Politics and gossip are a match made in heaven. Whispers today could very well become the news tomorrow. Tune into the grapevine with us and be the first to know what's cooking in the corridors of power
How A Lingayat Pontiff is BJP's Latest HeadacheThe delayed arrest of Murugharajendra mutt chief Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru in a POCSO case has raised eyebrows. According to a senior BJP leader, the government was initially trying to gauge the reaction of the Lingayat community. It was wary of how it could affect the upcoming assembly elections, since the Lingayat community accounts for over 17 per cent voters. Some also apprehended retaliation from the community. But it seems there was another reason too. The party was perhaps waiting it out until Lingayat mutt seers like Basavakumara Swamiji, Madara Channaiah Sree, Shanthaveera Sri, Immadi Siddarameshwara Sri in Italy, who were rallying in support of the accused, also reconsider their backing. And soon after they turned silent, the arrest was made.
Now, Chat With Ministers On TwitterThe government wants more and more of its communication to directly reach people, media and those who matter. Now the new plan is to begin interaction with select ministers on social media timelines. One of the platforms is also likely to be 'Twitter Space' where people can join in and ask questions to the minister. More such platforms are being looked at and meetings have been held with the ministers who are also considered to be social media savvy. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur and Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajiv Chandrashekhar are likely to be in the list.
Taste Different Liquor for Three DaysStarting September 1, a three-day liquor testing exercise is being conducted by the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) for its centralised liquor management system. The testing is open to all officers and CAPF jawans who can taste different liquors available, and provide their feedback. Interestingly, three teams have been formed, 15 staff in each team, and it is open to all the support staff as well.
Hasty Inauguration Lands IAS officer In SoupA lot of reasons are being ascribed to why the Centre did not give an extension to Awanish Awasthi, a key officer in the Yogi government handling the home and expressways department, who retired on August 31. The gossip in Delhi is that the Centre was unhappy over the Bundelkhand Expressway project suffering damage soon after the PM inaugurated it in July, inviting a lot of political ridicule from the Samajwadi Party. The buzz in Delhi is that it was not a good idea to propose the inauguration of the expressway during the monsoon season, especially when it was not fully ready in some parts. Awasthi was in charge of the expressway project as CEO of the UP Expressway authority. The Yogi government, however, could still give Awasthi the role of an advisor.
Midas Touch For UP's Sports DepartmentPowerful UP officer Navneet Sehgal being moved from the Information and MSME departments to the Sports Department is a surprise decision that has taken many aback. But there may be a silver lining to this for Sehgal who has about 11 months to go for retirement. An avid sports enthusiast, Sehgal heads many sports bodies in the state. While the Sports Department of UP is in shambles, the state receives the highest amount of funds from the Centre for sports infrastructure after Gujarat. Those close to him say Sehgal is a man with a 'Midas touch' and has a chance now to turn around UP's Sports Department in his last hurrah as a bureaucrat, and heading such a key department is surely not a 'punishment posting' as some may consider.
‘Baithye Na, Arre Chaliye, Chodhiye’: Comedy of Errors in Oppn CampThe last two minutes of the joint press conference by K Chandrasekhar Rao, Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav in Patna on Wednesday became a comedy feat as Kumar refused to be drawn into questions on who will be the Opposition's PM face. While KCR tried to answer the question, Kumar got up to leave and KCR had to request him thrice to sit. Kumar sat briefly but got up again when a journalist questioned if Nitish or Rahul Gandhi will be the face, and the CM asked KCR to leave. KCR, however, remained seated, trying to answer that the Opposition will sit together and decide all that, with a visibly uncomfortable Nitish still standing and wanting to walk away. Ultimately, Nitish told KCR not to fall in the trap of journalists and asked him to wind up the press conference. BJP is now taking potshots at the two leaders, saying people are laughing at the plight of the opposition leaders and lack of courtesy.
Karnataka MLA Turns To God For JusticeA JDS legislator from Karnataka's Arsikere famously turned to God to refute allegations levelled against him by some BJP legislators, who accused him of stealing millet. MLA KM Shivalinge Gowda undertook the well-known "truth test” at Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala near Mangaluru before the presiding deity Lord Manjunateshwara to prove his innocence. Legend has it that the deity is a swift dispenser of truth and justice and those who lie under oath will have to pay a heavy price. Gowda said he has vowed in front of the deity that he has not stolen anything and he does not know why he is being targeted. The MLA went ahead and invited the BJP spokesperson and state general-secretary Ravi Kumar who levelled these charges to also come and undergo the truth test before the Lord.
