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Breaking A Tradition with A ‘Grand’ GestureIt is a tradition that is celebrated on the birth of a boy. However, it was the birth of a girl child that saw extensive celebrations at Village Garhi Kalia Beri Chahar in Uttar Pradesh on May 10. BJP MP Rajkumar Chahar, who's also president of the party's Kisan Morcha, became a grandfather and went to his ancestral village to celebrate the birth of his granddaughter. "I had distributed ghee ke ladoo in every household in my village. We have kua pujan for a boy child in villages but no celebrations for a girl child. We wanted to send a message to people and they all agreed that a girl child is better than a boy. We danced with the whole village and celebrated the birth of the girl child in our home," said the MP.
Amit Shah to Dine at Sourav Ganguly’s House
It's a visit that will get the rumour mills buzzing again. Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit BCCI president Sourav Ganguly's residence for dinner on Friday before he leaves Kolkata. Sources say the meeting was initiated by Shah. Commenting on the rumoured visit, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “What is the harm in it? I will tell Sourav to feed him rosogolla and mishti doi."
A Fish out of WaterThere was always something fishy about why senior Congress leader KV Thomas had been sidelined by the grand old party these past few years. Now, if sources in the local unit are to be believed, it is being said that Thomas's connection with the party high command had all to do with “fish”! A fisherman by birth, his political longevity in the party was directly connected to his regular supply of the famous 'Thirutha' (grey mullet fish), a favourite amongst the Delhi bosses, say sources. However, Thomas fell out of favour. In return, he decided to raise a stink for being sidelined by attending a seminar organised by Kerala's ruling party CPI(M) in April. He claimed though that he had attended the seminar as it was against the BJP, and he would remain a Congressman till his last breath. This was also the same meeting that Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was invited to and had to bow out of after the party issued a diktat asking him to refrain.
A DIG's Unsound MoveA deputy inspector general (DIG) level officer in a paramilitary force mistakenly sent a recorded audio message to an official WhatsApp group where all top officers are members. The audio message had a small conversation of the DIG with other officers, which got recorded mistakenly, where they were making fun of an inspector general (IG) who was rebuked by the director general (DG) in a weekly review meeting last week. The DIG got to know about his mistake after he got a call from another IG who asked him the reason for sending such an audio message to the group.
Cong's Wrong Call in Haryana?
Not everyone seems to be happy with Sonia Gandhi's decision to make Bhupinder Hooda loyalist and protégé Udai Bhan the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief. A senior leader told News18: “It's a bad decision because Hooda himself should have been PCC chief. Thumbprints don't win elections.” Kuldeep Bishnoi had met Priyanka Gandhi twice to lobby for the position and is said to be upset on missing out. Sources say he is waiting for Rahul Gandhi to return to make this next move.
After Much Drama in Karnataka, CM Asked to Focus on GovernanceAmid controversies related to "40% commission" and corruption charges, politics involving ban on hijab, halal, and issues related to minorities being raked up, it is learnt that the BJP high command has warned Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai to concentrate more on governance than communal issues. Sources say that Bommai has been instructed to ensure that all pending infrastructure projects are completed and emphasise on development at a time when the state is heading towards elections. In no mood to go for early polls, the high command is planning to restructure the state unit to ensure better coordination, leadership, and management.
Ghar Wapsi for Arjun Singh?Is BJP's Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh looking for ghar wapsi to the Trinamool Congress? The lawmaker has written a strong letter to Union Commerce & Industry minister Piyush Goyal against the price cap on jute at Rs 6,500 per quintal, an issue he had raised in Parliament as well. “This price has led to closure of 10 mills and 14 more mills will be closed. I have written a letter and if no action is taken within seven days, I will protest,” he told News18. Interestingly, the TMC too has protested on the issue and coupled with Abhishek Banerjee's recent assertion that more leaders could be joining from the BJP, something could be cooking.
Janta Darbar on Wheels in Baghpat
BJP MP from Baghpat Satyapal Singh has found a unique way to reach out to people facing problems in his constituency. While most leaders aim to hold a Janta Darbar at their residence or office, Singh moved around in the local train to hear troubles of the residents of his area. Most people were seemingly forthcoming about their issues regarding amenities in railway stations, which fall in his parliamentary constituency, as the BJP MP patiently listened to their problems and assured them that they will be resolved.
