non-BJP, non-Congress front possibly gaining national ascendancy. While he seeks a national role, while placing his son on the TN CM’s seat at Fort St George, Stalin will only do so provided the Congress joins the political front..

Not Leaving Anything To Chance, Akhilesh Gets ‘Netaji’ To Karhal For Political Vote Seeking Dance

Battle to secure the Karhal seat, which goes to polls on February 20, intensified on the second last day of campaigning as the key candidate and, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav brought his 83-year-old father Mulayam Singh Yadav popularly called Netaji on the campaign trail with him. The ageing and ailing SP patriarch came to Karhal from Lucknow. He was accompanied by the extended Yadav family including brothers Shivpal Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav. Mulayam made a brief appeal seeking votes for his son and promised development. Mulayam’s last-minute effort of an appearance for his son exposed the chinks in Akhilesh’s armour. This was simply explained by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was campaigning in Karhal for BJP candidate and Union Minister of State Prof SP Singh Baghel. Taking a swipe at Akhilesh for dragging his father to campaign for him, Shah said it exposed the weakness of the Samajwadi camp. Incidentally, Baghel was a PSO to Mulayam and was brought into politics by Netaji himself. In the past few elections, Karhal has traditionally been a SP seat. Though both Akhilesh and Baghel are now Lok Sabha MPs, the BJP has made winning the seat a prestige issue. “If lotus blooms here in Karhal it will be equal to getting 300 seats in UP, ” thundered Shah.
Rajini collage

Superstar Rajini Signs Up For His 169th Movie, Pushes Producer To Cast Aishwaryaa Rai As His Co-Star

After a lot of hype and hoopla and, sky high expectations for Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe, the film hit the bedrock, a rejection the superstar is still smarting under. Despite a nubile Lolita like Keerthy Suresh in the lead (she was cast as his sister whom he protects like a nuclear code), icy Nayanthara as his ambiguous love interest and, buxom Khushbu, playing matronly Meena to gird Rajini’s masochism,  Annaatthe sadly lulled audiences to sleep. The buzz among fans is that Thalaiva must ‘quit while he is still the icon’. Not ready to walk off into the sunset, Rajini has signed up his 169th movie to be shot by his director of choice, Nelson Dilipkumar. Shootings expected to start in May and completed within five months’ time, for an October 2022 Diwali week release. Producer of the film Sun Pictures is in a quandary as Rajini has insisted on Aishwaryaa Rai-Bachchan as co-star. But her signing up fee of Rs 10 crore is out of their budget. Rajini being Rajini, has said get her at any cost. Come October, one will see how Rajini’s style magic combines with Aishwaryaa’s beauty to make cash registers ringing big time. Fans are hoping his 169th film is not the swan song for both.
amit_Shah_ Kanimozhi

Amit Shah’s Courtesy Call To Kanimozhi, Irks Stalin Who’s Keen To Anoint Son Udhayanidhi

For some strange reason, news of Union Home Minister Amit Shah reaching out to DMK MP Kanimozhi to greet her on her birthday on January 5 became public only a month later. The Shah-Kanimozhi conversation apparently irked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who is her brother. Disclosures about the birthday wishes were confirmed by one section of DMK that is unhappy with the manner Stalin is launching ahead with his succession plans to anoint son Udhayanidhi as heir apparent in the DMK. Udhayanidhi, who heads the DMK youth wing, had also started inducting young women into the party fold to the annoyance of aunt Kanimozhi, since she heads the DMK’s women’s wing and, is deputy parliamentary leader of the party.  It is also being said Udhayanidhi won’t allow Kanimozhi to thrive once he takes charge.  Besides, both Kanimozhi and A Raja are aware of the pending CBI appeal in the 2 G case and may seek a patch up with Delhi.  Senior leaders like TR Baalu does not fancy spending his remaining years in the Lok Sabha – till 2024 – as an opposition MP and has been frequently seeking an appointment with PM Narendra Modi. For its part, the BJP dismissed the Shah-Kanimozhi conversation as a routine courtesy call with no political overtones whatsoever. Only time will tell.
manish tiwari

Manish Tewari Rebuts Priyanka Over Her ‘Pagari’ Sporting PM Statement, Dismisses Speculations Of Exit From Party