It Ain't Over Yet for UP's Top IAS OfficerSuspense continues over the fate of Uttar Pradesh's top IAS officer Awanish Awasthi, who is to retire on August 31. Awasthi is perhaps the most powerful officer in the state, in-charge of the home department and the expressways authority in the capacity of the Additional Chief Secretary and there has been buzz if he will be given an extension. There is no word so far on the extension but the gossip in Lucknow is that the Yogi government may retain Awasthi in an advisory role to the Chief Minister's Office. Awasthi is one of the most trusted officers of the CM who brought him back from central deputation in 2017 after coming to power in the state. He has earlier handled the key information department too before it was shifted to another powerful officer and additional chief secretary Navneet Sehgal. Both Awasthi and Sehgal are two big power centres of the UP government.
Who's Up for The Big Role in Congress?While there is confusion whether Rahul Gandhi will contest the Congress presidential polls, some staff members have already been deputed to check who comes in to file the nomination. The worry is that a G-23 leader will file the nomination, but who will that be? While the nominations can be filed by any candidate, CCTV cameras have been set up for September 23 -- when the process of filing the nomination begins -- in order to check any 'suspicious' behaviour.
Wedding Bells for Another BJP Leader?There is a buzz within the BJP that a Pracharak-turned-BJP leader might enter the 'grihastha-jeevan' soon. Many in the party are even linking the said leader's recent appointment to his decision to no longer remain a bachelor. In fact, those in close proximity to the leader say it was his decision to get married soon that eventually paved the way for the new role given to him by the party. Last year, pracharak-turned BJP leader Arvind Menon too tied the knot at the age of 54. Many in the party are now eagerly waiting for the wedding bells to ring soon!
Train to Victory? New UP BJP Chief Takes Shatabdi to LucknowA grand welcome in Lucknow has been planned on Monday for the new state BJP Chief, Chaudhary Bhupendra Singh, who has taken the Shatabdi train from Delhi to Lucknow to reach post afternoon in his first trip to Lucknow since becoming the state chief. Singh will be doing a roadshow of sorts from Charbagh Railway Station till the BJP state headquarters in Lucknow where CM Yogi Adityanath will join and felicitate him. The city has been splattered with hoardings welcoming Singh, a Jat leader from West UP. He is expected to resign from his portfolio of a minister in the UP government given the one man-one post principle of the BJP and get straight into strategising for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in UP with focus on the 14 seats which BJP does not hold in the state.
Savarkar & Tilak in K'taka's Pandals for Lord GaneshaIf Karnataka did not have enough of the controversy involving the posters of Hindutva idealogue Vinayak Damodar 'Veer' Savarkar, the state might now see posters of Savarkar and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Lokmanya Tilak in Ganesh pandals. Led by Hindu Janajagruthi Samiti, a separate budget has been allotted per pandal in the state just for the posters.
'Do or Die' Warning for Telangana CongressAfter being stung by defection, and decimated during elections, the top brass of Congress now hopes to gain ground in Telangana. The state Congress leaders have been told that the high command is extremely unhappy with the lack of a united face at a time when the state is heading towards elections in December next year. TPCC chief Revanth Reddy is said to have received a phone call from Delhi, where the state leadership was asked to resolve its differences and work unitedly. AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi even held a one-on-one meeting with a core group of Telangana Congress leaders and asked them to get their act together or face action. Gandhi also warned the TPCC leaders that if they did not work to revive the chances of the party and consolidate their remaining vote bank, it would be as good as giving Telangana on a platter to the BJP.
Siddaramaiah in ‘Çhicken Soup’?Mysuru MP Prathap Simha's latest claim that former Congress chief minister and leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah had eaten chicken before performing 'pooja' of Goddess Chamundeshwari during the Mysuru Dasara celebrations in 2017 has the Opposition riled up. Goddess Chamundeshwari is known to be the tutelary deity of Karnataka and offering pooja to her forms part of the main celebrations of the grand Dasara celebrations in the state. Simha claims that he was witness to the Congress leader eating chicken at the Lalit Mahal hotel before the function. He went on to say that Siddaramaiah lost power soon after this “unholy' act.