A Calculated CabinetWith KS Eshwarappa out of the government, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai is once again trying to convince the BJP high command to allow him to expand his cabinet. The top leadership, meanwhile, is said to be quite concerned about the communal incidents that have taken place lately and wants to ensure that the right combination is maintained in the cabinet. A senior party leader said that the recent Hubbali violence has been a matter of concern and any future exercise, such as revamping the cabinet, should be effective as this is an election year. The party doesn't want any disgruntled MLAs and wants the state unit to ensure that the message is clear, that Narendra Modi's double-engine government is functioning smoothly.
Former CEC's 'Poll Khol' of Retired Babus at ABVP Book LaunchFormer Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora, while speaking at the unveiling of a book 'Dhyeya Yatra' on the journey of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Friday in Delhi, recalled a group of former civil servants after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, calling them the “least fair” elections, and how he was tempted to send a reply but was advised by his senior not to. "My senior told me these retired civil servants will go to India International Centre and write another reply. I have nothing against IIC as I too am a member, but it was sane advice and I accepted it," said Arora, making the packed hall burst into laughter.
Gandhi Siblings Take Off Amid Turbulence AgainThe Gandhi siblings are headed abroad for a short vacation again. While this is not a first in recent months, it comes amid a sinking feeling in the party after the drubbing in Assembly elections and loss of power in Punjab, with no solutions offered yet on the way forward. Sources say Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are likely to travel separately even as the feeling is both should stick around to ensure the party gets back on track. Sonia Gandhi, however, is expected to be here for some time with some key decisions pending.
Parliament Pitch to Cricket PitchThe political match in Parliament may be over with the session ending on Thursday, but the games shifted to Ferozeshah Kotla with a team of Parliament XI indulging in a friendly cricket match against Police Commissioners XI. Among the players were Union minister SPS Baghel, who was giving the commentator a run for his money. MPs playing included Manoj Tiwari, Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma, Praveen Nishad, Kamlesh Paswan, Vijay Dubey, Anubhav Mohanti, Subrat Pathak, SP Baghel, Manoj Rajoria, Surjeet, and Ramesh Bidhuri.
Buzz in BJP as Its Karnataka MLA Slams Party’s ‘Religious Politics’ Party hopper and now BJP legislator AH Vishwanath caused much embarrassment to his party when he slammed "right-wing organisations" and their call to ban Muslim traders from temple premises. This came as a fallout of the hijab row. Vishwanath, who is a member of Karnataka's legislative council, also accused the government of "indulging in religious politics". Senior BJP leaders made frantic calls to Vishwanath, asking him to retract his statement, but the leader remained stubborn. Furthermore, whispers began within the BJP that “nobody cares what Vishwanath says as he does it only to please himself and his handful of followers”. A BJP leader from the Mysuru region remarked that Vishwanath was in the BJP because he had no other party to go to. Vishwanath had been with the Congress party till 2017. He quit to join the JD(S) and was elected as an MLA in 2018. However, in 2019, he jumped ship to the BJP after complaining of being sidelined by HD Deve Gowda when he was state party president.
Mama’s Bulldozer Takes Humorous Turn in MP
Almost every day, the administration is razing down houses and shops of criminals, built illegally, in different Madhya Pradesh districts. However, the local officers, now habitual of limelight in the bulldozer action, are resorting to bizarre action. In Rewa town, a video shows that the administration is seen demolishing a shaky shanty with an imported JCB machine. This has triggered amusing reactions as the structure used as an illegal bar could have been demolished by bare hands. Meanwhile, Congress unnerved by a speedy bulldozer ahead of the 2023 polls has affirmed to move the court and Human Right Commission against such 'irregular action'. A senior Congress leader has advised 'Mama' Shivraj to take legal course instead.
