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With Delhi Police Under Amit Shah, Kejriwal Lords Over Punjab Police To Target Old Foes Kumar Vishwas, Alka Lamba

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is increasingly demonstrating a tendency to deploy the Punjab Police to settle his old political scores with foes. Much to their grief, his former AAP colleagues Kumar Vishwas and former Delhi MLA Alka Lamba, tasted a dose of Kejriwal’s new penchant to outsource his desired policing action through borrowed powers. Officials from the Punjab Police department came knocking on poet Vishwas’s house in Ghaziabad and pasted a notice on Lamba’s house about making her a co-accused in the FIR and summoned her to join their probe. Vishwas tweeted about how the Punjab Police not only refused to disclose the name of the complainant but also, failed to upload the copy of the FIR against him on their website. In the run-up to the Punjab polls, Vishwas had accused Kejriwal of collaborating with Khalistanis; even as Kejriwal countered with a rebut describing himself as a “sweet terrorist.” Lamba claimed police officials threatened her of “consequences” if she failed to appear before the SIT. Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu was the first to denounce the state police for being puppets in the hands of Kejriwal while the new Punjab PCC chief wrote to the state DGP demanding withdrawal of the FIRs against Vishwas and Lamba.  It remains to be seen if Lamba’s party continues rallying behind her.

TN CM Stalin Gets Tough, As Governor RN Ravi Gets Rough Is Junior Vikatan’s Cover Story

Recently, Tamil Nadu’s leading magazine Junior Vikatan made news with a sell out cover story edition “Rough Governor, Tough CM”. The headline sums up strained relations between TN Governor R N Ravi and Chief Minister M K Stalin.  The bone of contention is that the Governor is sitting pretty on the bill against NEET passed in the TN assembly among others including amendments to the cooperative law. Matters came to a head when the Governor’s motorcade was blockaded, black flags hurled at it on its way back from a visit to the Dharmapuri Mutt. Is the Governor more important than the voice of 8 crore Tamilians? Talk is rife that powerful TN MP’s even lobbied for his recall. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan (additional charge of Puducherry) is facing hard times too. She has faced Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s ire for raising political issues. KCR does nothing to hide his animosity towards the PM and Home Minister. Last week’s buzz, Soundararajan was being moved to Kerala, to swap Raj Bhavans with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. Is Khan considered a better foil, for KCR to be put in his place? The BJP is leaving nothing to chance taking Chanakya Neeti’s dictum Sarasa, Sama, beda danda, chatura. Governor Soundararajan summed it up aptly, “We are not rubber stamps to sign on dotted lines”.

Bengal Summit Inks MoUs Of 3.5 lakh crore, Mamata Says Give Me More, Worries Over What GoI Has In Store!

The general perception is that West Bengal is in the abyss. Not really, if one goes by the response to the recently held 2-day Bengal Global Business Summit. The summit witnessed inking of MoUs entailing a total investment of Rs 342,000 crore that could create 40 lakh new jobs. This includes the Rs 10,000 crore of proposed investment by the Adani Group. A total of 137 MoUs or letters of intent were signed. In her concluding speech, WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee described the sixth edition of BGBS summit as having been ‘immensely successful’. It was attended by 4,300 participants from 42 countries. She underscored that a task-force would be set up under the chief secretary for speedy implementation of projects. The CM is confident that the quantum of investment secured through MoUs and Expressions of Interest will increase further in coming days unless the Union Government disturbs industrialists through central revenue intelligence agencies. An industry leader present at the venue said: “From the organiser’s point of view, the summit is a success because it was well attended and all these MOUs and EOIs have apparently been signed or talked about. But seeing is believing and if you ask me, I’ll begin to get impressed if I see industries coming in on the ground, rather than in government files.” True that!

Odisha To Give Land For JSW’s Green Field Project This Fiscal, As Patnaik Turns Bhubaneshwar Into India’s Steel Capital

To make good the exit of South Korean steel major Posco, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has successfully roped in India’s leading integrated steel major JSW Steel, part of the $13 bn JSW Group headed by Sajjan Jindal. JSW’s wholly owned subsidiary JSW Utkal Steel is expected to set up 13.2 MTPA at an investment cost of Rs 65,000 crore in Jagatsinghpur district close to Paradeep port. The Odisha project dovetails with Jindal’s game plan of achieving 50 MT capacity. The JSW project has already received EC clearance and is getting ready to implement pre-project stage requirements including employment and livelihood creations. The Odisha government seems confident of handing over 2,950 acre land to JSW Steel this fiscal since most land parcels belong to the government anyway. Other small gap are being covered through collective persuasion, court support rejecting vested PILs and fair compensation for loss of betel-nut farm lands. Learning from the Posco experience, the Odisha government is not leaving any chances for slippages anywhere, by taking everyone on board through village meetings, addressing concerns with matched speed of action to deliver complete parcels of land to JSW this fiscal. If Naveen babu gets the project going Bhubaneswar could well emerge as the steel capital of India with other players like ArcelorMittal, JSPL and others also evincing interest.

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Rohit Sharma’s Uphill Drive As Captain India, Heads Into Downhill Dive With Mumbai Indians!

After an initial high in the home internationals against West Indies and Sri Lanka — 11 wins — Rohit Sharma experienced the painful disappointment of being beaten in every game Mumbai Indians (MI) has played in the Tata IPL-15 so far. He now joins the notorious group of captains who have lost seven matches in a row in the high-profile Twenty20 competition. The India captain, across all formats and, who has won five IPL titles for MI has lost seven straight matches in IPL-15. Sharma though finds company in the same league with Adam Gilchrist (Deccan Chargers, 2008), Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2018-19), George Bailey (Kings XI Punjab/Punjab Kings, 2015), Yuvraj Singh (Pune Warriors, 2011) and Mahela Jayawardena (Delhi Capitals, 2013-14). But there are captains who have lost eight, nine and eleven matches in a row. Sourav Ganguly (Pune Warriors, 2012-13) and Kevin Pietersen (Delhi Capitals, 2014-15) tops the list with eleven defeats in a row.  Brendan McCullum (Kolkata Knight Riders, 2009) and Angelo Mathews (Pune Warriors, 2013) have lost nine in a row and Virender Sehwag (Delhi Capitals, 2012-13) has lost eight in row.  With seven more to go MI will win a match or two on the way, but it looks like it’s curtains for MI in so far as the play-off qualification is concerned.

Photo : Fotocorp

Aby’s Baby Needs More Passionate Work, To Stoke Filmy Career

Ever since he signed his first movie Refugee in 2000, there has been no respite for 46-year-old Abhishek Bachchan. He is constantly compared with his larger-than-life father Amitabh Bachchan. Is this comparison even justified? Abhishek has acted in 73 films in his 22 years career, even made a mark in films like Sarkar, Dhoom, Yuva and Guru. He carved a space for himself, worked with big banners and famous directors, yet that big moment has eluded him – the role to catapult him into the big league. There were a lot of expectations from The Big Bull where he played scamster Harshad Mehta but, he lost out to the web series Scam 1992 played by Pratik Gandhi over timing of the release. He got praise for his role as an uneducated politician in Dasvi though it was not a box office hit.  Bob Biswas also failed to propel him. So, what worked against Junior Bachchan? A respected source says “Abhishek, unlike his father, does not give a 100% for every movie. In some movies he goes the whole hog while in others it seems like he is disinterested.” If he wants to step into the Big B’s shoes he has to put 150% into all the roles he plays – big or small. Only then will his Oscar moment arrive!