Schools Become New Fight Zone for BureaucratsTwo officers who went to drop their kids to a school in Chanakyapuri got into an argument over wrong car parking. The officers, who are working with the government of India, started threatening each other in front of other kids and their parents about filing a complaint through their departments. Later, other officers who had come to drop their kids in official vehicles intervened and asked them to leave the school premises as some people started recording the incident on their mobile phones.
TMC's Loss is BJP's Gain? Ask Subal BhowmickTMC Tripura chief Subal Bhowmick was removed from his post on Wednesday amid buzz in political circles that he is in touch with the BJP and will jump ship soon. Sources in the TMC say the party removed him from his post as soon as it got to know about Bhowmick's plans. The leader's decision to switch, if it happens, is likely to change the dynamics for the Tripura elections next year.
Karnataka's Kissa Kursi KaWith the term of Karnataka BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel ending this month, speculations are rife over who could take over the position. Four names that are doing the rounds include BJP national secretary CT Ravi, Union Minister of State for agriculture and farmer welfare Shobha Karandlaje and Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limabavali. While Ravi and Shobha represent the Vokkaliga community, Limbavali's name may also be considered to consolidate the Dalit votes. Shobha is a close associate of BS Yediyurappa, but then there is an invisible power tussle between her and Karnataka state vice-president BY Vijayendra, Yediyurappa's son. The central leadership, on the other hand, may spring a surprise and name its dark horse --- Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar, who belongs to the Bilava community from Dakshin Kannada. While the word on the street was the possibility of Yediyurappa being offered the position again, his elevation to the parliamentary board committee by the BJP high command certainly took everybody by surprise. BJP's top brass in the state is expected to meet on August 27 in Puttur, Dakshin Kannada, to finalise the name to be sent to the high command.
Ravi Shankar Prasad's New Ambitions in BiharOut in the cold after he was dropped as a Union Minister last year, Ravi Shankar Prasad has become active with the political turn of events in Bihar where Nitish Kumar dumped the BJP to realign forces with the RJD. Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also the MP from Patna Sahib, was at the forefront of the BJP attacking Nitish Kumar in press conferences and statements to the media. BJP has been lacking a face in Bihar that can give competition to Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav and multiple BJP leaders have been unable to make their mark. There is buzz of Prasad, given his long innings in politics and legal background, throwing his hat in the ring to spearhead the party's efforts in Bihar.
What's Brewing in Patiala Jail?
Lodged in Patiala jail for some time now, Navjot Singh Sidhu has been doing workout regularly, and has lost at least 10 kg, sources have said. He refuses to meet his wife and daughter because he feels women should not come to the jail. Sidhu has been in touch with some of the Congress leaders including Manish Tewari but has refused to meet many others as he feels they let him down. With new political plans on the anvil, Sidhu's team is working on a possibility of starting a front, which will be eventually used for his political purpose and his imaging. Meanwhile, Sidhu is giving sporting tips to his inmates and also shares his one-liners with them.
Siblings in Race in Gujarat
There is a high chance that Ahmed Patel's daughter Mumtaz may be given a ticket for the Gujarat assembly polls. Her brother Faizal too is hopeful but some of his recent tweets have upset the top leadership. Mumtaz is an aggressive woman, and has managed Ahmed Patel's political affairs and the NGO. As elections in Gujarat inches closer and AAP steps up its campaign, it is the Congress which is worried. In the last polls, the Congress did put up a good show but much has changed since then. The then poster boys of Congress in Gujarat, like Hardip Patel, have quit. Patel is now with the BJP. Congress, with no organisation left, and with Ahmed Patel not around, hopes that giving ticket to Mumtaz will keep his legacy alive and the party can reap some political dividend.
Why Keshav Prasad Maurya is Willing to Make Way for a Dalit Deputy CMThe talk in Uttar Pradesh is that Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had himself proposed that he be made the BJP state president, like he was till 2017, to make way for a Dalit as Deputy CM. This, sources say, would serve two interests. One, since Maurya had lost the assembly elections in 2022, he wants to be relieved of the favour made in form of him being still made the Deputy CM. The key PWD portfolio was not given to him in the second innings and instead, rural development was allotted to him. The other is that Maurya can claim the political point that he made way for a Dalit as a Deputy CM. Maurya would also be a separate power centre in the state as UP BJP chief, as he was in 2017, when the party got a big win but Yogi Adityanath was chosen as the CM instead of Maurya. Maurya's cryptic tweet on Sunday has set the rumour bills abuzz.