When Congress spokesperson, former Union Minister and, Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari called for a press conference, there was palpable excitement in the media. Would he also quit the party like his colleague Ashwini Kumar did? Manish had nothing nice to say on Kumar’s exit and stated, “Ambition for a Rajya Sabha seat makes people do many things”. So where does this leave Tewari? “I have called the press conference in support of the Congress,” he said. True, he had canvassed for Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in Chamkaur Sahib, that is part of his Lok Sabha constituency. But, he complicated equations with the party high command by rebutting Priyanka Vadra’s remarks, “(PM Modi) Wearing a turban on stage doesn’t make (him) one a Sardar”. Tewari knows the pagari is a sensitive issue in Punjab and sought no politics over it. He also dismissed talk of his quitting the Congress, even after having tweeted “never seen such chaos and anarchy as what is playing out in Punjab Congress today.” He had also lashed out at the Punjab government for non-implementation of the Centre’s move to extend BSF jurisdiction and, also defended his close family ties with Capt Amarinder Singh. Tewari has now asserted he was “elected for five years” and would stay unless, of course, he is pushed out.

Shenbagam Manthiram

Tata Power’s Electrifying Plans For Odisha To Transform Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar For Mumbai Like Consumer Experience

Tata Power operations in Odisha is firing on all cylinders for an uninterrupted quality power supply. According to Shenbagam Manthiram, CEO of Tata Power Central Odisha, by 2023, the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar will have power quality on Mumbai city standards, thanks to its SCADA technology and LT protection system. This apart, Tata Discoms is putting in place a cyclone resilience disaster network spanning 60 km between the Puri and Konark shoreline to withstand cyclones which annually ravage Odisha, paralysing its power supply. Moreover, it is focusing on a single digit AT&C loss through Capex plans of Rs 1500 crore over the next three years. It will soon launch smart pre-paid self-reading certified HPL 3 phase meters on rental basis at Rs 150 per month and re-charge options. “From February/ March 2022 power purchase in Odisha will go hi-tech, enabling customers with pre-paid meters,” says Manthiram. Initially, covering only 3 phase consumers the scheme will scale up to include others subsequently. The aim is to cover 175,000 customers, improving progressively thereafter. To achieve this goal, Tata Discoms has automated 155 sub-stations linked to SCADA, another 300 will be added this year so that by 2023, 80% of its sub-stations will be unmanned. By 2024 it plans to eradicate low voltage power supply pockets in Odisha and, unveil roof top solar projects in Odisha.
diana edulji_harmanpreet

Diana Edulji and Harmanpreet Kaur

If In The XI, Promote Harmanpreet To No 3 For Last Two Matches Against NZ: Diana Edulji

Attention is riveted these days on the Indian women team’s preparatory white-ball series against New Zealand (Silver Ferns) at Queenstown, before the ICC Women’s World Cup in March-April. Led by Harmanpreet Kaur, the famous Punjabi lass, India lost the one-off Twenty20. Thereafter, India led by Mithali Raj, posted good scores batting first in the 50 over ODIs, but it has not been able to defend it in two consecutive matches. In the second ODI, India made 270 and in the third, 279 and lost them by three wickets each. India had lost the first match by 65 runs. The team played the three ODIs without Smriti Mandhana. Apart from the dismal defeats, the poor form of Harmanpreet has hurt the team from racing to formidable match-winning totals. Known for her big hitting prowess, Harmanpreet has been out for cheap scores of 10, 10 and 13 in the three matches and former India captain and a former member of the Committee of Administrators that ran the BCCI for four years, Diana Edulji told this writer: “Now that India has lost the series, Harmanpreet should be promoted to No 3 (if in the playing XI). And some tough calls have to be taken if India has to make a serious bid for the World Cup. The players who are performing should be in the playing XI. Some players need to be pushed to perform.”
Bjp akhilesh poll

Did EC Ease Campaign Curbs After Western UP Voted To Help BJP, Cause Rallying Heights In Five States Now?

The timing was too convenient for it to be a random decision. The moment the polls were over in Western UP where the Samajwadi Party is more popular, all curbs on poll rallies were gone. A BJP insider concedes that it was planned like this so as not to give any ground to SP, which might have been able to gather big crowds at rallies in its stronghold. It would have been bad optics for the ruling BJP if the opposition was seen displaying its popular appeal while the party struggled to get crowds for its star campaigner in Prime Minister Narendra Modi in eastern UP. The moment the vote got over in the first phase of the UP polls on February 10, the Election Commission convinced itself that Covid was no more a threat and that rallies and road shows were allowed in all the five states going to the polls. The BJP, with sufficient pull in the central and eastern parts of UP to be able to match SP in crowd-pulling rallies, was at it again with rallies and meetings taking over from virtual campaigns starring the PM and the UP CM. The party with the biggest funding for elections was back to dominate the scene with a pliant EC back in its comfort zone backing the ruling forces.
Kalanithi maran