Sonia’s Surprise Visit to Stalin in ParliamentIn an unplanned gesture, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi went across to meet Tamil Nadu CM and DMK president MK Stalin at the party's office in Parliament and the two have planned to meet for the opening of the new DMK office in Delhi as well. Insiders say the Congress wants to ensure DMK support for a Rajya Sabha seat for P Chidambaram. Sonia Gandhi wants loyalists like Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh to now be the voice of the party in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP's strength has increased.
New Order Fuels Debate on BSF Campus
BSF Inspector General, Kashmir, has issued an order asking his staff not to travel by a motorcycle or a car from home to office as it causes unnecessary air and sound pollution on the campus. The IG has said it is not only detrimental to the health of the family members living on the campus but it's quite foolish to burn unnecessary fuel as we have limited hydrocarbon reserves. While the IG has said to take strict action in case of any violation, the top officer himself commutes from a diesel vehicle, which is surely not environment friendly, but he is not liable for any action.
Cong’s Damage Control for Funds
Funds are a major component of poll defeat discussions in the Congress, and now some in the party have pointed out to the Gandhis that Rahul Gandhi's attacks on few corporates are proving to be counter-productive. The party now plans to rope in some Congress leaders who have good connect with the corporate world to reach out to them. The purpose is to send the message that the Congress is not against the corporate world.
RT-PCR test for 'lucky' UP BJP MLAs
Several BJP MLAs on Thursday received phone calls from the Uttar Pradesh chief minister's office to get RT-PCR tests done ahead of Friday's swearing-in ceremony. Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law and BJP leader Aparna Yadav too has apparently got tested. Though nothing has been confirmed yet, as per speculation, only those MLAs received the calls who will be sworn into the Yogi cabinet 2.0. That would indicate Aparna Yadav may land a ministerial berth.
AAP-led Punjab govt goes full steam ahead
It is "all work and no play" for the staff at the Punjab secretariat. All pumped up about making their mark in their debut innings, the newly-inducted cabinet ministers in the Aam Aadmi Party government, most of whom are first-timers, have swung into action from their first day. Apart from setting the ball rolling on their pet projects, the ministers are also making sure their staff are on their feet from day one. From reaching office at 9am to back-to-back meetings, and making presentations and reviews, the ministers are ensuring they leave no stone unturned to make their respective departments shine.
Karnataka BJP leader in caste conundrum
Karnataka BJP's poll secretary MB Renukacharya finds himself in a fix. He had earlier admitted during the state assembly session that his brother had procured a Scheduled Caste (SC) certificate to contest from the Gulbarga assembly segment. But now Renukacharya has said that he recently discovered that his brother had got a similar certificate for his daughter as well without his knowledge. The MLA and his family are Lingayats. The BJP leader went on to say that he cut all ties with his brother and also instructed his daughter to surrender the falsely acquired certificate. “I have never taken an illegal caste certificate. I am secular. My daughter and I have never used an SC certificate to gain benefits. I will face the gallows if I am proven wrong,” said the leader in a dramatic manner.
What’s behind OPS’s sudden change of heart?
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK leader O Paneerselvam's statement to the one-man Arumugasamy Commission probing J Jayalalithaa's death has exposed the leader's double standards. Soon after Jaya's death, OPS started a 'dharmayudham' or a crusade against VK Sasikala. Sasikala was Jaya's confidante, who still considers herself the general secretary of the Dravidian party and was allegedly the last person seen with Jaya. OPS and his team split away from the AIADMK after alleging a 'conspiracy' behind Jaya's death. However, a few days ago, while deposing before the commission, OPS did a complete U-turn and now refers to Sasikala as 'chinamma' (the name given to her by her supporters). Many wonder what has led to this sudden change of heart for OPS where a foe became a friend again. OPS even rules out any foul play as alleged earlier in the death of the former CM in 2017.
KCR goes from 'front' to back foot
K Chandrashekar Rao, Telangana's chief minister, has become quite infamous for his statements that often go against an earlier move or announcement made by him. KCR had been one of the leaders in the foreground for building an anti-BJP, anti-Congress coalition of parties. However, true to his maverick style, KCR made a statement on March 5 that there has been no proposal to form Athira or fourth front. The CM had been in talks with several non-BJP CMs and had launched a series of attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One may recall that KCR had spoken about a Federal Front before the 2019 elections. After meeting with Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray, DMK's MK Stalin and RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, he had openly talked about building an anti-BJP, anti-Congress front.