Centre’s New Service Rules To Break IAS Nexus With State Governments, On Pain of Two-Year Jail Term

A year after the Union government amended the All India Services (AIS) Rules for the Jammu and Kashmir union territories, under which four IAS officials were recently sacked, and powers of the local administration to grant two three month extensions to superannuated IAS, IPS and IFoS cadre officials was withdrawn, a new notification makes the same rules applicable pan India. A well-placed source told, “The move comes in the wake of West Bengal’s confrontationist attitude, whose then Chief Secretary continues in the state despite repatriation to New Delhi. When PM Narendra Modi visited WB on May 28, 2021 for a ground report on the cyclone that hit the state, CS Alapan Bandyopadhyay did not brief him, even left the meeting. Similarly, Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee demanded WB’s leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari be excluded.” In June 2021 Bandhyopadhyay retired and was appointed as Chief Advisor to Banerjee. The new notification, with retrospective effect, disallows such extensions without prior clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission and intelligence committee. The new rules provide for a two-year jail term for officials found in violation and also includes anti-government comments on social media as grounds for action. The new AIS rules will impact other states like Maharashtra where former CS Sitaram Kunte and before him, Ajoy Mehta were also appointed as advisors to CM Uddhav Thackeray post retirement.

Baba Siddique’s Iftar Do, Irks Salman-SRK Fans Over Too Much Ado!

Former Congress MLA Baba Siddique’s annual iftar party in suburban Bandra has always been a star-studded affair. Be it at Sheesha Sky Lounge on Linking Road from where it started, to the iconic Mehboob Studio at Hill Road, and from 2010 onwards at the Taj Lands End at Bandstand, the party has seen regular attendance from the Khans of Bollywood. However, due to the Covid situation, Siddique couldn’t host the annual ritual these past two years. This year, with Covid restrictions withdrawn from April 2, an enthusiastic Siddique — like always — invited both the Khans, but ended up annoying their fans. Shah Rukh Khan made his first media appearance after a long time. The superstar graciously greeted the media but wasn’t feeling comfortable posing for photographs. However, Siddiqui, who was escorting the actor inside the venue, forcibly stopped him and made him pose. While SRK maintained his calm, he looked extremely uncomfortable. This irked netizens who slammed Siddique. Likewise, while seeing off Salman Khan, Siddique got too close for comfort and even placed his hand on Salman’s head as if he’s a kid who doesn’t know how to sit in a car. Interestingly, it’s both the Khans who had made Siddique’s iftar bash a national event by embracing each other after a feud following an ugly spat at Salman’s then-girlfriend Katrina Kaif’s birthday.

ITC, Oberoi Vie For Kochi’s Taj Malabar Hotel, Although Tatas Enjoy First Right Of Refusal

One of Kerala’s iconic hotels, the Taj Malabar Resort & Spa in Kochi near Willingdon Island is up for grabs. Cochin Port owns the property built in 1936 and named after the first Viceroy of India, the 1st Earl of Willingdon and, has invited bids. The Taj group which has been managing the property since 1985, is now running it on extension after the expiry of its lease. Cochin Port has invited tenders for a pre-bid meeting for the Port-owned buildings (Malabar Hotel) for a period of 30 years. The last date for submitting the bid is May 6. The Taj group currently pays a lease rental of Rs 71 lakh per annum. Many contenders have lined up for this prestigious property including the likes of ITC Hotels, Oberoi Group and Kerala’s top business names like RP Group, Lulu Group etc. The Malabar Hotel offers stunning views of the Cochin Harbour and the Arabian Sea and can still remain with the Taj Group if they invoke the right of first refusal in the bidding process according to well-placed sources. The Tatas may still retain the property if they match the highest bidder.  A spokesman for the Lulu Group denied being in the race and said that the Group was currently focused on only two properties: the Grand Hyatt at Bolgatthy and Marriott Hotel at Edapally.

Yogi Wants Promise Of Peace Before Processions, As Police Seek Delhi Rioter Ansar’s Handlers

In the backdrop of recent clashes in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued a series of directions. All organisers are henceforth required to submit an affidavit promising to maintain peace and harmony before permission is given. Only traditional religious festivities will be allowed and new events to be denied permission, a tweet from CM Yogi’s official account said. Yogi’s announcement assumes significance as the festivals of Eid and Akshay Tritiya will likely fall on the same date early next month. He has also cancelled the sanctioned leave of all police and administrative officials in the state till May 4 asking them to report back on duty within 24 hours. Yogi’s preventive action is linked to the surprise Jahangirpuri riots. There was no intelligence that the Hanuman Jayanti procession would be disrupted. Reports indicate the main Jahangirpuri riot accused Ansar received a phone call and he then gathered a few trouble makers outside the mosque even as the VHP procession approached.  Probe is on to establish who prompted Ansar to confront the VHP procession.  Of the three Hanuman Jayanti processions police are ambiguous about its clearance to the VHP procession. There was a SDPI protest rally in Jantar Mantar in Delhi the same day. Did the SDPI prompt Ansar? Ansar who hails from Bengal is affiliated to AAP.

All Is Not Well For Prashant Kishor In The Congress, As Rumours Abound Over Coalition With TRS

Seems like some Congressmen do not repose much faith in election strategist Prashant Kishor who made a detailed presentation to the party leadership on poll strategies for the 2024 general elections last week. Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s decision to get his ideas vetted by a panel indicates that all is not well for PK. Notably, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stayed away from PK’s presentation. A Bihar leader points out how PK was of little help in states like Bihar, where the recent by-election for Bochahan saw the Congress registering only 1336 votes, far less than even NOTA. Meanwhile, PK’s possible role in the Congress has already had a political fallout in Telangana. Kishor is said to be still working with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), even as the Congress is a sharp critic of the K C Rao government. The BJP opposition in Telangana exploited PK’s Delhi role in the Congress to suggest a possible TRS-Congress coalition in the state. Denying any possibility of collaborating with KCR, AICC in charge of Telangana Manicka Tagore tweeted that “Rumours of a Congress coalition with TRS are totally false. The Congress won’t move back an inch from its commitment to save Telangana from the TRS and BJP.”  In the thick of all this Rahul Gandhi is travelling abroad for a short holiday.

Photo : Twitter

Apolitical Maestro Ilaiyaraja Changes His Tune, Praises Modi Stoking Dravidian Fury, Made Nominee To Rajya Sabha Too

No doubt, he is Tamil Nadu‘s treasure and pure and unadulterated symphony for cinema. Ilaiyaraja became a household name for his resonating music and giving consistent hits as composer and singer for over 30 years. Isaignani (Saint Musician) as he is referred to (an encomium conferred by Kalaignar) has over 7,000 songs to his credit. He is Asia’s first symphony writer and even A R Rahman’s Oscar has never daunted the music Raja, the acknowledged doyen of the music industry. Suddenly though, controversy surrounds the Raja. Has he moved from Sangeet to become a Sanghi? There is no smoke without fire and Ilaiyaraja himself stoked the flames and his reputation as a professional without any political leanings. His foreword to a book titled, Ambedkar & Modi, Reformer’s ideas, Performer’s Implementation launched by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Raja further gilded this lily by making a comparison of the two titans, with brother Gangai Amaran serving as his mouthpiece. Even as media talking heads and YouTubers analysed his claim, news has leaked out that President Ramnath Kovind received a list of three names from the world of Art and Entertainment to nominate as Rajya Sabha members. So, one of the names is that of Ilaiyaraja. The penny has dropped with a loud clink.

