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UP CM Yogi The Ascetic, Had No Favourites In His Cabinet, Added Sugar, Edible Oil To Free Rations Hamper In 2.0

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, did not decide upon his cabinet, leaving it to the high command. Even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah camped in UP for three days before Yogi’s swearing in ceremony, the CM designate said he had no favourites to recommend as cabinet colleagues. A BJP leader told, “Yogi had no role on BJP candidates in 2017 assemblies, while he handled the show by himself in 2022. He was reluctant about Maurya being made his deputy since the latter did not work during the elections.” However, the RSS insisted upon Keshav Prasad Maurya as Dy CM against Yogi’s advice, though he lost elections from the Sirathu assembly constituency. “Dinesh Sharma, who was also Dy CM in Yogi 1.0, declined any interest in not only contesting elections in 2022 but also, any political post, returning to work full time for the RSS. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh then proposed Brajesh Pathak’s, a Brahmin who came from BSP in 2016, candidature as the second DCM face in UP as 90% Brahmin voters had backed the BJP. Bulldozer Baba, for his part, has launched into 2.0 immediately not only announcing free rations for three months for poor citizens but also, adding three more commodities to the monthly food-grains hamper, that now includes edible oil and sugar.

Simple Mann CM Of Punjab, Seeks GOI Bailout Of Rs 1 Lakh Crore To Keep Poll Promises To Women, Households

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was caught completely off guard recently when Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann paid him a courtesy visit. What took the PM by surprise during the one-on-one meeting was the manner in which the AAP CM, who is a Lok Sabha MP, made a personal pitch to Modi for a bail out for Punjab out of its financial mess, while seeking Rs 50,000 crore annually for two years to maintain Punjab’s fiscal health. Mann made a fervent plea for a Central Government financial package of Rs 1 lakh crore in stark contrast to the arrogance displayed by AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal since winning the state assemblies. A more down to earth, Mann is aware of the impending trouble ahead so, the simple man CM displayed touching humility while seemingly anxious to fulfil poll promises. Clearly, the AAP which got a humongous mandate sees no way it can keep the promises made, including Rs 1,000 for every woman per household or, even free power without hand holding from Modi. Mann blamed previous governments for leaving a whopping burden of Rs 3 lakh crore. It is not just AAP that finds it difficult to fulfil election promises as even the DMK, which rode into power using Prashant Kishor’s freebie lollipops, has since not implemented anything tangible after one year in office.

Bulldozer Baba’s Smile Masks Disaffection For Babua, Sets The Tone For UP Politics Come 2024

A section of the media is gung-ho about the pointedly brief interaction between first-time MLAs, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav in the Uttar Pradesh assembly on Monday (March 28). While both exchanged smiles and the CM even patted the SP supremo’s arm, body language exhibited uneasiness and awkwardness. According to an expert, Yogi didn’t even look Akhilesh in the eye and there was a sense of gawkiness in his smile. To conclude that all’s well between the leaders will be wrong. In fact, the CM shook hands with the SP leader and even shrugged him off – at the same instant. A senior BJP leader from Lucknow confirmed this on condition of anonymity and told, “Being a sage, Baba may forgive Akhilesh Yadav. However, SP leaders know that just like PM Modi, even CM Yogi doesn’t forget things.” He added that the bulldozers will work overtime now to raze all the inflated egos of netas who thought very highly of themselves. SP leaders claim Akhilesh greeted the CM out of basic protocol and courtesy. The BJP too knows the reason why Akhileshji gave up his parliamentary seat. He’ll finish the unfinished business in the 2024 general elections and will make life difficult for the ruling party in the subsequent state assemblies.
Gambhir_Ayush Badoni

Lucknow Super Giants’ Batter Badoni Is Pure Joy For Mentor Gambhir, Even As Team Loses To Gujarat Titans

Gautam Gambhir, BJP MP from East Delhi was at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday (March 28) night watching the TATA IPL-15 debutants’ match between Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT) with a keen eye.  After winning the ownership of the team last October paying Rs 7090 crore, Lucknow got the first chance after five months to step on the field with KL Rahul as captain. In a sort of dire straits at 29 for 4, a grim LSG dug out looked upon the tyro from Delhi Ayush Badoni to perform the double act of rescuing it first and then enable it to post a decent total. Some 11 years ago Gambhir had played a similar role in the ICC World Cup final against Sri Lanka making a gritty 97 off 122 balls after which India went on to win the title. Gambhir is the mentor of the team and Badoni delivered some deadly punches to make a 41-ball 54 with four 4s and three 6s. The young right-hander reached 50 with a six after hitting out at rival captain Hardik Pandya. Gambhir was pleased with Badoni’s fine debut, but his team lost to GT, a good start for first time IPL captain Hardik, who did better with the bat than with the ball; the national selectors though wanted him  to excel with the ball.

BJP Washed Out In Odisha Local Body Polls, By Naveen Babu Transformational Schemes

Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) absolute sweep in the recently held rural panchayat polls and urban body elections raises serious doubts about BJP’s political future in Odisha. The misery for the BJP was apparent as it could not even win a single mayoral seat in the urban body polls, even as the initial buzz of support around Modi dissipated. Political analysts say BJP failed to match BJD’s organisational infrastructure. Besides, the towering leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik helped to sweep the elections through good governance that has transformed the state reaching people at the bottom of the pyramid. Die-hard BJP supporters feel the initial buzz around BJP’s consolidation is history now in the face of depleting BJP support base in the west Odisha electorate, which is slowly spreading to other parts of the state. Why did the BJP fail? Unlike the BJD, with Naveen babu as its face, the BJP state leadership in the state has no one to talk about. Also, the Central government’s development schemes could not overshadow Patnaik’s welfare schemes vis a vis and the positive image he has cultivated over the years. Modi’s constant praise of Patnaik for his spirit of co-operative federalism, his reforms and reluctance to criticise him openly also sent signals that Modi was not keen to fight Naveen babu.
Digvijay singh_Sonia gandhi

Is Diggy Raja Go-To-Man For Sonia, To Restore Order In Upset Party House?

In some ways the complete rout of the Congress in the five assembly elections seems to be doing some good to the party. It has got the party leadership back to the drawing board. Sonia Gandhi has taken charge of the situation and reached out to all those who worked with her in the past. She has essentially got in touch with her core personal staff, the people acquainted with the Congress culture and its core leaders. She is relying on inputs of Vincent George, PP Madhavan and SV Pillai to help her navigate through these troubled times. Former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh, with whom Sonia held meetings, may be given a key organisational role. Singh, a two- term CM, is a good bet as he likes to interact with people.  Sonia is falling back on Singh after Kamal Nath refused to shoulder any AICC responsibility as he prefers to focus on MP. Sonia also exposed the hollowness of rebellion of the G-23 leaders. She exposed them by showing the petty and narrow aspirations of some of these leaders. Most of them became quiet after meeting her. If Bhupinder Hooda’s limited interest was to ensure control of Haryana PCC, another G-23 signatory Anand Sharma wanted to be projected as Himachal CM; he even lobbied among Himachal MLAs without much success.
Rishi sunak_akshata

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak Under Fire Over Wife’s Holding In Infosys Which Runs Moscow Office

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, once considered a replacement for Prime Minister Boris Johnson if, Partygate had hit his party, is under fire now over his wife’s Rs 430 crore stake in the company her father Narayana Murthy founded. Infosys still runs its Moscow office and delivery office though the company is at pains explaining that its office serves global clients locally in Russia sans any active relationships with Russian companies.  Having advised British companies to cut ties with Russia, the Chancellor is facing the challenge of his wife Akshata’s fortune that is facing calls for full disclosure in the UK. He had said, “We must collectively go further in our mission to inflict maximum economic pain and to stop further bloodshed,” Rishi is under pressure to explain his family wealth through his wife’s holding in India’s second biggest IT company.  Rishi was pointedly asked whether he was giving advice to others that he was not following in his own home and he replied – “I’m an elected politician, and I’m here to talk to you about what I am responsible for. My wife is not.” Regardless of how the Ukraine situation goes while raising such questions, one thing is clear and that is Rishi Sunak may have already lost out in the race to the British Prime Ministership.