Why this paramilitary officer is the last to leave HQ
Unhappy with a mistake made by an officer, the DG of a paramilitary force punished him to stay in the office until every officer left the headquarters for a week. The DG got furious when the officer without his prior approval added the name of another top-level officer to the invitees' list for an upcoming event. The officer did a 'copy-paste' from the list of invitees of the last event. Now the punished officer can be found roaming alone in the headquarters waiting for everyone to leave the office.
Drunk Commandant Rank Official Seeks Redress from IG A commandant rank official in the CRPF made several calls to his Inspector General (IG) in an inebriated condition to register his grievances. The IG called another officer and asked him to visit the commandant's house to know the reason of calling him repeatedly. The enquiry by the officer revealed that the commandant was upset with the reaction of the IG who scolded him in front of everyone during a meeting without hearing his side of the story.
AAP Showing Way to ‘Lost’ Congress Leaders The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has begun to reach out to several Congress leaders, even those who lost the elections. This has come after the AAP showed its national ambition to replace the Congress, at least in the states where it had been the alternative. After Congress's decimation in Uttar Pradesh, with less than 2% votes in its kitty, those who lost the polls have been offered by the AAP to join the party. What should ring a bell with the Congress is that AAP has approached at least 10 women who contested from UP on a Congress ticket, and one high-profile leader from Kerala, too, has been contacted by the AAP.
No CM Pick in Goa Yet But BJP No Longer WorriedIt's probably for the first time ever that the Bharatiya Janata Party has the luxury of taking its own time to swear in a chief minister in Goa. With the party securing a majority on its own and gaining additional support from Independents and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, it is in a comfortable position to form the government. Pointing towards the peculiar problem of desertions in case of inadequate numbers in the state, a senior BJP leader said: "We can take our own time in deciding the CM face as we don't have to arrange the extra number of MLAs."
All Pain, No Gain: End of the Road for Sidhu?The decision that all PCC chiefs have to resign has come as a shock to many but most to Navjot Sidhu who fought his way to become Punjab PCC chief. Sidhu's supporters are a worried lot as they feel he may not be made the chief again. Just a day ago, Sidhu sat at the state Congress office in Chandigarh, planning a big workers' rally next week. He had also announced big plans for the party over the next six months and had come to Delhi for a two-day visit to meet the Gandhis. It seems all this is now a waste for him.
Elections Done, Yogi Shifts Focus to UP's 'Cultural Centres'The Yogi government has decided to run the famous Ram Katha Park Amphitheatre and Bhajan Sandhya Sthal in Ayodhya via the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. The idea is to keep both these places active through the year by reviving existing activities and implementing new ones. A document says that "under the able guidance of Prime Minister", UP government intends to enable Ram Katha Park Amphitheatre and Bhajan Sandhya Sthal as the cultural centres of the city. The former was developed in 2012 and renovated in 2019 while the latter was developed in 2018. However, they have been occasionally operational and lack continuous functioning.
Young Duo to Desert Congress Soon?Following its dismal performance in recently concluded Assembly elections, that included losing power in Punjab, the Congress may lose two young leaders to the other parties. The duo is known to have told party colleagues that there is no point in hanging on. One of them is from Punjab and had reportedly told the Gandhis during campaigning that AAP would sweep the state. Sources said Rahul Gandhi retaliated with the declaration that the AAP would “not even get 10 seats”.
Vishwajeet Rane Warned Against Arm-TwistingThe name of the next Goa Chief Minister is shrouded in mystery five days after election results but the options are clear – it's either Pramod Sawant or Vishwajeet Rane. As both camps try to lobby for the top job, Rane has received some sound advice by senior leaders. As per sources, he has been advised against using a threatening tone while putting forth his demand. “Don't try to arm-twist the BJP if you do not want a dark future for yourself,” Rane is learnt to have been told. While Rane and his wife have been elected, he has the support of five other MLAs. In Goa, where even one seat tends to change power equations, seven seats against Pramod Sawant can mean uncertainty. This is perhaps what is delaying an announcement from the BJP.