Ambitious Telangana Governor Tamilisai, Eyes Indian President’s Post, Reaches for the Sky

Whoever said Tamilians, laidback to the point of indolence as they can be, do not nurse ambitions? Take the case of Tamilisai Soundararajan, Telangana Governor who is also in charge of Puducherry. Having been given a supposedly apolitical gubernatorial post, she is angling for much higher things as all BJP and pro-BJP personalities are on a watchlist for picking the next President of India. So useful will that person be in office with the power to call who will form the government in case of a hung poll that BJP will be extra careful in zeroing in. Tamilisai is in the running, according to BJP insiders. Meanwhile, music maestro Ilaiyaraja, in the news lately for comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in his penned preface for a book, is facing the music on social media in a state that is highly opinionated against Modi. It is believed that the maestro, who once supported Leftist causes using his music, is now angling for a Rajya Sabha nomination. The DMK — politically savvy enough to keep on the right side of the Prime Minister in public while haranguing everyone else about the Centre’s interference in State subjects — is maintaining a studied silence in public and claims that it has no opinion either way about Ilaiyaraja’e apparent endorsement of Modi.

UP Congress Crumbling With Priyanka Gandhi’s Fumbling On Ladki Hoon… Poll Strategy Bumbling

After the crushing defeat in the state assembly election, the party high command asked Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajay Kumar Lallu to put in his papers. With no new state chief and with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra keeping away from Lucknow, Congressmen in the state are running around directionless, like a brood of headless chickens. A senior party leader and member of the AICC told, “The organization that we had built by fielding candidates on all seats is crumbling now. Moreover, Priyanka has not even looked back at the party in the post-poll situation.” He also revealed the reason why, unlike the other four states that went to polls earlier this year, the party adopted the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon‘ campaign in UP. “No strong candidate was willing to contest on our ticket. The few we had were the ones denied tickets by their respective parties who came, not out of choice but, by compulsion.” Another leader, however, claimed the scenario will be different in the 2024 general elections. “The party can win back the support of Muslims, Brahmins, and BSP’s voters who are looking for a new alternative,” he said, adding that now its only poll strategist Prashant Kishor who can save the crumbling state unit, strengthen the organization, and make the party politically relevant.

Akshay Kumar Swore Against Tobbaco Endorsements, Now Trolled Over Pan Masala Advertisement

Akshay Kumar was trolled for endorsing a pan masala ad Vimal Elaichi that has featured Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan earlier. The commercial promotes the elaichi brand of the product but, the company also makes gutka and the actor, known to be a fitness icon, is on record saying he would never endorse any tobacco brand and has come under fire. Although there was no response from the brand or an apology from either party, it may be recalled that Amitabh Bachchan had returned the money earned from the Kamla Pasand advertisements after being trolled by his fans. In this age of social media, trolling is part of the game with celebrities prepared to face the music though it seems like most brands don’t really bother about the trolls. Like Telgu-Kannada actress Rashmika Mandana was trolled for ogling at Vicky Kaushal’s innerwear brand Macho Sporto, Kartik Aaryan for sporting fake abs for a hair removing brand; neither stars or advertisers really bothered.  Till only a few years ago, these stars would have lost their contracts, had the ads pulled off air. It happened to Aamir Khan when he used the word “intolerance” in one news interview. Recall how yesteryear super models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre were dragged to court for posing nude for the Tuff Shoes Ad with a python wrapped around them.

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Yuzvendra Chahal Aces Kolkata Knight Riders With A Hat-Trick And 5/40

Leg spin is the most difficult art of bowling — being unorthodox in style when juxtaposed with the conventional finger spinner — but they are wicket takers and match winners in the most difficult circumstances. India’s premiere leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal saw lady luck smile on him while plotting Rajasthan Royals’ victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders much against the run of play. He became the fifth leg spinner in the Twenty20 league after Amit Mishra (a phenomenal three times; for Hyderabad v Pune, DD v Deccan Chargers and for Deccan Chargers v Mohali), Shreyas Gopal (for RR v RCB), Samuel Badree (for RCB v MI) and Pravin Tambe (for RR v KKR) to perform the magic feat. Chahal got rid of Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Mavi and Pat Cummins to provide the 21st instance of a hat trick in the TATA IPL-15. This feat had eluded him at the start of the tournament when he flummoxed Mumbai Indian’s Tim David and Daniel Sams after which substitute Karun Nair dropped Murugan Ashwin at slip. With his first 5 wicket haul against KKR, he is all set to go past the fourth placed Piyush Chawla’s 157 victims in the competition. The leg spinner did the trick for Chahal not the googly!  ‘I had to take wickets”, the RR hero said of his 17th over tour de force!

Photo : Twitter

Kejriwal Batchmate Yadav To Police Bhagwant Mann, Delhi CM Remote Controls Punjab, Holds Court In Delhi Darbar

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal summoned Punjab state government officials to Delhi, sans the state’s Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, to discuss the power supply situation spooking leaders of Congress, Akali Dal and the BJP alike. Criticism flowed in from at Kejriwal’s attempt to remote-control Punjab. Punjab Chief Secretary, PSPCL and other Punjab power department officials met Kejriwal to discuss AAP’s pre-poll promises, including 300 units of free power. Delhi’s Power Minister Satyendra Jain and Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha were also present. Red flagging Kejriwal’s intentions, former CM Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted: “Arvind Kejriwal has taken over Punjab much before it was expected to happen. That Bhagwant Mann was a rubber stamp was a foregone conclusion, now Kejriwal has proved it right by chairing Punjab officers’ meeting in Delhi.” Ironically, even as Punjab reels under a financial crisis, the AAP Government will buy luxury Sports Utility Vehicle – Toyota Fortuners for ministers and Multi Utility Vehicle – Toyota Innova Crystas for MLAs. Although CM Bhagwant Mann denied this, the state transport department has sought Rs 18 crore from the finance department to purchase vehicles for ministers and legislators. The Delhi meeting was preceded by ADGP Gaurav Yadav’s appointment as Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. Yadav and Kejriwal are batchmates who cleared civil services in 1992, opting for IPS and IRS respectively.

Photo : Fotocorp

Alia-Ranbir Have A Homely Do, Tie The Knot At Vastu, Karan Does A Jig Too!

It was not the big fat Punjabi wedding many had expected. Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt decided on a low-key affair at their Bandra residence ‘Vastu’. Both consciously chose a simple marriage over a celebrity event, with all the associated drama and restricted it to their families and a few close friends, while keeping the paparazzi, politicians, celebrities and industrialists out of the picture. An invitee at the wedding said: “If you ask me how it was different from other celebrity weddings, the word is, simplicity.” Many who expected invitations were thoroughly disappointed and of course, best man Ayan Mukerji features in all the frames. So does Karan Johar. Alia-Ranbir were seeing each other for five years and, merely decided to give their relationship the official tag of “Just married”. On social media, Neetu Kapoor posted: “This is dedicated to Kapoor Saab (red heart emoji). Your wish has been fulfilled.” It was a family get together, with mehndi and sangeet on the same day with choreographer Rajendra Singh who arranges dances at all the Kapoor weddings. Attendees said it was full of fun and laughter as it is, in all Kapoor household weddings. There was singing and dancing that wouldn’t have been complete without Alia and Karan Johar grooving to the “Radha, Tera Jhumka song from Alia’s first movie Student Of The Year.

Photo : Gujarat Titans

Hardik Pandya’s Titanic Knock Wins The Day, Regains Fan Base As Gujarat Titan’s Anthem Plays "Aava De"

Hardik Pandya has won more admirers in the last three weeks. The reason is his overall commitment to batting, bowling, fielding and leadership of Gujarat Titans in the Tata IPL-15. The new team has surprised the discerning, winning four of its five league matches to be placed on the pedestal. After its win against the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday (April 14), the Titans have eight points, thanks to Hardik’s brilliant unbeaten 87 off only 52 balls. He dropped anchor and also sprayed shots at the DY Patil Stadium as the Titans reached a match winning score of 192 for four. Hardik has been in such a good nick with the bat that he is only second (with 228 runs) behind Orange Cap holder Jos Buttler (272 runs). Captaincy has indeed brought about a transformation in his overall game. He was declared the man of the match after leading his team to a 37-run win. Hardik is plain lucky that the BCCI added two more franchises and one of these turned out to be from Gujarat which retained him and made him the captain. And the team anthem, “Aava De“, seems to be gelling well with his character. Not very long-ago Hardik saw his fan base eroding but, he has used the Gujarat Titans and IPL to regain ground simply, leading by example.