IPL Media Rights Will Play Out As A Desperate Money Game Of Thrones For Aspiring Owners

Star Sports’ five-season all-encompassing global television media and digital rights over the glamorous Indian Premier League (IPL) will end at the conclusion of the Tata IPL Season-15 starting on March 26 at the Wankhede Stadium. There is no denying the fact that the IPL has become the money making machine for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after the Rs 93 lakh deficit it posted in mid-nineties. From a whopping Rs 8200 crore that SONY Pictures Network paid for the first 10 years from 2008 to 2017, Star India almost doubled it — Rs 16,347.50 crore — for TV (Star Sports) and digital (Hotstar)  platforms for five seasons (2018-22). The mastermind, the then Chairman and CEO  of Star India, Uday Shankar, averred that the price his company successfully bid was “not outrageous” and that the per match fee of Rs 54 crore was “not exorbitant” reasoning that after 10 years, the IPL had become a tried and tested and a premium product. SONY itself had put in a sum of Rs 11050 crore. Experts reckon that the IPL media rights (TV and Digital) for 2023-2027 will definitely touch Rs 35000 crore plus for five seasons and the e-auction could make the desperate, more desperate to own IPL, the most sought after hot property in the world of cricket. Five years ago there were 13 bidders, including five for digital.

Kerala’s Rs 67000 Crore SilverLine Project Needs GoI Backing For 8 Hour Travel Time Saves, As Congress Alleges 10% Kickbacks

Kerala’s hottest topic these days regards the proposed 530 km K-Rail project between north and south Kerala. Also called the Silverline Rail Project, it promises a time save of eight hours in travel time between Trivandrum and Kasaragod, currently taking 12 hours. The Rs 67,000 crore project cost has the Kerala government swearing by a five-year timeline to project completion, though it has taken 15 to 20 years to build simpler by-passes and flyovers in the state. The promise appears too difficult to keep like the 25 km Cochin Metro project that took six years to complete @ 4.7 km per year notwithstanding Metro-man, E Sreedharan at the helm. By this yardstick the Silverline project will need 37 years, says economist KP Kannan. But why the clamour for a project none wants? KPCC Chief K Sudhakaran has alleged a 10% kickback accruing to the Kerala Government. Japanese agency JICA will loan Rs 50,000 crore at 0.25% interest if, the Government of India stands guarantor. Sources say the Union Government won’t oblige till it gets its pound of flesh. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s meeting with the PM Narendra Modi is also being seen in this light. Either way, the railway project is not expecting completion anytime soon!
Param bir singh

The CBI Case On Param Bir Singh: Accused Officer Is No Gentleman Complainant Either.

Supreme Court directions to CBI to take over investigations into criminal complaints lodged in Maharashtra against suspended state Home Guards Chief, Param Bir Singh, has unfolded into a classic study on criminal investigative science. The CBI will need exemplary skills to unravel one side of its brief, probe complaints registered against Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh, Anil Parab and others (by complainant Singh), while also establishing criminality in over seven FIRs registered against Singh himself who is accused of corruption in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. One notion that the central investigative agency was going soft on Parambir Singh, will likely dissipate following Singh’s impending arrest by CBI. Importantly, he is a complainant in ongoing CBI investigations on corruption in Maharashtra but now, Singh’s statements as accused in fresh FIRs to be probed, will likely open a can of worms in the coming days. “The CBI will need to demonstrably show extreme efficiency, professionalism to clinically cover investigations into apparently opposite ended criminal complaints in these FIRs, where a former complainant is now an accused,” an intelligence source tells Now BMC Chief Iqbal Chahal has received summons to appear before the I-T department in a probe against BMC Standing Committee Chairman Yaswanth Kamalakar Jadhav. Meanwhile, former Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, mysteriously relegated as Director, Maharashtra State Security Guards Board from his high-profile role as Mumbai police commissioner, is yet to take charge nearly a month since his transfer.

Photo : Fotocorp

Pawar-Thackeray Sit Pretty Sure, With Congress On Board To Defeat BJP, Whenever BMC Polls Are Held

Sharad Pawar is sitting pretty with the Shiv Sena and Congress parties. With BMC elections in Mumbai deferred for six months, an imminent face-off between erstwhile alliance partners in Maharashtra — BJP and Shiv Sena — stands temporarily averted. Maharashtra’s MVA government will fight the BMC polls, Thane civic elections and other pending local body elections in alliance, single-mindedly to defeat BJP, with Congress also fully on board now. A BJP leader says, “While the MVA alliance may prove a daunting challenge for us, the Sena will lose out on absolute power it enjoys in BMC to the Congress and NCP. They would have won and yet lost.” The NCP with a single digit representation in BMC will improve its tally on the back of the minority vote bank (that holds significant influence in 52 seats) it stirred up over L’affaire Nawab Malik while Congress will seek to ensure its current tally of 37 corporators rises to over 50. The BJP elected 83 party corporators in 2017 BMC polls when in direct contest against the Sena (85), even as Congress and NCP fought each other, and is still hoping to get over 70 corporators elected this time around. Meanwhile, the political slugfest has intensified with cases registered against MVA stakeholders and kin, just as had predicted, even as counter cases against BJP stakeholders have also been preferred.

No President In TNCA After Rupa Gurunath, Like GCA Saw Business As Usual Post Amit Shah’s Exit?

Do you need a chairman for a company? You may not. But you need someone to chair shareholders’ meetings and to conduct the proceedings. Any board member may preside over and conduct such meetings. Nothing amiss about this. There are dime-a-dozen organisations where the top slot has remained unfilled for several reasons and, they are running quite well and this is not peculiar to any specific field. For instance, the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is sans a president at this very moment. Since Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, stepped down as its president in September 2019, the position at GCA has not been filled. As it is often said, life has simply moved on. And, the game of cricket has not stopped either! After all, cricket is bigger than individuals. There are no two views on that, however, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) affiliated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India is the parent body governing the game of Cricket in the State of Tamil Nadu. In December 2021 Rupa Gurunath, daughter of N Srinivasan of India Cements stepped down as president of TNCA after holding the reins for over two years.  The heavens did not fall on TNCA because it is without a president.  It’s business as usual. If GCA can run smoothly as before, why won’t the TNCA?
baalu_amit shah

Home Minister Amit Shah with senior DMK leader T R Baalu

BJP’s 4 Out Of 5 Tally In March State Assemblies, Got Tamil Nadu CM Offering To Smoke Peace Pipe With Modi?

Six-time Member of Parliament, senior DMK leader T R Baalu is personally inviting leaders across political parties for the grand opening ceremony of the party’s spanking new office and memorial centre, Anna Kalaignar Arivalayam, to be inaugurated by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on April 2, 2022.  Eyebrows were raised when the 81-year-old Baalu went to invite Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.  Was he trying to cross sides or was DMK trying to buy peace with the Modi Government? Ever since RN Ravi’s appointment as Governor of TN, Stalin and he have been unable to see eye-to-eye on a number of governance issues, including NEET.  A peeved Stalin was rallying opposition leaders to stop the BJP juggernaut in the 2024 general elections. But, with the BJP recently winning four out of the five state assembly elections in March, Stalin may have decided to recalibrate his strategy. This also comes in the backdrop of a strong whisper campaign around the flight of capital amounting to Rs 5000 crore to Dubai. The DMK machinery, on its part, while dismissing the rumour, is at pains to elucidate further on the four-day Dubai visit by Stalin along with wife Durga for the inauguration of the TN Pavilion and to woo investors into the state for an economic transformation.