Subramanian Swamy's Kolkata Visit, Praise for Mamata Raises EyebrowsEx-BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, known to be an open critic of the saffron party, paid a visit to Kolkata on Thursday to meet Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, setting rumour mills abuzz in political circles about him possibly joining the Trinamool Congress. After his meeting, which lasted over an hour, Swamy tweeted: “Today I was in Kolkata and met the charismatic Mamata Banerjee. She is a courageous person. I admired her fight against the CPM in which she decimated the Communist.” So, is Swamy planning to jump ship?
To Say or Not to Say: BJP's Karnataka ConundrumCall it a Freudian slip or a tactless statement, senior BJP minister B Sriramulu certainly has a way of hitting headlines. The minister recently remarked that he wanted to see Siddaramaiah as chief minister again. An embarrassed BJP sought an explanation from Sriramulu, who then clarified that he meant Siddaramaiah should become a CM in the BJP and not Congress. The senior BJP minister was also asked to clarify the same to the media, where he went a step further, and invited Siddaramaiah to join BJP in the interest of the underprivileged communities; this at a time when PM Modi was working to unite all backward castes. Congress grabbed the opportunity, and was quick to respond to his statement. “The desire of Congress to come to power in the state is not only the desire of the people but also the desire of the BJP. His own ministers have no faith in chief minister Bommai's push-pull government,” the party tweeted.
Hello, This is the Minister SpeakingA Union minister in the Modi government had to persuade a caller at least five times that the latter is speaking to the minister. The caller was taken by surprise when SP Singh Baghel, Minister of State for Law and Justice, who picks up his calls when not in a meeting, asked him to share his grievance. The caller, however, refused to believe the minister. "Bhai, I am Baghel speaking," said the minister before the caller disconnected, thinking he dialled a wrong number. Again, Baghel picked up and told the caller that he is speaking to the minister. "How should I convince you that I am SPS Baghel, tell me your grievance and will address it," said the minister before giving him the solution and getting a thank you in return.
Dropping Truth Bombs? For Bommai Sarkar, Audio Clips Are New NemesisUnhappy ministers in Karnataka need to keep a watch on who they speak to and what they say as audio clip bombs have been causing embarrassment to the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government. A massive controversy erupted when an audio clip purportedly involving state law minister JC Madhuswamy was found circulating in political circles where the minister is allegedly telling a social worker that the Bommai government has stopped functioning and it was “just managing to pull through” as there are only 7-8 months left for elections. This is the second audio clip in a matter of a few months exposing BJP MLAs and their conversations. In May this year, an audio clip allegedly involving Mudigere BJP legislator MP Kumaraswamy went viral where he is heard asking a police sub-inspector not to report to duty and later accusing him of paying a bribe to get the position.
How A Football Helps Mamata Banerjee Remember 'Khela Hobe' SloganHow does West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remember the popular 'Khela Hobe' slogan? Well, she bounces a football 100 times at home and repeats the slogan along with it to ensure she never forgets it! At the East Bengal Club for a programme, Banerjee said: “I love football and that's why this slogan was coined. I use the ball every day and repeat 'Khela Hobe' so that I never forget it. I love to play. I have been beaten up by CPI(M) but then also I loved playing.”
Weekend, Janmashtami Mar Ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi's Birth Anniv CelebrationsThere was much confusion in the government ranks on when to observe 'Sadbhavana Divas' --- the birth anniversary of former prime minister Late Rajiv Gandhi --- which falls on August 20. First, the Union Sports Ministry sent out a circular to all ministries on August 11 that since August 20 would be a Saturday, the 'Sadbhavana Pledge Taking' ceremony will be held on August 19. Just a day later, the ministry realised that August 19 is the gazetted holiday for Janmashtami and issued another circular that the ceremony would now be held on August 18. It is not clear yet if the Congress will be impressed by this move as Rajiv Gandhi's birthday is on August 20.
'Forced' Patriotism A Day After I-Day Makes Telangana Commuters IrateIt looks like the Telangana government's programme of singing the National Anthem en masse did not go down well with people in Hyderabad. It was announced through a circular that all traffic lights in the city would turn red at 11.30am on August 16 and commuters were asked to get down from their vehicles to participate in the singing. This 'forced' patriotism had commuters seeing red. A few complained that it would lead to traffic jams. Others questioned the reason behind conducting the programme after Independence Day. A few worried that emergency services like ambulances and fire tenders may get stuck on the road. Their ire peaked when tea drinkers were asked to come out of cafes and participate in the programme; after all, no one likes to return to a cold cup of Irani tea. The Telangana government had earlier launched 'Swatantra Bharata Vajrotsavalu' to mark the country's 75th Independence Day.