Ukraine Ripple in UP PollsThe ripple effect of the war in Ukraine is being felt thousands of miles away in Uttar Pradesh elections. It is understood that the election rally of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, scheduled for Friday in Chillupar, was cancelled. The move comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security went into a huddle on Thursday to review the situation post Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath will campaign for the party's candidate on February 28.
Jyotiraditya Scindia as MP Chief Minister? Seer's Prediction May Make Shivraj Chouhan Lose SleepEver since Jyotiraditya Scindia has entered the BJP, there is disquieting ease in the saffron fold. Even as the rumours of replacement in leadership in Madhya Pradesh were put to rest long back, none other than a seer has brought fresh ripples in the political space. Vijyesh Sagar, a Jain seer, in the presence of Scindia in Gwalior predicted that the public could well see Scindia as the chief minister. As Scindia supporters cheered the forecast, the seer lauded the Union minister's sense of service and devotion to MP's people. All this while Scindia, in line with his newly found, grounded image, was sitting quietly on the floor of the stage, scanning his phone. People now wonder if this episode will increase CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan's worries.
Cong's Costly OversightSanjay Singh, veteran MP and BJP candidate from Amethi, is amused by the fact that even two years after he quit the Congress, he has not been removed from messaging groups of the party and keeps getting alerts on various programmes of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Amethi and Rae Bareli, asking him to join the programmes! Sanjay Singh quips that this shows how effective the digital operation of the Congress party is.
Oh Captain, My Captain!As Punjab polling date nears, many Congress candidates are apparently nervous. Some have got in touch with Captain Amarinder Singh, wanting to meet him for lunch. But the former chief minister warned them they could be asked to leave the party if the leadership came to know of their meeting. He has instead suggested a meeting after the polling date. But his advice hasn't stopped the flurry of calls from Congress candidates who are seeking tips to deal with the Aam Aadmi Party since they feel the Captain has more experience in this area.
Discord in Cong Ranks as Delhi Leaders Calls the Shots in Punjab CampaignThe JW Marriott in Chandigarh has become a Congress war-room where top leaders from Delhi like KC Venugopal and Ajay Maken have stationed themselves for the ongoing Punjab elections. Some of the leaders, however, don't bother coming out of their rooms. Missing in action are leaders from Punjab like Ambika Soni, who is on the star campaigners' list. But Soni is said to be upset at the fact that Sunil Jakhar blamed her for him not being able to become the CM. At the Congress office in Chandigarh, meanwhile, leaders from Delhi sit chalking out strategy. One Punjab leader told News18, “The campaign is not taking off. What are they doing?”
Anxious About AAP, Punjab Congress Ropes in Sandeep Dikshit With Nudge from SidhuIt's clear that Congress in Punjab is jittery about the Aam Aadmi Party. So, in crisis, it has decided to rope in Delhi's ex-MP Sandeep Dikshit, who will be given the job of holding press conferences and “exposing” AAP. Interestingly, an earlier proposal to rope in Dikshit was rejected by AICC as some are not on good terms with him but now Sidhu has ensured that Dikshit comes to Chandigarh to take on AAP. At one point, he was considered close to AAP but with his mother Sheila Dikshit facing heat from AAP, he is one of their biggest critics.
Missing in Action: Rahul Gandhi's No-Show During PM's Speech Disappoints MPsCongress leader Rahul Gandhi was supposed to come to Parliament when PM Narendra Modi was to speak and all the MPs were prepared to respond to the PM's speech while he spoke. But to the disappointment of the MPs, Gandhi skipped the speech. Sources say he stayed home and watched the address on TV, making some notes. Sources add he was huddled in election meetings too.
How a Missing Ring Kept Rahul, Sidhu & Channi Busy on StageIt was an animated address by Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday in Ludhiana in the presence of Rahul Gandhi and Charanjit Singh Channi. It was so animated with hand gestures and managing his colourful shawl that Sidhu dropped his ring near the podium and did not realise it. Later, when Channi was speaking from the podium, Sidhu realised his ring was missing and tried looking for it near his chair. But it was Rahul Gandhi who spotted the ring near the podium, walked up to behind Channi as the CM was speaking and picked up the ring to bring it back to Sidhu. Channi looked flummoxed as to why Rahul Gandhi had come till the podium. Later, the three leaders had a good laugh over it.