Kavery andKalanithi Maran

Big Stake Marans Steamroll Institutional Shareholders For Reappointment With Big Fat Salaries

In the corporate world, the phrase ‘All is fair in love and war’ has assumed a new meaning. Well, all is fair if rules are observed is now the touted line and reasoning given to explain away an ethically and morally unjustifiable action. Institutional shareholders voted against a resolution but found themselves unable to vote out the resolution in the face of a steamrolling majority held by the promoters.  A classic case was when the resolution relating to the reappointment of the Maran couple — Kalanithi and Kavery — sailed through at the annual general body meeting of the Sun TV Network despite a majority of institutional shareholders voting against it. The Maran couple are the highest paid executives in India. They have taken home close to Rs 1,500 crore by way of managerial remunerations over the last decade.  The promoter remuneration is now the subject of intense debate.  Is it ethical for promoters to vote on a resolution pertaining to their own compensation?  The whole issue has made a mockery of the so-called SEBI-ordained tight governance system. Like the RBI does, can’t corporations be told to make public disclosure of detailed minutes of meetings that clear the compensation paid to promoters? At least that will give the minority shareholders a clue about the logic for the high pay packets.
wankhede_ajit wadekar

Ajit Wadekar Should Be Visible At The Grand Stand Above The Wankhede Pavilion: Prof Shetty

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), with a record 41 Ranji Trophy wins, is loath to give a fitting tribute to one of its most outstanding cricketers Ajit Wadekar and, It is puzzling. Belonging to the pantheon of Mumbai cricketers, Wadekar sported MCA’s lion crest from 1958-59 till the 1974-75 Ranji Trophy seasons, was part of the winning team 11 times, four times as captain and, led India to its maiden Test series win in the West Indies and England in 1971. Wadekar’s missing name is the notable one at MCA’s home ground on D Road in Churchgate. As one enters the Wankhede Stadium through the gates named after Polly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad, cricket fans have the option to watch a match from the stands named after illustrious cricketers — Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar and a stand named after a former president Vithal Divecha. The home and visiting teams occupy the Vijay Manjrekar Dressing Rooms. A long time MCA and BCCI official Prof Ratnakar Shetty has suggested to an MCA official that the Grand Stand above the pavilion be named after Ajit Wadekar. “His name should be visible to the public,” Shetty tells this writer. An icon like Wadekar should be honoured, remembered properly adds Shetty, whose book My Years in BCCI: ON BOARD Test. Trial. Triumph. will be released soon.
Congress rally

Congress’ Punjab House Is In Disarray, As Sulking Sidhu, Squabbling Gill Won’t Play, Just Ahead Of Voting Day

Punjab assembly elections are barely a week away and the Congress is quite aware that its house is not in order, though some last-minute fire-fighting is on. Many party MPs have opted to stay away from the field after their wishes were ignored. Khadoor Sahib MP Jasbir Singh Gill tweeted about AICC in charge Harish Chaudhury as “Thug of Barmer” responsible for the mess. Gill had secured his Lok Sabha seat for the Congress after 43 years in 2019 but the party did not give an assembly ticket to his son Gursant or brother Rajan Gill. Instead, it chose to field sons of Jalandar MP Santokh Chaudhury and Fategarh Sahib MP Amar Singh — both Dalit MPs. The Congress was equally tough on Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari, who as part of G-23, was not included among star campaigners. “We are on a hara kiri in Punjab. Why not use Manish in Punjab, he is after all our MP,” rues an old-timer. PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, one-time star campaigner, shunned by party cadre in Amritsar (East) is relying mainly on wife Navjot Kaur and daughter Rabia to campaign for him. With the CMO out of his reach now, Sidhu has completely turned against CM Channi — he refused to speak at a joint rally where Priyanka Vadra was present.

Photo : Twitter

After Hiring Prashant Kishor, Is KCR Planning Early Elections In Telangana?