Karnataka Congress Upbeat, Eshwarappa Case Perfect Pre-Poll Treat, Not Hijab Or Halal Meat

The Congress is smacking its lips in anticipation of assembly polls due in Karnataka next year, having secured the resignation of Rural Development Minister K S Eshwarappa over the unnatural death of civil contractor Santosh Patil. The Congress is also immensely relieved to shift the political battle from contentious issues, like the hijab and halal meat, to core issues of BJP mis-governance like corruption. BJP leaders, however, feel the Congress campaign will head nowhere and end like the sting CD on former minister Ramesh Jharkhioli in 2021. Minister Jharkhioli had also resigned but the probe has meandered ever since.  Karnataka BJP also charged that contractor Patil was originally a Congress worker, adding that he carried out works without required sanctions from the authorities. It alleged that the 40% commission scam was a ‘toolkit’ developed by the Congress. If this is true, then why did Eshwarappa, a prominent Kuruba face, offer to quit? It seems he had little choice as an FIR had been filed against him. The deceased contractor, who made the corruption allegations against the minister, had also marked it to the PM. Patil had been given oral instructions for a Rs 4-crore project in the rural parts of the State. Patil’s grievance was that he did not receive any payments for the job even 18 months after project completion. Eshwarappa’s pleads innocence and asks “How can payment be released without a work order?”

TN Governor-DMK Faceoff Again, Former IB Officer Ravi Keeps Stalin’s Cooperatives Law At Bay

The relationship between Raj Bhavan and Fort St George were strained even when Tamil Nadu was a ruling BJP-allied State but, has turned adversarial now. Even before R N Ravi headed to Guindy from the northeast, whispers campaigns abounded about his being an ex-IB official, who spelt trouble for the DMK regime. He started off fairly amiably until the new Governor, at the instance of New Delhi, decidedly ran afoul of Stalin & Co. Governor Ravi is sitting pretty on the bill against NEET passed in the TN assembly. He also held back others, including amendments to the cooperative law. The ruling DMK finds itself in a piquant situation, even had to boycott the unveiling of the statue to Bharatiar, beloved poet of all Tamilians, to express their displeasure of the Governor. In days gone by, several occupants at the picturesque Raj Bhavan located in the reserved lung space of Chennai, were dreaded by the then ruling parties. M Chenna Reddy’s run-ins with the fiery Jayalalithaa became part of political folklore. Governor Vidyasagar Rao kept Sasikala waiting as prospective CM until the Supreme Court passed the verdict to send her to jail. There was even a Governor who believed in going into the woods for his morning ablutions, providing the only comic relief from Raj Bhavan.

DMK party workers removed PM’s portrait from Panchayat Offices

Protests, Confrontations Spice Up TN’s Political Space, As Lobbying For Rajya Sabha Seats Picks Up Pace

Politics of protests, confrontation has peaked in Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister M K Stalin skipped the ‘at home reception’ – a tea party — hosted by Governor RN Ravi at Raj Bhawan on April 14 to mark the occasion of the Tamil New Year. The DMK and allies boycotted the event as a mark of protest against the Governor who did not forward the anti-NEET Bill to the President for approval. If the ruling DMK is still sulking over NEET, the opposition BJP grabbed headlines after countering attempts to disrespect PM Narendra Modi made by the DMK, which removed his portrait from panchayat offices. In two separate incidents in Thanjavur and Coimbatore districts, the PM’s photo was put back at the Veppathur town panchayat office (VTPO) after a huge uproar. The VTPO chairman Anjammal had removed Modi’s photo that adorned the civic body office. In Coimbatore, BJP state president K Annamalai also placed a portrait of PM Modi in a ration shop to raise awareness about the Union government’s welfare schemes. Meanwhile, the race for Rajya Sabha vacancies in Tamil Nadu has picked up.  While Congress is pushing for two seats, CPI (M) wants DMK to nominate prominent editor N Ram. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal whose RS term from UP is ending in July will visit Chennai on April 16 to attend a function and meet CM Stalin.

Superstar Vijay Tastes Failure With His Latest Release, That’s Just The Nature Of The ‘Beast’

Thalapathy Vijay’s vast army of fans who waited with bated breath for his latest release Beast were disappointed, going by reactions of those exiting cineplexes, where frowns and let down feelings were clearly evident. After Kolamavu Kokila and an acknowledged hit in Doctor, the heady combination of director Nelson, action czar Vijay and foot tapper Anirudh was expected to set the box office on fire.  While fans don’t blame their hero Vijay, who captures every frame with style and pizzaz, they are disappointed with the weak story line and at Nelson for “wasting the actor’s immense talent “. Clashes between fans of filmstars Ajit and Vijay over perceived popularity ratings and ability to deliver more hits is infamous. Currently, after Ajit’s Valimai also faltered, petering out within days of release, both are left standing on the same pedestal. Sun Pictures left no stone unturned to pull off another superhit, including pre-release publicity stunts, exclusive interviews with Vijay claiming this as his best performance in over a decade! Beast’s music by Anirudh with two chart busters in Arabic Kuthu and Jolly O Gymkhana became chart-toppers and loved by fans. Beast has followed quickly in the footsteps of the commercial failure Radhe Shyam. Fan frenzy for Thalapathy notwithstanding, the diamond did not get its perfect setting to shine.

Who Dangled Chahal From The 15th Floor Balcony?

Yuzvendra Chahal says he was dangled from a 15th-floor hotel balcony by a heavily drunk fellow player during the IPL in 2013. The incident took place during a get-together when the loquacious leg-spinner was a Mumbai Indian. The buzz in Indian cricket is, while many in the know are aware of who the character is, no one wants to say it in public lest the player involved take offence. The player is also a pretty big personality in Team India today and taking his name might be problematic as some voices have already been raised saying the said “bully” should be banned from cricket. It was a party prank but a very scary one for the “victim” who said, “I was holding on to him, with my arms around his neck. If I had lost my grip, we were on the 15th floor… had there been a small mistake there, I would have fallen down.” The player had fainted at the prospect of hitting the ground from that height. The spinner has named others who played milder pranks on him when he was a Mumbai Indian but the perpetrator of the major incident could not be named as he is at the top of the totem pole now. A guess as to the major player’s identity is allowed.

BJD-BJP Face Off Again, As Modi Halts Patnaik's Bhubaneshwar Heritage City Temple Run

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s ambitious Ekamra Shetra Project which aims to transform the old temple town of Bhubaneswar into a world class tourist and pilgrimage centre at a cost of Rs 700 crore has run into rough weather. BJP is opposing the project while Congress is supporting it. The issue centres around the beautification initiative to make Bhubaneswar a world class heritage temple city based on 12th century Lingaraj Temple. Patnaik is keen to include Bhubaneswar’s ancient structures in UNESCO World Heritage sites. But it has already run into controversy over allegations that ancient monuments were destroyed during an excavation drive by the state government. ASI says they were never consulted and watchdog INTACH has alleged that many priceless structures were destroyed as there was no deployment of ground-penetrating radar analysis before commencement of work.  Based on this feedback, the Union Home Ministry has blocked Odisha’s Lingaraj Temple Legislative Ordinance terming it unlawful as it falls under Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR), 1958. The home ministry has pointed out that Patnaik government has already violated the AMASR Act around Lingaraj temple by building modern structures. The real bone of contention seems to be the appointment of Dr Santrupt Mishra, Group Director from the Aditya Birla Group to head the project instead of getting experts from INTACH.  This move, many bureaucrats in Odisha believe, was needless.