Hint of Heartbreak for Team Sidhu in Social Media Snub?The Navjot Singh Sidhu camp in Punjab is feeling left out in the cold on social media. They have complained to the top Congress leadership that there is no one to take care of their social media campaign as the team from Delhi is focussing on CM Charanjit Singh Channi. The word inside, however, is that key members of Team Sidhu, who looked after his campaign, are now contesting the elections and have little time to work for him. This comes just before the Congress announces its CM candidate, and Sidhu camp is left wondering whether it's a hint.
Eye on UP, Delhi-Varanasi Bullet Train Via Ayodhya Likely in Budget There is a lot of buzz about the second high-speed train corridor, from Delhi to Varanasi via Ayodhya, to be announced in the Union Budget 2022 on Tuesday. The government has done feasibility studies of the said project which will be the second bullet train project after the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor, which is under construction. With Varanasi being the Prime Minister's constituency and Ayodhya being at the centre of Hindutva politics with the Ram Temple coming up in 2024, this may be a major announcement ahead of UP elections.
After Aparna Yadav, Is Shivpal Ready for BJP Switch?The BJP has been trying hard to project a family divide within the Yadav clan in an effort to remind people of the situation in 2017. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Hari Om Yadav has already joined the BJP, while Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, too, recently jumped ship. Not only that, the BJP has kept up assertions that uncle Shivpal Yadav, recently reunited with nephew Akhilesh, was also in touch with the saffron party. Though Shivpal has been quick to rubbish such claims in the past, these assertions gained more traction after there was news that he held a meeting with union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Dharmendra Pradhan in Delhi on January 25. With Hari Om and Aparna gone, can the Yadav clan's 'unity' take another major hit in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next month? Shivpal is set to contest the polls from Jaswant Nagar as a candidate of the SP-Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) alliance. Jaswant Nagar in Etawah district will vote in the third phase on February 20.
Jumping Ship from RLD to BJP May Cost This Candidate DearWhile BJP is trying to strike a chord with Jat voters, the party's Chhaprauli candidate is facing a peculiar situation in his own village. Many in his village are hurt by the fact that Sahendra Singh Ramala, BJP candidate from Chhaprauli constituency in Baghpat, switched to the saffron party a year after winning from RLD in 2017. “He has cheated us. Our village has voted for RLD for years. We voted for an RLD candidate and he joined BJP soon after. Now, he has come to us as BJP candidate. The fact that he dishonoured our mandate and we felt cheated is the reason why we will oppose him," said a villager. Sahendra is witnessing divided Jat voters in his constituency. Many say they would vote for Yogi and candidate is irrelevant.
'Nostradamus' Sonia Gandhi Upset With Egg on Face Over RPN Singh's DepartureIt seems Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi was somewhat aware of RPN Singh's decision to leave the Congress soon. So, when the list for star campaigners was being drawn up, Sonia asked KC Venugopal whether Singh would stay with the Congress. Venugopal told her he was sure RPN Singh would be with Congress and hence his name was added. A day later, it was egg on the face and Sonia Gandhi is said to be angry.
Ticket Buzz in UP BJP CampThe BJP is planning an MLC ticket for Aparna Yadav who has been inducted into the party this week. The buzz is that the daughter-in-law of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav may not get an Assembly ticket. The seat in contention was Lucknow Cantt from where BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi is also seeking a ticket for her son. Hariom Yadav, another close relative of Mulayam Singh Yadav who joined the BJP last week, has got a ticket from the BJP.
Congress Caught Between Devil & Deep Blue Sea in PunjabThe Congress is now caught in a bind. The recent tweet by INC showing Sonu Sood seemingly pitching for Charanjit Channi has got Navjot Singh Sidhu and the Gandhis upset. Party sources say the Congress does not want to clarify now as it may create more trouble but the sources said the video was not projecting any one person, and certainly not Channi as CM. The video was in reference to how CMs are chosen and Channi was being given as an example. The result is that Congress is now holding a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday, showcasing Sidhu and giving him prominence.