New Headache for TMC? Rakesh Asthana May Replace Dhankhar as Bengal GovernorFormer top cop Rakesh Asthana, who was CBI additional director when the agency was probing cases against the Mamata Banerjee government, is likely to be appointed as Governor in West Bengal after Jagdeep Dhankhar won the Vice-Presidential polls against Margaret Alva and moved on to the top post. Sources have told News18 that Asthana's name is doing the rounds but there is no official confirmation yet. Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, served as the Special Director at the Central Bureau of Investigation. In July 2021, he was appointed Delhi's Police Commissioner. He retired on July 31, 2022, after a year's extension. While the buzz is still in nascent stages, one thing is for sure --- after Dhankhar, Asthana too won't be easy on the Trinamool Congress government.
Back to Business for Ex-Swachh Bharat Boss & New Niti Aayog CEO Parameswaran IyerParameswaran Iyer has been a busy man ever since he took over as the new CEO of Niti Aayog on July 11. He has already travelled to Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat and Karnataka to meet the top leadership there and has also done ground visits to some aspirational districts. Iyer has been brought back from the US in this job, over a year after he had quit post the completion of the government's Swachh Bharat programme that was led by him.
ED Being Tipped Off by Party Insiders?With Parliament not running and MPs having time at hand, a hot topic of discussion among Opposition MPs is “next kiska ED hoga” (Who will be targeted by ED next). With the agency on an overdrive, Opposition MPs have been speculating the possible names under the agency's scanner. There is also buzz that ED is being tipped off by insiders about the scams, like in the case of West Bengal where Partha Chatterjee has been raided. The suspicion is that adversaries of a leader inside their own party are divulging leads.
No Smooth Drive This: Partha Chatterjee's Dept Returns Govt Car Amid Brakes on Leader's FutureMamata Banerjee's minister Partha Chatterjee is in ED custody till August 3 and on Tuesday, his department returned his government car which he was entitled to as a Cabinet Minister. Sources say since it's not clear when he will be a free man, the car has been returned. But, there is also speculation that at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Banerjee may remove him from the ministry. The TMC mouthpiece, too, is no longer writing Partha Chatterjee's name as minister or secretary general of the party. All eyes are now on the TMC's next move.
CM's Special Touch? Not Really, Says Himanta Sarma on Cross-Voting to Elect MurmuWith Assam topping the list of states that witnessed cross-voting during elections for the post of President, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma found himself in the midst of questions. Interestingly, Sarma refused to acknowledge the cross-voting and rather maintained that those who chose to vote against their party's stand simply supported Droupadi Murmu. “There is no cross voting, it is simply voting for Murmu,” Sarma said, trying to rubbish speculations of how the feat was managed.
Roopa Ganguly or Sovan Chatterjee? TMC Set for New Inductees on Martyrs' DayIt's TMC's Martyrs' Day tomorrow and, like every year, the party expects some surprise joinings this year too. According to sources, former BJP Rajya Sabha MP and actress Roopa Ganguly is likely to become a part of the TMC, given her tumultuous relationship with the BJP and social media dissent, which has not gone down well with the saffron party. Another name doing the rounds is Arjun Singh, son of BJP MLA Pawan Singh. Mamata Banerjee's old aide, former Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and his friend Baisakhi, too may join the party.
Is This the Final ‘Cleansing Act’ in Karnataka BJP?
In what could be seen as a setback to BS Yediyurappa, the heads of corporations, who he had appointed during his tenure, have been asked to resign to make way for new faces. Yediyurappa was forced to resign and join BJP's Margadarshak Mandal (BJP's senior citizen think tank) to guide the party, however, despite him stepping down as the CM, he continued to be the de-facto in charge of party affairs.
Interestingly, in order to ensure that they don't upset the whole apple cart, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai retained a few heads including Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation Chairman Rudresh, Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation head Kapu Siddalingaswamy.
While Bommai claims that the BJP's core committee had decided about six months ago that the BJP leaders who have been made Boards and Corporations' heads for more than one-and-a-half years should be replaced, many in the Yediyurappa inner circles call it “the cleanse”. A leader said Yediyurappa still wields a lot of power in the government and one way to reduce it was to ensure that those who were close to him be shuffled.