Sajid Nadiadwala Quits Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali, Producer Feels Friend Salman Is Too Pricey?

Looks like Salman Khan and his close friend Sajid Nadiadwala have decided to part ways on the professional front as they seem to have serious differences over their new venture Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali? According to a highly placed source, differences arose over Salman Khan’s payout. For the astute film producer Nadiadwala that number was not making business sense. Instead of creating bad blood, a wiser Nadiadwala has handed over the project lock, stock and barrel to Salman and walked out. An insider is at pains to point out that their old friendship continues; it is purely a business decision. Be that as it may, Salman has seen and been in such situations several times. He walked out of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Inshallah after the set was erected. Bhansali lost quite a fortune but he was smart enough to utilize the set for making Gangubai Kathiawadi. Earlier, Priyanka Chopra ditched Salman to get married, left high and dry, he quickly roped in Katrina Kaif for Bharat. Kabir Khan who got along famously with Salman is no more on his speed dial post the flop of Tubelight. Similarly, he replaced director Ali Abbas Zafar with Manish Sharma for Tiger 3 which features Katrina Kaif with whom he was once linked with. How will their chemistry be in the movie given the fact he was not invited to her wedding?

Shivraj Singh Chouhan Emulates Yogi's Feat, Bulldozes Rioters' Homes, Gets Diggy Raja To Delete Offensive Tweet

Madhya Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seems to be in a mood to change his own image. Taking a cue from Yogi Adityanath, Chouhan decided to go after trouble-makers in the state with bull-dozers. He cleared strong action against those who created trouble during Ram Navami procession in Khargone. In a major development, the state government demolished houses of accused involved in the violence to recover the damage caused to properties. So far 45 properties including 16 houses and 29 commercial properties have been demolished — these were mainly illegal constructions. While the jury is still out on this sort of instant justice, the Government has taken a tough view as six policemen were injured in the violence — one of them an SP received a bullet injury.  In this context, Chouhan ticked off Congress leader Digvijay Singh for tweeting pictures of an incident outside MP just to “foment” trouble in the state. Even as the state was contemplating action against the former CM, Digvijay deleted his controversial tweet but blamed the police for not being prepared.
Sterlite riot

Vedanta Moves On Twitter To Revive Sterlite Copper In Tamil Nadu Using Social Media

Social media has become so powerful a communication tool these days and yet, not everybody understands the scale of its utility. None, however, can afford to ignore it. Not surprising, all and sundry have made it a point to be visible on the social media platform. Take the case of the Vedanta outfit. Mired in a local political slugfest and caught up in a legal bind, Thoothukudi-based Sterlite Copper, a unit of the Vedanta group, is stuck in a pincer-like situation, being hammered from all sides. How to fight this tricky situation? Well, a new Twitter handle was set up in January this year, created by Sterlite Support Federation, a non-government and non-profit organisation.  The federation was formed ostensibly to bring all the pro-Sterlite people across the country to “fight for the cause, thereby giving jobs to thousands.”  With over 400 followers, this appears to be a determined counter to the anti-Sterlite lobby that works relentlessly to derail any efforts to revive the Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu, ordered to close down by the previous AIADMK regime following police firing that resulted in 13 deaths. The firing was ordered to disperse the anti-Sterlite agitators in the vicinity of the plant a few years ago. Can the micro-blogging site help check-mate anti-Sterlite sentiment?

BCCI Big Boss Jay Shah Inducted Into ICC Men's Cricket Committee; All Eyes On November ICC Chairman Elections

The recent fuss around the independent chair position in the International Cricket Council (ICC) fizzled out into non-event at the quarterly ICC Board meeting in Dubai. Rumours were rife that a couple of BCCI officials were in the race for the top ICC position. But the news came from the ICC HQ that the incumbent independent chairman Greg Barclay who took charge in November 2020 will continue to complete his first two year term; that’s till the Men’s World Twenty20 in Australia this October- November. With him set to carry on, a peculiar process overseen by the chair of the ICC’s independent audit committee to identify the new chair has been put off by seven months. Normally the ICC election takes place at its annual conference in July, but after Shashank Manohar chose not to go for the third two-year term and stepped down from office on July 1, 2020, the  lack of a unanimous choice immediately thereafter resulted in Barclay being elected. And that’s presumably the reason the New Zealander has been asked to stay till this November. Or is it because clarity will emerge in September when the BCCI, post the election of its office bearers, will be able to pitchfork its candidate! There were good tidings at the Dubai meeting for Jay Shah, the BCCI Secretary was made the Full Member representative in the prestigious ICC Men’s Cricket Committee.

Photo : Fotocorp

Congress' Organisational Rejig Is A Losing Hand, Newbie For Goa, Seasoned Raja Tackles Sidhu, Turncoat Arya Handles Uttarakhand!

Following the electoral reverses in the recently held Assembly Elections in five States, the Congress has gone for an organizational overhaul in Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand. In fact the kind of changes the party has made is making everyone wonder if the new appointments were to deliver results. In Goa, the Congress went for a 38-year-old fresh hand Amit Patkar who had only recently become active. He was picked as he gave a good fight to Goa Minister Nilesh Cabral in the Curchorem assembly seat. The only criteria of selecting him was that he came from a well-known Congress family. He was also viewed as resourceful. In Punjab the Congress opted for a three-term Gidderbaha MLA Amararinder Singh Raja Warring to replace Navjot Singh Sidhu. Ironically, Sidhu was replaced the same day as Imran Khan lost his vote of confidence in Pakistan. Party sources said Warring was picked as he had displayed a capacity to fight the Badals of Akali Dal. His real test of course would come up how he steers the party in Sangrur Lok Sabha by-poll — a seat vacated by AAP CM Bhagwant Mann. In Uttarakhand, the party has picked Yashpal Arya as CLP leader — someone who was in the BJP till the last minute and rejoined the party just before polls.  Meanwhile, in Himachal, BJP seemed better prepared. While J P Nadda is camping in Shimla even for upcoming civic polls, Congress leaders skipped a meet called by Rajeev Shukla.

With French Major Total As Partner Adani Group Steps On The Gas

The Gujarat-based Adani group, with interests in every field that involves energy, has announced a massive expansion in its construction financing. So too the group company Adani Gas Ltd (AGL) with its city gas distribution and piped natural gas to the domestic, commercial, industrial and vehicle users in 15-plus distinct geographical areas. AGL, which is going great guns, also supplies compressed natural gas to the transport sector. Though a very small part of the Rs 20,000-crore group, the Ahmedabad-headquartered AGL is important to the business, thanks to its involvement in the daily lives of both employees and outside customers. The company changed its name to Adani Total Gas Ltd at the end of 2020, 15 years after it was incorporated, when French energy major Total took a stake of 37.4% – equal to its own, making it a joint-venture company. The remaining 25.2% is with public shareholders. “Passion, perseverance and self-belief enable you to overcome obstacles and deliver solutions that benefit the business and our consumers,” says Sandip Adani, Head, Techno Commercial, Adani Total Gas. Big brother Adani Green Energy is the world’s largest solar power developer and is in the process of completing the construction of its projects to meet its stated renewable energy capacity target of 45 GW in the next eight years.