Delhi CM Kejriwal’s New Low Down Denial Of The Kashmir Files, Horrifies Hindu Pandits, Even Sikhs From Valley

Should a film on genocide be exempted from state entertainment tax? Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s brazen attack on The Kashmir Files – a defining movie on genocidal horrors and forced exodus suffered by Kashmiri Pandits – not only killed the tax-free debate but also resurrected a new low, “You (BJP) don’t look good putting Jhoothi picture.” The genocide denial has led to a tide of opprobrium. Sikh social worker Manjinder Singh Sirsa tweeted, “Laughing at #TheKashmirFiles and calling it a lie!! Sorry to say @ArvindKejriwal you don’t deserve to be called a human being.” Earlier, came scathing remarks from BJP’s Amit Malviya: “Only an inhuman, cruel and depraved mind can laugh at and deny the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. Kejriwal has ripped open the wounds of the Hindu community, who have been forced to live as refugees in their own country, for 32 long years, by calling #KashmirFiles a jhoothi film.” Aditya Raj Kaul, a veteran journalist, pointed out, “Denying persecution, forced exodus and genocide of a minority community is a criminal act. I hope you will apologise to the victims of terrorism, Mr Arvind Kejriwal. Hate for Modi, BJP and filmmaker is one thing but to deny a historic reality is absolutely shocking.” Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List suffered the same genocide denial mindset and was banned from screening in many Islamic countries, including Pakistan.

Top L To R: KC Venugopal, Rahul Gandhi, Harish Chaudhary & Ajay Maken

Gandhis & G-23: Will Rahul Gandhi Put His Boys Out To Pasture?

What peace deal have the Gandhis — Sonia and Rahul – worked out with G-23 leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Bhupinder Singh Hooda? Though leaders who met the Gandhis merely talk of an inclusive leadership, buzz is that some G-23 signatories will get party assignments. Azad, who is already in the CWC, is tipped to take charge of poll-bound Karnataka, as pressure mounts on Rahul Gandhi to put his boys like KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Harish Chaudhary and IAS officer K Raju out to pasture for ruining Congress fortunes in the recent polls. Venugopal remained unfazed and went on to claim his presence when Rahul chatted up with Hooda. Asked to confirm the same, a miffed Hooda said: “He walked in to meet Rahul when I was leaving.” For some reason Rahul is unable to forego Venugopal who hails from Kerala, who was the reason he picked Jebi Mather as the Kerala Rajya Sabha candidate over many seniors, raising the hackles within the party. Many are questioning the undue promotion of Mather and feel it could force Rahul to search for a Lok Sabha seat outside Kerala come 2024.
bachchan pandey

‘The Kashmir Files’ Tsunami Hurts ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ At The Box Office

During the Covid lockdown Akshay Kumar ruled Bollywood with releases like Laxmii, Bell Bottom, Sooryavanshi and Atrangi Re. But, his latest movie Bachchhan Paandey reportedly made at a cost of Rs165 crore has suffered a huge setback due to The Kashmir Files made by Vivek Agnihotri at a cost of merely Rs 15 crore in comparison. With the movie achieving proportions of a people’s movement The Kashmir Files is set to cross the Rs 200 crore mark. Bachchhan Paandey’s collections were poor from day one and may not gross good returns for the producers even as Akshay Kumar is believed to have charged Rs 99 crore for the film. Despite attempts by Akshay Kumar’s fan clubs to save the film The Kashmir Files tsunami continues to storm the box office with nearly 4000 screens added after the initial 650 screens as on March 10. Producers of Bachchhan Paandey know that at this critical juncture any marketing gimmick will fall flat. For his part, Akshay Kumar did not score brownie points by announcing he would watch The Kashmir Files. Bachchhan Paandey may well be written off as a flop because of the bad timing. Nobody anticipated that The Kashmir Files would stir hornet’s nest and evoke positive response worldwide. Meanwhile Akshay Kumar has moved on to shoot for his next film Selfiee.
putin yacht

US To Seize Putin’s Rs 525 Crore Super Yacht, Assets Worth $17 Bn Of 34 Oligarchs?

Luxury yacht ‘Scheherazade’ with an estimated worth over Rs 525 crore, is thought to belong to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The yacht has come under the scanner even as it lies anchored at an Italian marina. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has once indicated that the yacht might belong to the Russian President. Its crew members are drawn from the Russian Federal Security Force (FSO), the same force that secures Putin’s luxury villa off the Black Sea coast in Sochi. So far, about $17 billion in assets thought to belong to 34 oligarchs close to Putin have been processed and are ready to be seized though the super-rich Russian President himself is believed to own hidden assets worth about $100 billion. As Putin emerged last week in a blue, knee-length Rs 10.5 lakh Italian designer coat and roll neck sweater worth Rs 3 lakh at a public rally to celebrate the 8th anniversary of Russia’s annexure of Crimea, there were clear signs of the many fine things that Putin fancies. Scheherazade is said to be the world’s most expensive superyacht whose owner has not been identified. With six decks and two helicopter landing areas, spa, sauna, gym and golden fittings in toilets, the yacht drips with luxury that adorns Putin, whose official salary is Rs 70 lakhs a year.

Happy Days Are Here Again For IPL Fans As T20 Premier League Returns To India!

Come Saturday, the Tata IPL-15 will get off the ground at the Wankhede Stadium with a lung opener between four-time winner Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). CSK is owned by India Cements, led by the irrepressible Mahendra Singh Dhoni, aka Thala and, coached by the suave Kiwi Stephen Fleming. KKR is owned by Red Chillies Entertainment, Jay Mehta Group of course the Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan and actor Juhi Chawla. The two-time winner has a new captain in Shreyas Iyer whose was with Delhi Capitals in the last edition. KKR has the nonpareil record of winning 14 matches in a row in the league founded in 2008 and, whose Head Coach Brendon McCullum gave a roaring start to KKR’s campaign in the inaugural year with a breath-taking 158 against Royal Challengers, Bangalore. The stage is set for an electrifying start to the IPL 15 that returns to four Indian venues in Maharashtra. The government has allowed 25% attendance at each venue but, the BCCI is hopeful more paying spectators will be allowed as the league enters April and May, before the play-offs begin. So happy days are back again for the IPL fans because Season 14 in full and more than half of Season 13 were held in the United Arab Emirates.

Photo : Twitter

How Modi Avoided Any Reference To Former Chief Minister Rupani In Gujarat

Much has been written about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s immense interest in his own state of Gujarat that goes to polls later this year. Of course, Gujaratis do not need him to do a 9 km road show from Ahmedabad airport to the BJP party office in Gandhinagar to vote back a party that has been in power in the state since 1995. It is enough for them that Modi is PM; it makes every Gujarati feel he is presiding over India’s fate from South Block.  But then, when it comes to elections and people’s choices Modi is not one to take any chances. The Gujarat state has already seen three CMs — Anandiben Patel, Vijay Rupani and Bhupendra Patel – after he left it in 2014 and became PM. Rupani’s five years in office ended in September 2021 after becoming an area of concern for Modi. It has been his effort to ensure that the fall out of the Rupani years did not dovetail incumbent CM Bhupendra Patel’s tenure. That is why in the two days that he spent in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, Modi consciously avoided sending out grim reminders from the Rupani era. He even avoided sharing a platform with Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in Gandhinagar on one of his official programmes. Reason: Rupani was seen as being close to Shah.