The Congress is not swayed by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s antics — be it the high-pitched offensive against PM Narendra Modi, raising doubts over the surgical strikes or, even his lashing out at Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma for comments against Rahul Gandhi. Congress leaders dismiss the KCR outreach to the Gandhi family by way of targeting the BJP. They feel it is probably just KCR’s effort to stay ahead of the game and other political parties even as anti- incumbency hits him hard. After all, he is into the end of his second term and has lost two by-elections–Huzurabad in November 2021 and Dubbak in November 2020. Both the elections were won by BJP. The buzz is KCR has plans to advance assembly election dates, just like he did in 2018 and he has hired poll strategist Prashant Kishor. “From what we know KCR is planning an early assembly poll which is due only in December 2023 like he did in 2018. That time he did not want assemblies coinciding with the Lok Sabha polls,” says a senior Telangana Congress leader. Of late, he has been hitting out at the Modi government as he is keen to move to national politics and hand over the reins to his son KT Rama Rao.

Why Dhoni’s Economical Bollywood Story Was A Hit, While Kapil’s Big ’83 Spend Failed To Make The Box Office Tick

Big budget movie 83 on Kapil Dev led India winning the 1983 World Cup cost Rs 270 crore to make but did not do well. The biopic on MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, made with a budget of Rs 106 crore, did much better. 83 did not connect with today’s audience while Dhoni did. Trade pundits say the subject of 83 was overexposed; an old chapter in the history of India’s cricket and whatever was shown in the film was available on YouTube. Dhoni’s biopic, in that sense, was an untold story so had a huge audience connect. Also what worked in the biopic’s favour is Dhoni’s huge fan following coupled with his participation in the film promotion. Dhoni’s movie had romance, portrayed the journey of a small-town boy becoming captain of the Indian cricket team. It was aspirational. 83 was only about cricket which perhaps put off today’s generation despite Ranveer Singh. People who went to see 83 were in the 40-plus bracket, who are fewer in numbers. Also, it was not a family outing as their children were not keen to see 83.  It was also impacted by the Omicron wave. Clearly, Sushant Singh film had a bigger draw than a Ranveer Singh film. Incidentally, not all biopics do well. The one on Mohammad Azharuddin played by Emraan Hashmi bombed.
K annamalai_EPS

K Annamalai and Edappadi K Palaniswami

Money Can’t Buy Edappadi Love, As BJP Jilts AIADMK On Valentines, In TN

Did BJP leader Amit Shah decline funds offered for UP elections by AIADMK’s Joint Coordinator, Edappadi K Palaniswami? The same Edappadi’s fundraising efforts were praised during the Karnataka, Bihar polls. Why? Five state elections with Tamil Nadu local body polls has exposed the worst in political expediency – the use and throw model.  Strangely, poll campaigning in TN is reverberating over happenings in North India. Jothimani Sennimalai, Congress MP from TN, threw the gauntlet and said, “Dissolve AIADMK, Merge it with BJP”, “AIADMK is BJP’s B team”. The BJP, however, won’t piggyback on the TN party anymore. In TN, under state chief K Annamalai BJP has charted a new course. After the Rajinikant fiasco, Annamalai has been given carte blanche by the high command to create an enabling environment for BJP’s entry into TN on its own although Rahul Gandhi proclaimed that, “BJP can never set foot in TN”. Insiders say, the real action will start after election results of the five States are known. Annamalai, it seems, does not hide his contempt for Edappadi and has even advised Amit Shah to eschew AIADMK funding. The BJP distanced itself from the southern state party by not joining issues with AIADMK on the NEET subject. Edappadi and his flock may now pay a price for kowtowing and their BJP compromise.
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Dr PK Jayasree

After Kottayam, Kerala Govt Goes All Out To Bring 8 More Districts To Zero Poverty Level

Kerala is making news, not because of Shashi Tharoor or Arundhati Roy but the effort the State made to eliminate poverty through progressive measures and improving human quality of life. India’s recent first ever Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of NITI Aayog has revealed that Kottayam District in Kerala has no poor residents. District Magistrate PK Jayasree of Kottayam said “Kerala has eight more districts Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kannur, Palakkad, Alappuzha, Kollam, and Pathanamthitta which are below 1% poverty line, efforts are on to make it to the level of 0 % poverty in the next financial year.” The District Magistrate is now introducing ISO standardisation at Kottayam Collectorate followed by other government offices in Kottayam’s District Headquarter. Political observers say, “It is a reflection of the Left Government’s unwavering commitment towards social welfare and initiating updated standardisation which makes it stand out against the rest.” Kerala’s national average of poverty index stands at 25.01%, whereas Kerala, Puducherry and Goa have stable poverty levels, while the worst performers today are UP, MP, Jharkhand and Bihar. NITI Aayog’s MPI index has three quality parameters spread between health, education and standards of living conditions which comprise cooking facilities, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, living conditions, assets and bank accounts. India’s MPI measures use globally accepted robust methodology by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative.


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.