Modi To Inaugurate National Museum On 17 Past Indian Prime Ministers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate on April 14 the “Pradhanmantri Sanghralaya (museum)”, which acknowledges the contributions of all previous Prime Ministers of the country while a redeveloped Block I will also exhibit a number of gifts received by first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, which have so far not yet been part of Nehru Memorial Museum. The inauguration of the museum will coincide with the birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. The government says the museum will sensitize the younger generation about the leadership, vision and achievements of all the 17 former Prime Ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, Morarji Desai,Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao, HD Devegowda, I K Gujral and Dr Manmohan Singh. The “Pradhanmantri Sanghralaya” is an endeavour by PM Modi to acknowledge the contributions of all his predecessors irrespective of ideology or tenure in office. The design incorporates sustainable and energy conservation practices. No tree has been felled or transplanted. The total area of the building is 10,491 square meters .Families were contacted for information about the former Prime Ministers. Holograms, virtual reality, augmented reality, multi-touch, multi-media, interactive kiosks, computerized kinetic sculptures, experiential installations have been leveraged to make the exhibition content highly interactive. At a recent BJP Parliamentary party meeting, PM Modi asked his party MPs to visit the museum and spread the word among youths in the country.

Sena Cadre Grudges The English Emphasis As Aaditya Thackeray Takes A Shine To BMC Schools

Looks like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) run schools are going for an image makeover.  A team of officials and private citizens are designing a new set of uniforms with a brief to spruce up its tardy image of being a poor man’s school.  This is not exactly an image makeover or brand building exercise; it is more of a perception change that would reflect the overall upgradation taking place at the educational, technological and infrastructural levels in our civic school education system, explains joint municipal commissioner Ajit Kumbhar.  About 103 BMC buildings are being renovated to refurbish its dull and drab settings. Enrollments in BMC schools have registered a sharp rise since introduction of CBSE syllabus. Schools of Cambridge and the International Baccalaureate curriculum are also in the offing. Every academic year 27 items are given free to all students right from uniforms, school books, shoes to even school bags and water bottles. With an annual education budget of Rs 3,370 crores, digital classrooms, tablets for learning and plans to set up 25 astronomy labs are also in action. Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray personally leads his party’s education initiatives. His push for more English medium schools met with criticism from his own party’s core vote bank of Marathi middle class. Is this exercise being done with an eye on the BMC elections?

HP To See Two Party Race In State Assembly Elections, After AAP Folds Up Following Defections

When Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann picked Mandi for their roadshow on April 6 — the party’s first event in Himachal in the run-up to assembly elections later this year, they chose it because it was Chief Minister Jairam Thakur’s home ground. However, a week later AAP has announced it is dissolving its state unit. Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain, who is in charge of the Himachal, announced the dissolution after AAP state president Anoop Kesri joined the BJP before party president J P Nadda’s road show in Shimla. Kesri joined BJP as he found local leaders were sidelined.  “We were toiling for AAP for the last 8 years but it neglected state party workers. There was disregard towards the people of Himachal Pradesh. During a rally in Mandi, no space was given to any leader from the state other than Delhi and Punjab CMs.”  Kesri’s entry into the BJP was facilitated by I & B minister Anurag Thakur; he took along with him several AAP leaders. Congress leaders also acknowledge that the way BJP chief Nadda is camping in Shimla it is going to be a direct contest between BJP and the Congress. And there is no scope for a third player.

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Tata IPL-15 Slow To Pick Up Interest For All Teams In Mumbai

The build up to the Tata IPL-15 had positive vibes. For the first time since 2020, the BCCI’s prestigious and cash cow Twenty20 tournament is being held in India and in a single State (Maharashtra). It was an excellent decision on the part of the BCCI to engage the Maharashtra government to schedule the 70 match league at four venues taking into account the pandemic situation. But after 15 matches it has been observed that interest among the cricket fans has not met with expectations. The league started on March 26 with permission for 25% capacity attendance and from April 6 the BCCI allowed 50% attendance. But the surfeit of matches in Mumbai (at the Wankhede, Brabourne and at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil) has not enthused the IPL faithful. Matches featuring Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings have appealed to the cricket fanatics, but the turnstiles have not seen expected footfalls for other matches. Pune appears to be an exception though, with 18084 turning up for the MI versus KKR match on April 6 and when Pat Cummins went berserk with the bat. With another 55 league matches to be played before the four-team play offs from May 24/25 to May 29 people are keeping their fingers crossed. An official of the Mumbai Cricket Association said: “Hopefully the cricket fans would begin to throng the IPL venues soon”.
sharad modi

Why Maratha Strongman Pawar Met Prime Minister Modi?

NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s brief meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament House on March 6 is in many ways a throwback to his interaction with Modi way back in November 2019.  Only circumstances were vastly different then. There was a stalemate in government formation in Maharashtra — the state was under President’s Rule after Shiv Sena had walked out on its pre-poll partner BJP and was exploring a new coalition. At that time Pawar was holding the trump card. The buzz then was that the NCP would join Team Modi in Delhi. Three years on, when Pawar met Modi, he was a humble self-vouching not to head UPA or aspire to provide a national alternative. It was possibly because the situation for Maha VIkas Aghadi (MVA) has gotten a lot tougher. Those linked to MVA are facing actions and being probed by central agencies. It has actually been a matter of niggling worry for Pawar. He even mentioned as much while emerging from his interaction with Modi.  ED attaching properties of Samna editor Sanjay Raut; he flayed it as Raut was a “journalist”.  Pawar is also upset that another of his aides Nawab Malik was arrested. This news came just when Pawar was recovering from action on Anil Deshmukh. Pawar’s worry is that these ED actions could create legal hurdles for the NCP.
HDFC Deepak

HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh

End Of HDFC Bank Founder-CEO Aditya Puri’s Tenure, Set The Course For HDFC-HDFC Bank Merger?

The merger talk was in the air for years but, was put on the back burner over serious differences at the top. Finally, the merger between HDFC and HDFC Bank has happened. For the first time perhaps, a challenger of a fitting kind from the private sector appears to have arrived to counter the dominating State Bank of India. To that extent, the HDFC-HDFC Bank merger move is seen to herald a massive transformation in the Indian banking space. Will that edge the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) out of the picture? Not really, say experts. For, there are plenty in India who are still either unserved or underserved. Why did it take a long while for the two to merge? People who matter know it but, none prefers to go on record for assorted reasons. Perhaps, the merger plan was waiting for the HDFC Bank’s founder-CEO Aditya Puri to serve out his term in October 2020. If sources are to go by, some 5-6 years back Deepak Parekh had mooted the idea of HDFC merging with HDFC Bank to create a big bank but Puri was disinclined. He wanted the two entities to operate separately.  Perhaps, with his exit the whole plan was brought out from the cold storage. The merger has indeed reconfigured the banking turf in India.
AAP Mumbai

With BMC Polls Deferred Will It Be Advantage AAP?

The upcoming BMC elections will not be an ‘aam’ municipal referendum by any means. The BJP is determined to put all that it has at stake, to level scores with long-time friend-turned-foe, the Shiv Sena. The Sena is trying all the tricks of the trade to retain its Marathi Asmita and control over Aamchi Mumbai. The NCP is looking to expand its Mumbai base at the cost of senior partner Congress’ vote bank. The grand old party is also using all its might to stay relevant in the politics of the very city where it was born. Amidst all the scheming and planning that the city is silently witnessing, the AAP is using the grace period, by postponement of elections, to actively strengthen its organisation. AAP, the fourth largest party, has formed teams of devoted workers and volunteers in almost 100 wards.  Its campaign will highlight the pathetic state of Mumbai’s roads, corruption in BMC and announce its plans for the health and education sectors. “We’ll fight to win and are getting tremendous support from Mumbaikars. People are really frustrated and fed up with these parties and their dirty politics. The only clean alternative they have is in AAP,” says Ruben Mascarenhas, the working president of AAP Mumbai. AAP is betting on youngsters and a majority of its candidates will be under 40 years old.