TNCA And Madras Race Club Face Off Over Free IPL Tickets Takes Legal Turn

Since the advent of IPL (Indian Premier League) many seasons ago, the game of cricket has undergone a major metamorphosis. Cricket watching, too, has seen a whole lot of transformation. The IPL has also managed to swing on board a hitherto uninterested segment of the audience into binge cricket watching. Today, cricket watching, be it in stadiums or on television, has turned into a sort of family entertainment.  Not surprisingly, everybody wants to have a share of cricket. The humungous audience interest has triggered a tiff between the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the Madras Race Club (MRC). Under the old arrangement between the two, MRC was given a sizable number of tickets from TNCA. This arrangement came into force during the tenure of late MA Chidambaram when he was the president of TNCA reportedly, as part of a property pact. Was this an indefinite arrangement? MRC thinks so, however, TNCA feels otherwise. Even as the two are engaged in a quarrel over the longevity and interpretation of the arrangement, the state cricket association has decided to put an end to the ticket-sharing practice. TNCA’s move indicates that there was nothing indefinite about the practice. Well, the tiff has now spilled over into the legal playing field!

Has Kejriwal Left Punjab To Mann Or, Will AAP Chief Script His Own Entry Into State Sooner Than Later?

Initially, Punjab Congress leaders were enamoured when Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was ostensibly left “alone” to expand his Cabinet. No one from the AAP Delhi high command supervised the inductions of 10 ministers. Former PCC chief Sunil Jhakhar tweeted: “Seems Mann has come of age already much to the chagrin of AAP bosses in Delhi. That explains the absence of even the two regents, what to talk of Supremo himself at the oath ceremony. It’s good, as Punjab deserves a CM who is an authority unto himself (rather) than a remote controlled one.” When five Rajya Sabha picks — Cricketer Harbhajan Singh , Delhi IIT Assistant Prof Sandeep Pathak, Delhi AAP MLA Raghav Chadha,  Lovely University founder Ashok Mittal and Ludhiana businessman Sanjeev Arora who is into cancer care — were announced and, as the new ministers settled in, it became apparent the hands off approach was only a facade. What is at work is Arvind Kejriwal’s Delhi Model in Punjab. Though Kejriwal did not attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new ministers, he web chatted with them online the same day. Every minister has an AAP worker from Delhi attached to them. It is said that Kejriwal tries to be like Modi without the apparent wherewithal. Buzz in political circles also revolves around Kejriwal likely to ease out Mann sooner than later to assume control of a full state himself.

Photo : Twitter

Andhra’s Unhappy Electorate, Collapsing Economy, May Prompt Cabinet Rejig By Chief Minister

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is planning a cabinet reshuffle, it is reliably learnt. The move was necessitated to prepare for future state elections and needed transformation for effective governance. Jagan may introduce new ministerial faces, retaining some old favourites to maintain caste balances, and push out others with district leadership responsibilities to enhance their vote gathering skills. “It is more a political messaging,” say YSR Congress Party insiders of the financially strapped government. Political observers in AP say “The recent history of cabinet reshuffles tells us two things. It is both, a political call and a diversionary vote catching tactic.” Jagan, wants to send a message to the electorate while facing an imminent economic collapse, that the cabinet rejig will induct the right political leadership using voters’ feedback on MLAs over performance parameters while also signalling the impermanence of cabinet positions. This exercise is also being done on the fear of an eroding electoral base with very little development work done in Andhra, says a clued-in political analyst. Not wishing to take chances, Jagan is asking his MLAs to go for door-to-door campaigns and connect with the people. Will such superficiality work?

Pushkar Singh Dhami & Pramod Sawant

Modi Returns Pushkhar Dhami As Uttarakhand CM, Pramod Sawant In Goa, Likewise In UP, Assam Too

In an interesting development, Pushkar Singh Dhami was elected leader of BJP’s Uttarakhand Legislature Party, ending a fortnight-long suspense over his swearing-in as Chief Minister since he lost the election from the Khatima assembly seat. Forty-six-year-old Dhami was chosen by PM Narendra Modi, who backed the young leader, being impressed by the former’s working style. In the last eight months, Dhami restored the BJP’s credibility and helped the party win 47 seats. Soon after news of Dhami’s defeat, Modi called him up over his work to boost the party’s fortunes. The PM was aware Dhami’s defeat was a result of political intrigue hatched by BJP leaders like Ramesh Pokhriyal and decided to support him. Even some Congress MLAs (besides BJP MLAs) have now offered their own seats to get him elected to the state assembly. The one person happy with Dhami’s elevation as CM is Uttar Pradesh’s former deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, who similarly lost polls from Phulpur. As an MLC, he too feels he can comeback just like Dhami and was quick to greet the new CM. In Goa, Modi ensured that his choice Pramod Sawant got re-elected as CM and put paid to the ambitious Vishwajit Rane who delayed government formation over his candidature. Modi is repeating all four CMs in the states just won by BJP.

Dhanush and Lata Rajinikanth

Dhanush’s Stardom Line Falters, Cold Shouldered By Producers Since Divorce

Popular Tamil star Dhanush had a dream film run from 2004 after he married superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter. Eighteen years, two smart boys, cinematic fame, and a hectic professional life later, the couple opted for divorce. Suddenly Dhanush found his trusted producers, directors acting hard to get, almost avoiding him like a Covid variant. His last film, Maran fared below par, and Dhanush headed straight to Vetrrimaran, his go to confidante and alter ego, to sign up for his next film. Vettrimaran tactfully dodged, citing his full portfolio. That’s when it hit Dhanush. Hell hath no fury like a mother-in-law scorned, a sasuma spited. Talk is rife in film circles that Lata Rajinikanth, the strong lady of the family has imposed sanctions, warning producers and directors close to her Damaad to stay away. Dhanush, on the other hand, is shouting hoarse that his talent and hard work alone produced super hits like Karnan, Maari, Velaiilla Pattadhari, Raanjhana, Shamitabh, Atrangi Re. But when an also ran, middle class Hero marries a superstar’s daughter, the union is not among equals, There is a salacious media report of his efforts to see sasuma and have an open confrontation and how he was turned away by the gate security. Lata, it is said, did not relent.

Stalin Is On Mission Impossible, Getting Sonia-Mamata Together This April

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is taking on what seems politically impossible at the moment – bringing together firebrand West Bengal prima donna Mamata Banerjee and Chief of the fast-fading Congress party, Sonia Gandhi. Stalin’s plan is overly ambitious even as a phenomenal clash of egos will surely ensue between the two over leading a united charge against BJP and its supremo Narendra Modi. Stalin, however, seeks to work in right earnest to bring about a political rapprochement to forge opposition unity and will be using the occasion of the inauguration of the DMK party office in New Delhi on April 2 for the purpose. He is hoping not only to have the two ladies present but also a galaxy of opposition figures including the new rising star Arvind Kejriwal, besides veterans like Sharad Pawar. He wants it to be a big political occasion that will set the ball rolling for the 2024 fight against Narendra Modi’s juggernaut. Egged on by poll strategist Prashant Kishor, the West Bengal CM fancies herself as the one who will take the battle to Modi but Stalin is a loyalist when it comes to the Congress and he would like the national party to be in the mix. April 2 might be the next big date in the Indian political calendar

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Modi, Shah Still In Poll Mode After Big Win, To Face Up To Gujarat, Tripura Challenges Ahead

The March 10 results of state assemblies held in five states of India has most political formations now analyzing the fallout on future polls except the BJP. Rather than sitting pretty on its laurels (read having bagged four out of the five states) Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched into election mode, reaching Gujarat while his second-in-command, Union Home Minister Amit Shah similarly, left for Tripura. While the Congress Working Committee met on Sunday (March 13, 2022) to draw poll inferences and un-wrangle intra-party differences, the same day Modi and Shah had already completed the first phase of their respective Gujarat and Tripura sojourns. Gujarat, where the BJP returned to power in the last assembly, although its tally dipped below 100 elected MLAs, due to the Patel (majority) conundrum, is high on Modi’s agenda prompting his yatra across the urban centers of the state. Similarly, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sought to make her national presence felt and, deployed former Indira Gandhi era cabinet minister Santosh Mohan Dev’s daughter, Sushmita (TMC Rajya Sabha MP) in Manipur to no avail. While the BJP comfortably won the elections, 32 MLAs elected, Shah has launched into the Tripura political battlefield where another former Congress man Hemanta Biswas Sarma (now BJP CM of Assam) will place the key role for the BJP, yet again.