BJP Readies Challenger Against Dara Singh ChauhanThe BJP is trying to get Ramvilas Chauhan, the son of Bihar Governor Phagu Singh Chauhan, to contest against rebel BJP leader Dara Singh Chauhan in Uttar Pradesh elections, if the need arises. Dara Singh Chauhan was a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government till he quit last week and joined the Samajwadi Party. Dara Singh Chauhan is MLA from Madhuban constituency in Mau, while Phagu Singh Chauhan was MLA from Ghosi seat before being made Bihar Governor in 2019. The BJP had not been keen to repeat Dara Singh Chauhan from the seat given his poor image and lack of activity in the constituency, party leaders say. Phagu Singh Chauhan has been BJP's big OBC face in that region.
Congress Courts Harak Singh RawatIs Harak Singh Rawat finally coming to the Congress? Speculation is intense as the Congress is on a frenzy to win over key leaders. Sources say Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he wants Harak Singh Rawat on board. After he assured Harish Rawat that he would be important and key to the Congress campaign in Uttarakhand, Gandhi has asked his advisors to also convince Harak Singh Rawat to join in a few days. Harish Rawat has already been sounded out to welcome him with open arms.
Bharat Lal's Advice for SuccessorSenior civil servant Bharat Lal, a key officer associated with the Narendra Modi government, was shifted as Secretary to the Lokpal from the Jal Shakti Ministry earlier this month, but not before some precious advice from him for the Jal Jeevan Mission which he spearheaded as the Additional Secretary for two-and-a-half-years. He wrote in his last piece for a monthly newsletter of the Jal Shakti Ministry that the initiatives and success in Jal Jeevan Mission was just the beginning and the road ahead was quite challenging as well as exciting. He, in fact, wrote that water supply work in 1.2 lakh more villages should start by March 2022. Bharat Lal has set quite a task for his successor!
Crooning to Victory? BJP Gears Up to Make UP Dance to Its TuneWith UP assembly polls just round the corner, the BJP has roped in its singer-actor MPs to croon it back to power in the state. While a song by BJP MP Manoj Tiwari and Kanhiya Mittal --- 'Mandir ab banne laga hai, bhagwa rang chadhne laga hai' --- has been launched on social media, another song is being prepared by BJP MP Ravi Kishan. As people groove to Mittal's 'Jo Ram ko laye hain', a rap titled 'UP mein sab ba' credits the double-engine Modi-Yogi governments for the development in the state. The party feels such songs in local dialects and languages will help it connect with the masses amid a ban on rallies due to Covid-19. The BJP has a history of releasing such songs ahead of all major polls and they will be part of the party's digital outreach as well.
Digvijaya's DenialsDigvijaya Singh's trysts with politically controversial phrases continues with the Congress Rajya Sabha MP now claiming he never used the term “saffron terror” but instead had said “Sanghi terror”. “Janardhan Dwivedi and I were the two leaders in the party who opposed when one of the leaders called it 'saffron terror' as we believed that terror can't defined by a colour,” Singh said. The Congress veteran had issued similar denials ahead of Madhya Pradesh elections in 2018.
Fogging in Full ForceAmid the Omicron scare, the D-G of a paramilitary force has asked his staff to sanitise his office whenever any visitor leaves. The staff, with fogging machine, have been deployed outside and keep fogging the area every 30 minutes. The instructions are not only for outsiders, but also for his force officers. The D-G has also asked his staff not to allow more than three officers in his room and arrange such meetings in the meeting hall.
Exclusion from Election Committee Behind Swami Prasad Maurya's Exit?While there are many reasons being cited for Swami Prasad Maurya's resignation as the Labour Minister in UP, like his demand for a ticket to his son, the immediate trigger is said to be his non-inclusion in the state election committee of the BJP which was constituted last week. Maurya was said to be extremely unhappy and felt side-lined over his exclusion from this committee which will be taking important calls on recommending candidates for tickets to the BJP central leadership. Maurya thought this meant his son or supporters won't be considered for tickets.