Tamil Maanila Congress Chief GK Vasan Is Political Priority In TN For Both Modi And Sonia

Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) President G K Vasan has stayed unaligned and non-toxic despite breaking away from the GOP. His father G K Moopanar, aristocratic agriculturalist from the Delta rice granary was a highly respected Congress member. He played a mediator’s role for many vexing issues when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. He quit Congress and founded the TMC in 1996. After his death, in 2001 Vasan presided over the TMC and was made Minister for Shipping in UPA 1. In 2014 he broke away from the alliance despite protests from within his own party and joined the AIADMK-BJP front. Once again, rumours are doing the rounds that he is being wooed by the BJP.  This news needs to be seen against the backdrop of an incident that occurred when Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu) along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the course of that visit Modi asked Vasan, “You are not seen in Delhi. You visit it only when I call you”. Cutting to the chase, Vasan met Modi in March and was offered a berth in the Union Cabinet. When this news reached Sonia Gandhi, she asked AK Anthony to net Vasan with TN Congress Chief K S Alagiri also in agreement. But, Rahul Baba is not sehmat with mama mia wooing Vasan. And therein lies the rub.

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Creating Distinct Political Identity: Modi Picks Brahma Kamal For BJP Topi

On the back of a record win of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a saffron cap to be worn by all BJP leaders, MPs and MLAs. On BJP’s 42nd Foundation Day on April 6, Modi, BJP chief JP Nadda along with other office bearers were seen sporting the new saffron cap. The new caps, which have the party’s symbol (Lotus) embossed on it, come with a message “a new cap, a new mission”. It was designed by the BJP Gujarat unit and is somewhat similar to the traditional cap of Uttarakhand — Brahma Kamal — which was worn by the Prime Minister on the Republic Day. This new cap has been made quite fashionable to attract the youth, and was distributed to all the MPs in the BJP’s Parliamentary meeting by Gujarat BJP President CR Patil. A lot of thinking went into designing the cap. A thin patch of embroidery has been put on the cap and a plastic ‘Lotus ‘ (BJP’s election symbol) has been pinned. Modi approved the final one, which was designed in Surat. Modi wants the party to be using the new saffron cap widely in the Gujarat Assembly election, which is due later this year. From now onwards, all BJP workers will be seen donning a saffron coloured cap.

Changing Equations At AIADMK: Now EPS-OPS Join Hands To Keep Sasikala- Dhinakaran At Bay

The AIADMK head honchos mean business. They are full time politicians running the Opposition party in Tamil Nadu and they are determined to take total control of the party, which means keeping Jayalalithaa’s confidante Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran out of the party. The party went into a late-night huddle after rumours began doing the rounds about differences between the top coordinators E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam. They have sent a message out to the party to hold elections in all phases by April so that the general council can be convened in May. A message has also gone out that Sasikala loyalists are not to be accommodated and that they must be defeated in the intra-party polls. It is no coincidence that the ED suddenly woke up to resume the long running case against Dhinakaran in which he is accused of trying to bribe the Election Commission. After Jaya’s death, there was a tussle for the party and TTV did his best to get recognised as the AIADMK’s official representative through the conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar who is in the news for his extravagant gifts to Bollywood actresses Jacqueline Fernandez and Noora Fatehi. EPS and OPS have since then been in control of the party though Sasikala keeps up the pinpricks with her claims to the party as its ‘General Secretary’.
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Raj Subramaniam

Dawn Of A New Raj At FedEx, As Subramaniam Entrusted Tall E-Commerce Delivery

Is the new CEO of FedEx Raj Subramaniam just one more Indian CEO of an American corporation? This question elicited two divergent views, summed up aptly by Chidanand Rajghatta of Times Of India.  One response is the blasé “Ho hum, another Indian”. The other: “What Indian? He is an American, who worked his way up.” Raj joins an exclusive club of over half a dozen PIOs who merited entry into the hall of fame thrown open by Google and Microsoft. Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are already part of the corporate power folklore. Other recent entrants include: IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Parag Agrawal of Twitter and Leela Nair of Chanel. Founder Fred Smith who spearheaded the FedEx operations for 50 years and saw its turnover touch $92 billion found that Raj, who has been with FedEx since 1991, was the ideal man to hand over the baton to. Thiruvananthapuram born Raj faces big challenges before him. E-Commerce has changed the whole ball game and, FedEx must enter this instant gratification, touch of a button business by changing its own avatar, from an Express Delivery Organization, hub & spoke, track & trace, but as part of that last mile delivery, the fulcrum of  e-commerce. Clearly, Raj has to combine his experience at FedEx 1.0 and metamorphose into FedEx 2.0. Clearly Raj has a tall order to deliver.

Photo : Twitter

After Didi, Stalin Now Telangana CM‘s National Ambition Comes To Fore, Appoints A Hindi PRO In Delhi

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) is sparing no efforts to make a pitch for the PM’s office in 2024. Towards this end, he has decided to widen his acceptance in the Hindi media. Possibly on the advice of poll strategist Prashant Kishor.  Aware that his competitor Mamata Banerjee has a natural advantage because of her following in the media as she has been a Rail Minister, Rao has decided to reach out to national media by appointing a PRO in Delhi, which came through during a 3-day stay.  The appointment of the PR person was handled by KCR’s daughter and Telangana MLC K Kavitha. Meanwhile there is talk that the Centre may go in for appointing a more hands-on governor who will effectively handle the state. The present incumbent Tamilisai Sounderajan is being seen as too soft on the TRS dispensation.  In her own words she admits she has good equations with the TRS Government. “I am straight forward and I function with transparency. I always wish for good relations with the government”, said Tamilisai. Earlier, there were talks of her being nominated as a Vice President candidate. But, after a recent visit to Delhi, when she did interact with PM Modi, Tamilisai may have realized she does not have much of an option.

Photo :Twitter

Sonia Was Nice At The DMK Do, While Rahul Disliked The Stalin-Kejriwal Tango Too

Even as Congress President Sonia Gandhi went out of the way to be on the right side of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin — not bothering about protocol while agreeing to catch up with the DMK leader in his party office in Parliament House– and also attending the inauguration of the DMK office in Delhi, a miffed Rahul Gandhi chose to stay away. It is being said Rahul was upset over the manner in which Stalin had focused on his meeting with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, visiting a Government school and taking a lot of interest in AAP’s model of schools. Stalin’s tango with Kejriwal, particularly on the back of the Congress’ defeat in Punjab to the AAP was perceived as a hostile step by Rahul. However, Sonia went the extra mile to be nice to Stalin with the hope of clinching two Rajya Sabha seats for Congress from Tamil Nadu come June. For his part, Stalin has been cold to Congress and, did not drop in at 10, Janpath as he usually does. It is quite another matter that he asked Sonia to inaugurate the Murosali Maran library in the DMK party office. For the first time, Stalin decided to visit all top Central ministers, to pursue matters of his state.

Qatar's FIFA World Cup '22 Sells Out 800,000 Tickets Online

No wonder, football — the game once played and advertised by the likes of the greats Pele and Maradona and these days by Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to provide plenty of entertainment and thrill– is called the “Beautiful Game” on the planet. And no wonder that over 800,000 tickets were sold online for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Doha, Qatar in November-December. As the FIFA chief, the Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino said before the draw recently, the World Cup at Doha would be unique because all eight venues will be within a 50 km distance. Football crazy fans living in Qatar, USA, England, Mexico and the UAE have picked up the majority of the 800,000 tickets. The second online sale of tickets (after the draw) opened on April 5. India’s football fans have been match specific and have bought tickets because Doha is only three and a half hours by plane. For the first time FIFA’s premier competition is going to be held in the Arab world and Qatar has spent billions of dollars to make it the most memorable event. The football World Cup will follow the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 to be held in October-November in Australia and these two events are going to keep the sports fans across the World glued to the small screens at home. Football though will win the fan following hands down.