L To R: Brajesh Pathak, Baby Rani Maurya, AK Sharma and Satish Mahana

Yogi 2.0 To Flaunt Four Deputy CMs Including Baby Rani Maurya, Modi Man AK Sharma Too?

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Yogi Adityanath visited New Delhi to confer with the BJP top brass, including PM Narendra Modi, over the final touches to his new cabinet. A number of new faces are expected to replace the previous cabinet as also the set of Deputy Chief Ministers. Erstwhile Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya lost the elections while Dinesh Sharma who did not contest elections may also not find a place in the Cabinet. Yogi may go in for four deputy CMs this time around, including a woman, with a focus on streamlining governance. Baby Rani Maurya, former Uttarakhand Governor, who contested from Agra Rural is likely to be inducted as Deputy CM. A Jatav leader, she belongs to the same caste as BSP supremo Mayawati. Others tipped to make Deputy CMs this time around are: Brajesh Pathak, a Brahmin BSP leader who joined BJP, Satish Mahana, seven-term MLA from Kanpur, and AK Sharma, former IAS officer in the PMO and Bhumihar leader who is an MLC. While Mahana’s elevation may not be an issue, Yogi had resisted inducting Modi’s man AK Sharma into his team last year. In his second term Yogi will have little choice to resist Modi’s picks. Others tipped to join Yogi’s team are: Former ED Director Rajeshwar Singh and former Kanpur police Commissioner Aseem Arun.

Sonia Owns Up To Her Mistake, Delaying Captain Amarinder Singh Exit, As Priyanka Brazens It Out With Just 2 Seats

Free and frank deliberations at the Congress Working Committee meeting, where G-23 leaders swore by the Gandhi family, brought an anticlimactic end to the dismal Congress performance in five state assemblies. The Congress cadre is upbeat on the likely prospect of “Organisational Changes” post Holi that party chief Sonia Gandhi will undertake. Many party leaders want Sonia to rein in some of the men working in Rahul Gandhi’s office who are blamed for adversely impacting ticket distribution in Punjab. At the CWC meet, Sonia herself was quite forthcoming about her mistakes in dealing with Punjab. When G-23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad pointed out that Captain Amarinder Singh shouldn’t have been removed so close to elections — Sonia admitted that it was all her mistake. She had delayed replacing the CM and, protected him even in the face of complaints coming in from MLAs. AICC in charge for Punjab Harish Chaudhary, however, pinned the blame for the Congress rout on Navjot Singh Sidhu and his constant feuds with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. Surprisingly, unlike her mother Priyanka brazened out her dismal performance of just two seats in UP — a fall from seven in 2017 — to renewed efforts she had made after nearly a decade. Playing the youth icon, Rahul pushed for the inclusion of those below 30 in party posts.

Big Budget Film Radhe Shyam Falls Short On Expectations From Bahubali Prabhas' Performance, Weak Narrative

Prabhas reigns as a cinematic brand that few could match after the Bahubali super hits. And audiences expect him to exemplify that same brand film after film. After the pandemic pause, Radhe Shyam also released to sky high expectations but the film, shot simultaneously in Telugu and Hindi, turned out to be Candy floss, just fluff, no bite. Advertised as a big budget film (Rs 300-350 crore) boasting over the top visual effects, lavish locales of Europe with each frame mounted to draw gasps of astonishment, Prabhas and Pooja Hegde elicited groans instead even as the screenplay and narrative fell flat as pointless piffle. The Telugu version fared somewhat better, but the Hindi version faced the humiliation of rejection even compared to the low budget yet, intensely riveting The Kashmir Files. Prabhas, cast as a phenomenal palmist (the Einstein of Palmistry, Nostradamus of prediction) has to convince audiences that life lines on one’s palm determines your destiny, and yet it is possible to change destiny by sheer determination. Prabhas playing a palmist challenges destiny but, ultimately gets the girl he loves, Prerna, after super human efforts. Whatever the claims by the makers over box office collections (Rs 150 crore in first three days), even palmist Prabhas didn’t predict revenues would lag way behind the Rs 300 crore spent.

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With Rafiq Ahmed At Helm, Will KICL Regain Pristine Glory?

Late DC Kothari was a tall name in the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. And, Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd (KICL), the agro input (fertilisers and insecticides) company promoted by him, an iconic entity. After him, the onus fell upon son Pradip D Kothari but, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. He had to fend off incursions from cousin, the late Shyam Kothari (son-in-law of the late Dhirubhai Ambani). Pradip Kothari did succeed in barricading KICL. That legal battle in the 90s did make national headlines then. Much water has flown under the bridge since then. KICL now appears to have undergone a major overhaul and, sports new names on the management list. Of course, Pradip Kothari remains the Chairman. But it is driven by self-taught entrepreneur Jinnah Rafiq Ahmed, who is now the vice-chairman & MD of KICL. Parveen Roadways, his key venture, does quite a lot of work for the Southern Railways showing his experience with the contracts business model. Will this push the well-networked Ahmed to opt for contract manufacturing of fertilisers sold under the brand name Horse? This could see the company do well and get re-listed soon after internal issues saw its share trading being suspended many moons ago. Hopefully, investors holding KICL shares would soon find a window to cash out.

Bulldozer Toys Become Popular In UP After Baba Returns To Power

Bulldozer toys are selling briskly, like hot vadas, all over Uttar Pradesh. Parents are indulging children with toy replicas of bulldozers following BJP’s victory! This was one election when bulldozers and JCB machines could trump the Lotus symbol for their sheer public fancy. In fact, even as BJP workers celebrated the victory, the bulldozer turned into a mascot for the party.  This was because Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had forewarned gangsters, henchmen and the remaining UP mafia bosses to expect steamrolling governance that would bulldoze them to the ground if he came back to power. The bulldozer was an almost constant in Yogi’s campaign speeches. He even famously said once, that while bulldozers were used to build expressways and highways, “At the same time, we are (also) using it to crush the mafia that exploited people to build their (illegal) properties.” It is pertinent to note that Yogi’s main political rival in UP, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had pejoratively termed Yogi as ‘Baba Bulldozer’ while claiming the BJP CM would lose the elections. Interestingly, since BJP came to power in 2017, over 67,000 acres of government land was unshackled from the hands of goons and mafias in the state through the rampant use of bulldozers.
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Lakshya Sen, Srihari Nataraj Are Pride Of PDCSE, Bengaluru Created By Vivek Kumar

Vivek Kumar, Founder & Director of the Padukone-Dravid Centre For Sports Excellence (PDCSE) near Bengaluru city is the go-to man for the Central, State governments and Corporates to create and finance sports infrastructure without much capital expenditure. Four years into existence, the institution for training elite sports persons and budding talent has already created a buzz around the development of Lakshya Sen at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, and Olympic swimmer Srihari Nataraj at its Olympic size pool, which operate within the facility named after two legends, Prakash Padukone and Rahul Dravid. Vivek Kumar, a former India junior badminton player, has invested around Rs 100 crore which includes 17-acre land. The PDCSE has facilities for athletics, badminton, swimming, 10 m shooting, football, squash, table tennis, volleyball, basketball and cricket. “The 10 m shooting range was created in the storage area for cricket. It cost about Rs15 lakh. Abhinav Bindra wanted a shooting range for the refugee shooters preparing for the Olympics. We spent more money to get the latest technology based swimming pool in order to reduce maintenance cost,” revealed Vivek, related to the Kirloskar family. Former India player, Vimal Kumar, who trained Sen to become a world-class player says: “Full credit to Vivek for creating the facility for India’s sports persons. The PDCSE is a boon for all sports.”