Like Father, Like Daughter? Not for Sanghmitra MauryaOBC leader Swami Prasad Maurya may have resigned as a BJP minister in Uttar Pradesh amidst talk that he will join the Samajwadi Party soon but his daughter and BJP MP from Badaun, Sanghmitra Maurya, says she will steadfastly remain with the BJP. The daughter, in fact, said she cannot even think about leaving the BJP as her philosophy is in line with the party. Sanghmitra had earlier raised the party's hackles by openly demanding for a caste census while speaking in Parliament. Swami Prasad Maurya has also not spoken about his daughter's political future.
Digital Campaigns Bring New Challenge for UP Police The digital election campaign in Uttar Pradesh could come with a new challenge for the Uttar Pradesh police — checking proliferation of fake news and rumours on social media. With everyone getting onto social media and WhatsApp to try occupy mindspace of voters in the digital world, the police also have their work cut out to ensure rumours are not spread through such mediums resulting in communal or caste tensions. Hate speech will also be closely monitored on social media and digital platforms, and prompt action could follow, including flagging of handles in close coordination with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, UP police officials say. An existing unit in UP Police to check fake news is set to be spruced up for the challenge.
Kalyan Singh’s Son in BJP Election CommitteeRam Janmbhoomi continues to be the focal point of BJP's campaign in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have repeatedly targeted Akhilesh Yadav for Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh's involvement in the anti-kar seva police action. The party has also ensured to honour former chief minister of the state, the late Kalyan Singh, for his contribution to the Ram Temple cause. As part of acknowledging the Lodh leader's contribution, his son Rajveer Singh has been accommodated in the newly constituted election committee for the state polls. This, leaders believe, will also send a message to Lodh community about their inclusiveness in the election process. Other members of the committee are the CM, both deputy CMs, state BJP president, key organisation man Sunil Bansal, Jat leader Sanjeev Balyan and Brahmin face Brajesh Pathak.
So, Who Floated Buzz of Bhagwant Mann as AAP's CM Face?A strong rumour floated on Tuesday that AAP will declare Bhagwant Mann as its CM face in Punjab. There was no official confirmation from the party and top sources in fact said no such decision had been taken yet by AAP top brass though Mann was among the front-runners. The buzz now is that a group supporting Mann may have floated the rumour. Earlier too, Mann had made a sensational claim that he was offered loads of money by a senior BJP leader on the phone to jump ship. Mann, however, did not reveal the name of the leader nor had any recorded proof of the said conversation or cited the number from which the call had come.
Punjab's CM Conundrum Continues as Gandhis Dump 'Guidance'In Punjab, it is becoming tough for the Congress to decide on a CM face. A survey has been conducted over a few days and it's felt that Charanjit Channi has recovered lost ground for the party with Dalits and backwards returning to Congress in a big way. But when a delegation sent the report to the Gandhis, it was immediately rejected by them, saying “we don't believe in such surveys”. Incidentally, this was a survey conducted to guide Rahul Gandhi before his first rally in Punjab. With him dumping the report, it is unlikely that any clarity on CM face will emerge soon.
In BJP vs AAP, VHP Becomes Unlikely CasualtyBJP's Chakka Jam in Delhi on Monday against the excise policy of the Arvind Kejriwal government had an unlikely casualty. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had to cancel its scheduled press conference at 3pm at North Avenue, citing “the traffic jam in Delhi-NCR”. The press conference was called by the VHP on the “Pope's Visit and aggressive policies of Church.”
Tripura CM Reveals Reason Behind His 'Energy'Tripura's Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has revealed the reason behind his “energy” and no, it's not exercise. At an old age home in Agartala on the first day of 2022, Deb said: “Many question me; Is Biplab babu energetic as he exercises? Energy doesn't come through exercise, energy comes from blessings. The strength we derive from the blessings of our mothers and sisters gives us immense positivity.” The statement comes from a chief minister who worked as a professional gym instructor in Delhi when he shifted to the national capital about 15 years ago for higher studies. Deb is largely credited for the BJP's turnaround in the state elections --- winning 35 out 60 assembly seats and demolishing one of the last citadels of the Left Front in the country.