Ukraine-Russia War May Hit Wimbledon’s Centre Courts, As AELTC Considers Ban On Medvedev

Major tennis tours like ATP, WTA and ITF are allowing Russian and Belarussian tennis players to compete without flags or anthems. But Wimbledon, one of four Grand Slams being a private event, is seriously considering a ban on stars like world No 2 Daniil Medvedev and world No 5 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on the grounds that their victory could boost the Vladimir Putin regime. The legal implications are being considered seriously in the wake of recent images of war crimes on Ukraine’s streets showing up as evidence of the brutal war Russia is waging. The All England Lawn Tennis Club may receive legal advice that private clubs have more freedom to allow or ban players and they would not be subject to the same discrimination laws as the tours. What is the point the tennis fan may be wondering as Russian athletes are so far free to participate in global events as individuals but the UK might wish to take the economic sanctions and sporting bans further because of the war in Ukraine. Wimbledon might find a way out by asking the likes of Medvedev to sign an anti-Putin form and that they are not receiving any money from Putin or Russia or Belarus. Medvedev, like Novak Djokovic, is a resident of Monaco who could now miss two months of tennis due to hernia.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Marathi Mulgi Mrunal Thakur Set To Be Next Madhuri, Dhak-Dhak Girl Of Bollywood?

Shahid Kapoor, at a recent press conference, expressed envy towards Mrunal Thakur, one of few actresses who were busy shooting during the Covid lockdown. The Jersey heroine is again one of few TV actors who transitioned seamlessly to the big screen. Her first movie Love Sonia was an international film. The 29-year-old actress, who made her television debut in 2012, worked in eight TV serials and was called insane for quitting the highly popular Kumkum Bhagya. She has since emerged among the top leading ladies of Bollywood with films like Toofan, Super 30 and Dhamaka. Mrunal is not singularly successful though and TV stars like Sakshi Tanwar, Vidya Balan, Prachi Desai and Yami Gautam also migrated to the Big screen as did Shah Rukh Khan. So, what makes Mrunal different? Industry watchers say it was her timing of entering the film world when the industry was undergoing a churn and stories took precedence over stars.  She was launched through a Marathi movie in 2014 and entered Bollywood in 2018 managing to emote and impress the audience even with her small roles. She almost made it to Bahubali and would have been part of Aamir Khan’s Dangal if her TV show had not come in the way. One thing is for sure, nothing’s gonna stop this Marathi mulgi going the dhak dhak girl way.
Raj Thackeray_FC

Photo : Fotocorp

MNS Conundrum Continues As Raj Thackeray Finds New Political Guru In Nitin Gadkari, Post Pawar Phase

It’s Ghar Wapsi for Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray, who has thrown his weight behind the BJP hereon. This completes the full circle that began when Nitin Gadkari assumed office as the national BJP president years ago, and Raj paid him a visit in Mumbai. Thackeray had Gadkari over for dinner at his Shivaji Park home a day after his militant Hindutva rally at Shivaji Park in Dadar on April 2 where he was introduced as ‘Tiger Raj Thackeray’. The turnout was impressive, as was his fiery one-hour long speech attacking Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray. Raj Thackeray’s proximity to Gadkari goes back a long way. Circa 2005, Raj announced his own party plans and formed MNS the next year with an avowed anti-north-Indian stance, ironically with financial backers from Uttar Pradesh’s minority segment. Thackeray is now trying to occupy the perceived political space of Hindutva-Marathi voters that Shiv Sena always counts on. This also marks Raj’s volte-face, taking on the BJP after spending 10 days in Gujarat under then CM Narendra Modi’s hospitality, followed up with an-anti-BJP stance before the 2019 general elections, apparently at Pawar’s behest. BJP leader Ashish Shelar played a key role in Raj’s current political disposition, alongside Devendra Fadnavis, who has the final say on Maharashtra. BJP seeks to project Gadkari as the tallest Maharashtra leader to replace Pawar.

A.C Muthiah

SPIC Celebrates Golden Jubilee, Ramps Up Capacity After A Chequered History

A private-public partnership saw a plant come up at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu to produce ammonia and urea. In the 50 odd years of its existence, Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation (SPIC) has had a chequered history even as the A C Muthiah-piloted group became ambitious. Big investments in PFY and PTA (Spic Petro) and in a new fertilizer facility in Dubai saw money going down the sink. Things turned for the better post 2010 with a changeover at the helm. Now, Muthiah’s son Ashwin, who heads the company, has gone all out to ramp up capacity of ammonia and urea to almost global scales.  To improve margins, it moved from naphtha to natural gas for its feedstock. For fund infusion, Ashwin roped in AM International of Singapore besides talking to lenders for debt restructuring. Result: Thoothukudi-based SPIC has turned around with its topline and bottom-line looking healthy. Unfortunately, another well run plant in Thoothukudi Sterlite Industries, part of the Vedanta Group had to shut shop over environmental issues. For the nine months ended December 2021, SPIC has turned in heart-warming results with a PAT of Rs 132 crore on the back of a topline of Rs 1,600 crore, both representing a big leap from the previous corresponding period. While things are certainly looking up for SPIC, the road ahead still sports many signs of caution!
Modi_Nepal pm

Nepal PM Deuba Visits BJP Headquarters, Prefers Ties With India Over China?

In a significant move, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba arrived in New Delhi on April 1, 2022, and among his first engagements was a visit to the BJP headquarters where he met BJP president J P Nadda. It was Deuba’s first visit to India after becoming PM in July 2021. What is of particular interest is that Deuba, as a Nepali Congress leader heading a five-party left-wing coalition, would choose to visit the BJP office. It seems like a throwback to the times when a visit to the Communist Party of China headquarters in Beijing was considered a de rigueur. However, party sources said, PM Narendra Modi has always been keen that the party headquarters should be able to receive global leaders. The significance of the Nepali leader visiting the BJP office is also that increasingly, India’s neighbours have begun to see the value of building bridges with New Delhi rather than going anywhere near Beijing, after the recent economic collapse of Sri Lanka that has sent alarm bells ringing in South East Asia. To Deuba’s credit it must be said he withstood the pressure of signing up any pact with China on its Belt and Road Initiative. He also made clear to China that he does not want any projects with strings attached.

Photo : Twitter

Himanta Biswa Sarma Is Amit Shah's Favourite After Winning NDA Both Assam Rajya Sabha Seats

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s standing in the BJP is vastly enhanced, especially after he managed to win both the Rajya Sabha seats from the state for the NDA alliance, dealing a blow to attempts by Congress-led opposition parties to corner one seat. Home Minister Amit Shah was immensely happy with Sarma’s strategy to clinch the twin wins. It is significant that the Congress came a cropper despite tying up with AIUDF. Apparently five of Badruddin Ajmal MLAs cross-voted for the BJP while one Congress MLA cast an invalid vote. The Congress suspended Siddique Ahmed, its MLA from Karimganj South, from primary membership of the party for writing ‘one’ instead of ‘1’ on his ballot paper as per voting protocol. While Sarma ensured a smooth win for BJP’s Pabitra Margherita and coalition partner United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL) candidate Rwngwra Narzary, the Congress camp was in tatters. In fact, because of the setback in Assam, Congress President Sonia Gandhi went into overdrive last week to ensure at least two Rajya Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu. She is also in touch with Sharad Pawar for two seats from Maharashtra. Sources said the Congress is looking to get one seat from Jharkhand notwithstanding the political upheaval there. Following this round of biennial elections, the BJP has notched up a tally of 101 seats in Rajya Sabha.


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.