Fadnavis Is Sole Face Of Maharashtra BJP, Throws Gauntlet At MVA To Bring It Down

Devendra Fadnavis has emerged as the singular face of the party in Maharashtra bolstered by political results in Goa achieved under his leadership. A well-placed source told, “A conscious decision was taken last week on the subject. The BJP leadership is keen to project Fadnavis as the sole face of BJP and has directed a cessation of distracting and divergent statements from other party stakeholders including Kirit Somaiya. All of them have been told to hold their horses for a while.” Somaiya, it may be recalled with the blessings of senior party leaders and, his inimitable style of announcing one scam a day, has been raising heat against Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders predominantly Shiv Sena.  Even other State BJP leaders have been asked to dial down even as Fadnavis has thrown the gauntlet at the MVA government with the single-minded focus on bringing it down. Even the MVA, which deferred the BMC and other local polls in Maharashtra to beyond May 2022, is facing rifts within its ranks. For one, home minister (NCP) Dilip Walse Patil was at pains explaining that Fadnavis was not summoned as accused but as witness by the BKC police and as an after-thought said that the police will visit Fadnavis’ residence to record his statement.  With demand for jailed NCP minister Nawab Malik’s resignation rising, Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray met to damage control the issue.

Sena Reins In Union Minister Narayan Rane & Sons For crossing the Laxman Rekha

Frequenting courts and police stations may seem inept and despicable to any simple aam aadmi. However, if you are Narayan Tatu Rane, such things don’t bother you. Haggling with law-enforcement agencies since the 1960s — while running a poultry shop in suburban Chembur – the bold, bindaas, Union minister had mastered the craft. However, the arrogance effused by suddenly gaining power after losing all hope has landed the Ranes in a profound mess. While leaders and political parties were critical of the Shiv Sena ever since its formation, Rane crossed the Lakshman Rekha by targeting CM Uddhav Thackeray and his minister son Aaditya in the MVA government. “Soon after being made a minister at the Centre, Rane began making personal remarks on the Thackeray family and started calling them names,” said Ravindra Ambekar, a senior political analyst and founder of Max Maharashtra. Ambekar added, “As Shiv Sena is in power and has the responsibility of maintaining the law and order situation, it’s dealing with him legally.” As people don’t sympathize with Rane, his actions may cause harm to the BJP’s image. “Therefore, the BJP may even ask him to compromise with the Thackerays,” feels Ambekar.

BJP’s Clean Sweep Of Eight Lakhimpur Kheri Assembly Seats Was No Surprise For Awadh!

There is a sense of awe that the BJP picked up all the eight assembly seats in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, with a comfortable majority. BJP sources said Lakhimpur Kheri which is barely 100 km away from Lucknow, couldn’t have voted differently from the rest of Awadh, a region hamstrung by poverty that boasts an eclectic mix of voters comprising poor Brahmins, Kurmis and other OBCs. What about anti-BJP sentiments whipped up in the aftermath of the four farmers mowed down by a car linked to Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son? Sikh farmers belonging to the Terai region did protest against the farm laws. Apparently, the protest did not find peoples’ favour. Four lives were also lost in the immediate aftermath of the car encounter, through public lynching that rubbed off any public sympathy or BJP antipathy, over the incident. Another optic BJP overcame was of bodies floating across the Ganges during the Covid-19 pandemic that was played up to the hilt by the opposition combine. Fact being, shallow burials along the riverside is common practice among the poor of central and eastern UP. It was not the first time this occurred; it happened in 2015 and 2018 too.  In Western UP, the BJP managed to win 46 of the 58 seats, even retaining tricky propositions like in Deoband because of the SP-RLD tie-up.
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AC Muthiah and MAMR Muthiah

AC Muthiah Finds It Tough Going To Unlock True Share Value In MAMR Controlled, Delisted Chettinad Cement

There are certain advantages in being an unlisted, closely-held company. Owners of such firms, however, may encounter irritants coming their way. A few shareholders, with marginal holdings could prove to be an avoidable hindrance. One such unlisted, closely-held company is attempting to implement share consolidation ostensibly to ease the cumbersome procedural formalities in administration. It is also touted as a goodwill exercise offering small shareholders an exit option. In some instances, small shareholders do not see any goodwill in such an exercise. Rather, the move is viewed as an ill-intentioned initiative to get them out cheaply. The city of Chennai has seen Chettinad Cement, a well-known player in the bulk commodity space, delist its shares a few summers ago. But that has put its industrialist-shareholder AC Muthiah in a spot. If sources are to be believed, Muthiah is unable to get rid of his shares in the company at a price he considers equitable. The owner of Chettinad Cement appears to be playing it cool for now. The business, it may be recalled, is run by MAM Ramaswamy’s adopted son MAMR Muthiah who has an old score to settle with AC Muthiah, whom he had accused of usurping the company assets while his father was ailing. Alternatively, he doesn’t feel the need to acquire more shares, sitting comfortably as he is with a majority holding.

UP's 2022 Polls Saw Yogi's Return & Akhilesh Chastised, Cong Decimated & Defectors Exiled

The historic re-election of an incumbent government in Uttar Pradesh after a gap of 37 years made Prime Minister Narendra Modi issue an appeal to intellectuals to stop analyzing it from the prism of caste or class. Please do not look for motives of castes/class in the way people vote, he urged. Things have changed in Uttar Pradesh, in his Varanasi — in his Lok Sabha constituency for two terms that he has represented. People are voting on deliverables. The spectacular re-election of Yogi with 255 BJP MLAs has an interesting backstory — some of its key ministers, in fact as many 11 of them had to bite dust. Yes, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya narrowly lost to Pallavi Patel of Samajwadi Party, sister of Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel from Sirathu. Apna Dal is an NDA ally. So did sugarcane minister Suresh Rana to Rashtriya Lok Dal in Shamli. As for Akhilesh Yadav, he finally came to terms with poll results and accepted he may not have won but improved his tally from 47 in 2017 to 111. He could not bail out defectors. Two BJP ministers who joined him like Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini were humbled. Only Dara Singh Chauhan managed to win.
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Gundappa Viswanath All Set To Tell “Wrist Assured” Story

Gundappa Ranganath Viswanath, aka GRV, or affectionately Vishy, and if you want the celebrated catchline the ‘Little Master’ found time with a seasoned and studious cricket writer, R Kaushik, to tell his cricket story to his legion of followers who were attracted towards the great noble game only because of his and his brother-in-law Sunil Manohar Gavaskar’s classic stroke play from the 1970s onwards and well into the 1980s and also the subsequent generations. A genial to the core, Vishy became a darling of the purists and others alike after he cut to size Australia’s Graham McKenzie, Allan Connolly, Johnny Gleeson and Ashley Mallett while carving a breathtaking 137 in the second innings of his debut Test at the Green Park, Kanpur, in the winter of 1969. Introduced to Indian cricket’s highest level by Chairman of the selection committee Vijay Merchant and captain, Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi, Vishy went on to charm the cricket world with strokes he executed with elan.  Almost four decades after he bid adieu to the game in 1983 — the year India won the World Cup — Vishy has decided to recall his cricket and life story with Kaushik, who has over 100 Tests under his belt and knowledge to get the best out of a great. The book, to be published by Rupa & Co. is titled: Wrist Assured.