Once Yediyurappa had said, “You can remove Yediyurappa from the BJP, but not BJP from Yediyurappa” -- rightly so, as the party still falls back on the support and guidance of one of Karnataka's tallest and most influential leader, especially when it comes to winning elections.
Frogs in the Well
The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) chief, T Nagabharana, took a dig at the Centre's Hindi-speaking ministers calling them “frogs in a well”. He was addressing a review meeting of officers where he said that the Centre forces states to conduct programmes in Hindi. “The youth services department programmes are conducted in Sanskrit, English and Hindi, even the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is in English and Hindi. They should understand the value of each of our rich Indian languages and respect them as well. They have to realise that all states together make the Centre, not the other way round,” Nagabharana said.
To Go the Extra Mile
Politicians ensuring immunity to their kin and followers is not a new thing, but a letter written by the Shirahatti BJP MLA Ramappa Lamani has gone viral. In the letter, which is addressed to no-one in particular, asks the vehicle of his 'close aide and party worker' G Basavaraj with an AP registration should not be seized. The letter states that Basarvaraj who owns a Bolero should not be repeatedly troubled or his vehicle seized. While this drew a lot of criticism, the BJP MLA clarified saying he may have signed the letter in a hurry and did not read the contents of it.
Maharashtra Specter Looms Over Jharkhand Ahead of PM Modi's VisitThe events of Maharashtra have led to speculation about the stability of the JMM-Congress government in Jharkhand as well. While the JMM could support the NDA's Presidential nominee Draupadi Murmu, given her tribal credentials, what caught everyone's eye on Sunday was Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren travelling to Deoghar to review the preparations for the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 12 to inaugurate the new airport. The CM held a long review meeting with top officials to ensure there is no slip-up in the arrangements. The PM will also be holding a public meeting in Deoghar. It seems some action is in store in Jharkhand soon!
Ex-Union Minister Suresh Prabhu for V-P? NDA Keeps Cards Close to ChestWith just about a week to go for the nominations to be filed for the Vice-President position, speculations are rife on who the NDA's choice could be. Initially, there were rumours about Captain Amarinder Singh being the choice, but the meetings of former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu with top ministers like Amit Shah, JP Nadda and Rajnath Singh in Delhi over the last three days have set the rumour bills abuzz again. Prabhu comes from Maharashtra and had earlier resigned as the Union Railways Minister. A senior Union minister said the choice will ultimately be a "political one" as the Vice-President is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. There is complete silence meanwhile in the opposition camp over their choice.
Taking Them Together: Rajnath Singh Leads Agnipath Outreach Ahead of Parliament SessionIt was on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's initiative that a consultative committee meeting of MPs has been called on July 11, five days before the Parliament Session starts, to brief MPs in detail on the Agnipath scheme. Singh's idea is to remove any misconceptions among members about the scheme and brief them in detail to try get all on the same page before the Parliament Session begins. One member of the consultative committee is Congress leader Manish Tewari, who has already vouched for the scheme in an opinion piece, against the line of his party. He might be again at odds in the committee meeting with Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a part of the committee as well.
Agenda 2024? Eyes on General Secys, BJP Plans Organisational ReshuffleThe Bharatiya Janata Party, if insiders are to be believed, is looking at a reshuffle within the ranks in the organisation. According to sources, a few powerful general secretaries (organisation) are slated to be transferred or moved up in the organisation. Among the names that are doing the rounds are Sunil Bansal, general secretary organisation Uttar Pradesh; Chandrashekhar, general secretary organisation Rajasthan; Ajay Jamwal, general secretary organisation for North East; and Nagendra Nath, regional general secretary organisation for Bihar-Jharkhand. There are also talks of appointment of a national joint general secretary organisation.
Congress Courts Mahua Moitra But Will Goddess Kaali Row Throw A Spanner in the Works?In an attempt to get an image makeover, the Congress is frantically looking for an aggressive face, preferably a woman, and one of the people it has been trying to woo for quite some time is Mahua Moitra. Moitra enjoys a good equation with many in Rahul Gandhi's coterie and several leaders have been in touch with her. The fact that her relations with many in the TMC and party chief Mamata Bannerjee have been strained for a while has given Congress hopes. However, a problem has suddenly emerged with Moitra's latest view of Goddess Kaali being “meat-eating, alcohol-accepting”. The TMC soon distanced itself from the controversy. Now, the Congress too feels the row could hurt its Hindutva pitch.