Fire In The Building Run, Run, Run – Authorities, Developers Shrug Off Responsibility As Residents Face the Music

Six people in Mumbai lost their lives in three major incidents of fire in high risers this year. This is a burning issue in the city that has some of the tallest buildings, and more coming up. The fire brigade is unable to reach heights beyond 30 floors as it has ladders that can reach only uptil 90 metres, but that has not stopped the authorities in giving permissions for buildings that are 50-stories plus. Housing activists like Chandrashekhar Prabhu question how the fire brigade could pass the buck on to residents rather than take responsibility for fire safety. Fire brigade is putting the onus on residents to install and ensure proper maintenance of fire safety measures, and get safety audits done bi-annually. For instance, all high-rise buildings have been asked to install smoke detectors and fire alarms. Apparently, it has sent notices to 327 buildings for not maintaining proper fire safety measures. Can the city’s fire brigade get into pointing fingers at individual residents and the managing committee of the society each time there is a fire at a high-rise? Instead of the blame game or passing the buck approach should not all the stakeholders – state government, BMC, developers – find a lasting solution. Shouldn’t the state develop a fire-fighting system for high risers before giving green signal to construction of tall structures?

Modi’s Saffron Clad Monk Breaks All Poll Traditions, Wins Second Term Even Breaking Noida Superstition

The monk who became the first UP chief minister to serve a full term and, win a fresh mandate bucking anti-incumbency has broken quite a few records even though he wasn’t elected in 2017 to the state assembly before being brought in as CM. It has been more than 40 years since any party was re-elected in UP and where, for the first time in 15 years an elected MLA will be heading the government. Yogi Adityanath proved to be the magical vote catcher along with his boss Narendra Modi. Incidentally, he also shattered the urban legend about Noida being the Waterloo of many UP CMs. The jinx had assumed such proportions that politicos began avoiding the city near the national capital like the plague. What Yogi may have proved is the fallacy of such urban legends that are mere coincidences and have no real relevance to actual events on the ground that are shaped by popular will. There are many such urban legends around the country, including one in Tamil Nadu where it is said that any CM visiting the Big Temple in Thanjavur would be out of power in the next election. This had taken such a hold on the imagination that even a diehard rationalist in M Karunanidhi, who visited the temple, entered through a side entrance. But that didn’t help him either.
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How Odisha Chief Minister Is Checkmating Maoists With His Infrastructure Connectivity Programmes And Welfare Schemes

The most remote district of Malkangiri, infamous as a hotbed of Maoist activity, still holds a special place in the heart of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The government has announced that Malkangiri district, located in south west Odisha, will have an airport by 2024. This development comes post the defeat of BJP and Congress in the recently held panchayat elections. Patnaik is now pursuing a governance policy to uplift Odisha’s backward regions through social welfare and infrastructure connectivity as the CM knows that is the key to Odisha’s transformation. A case in point is Gurupriya Bridge completed in 2018. The bridge provides connectivity to 151 villages that were cut-off for over five decades. “It is not just a bridge,” CM had tweeted, “it is the identity and Swabhiman of Malkangiri”. This bridge provides government services at the doorstep for Odias living in the back of the beyond thereby weaning them away from Maoist clutches. Prior to the airport building initiative, Patnaik had also chosen Malkangiri to launch his popular one-rupee rice scheme that was followed by the launch of the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana smart health cards, also from this remote region. With the new airport for Malkangiri district, expectations are that the Maoist hold, their extortions, levies and local support base will fade away for sure as development increases.

Photo : Fotocorp

AK Antony Retires Come April, Won’t Seek Re-Election To Rajya Sabha, Tells Sonia Gandhi New(s) Comers Spoiling Her Kids

Veteran Congress leader AK Antony (81), whose Rajya Sabha term ends on April 12, informed Congress president Sonia Gandhi he will not seek re-election. He leaves Delhi to go back to home state Kerala. Antony’s exit will mark the end of his 52-year electoral and parliamentary journey, which started as a Kerala MLA in 1970, after being Congress youth leader of the students’ wing. His highly decorated innings included three stints as Chief Minister of Kerala, including being the youngest CM at age 37, 10 years as PCC president, five terms as MLA, three stints as Union minister and five terms in the Rajya Sabha. Antony’s stand on the Rajya Sabha seat is in stark difference to that of former PM, Dr Manmohan Singh. When Dr Singh’s Rajya Sabha term from Assam ended in 2019, he was re-elected from Rajasthan. Party leaders wonder about the need for Dr Singh in the Rajya Sabha as he enjoys all facilities in Lutyens’ Delhi as a former PM. Meanwhile, Antony in a 3-page letter to Sonia, expressed dismay over young leaders misguiding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi over national issues. Antony is upset with erstwhile news anchors taking positions on Congress policy matters. Antony as CWC member has been a sounding board for Sonia Gandhi on party matters.

Bulldozer Baba Levelled Modi’s Path For 2024, Good Governance For All, With Widespread Law & Peace

BJP’s stunning 4-1 series sweep with Yogi Adityanath’s triumphant return to power in Uttar Pradesh should cheer up party rank and file left clueless after the Maharashtra hara-kiri and, deeply traumatized over West Bengal’s post-poll bloodlust. PM Narendra Modi’s path to 2024 will pass through terrains now evenly levelled by “Bulldozer Baba,” who promises to keep his bulldozer in fine tune, continuing to dismantle mafia dens and stolen scrapyards. BJP positions itself as a party opposed to minority appeasement. Still Yogi had no hesitation in informing the state assembly that 35% of all welfare benefits were allocated to Muslims, who account for 18% of the population. This season, the appeasement awareness campaign focused on the Opposition’s cozy nexus with gangsters and how no trick was left untried by the Akhilesh Yadav government to let Islamist terrorists off the hook. The wide coverage to AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s threat to UP Police – “When Yogi will go back to his mutt, Modi to the mountains, then who will come to save you?”– and don Mukhtar Ansari’s son Abbas’ attack on bureaucrats, “No transfer posting for six months, pehle hisab kitab hoga,” rattled many. The spectre of the dreaded dons presiding over the state seems to have weighed heavily in the minds of the voters rather than inflation, unemployment, farm unrest, Covid or even Jinnah.