Shinde: The Hindutva PosterboyWith Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde making Guwahati his temporary home for the last few days, giant hoardings have been put up in the city hailing him as a Hindutva icon alongside Sena patriarchs Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe. The text on the hoardings -- “Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain” and “#HindutvaForever” -- paint Shinde as the true heir of Bal Thackeray's ideology. Bookings at the Radisson Blu are not available till July 5 as the Shinde camp settles in for a long-drawn battle against Uddhav Thackeray for control of the Shiv Sena.
From Luxury Pool to Spa, VVIP Treatment for Rebel Maharashtra MLAs in AssamAs the Maharashtra drama moves to Guwahati, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is ensuring the best possible VVIP treatment for the rebel MLAs joining the Eknath Shinde camp. The day Shinde and his MLAs arrived at the Guwahati Airport, they were received by BJP MLA Sushanta Borgohain as minister Pijush Hazarika inspected the facilities provided at the hotel along with the chief minister himself. From heightened security to 70 rooms being booked for the MLAs, sources said per day cost for the rebels at Radisson Blu hotel is Rs 65 lakh. The five-star hotel, which has a luxury swimming pool, gym, bar and spa, is closed to all other guests for the time being.
Priyanka Gandhi's Maldives Break Via Mumbai Amid 'Maha' CrisisThere was some excitement when Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was spotted in Mumbai on a day when the Maharashtra government was collapsing. With Kamal Nath in town, there was a buzz that Priyanka Gandhi had air-dashed to Mumbai to ensure Congress MLAs stay together. However, it was a missed call as she was on her way to Maldives for a family holiday. This break comes in the middle of a crisis in Maharashtra and her party planning a 'Maha Satyagraha' against the Agnipath policy.
Kejriwal's 'Mann' ki Baat at Punjab RoadshowThe Congress and BJP have slammed the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab over a picture from a roadshow in Sangrur on Monday where Delhi chief minsiter Arvind Kejriwal is waving at people after emerging from the sun-roof of a car while Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann is precariously perched on the car's window. Congress and BJP said this showed who was the real CM in Punjab and asked if Mann was just a clerk! AAP, however, has cited a picture where Kejriwal and Mann are both alongside as well on the sunroof -- with one leader citing how it is difficult for two adults to stand through a sun roof!
Karnataka CM in Trouble?Political circles have been abuzz with rumours of there being a change of CM in Karnataka. The buzz got stronger when senior BJP leaders from south India started discussing how the 2023 Assembly elections in the state would be fought with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah as the party's face. Many state leaders are also said to be unhappy with Basavaraj Bommai's leadership and have requested that BS Yediyurappa be involved. A senior BJP leader from the south said Bommai will be discussing the details with BJP president JP Nadda during the latter's visit to Bengaluru on Saturday.
Social Media RapAn IG rank officer handling North East for a paramilitary force recently received a call from the D-G who had noticed him posting videos and photos of his everyday work on social media. The DG told the 'self-obsessed' IG not to flood his wing's official Twitter handle with just his photos and videos. The IG had reportedly asked his staff to constantly post videos and photos of him going about his usual tasks, giving them a target of 3-4 posts a day. After the DG's rap, all photos have been deleted from the handle..
Seeds of Agniveer Concept Sown 2 Years Ago? BJP Leader Says YesWith the Agnipath scheme creating ripples across the country, a senior BJP leader claims that the concept was discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago. “It was two years ago that we had such a conversation with PM Modi. I suggested that because our state is a border state and always on alert, there is a need to give everyone a course on defence training. The PM heard attentively and I am sure that idea struck a note with him," said the leader.
No Money for Jawans But Officers Can Buy iPadThe Finance Ministry recently allowed government officials to buy iPads as their personal computers, within days of the government rejecting the request of the Home Ministry to enhance monetary benefits to medal winners of CAPFs, saying it was facing an acute financial crisis. Clarifying on confusion, the Finance Ministry in an order said officials can use computer advance to buy iPad.