BMC Polls 2022: Congress, SP, AIMIM In A Fix As Nawab Becomes 'Maalik' Of Anti-BJP North Indian, Muslim Votes

Exposing ‘farijiwada’ in the Aryan Khan drugs case bit by bit from his Kurla home-office, NCP leader and senior minister in the Uddhav Thackeray cabinet Nawab Malik made national headlines. Soon, erstwhile BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis and another Mumbai office-bearer came under Malik’s radar. The scrap dealer from Gonda in UP has incessantly taken on the mighty BJP. With his Main Jhukunga Nahi attitude, Malik has forged an instant connection with young Muslims. “…And this is bad news for the Congress, SP, and the AIMIM. Along with being the guardian minister of Gondia and Parbhani, he’s the minister of minority development, Wakf board, skill development, and entrepreneurship. Abu Azmi and the Owaisi brothers don’t stand a chance against Malik as he’s in power,” says a political analyst. It’s party supremo Sharad Pawar’s dimaag and this Miya Bhai’s daring has turned this politically irrelevant party into a key player for the BMC elections. “Malik’s influence on North Indian voters will also help his party if, SP fails to form a government in UP. Nearly 50 seats in Mumbai count on the majority north Indian vote. Plus, there are 50 more such seats where they play a dominant role,” he asserted, adding that with the MVA rallying behind him, a mighty Malik will gravely hurt the prospects parties relying on Muslim and North Indian votes.
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Photo : Twitter

'Devbhoomi' Uttarakhand Deals Out The Hand, BJP Wins Over Congress, As CM Pushkar Singh Dhami Faces Khatima Rout

Like Mamata Banerjee who led Trinamool Congress to a landslide victory in the West Bengal Assembly polls in 2021 but lost her seat, so too was the case of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. PM Modi led BJP to victory with 47 seats but Dhami lost. Sources say Dhami would have won had he listened to party managers, refrained from Katima, he had represented for two terms. “We had advised Dhami to move out of Katima as another party functionary was working the assembly seat for the past five years and should have contested from there. We told Dhami to contest from Dehradun, a safe seat as a BJP candidate had passed away,” BJP leader RP Singh says. The Congress won Katima. Uttarakhand Congress leaders feel Dhami was done in by rivals like Ramesh Pokhriyal who funded his defeat. The Congress’s below par results is blamed on its divided house not having kept out turncoats. BJP turncoats like Harak Rawat joined the party at the eleventh hour, but people defeated his daughter-in-law Anukriti Gosain Rawat from Lansdowne. “The mood in Devbhoomi was against turncoats,” says Yashpal Arya, another BJP turncoat who won from Bajpur, but could not get son Sanjeev Arya elected from Nanital.

Regional Parties Seek A Slice Of Ukraine, Odisha And Tamil Nadu Elbow In As Students Return, To Show They Are Also Humane

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dispatching four ministers to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries to oversee airlifting of students, regional political parties in Indian states like the DMK in Tamil Nadu and the BJD in Odisha are keen for a political slice of the action. They are keen to ensure the Modi government doesn’t get all the credit for bringing home the students from Ukraine. After the initial bad experience of DMK minister KS Masthan, who went to receive Ukraine returnees at Chennai airport, being greeted with Bharat mata ki Jai has served as a wakeup call for regional Indian political formations. To wean away students from backing BJP/ Modi, TN has now set up a @tnhdelhi 24×7 help desk to coordinate arrivals from Ukraine. About 1200 students belonging to the state have so far arrived. “Our Government has set aside a budget of Rs 3.5 crore to ensure they reach home from Delhi,” says a DMK MP. A chat with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar helped DMK’s team of MPs deciding against traveling to the conflict zone.  TN is also playing copycat with Odisha’s idea of setting up a helpline for its students in Delhi and flying students back to Bhubaneswar– so far 77 Odia students have gone back. Interestingly, both Naveen Patnaik and MK Stalin have written similar letters to Modi regarding the students’ future.

Photo : Fotocorp

Why SRK Is The King Khan Of Bollywood?

He is literally the tallest Khan compared to Salman and Aamir. Fifty-six-year-old SRK, who entered Bollywood in 1992, initially essaying negative roles in movies like Darr, Baazigar could convince producers that he was the next romantic hero, a space occupied by superstar Rajesh Khanna.  Convinced, producers signed him on for box-office hits like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Mohabatein. DLDJ run of 1000 weeks established SRK as the king of romance, set off a female fan frenzy like Khanna did and, thronging crowds like Big B’s at his bungalow Mannat who fervently hope for a glimpse of him. Charming, witty and intelligent, SRK knows how to emote with the audience both locally and globally, on-and-off screen. “His brand loyalty remains strong despite the fact there were no SRK releases in the last two years. He connects well with people across all age groups,” says Karan Taurani of Elara Capital.  One of the many reasons SRK outshines the other two Khans is that he was an outsider. Salman Khan is more a Bhai for commoners while Aamir Khan only connects with audiences during films releases but, the King of hearts connects with audiences across age groups throughout the year. He also smartly set up his own enterprise, Red Chillies Entertainment and owns a big stake in IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders.

Photo : BCCI

Tragedy Time 'Rockstar' Performance By Ravindra Jadeja

Shane Warne’s ‘Rockstar’ cricketer Ravindra Jadeja has developed the good habit of playing the game with gusto with bat, ball, as fielder at point or even countryside positions in the field. It took a flaxen haired Australian superstar in Shane Warne to spot the terrific talent in the skinny lad from Jamnagar after observing his energy and enthusiasm while training at Jaipur. Jadeja justified the prediction of the Australian who excelled in the bossie (named after Bosanquet, the inventor of the back of the hand googly that turns from off to leg in leg spin action) variety and fooled many a batter in the World. After nearly 10 years of international cricket and across all three formats, Jadeja, after a long period of rehabilitation to recover from upper and lower limb injuries, made a match winning 175 not out and captured nine wickets against Sri Lanka in the Mohali Test that hastened to a finish inside stumps on the third day. Jadeja’s all-round display coincided with Warne’s premature death, but the Saurashtra cricketer will never ever forget the time he spent with Warne in the Jaipur dug out. And his unconquered 175 has made skipper Rohit Sharma to look at promoting him in the batting order.  “I am looking at ways to use him more in the batting role,” said Sharma after the Mohali Test.

Sulking Abhishek Banerjee’s PR Stunt, Cuts Down Security To Ease Traffic Jam, Hidden PK Emerges At TMC Meet

After all the infighting within the TMC and his re-appointment as general secretary last month, Abhishek Banerjee, is apparently back to his sulking days. Surprisingly, he has pulled off a good PR coup by requesting the Kolkata police to remove the police barricade detail from in front of his house on Harish Mukherjee Road, South Kolkata. According to sources close to Abhishek, he did not want to inconvenience the public or disrupt traffic over his safety protocols. Police have now trimmed the barricade. Abhishek and his close associates believe this will speed up traffic flow through the area and the general public will be benefitted. Meanwhile, whatever exit polls may say about Goa, top leaders from Congress such as DK Shivkumar and P Chidambaram will reach there to prevent their MLAS from being poached by the BJP. Abhishek is also headed for Goa where the TMC is expected to pick two or three seats. Ending all rumours of a rift with TMC, Prashant Kishor was also spotted attending an important TMC meeting last Tuesday.

UP Elections 2022: It's 'Mission Accomplished' For Congress And Priyanka Gandhi

The seven-phase Mahabharat between the ruling BJP and the Samajwadi Party in the Hindi heartland has come to an end. While most TV channels are predicting that the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP will sail through the majority mark easily, quite a few web channels believe Mulayam’s son will rise again in Lucknow. However, amidst all the hullabaloo, it’s Congress that has emerged as the real winner. The party, which was nowhere in the race, contested all the 403 seats for the first time in 30 years. However, it is not just the 2022 assembly election that Congress is looking at. “Priyanka Gandhi’s charisma complemented with her emphasis on real issues helped us garner massive support from the youth, women, and minorities. As we have contested all the seats, our vote share will certainly increase. Moreover, it has helped us resuscitate and strengthen the organization by activating followers at the grass-root level,” said Dr Shaukat Khan, a senior Congress leader, adding that the hard work done now will surely bear fruits for the party in the 2024 general elections. Poll analysts proclaim that Congress has focused on 25 seats. And if Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and Special Supervisor In-charge of Congress in Uttar Pradesh Bhupesh Baghel’s intuition of hung assembly comes true, the grand old party with a mere 12-18 seats can emerge as the kingmaker.

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.


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.