Fight for Cooler Parking at North BlockThe heatwave has much of the country on edge. It seems that discomfort can be extended to cars as well. Bureaucrats and top officers visiting the North Block are particularly anxious about their vehicles being parked under the scorching sun and have instructed staff to find shadier spots. This has led to a musical chairs-like situation where drivers are seen shifting parking spots every few hours. News18 has learnt that this high demand for cooler parking spots even led to an altercation between the drivers of two officers working in different ministries.
Oppn's Dog Dig at BommaiAt the time the Bengaluru Police were busy tracking the alleged drug bust case involving Bollywood actor Shakti Kapoor's son Siddhant, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai was seen at the screening of the movie 777 Charlie. Opposition leaders pointed out that when the CM should have been closely monitoring the bust and ensuring the probe was being conducted properly, he was seen wiping tears after watching the emotional movie which depicts the bond between a man and his dog. Bommai had told reporters of how the movie's 'Charlie' reminded him of his Sunny who passed away a few weeks after he took over as the state's CM last year.
The Power of SilenceFormer Congress MP K Rahman Khan went to meet JDS supremo Deve Gowda to seek his support for his son Mansoor Khan, who was Congress' second candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, but sources told News18 that the leader didn't even look at him. “He just sat there, listened and kept quiet. When Mr Khan realised that Doddavaru (senior) would not budge or even speak, he decided to leave quietly from the Gowda residence. It was like a smack on the face of the Congress for having cheated us,” the source said.
Cross-Voting or 'Cross' Leaders? Ex-Allies at LoggerheadsAfter JDS MLA Srinivas Gowda spoke about his 'love for the Congress party' post cross-voting for the Grand Old Party, insiders in JDS claim that nearly 10 of their MLAs were bribed by their former ally to vote in their favour during the recent Rajya Sabha elections. Former CM and JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy targeted his political rival Siddaramaiah, stating the Congress decided to field their candidate without even consulting their party president CM Ibrahim, who recently shifted from the Congress to the JDS.
BJP Finalises Team of 6 to Coordinate Yoga Day CelebrationsThe BJP has decided to place its own central team of six leaders to supervise Yoga Day celebrations across the country. Former CM Biplab Deb has been given charge of eight states and a Union Territory --- Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He will be supervising Yoga celebrations in West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Sikkim. Dilip Saikia, convenor of the team and national general secretary, will be overseeing four states --- namely Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland. Rituraj Sinha will be co-convenor of the team and look after Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. MP Sunita Duggal has been given charge of UTs Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Delhi, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. CP Joshi, MP from Rajasthan, is supervising the Yoga events in Gujarat, MP, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Goa, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Narendra Sawaikar will look after yoga events in Karnataka, TN, Puducherry, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Lakshadweep.
Yoga at Icy HeightsVarious central armed police forces are stretching in prep for International Yoga Day on June 21. Troops will be performing yoga asanas at extremely cold temperatures. Various units in the Himalayan ranges of ITBP and other forces have zeroed in on special locations for the day.
Not Much of a Shocker for CongressAfter the victory of BJP-backed media baron Kartikey Sharma, the results of the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana might have dampened the spirit of the Congress, but it doesn't look like all is lost. It seems only a section of the party is disgruntled with the outcome. For a larger section of the Congress, it is the old connection with Kartikey's father, Vinod Sharma, that worked.
Reel Inspiration for Real Action? Here's What Sonia Gandhi is Binge WatchingGuess what OTT series Sonia Gandhi is watching while recovering from Covid? Insiders say it is a popular Netflix series called Borgen which talks about a sole woman politician who is taking on the men in the fierce world of politics. The much-acclaimed Dutch political drama apparently has caught the attention of the Congress president.
Man of the Moment: Eyes on 2024, Congress Pins Hopes on Jairam RameshWith its eyes on revival, the Congress has almost finalised Jairam Ramesh as the media department head with two years to go for the Lok Sabha elections. The man who pushed the winning 'Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath' slogan in 2004 could be chosen for the job because he writes and ideates well. Congress has accepted that it needs a revamped communication strategy.
NDA’s Next Choice for India’s PresidentWho will be the NDA's choice for the country's next President? Political circles are agog with speculation, the names ranging from a Muslim Governor to a woman Governor, a tribal face or even a senior Union Minister. The wiser ones, however, say it is useless to speculate any names as the final choice in the Narendra Modi regime is closely guarded and known only to a few. One thing is, however, certain. The move will have a political message to it, like the choice of India's first Dalit President Ram Nath Kovind five years ago. The choice may well be determined by what message the Modi government and BJP want to send ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections.