VK Sasikala emerges most sought after in TN politics


VK Sasikala emerges most sought after in TN politics

The ousted AIADMK leader is expected to be released on 27 January from Bangaluru Parappan Agrahara prison after having served four years imprisonment for amassing wealth disproportionate to her income.

V K Sasikala, closest aid of late chief minister and AIADMK stalwart J Jayalalithaa, has been suddenly elevated to a position of most sought after person in Tamil Nadu politics.

The ousted AIADMK leader is expected to be released on 27 January from Bangaluru Parappan Agrahara prison after having served four years imprisonment for amassing wealth disproportionate to her income.

Though she has been lately admitted to Bangaluru Victoria Hospital after having tested tested positive for Covid-19 , her release is imminent.

Sasikala, who still wields a good amount of influence among the Thevar community, which dominates in the AIADMK, was almost written off by political pandits, as chief minister Edappdy K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam almost have full control over the party with comfortable administration in the state for the past four years after Jayalalithaa’s death and is expecting to retain power with the help of BJP and other small allies.

However, superstar Rajinikant’s sudden decision to withdraw from entering poll politics with his new party has made the BJP central leadership to think of a new route to make inroads into the state with Sasikala’s help and the pressure is mounting on AIADMK leadership to accept Sasikal again into the party.

Though BJP is part of AIADMK alliance in the state, the party had a plan B in which they were trying to cobble a non-Dravidian alliance with Rajinikanth’s help. Frustrated over the new developments on Rajinikanth’s decision to not enter politics just before the Assembly election, pushed the BJP to opt for Plan C in which they wanted to have good say in the alliance with Sasikala’s help, though she could not compete for any constitutional post for some more time due to her conviction in DA case.

BJP’s plan C kick started on the 51st anniversary celebration of Tuglak magazine in Chennai. Tuglakeditor and RSS ideologue S Gurumurthi during the function inderictly asked the AIADMK to join hands even with Sasikal to defeat DMK in the upcoming Assembly election.

While AIADMK leadership is adamant on not to accept Sasikala, now the state leadership again came out with support to Sasikala.

BJP state president L Ganesan came out with a statement on Friday urging media not to sensationalise her health condition. “Everyone knows the friendship and loyalty between Jayalalalithaa and Sasikala are incomparable,” the BJP leader said. “If anyone betrayed the AIADMK and its twoleaves symbol, it would amount to an indirect betrayal of Jayalalithaa,” Ganesan said. “Sasikala would be aware of it too. I wonder how people can assume she will do that (betrayal). So, let’s not be in a hurry to comment about her. Let us believe that good things will happen,” he added.




Two found frozen to death on snow-bound Srinagar highway


Two found frozen to death on snow-bound Srinagar highway

The driver and another occupant of the vehicle are believed to have died in the vehicle that was caught in snow on Saturday.

Two persons were on Sunday found frozen to death in a vehicle that was stranded since Saturday near Banihal on the Jammu-Srinagar highway due to heavy snowfall.

The driver and another occupant of the vehicle are believed to have died in the vehicle that was caught in snow on Saturday.

The two, belonging to Kralpora in Kupwara of north Kashmir, have been identified as Majid Gulzar Mir and Shabir Ahmad Mir.

Reports said that they died while waiting for stranded vehicular traffic to clear on the highway.

Another report said they might have died due to suffocation caused by the heater of the vehicle which they had turned on to escape the extreme cold.

The highway continued to remain shut for traffic today due to accumulation of snow on both sides of Jawahar Tunnel and stones falling from the hills at Magarkote. Only the stranded vehicles will be allowed to proceed to their destination if the road reopened on Monday, said traffic police.




TMC urges centre to declassify all files, book on Netaji, Azad Hind Fauj


TMC urges centre to declassify all files, book on Netaji, Azad Hind Fauj

Netaji, like many Bengali icons, has been a major talking point ahead of the polls with both BJP and TMC trying to emerge as the better servant of his cause.

Amid the tug of war between parties to appropriate one Bengali icon after another to achieve political gain, Trinamool Congress on Wednesday asked the BJP-led Centre for de- classification of “Netaji files”.

TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), defence ministry and several intelligence wings of the government still hold many files that haven’t been brought to public.

“Yesterday, I sent a letter to the Prime Minister which PMO has accepted. I forwarded a copy to honourable Defence Minister Rajnath Singh as well. I had sent a similar letter four years ago as well. But nothing was done,” Ray said at a press conference in Kolkata.

Apart from asking for declassification of all the files related to the freedom fighter, he also urged the Defence Ministry to make public the book ‘A History of Indian National Army 1942-45’ which was published by its ‘History Division’.

“The book, which contains unknown facts and information about the Azad Hind Fauj during their revolution from 1942 to 1945, has never seen the light of day,” the Parliamentarian said.

Ray even alleged that like the UPA government, Narendra Modi-led NDA has also refused to publish the books, despite a single bench of Delhi High Court asking the Centre to do that following an RTI to know its contents.

However, after taking charge, the Modi government had declassified around 200 files in connection with Netaji and his mysterious disappearance. TMC, back then as well, had asked the Centre to bring out all the files and not just few.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Tuesday renamed the Howrah-Kalka Mail as Netaji Express. It also declared that his birth anniversary on January 23 would be celebrated every year as ‘Parikram Diwas’.

The central government earlier this month had formed a high-level committee to commemorate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary.

The 85-member committee, which will be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also include Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was formed to overlook the year-long celebration for Bose, from January 23, 2021 to the same day in 2022.

On the other hand, the West Bengal government has formed a separate committee to plan Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations.

The committee – led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – boasts a similar demography as its central counterpart. However, there are not many eminent personalities from outside Bengal.

As West Bengal heads towards a much-talked-about Assembly Election, the political parties are busy appeasing the cultural and social icons of the state.

Netaji, being one of the most prominent figures of Bengal since pre-independence, has been a major talking point ahead of the election with both BJP and TMC trying to emerge as the better servant of his cause.




Adhir Chowdhury alleges TMC trying to gain ‘unethical advantage’ in Assembly Election


Adhir Chowdhury alleges TMC trying to gain ‘unethical advantage’ in Assembly Election

Adhir Chowdhury said TMC was trying to take “unethical advantage” in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Election by not holding the municipal polls in time.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday alleged that Trinamool Congress (TMC) was trying to take “unethical advantage” in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Election by not holding the municipal polls in due time.

The term of all Municipalities and Municipal Corporations in the state came to an end last year. The elections were due in May and June.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the West Bengal administration had failed to have the polls in their scheduled time. The institutions are currently run by an unelected Board of Administrators.

“The terms of councillors in municipalities across West Bengal have come to an end. But the state government has placed administrators instead of holding fresh elections. To achieve political goals, they are breaching constitutional guidelines,” said Chowdhury in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

“Actually, the Trinamool Congress government is not conducting the municipal polls to take unethical advantage in the Vidhan Sabha election,” the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief added.

“Participation of people is the most important aspect of democracy. But TMC has placed unelected administrators to satisfy its politiical agenda.

“The administrators are working beyond the ambit of constitutional guidelines. I request the Election Commission to ensure that TMC doesn’t influence citizens like this,” he added.

The Supreme Court of India in December last year had directed the state government to hold the elections immediately. Following the court’s order, Bengal administration decided to conduct the polls in March this year.

But if latest news reports are to be believed the Election Commission is planning to hold the State Assembly election in March and the dates could be declared in February.

As a result, Municipal Affairs Minister of West Bengal Firhad Hakim informed that the Municipality votes are likely to be postponed again, reported Hindustan Times Bangla.

Hakim informed that after declaration of the Vidhan Sabha election’s dates in February, the West Bengal administration would go under the ambit of EC. Thus, the Municipality elections would not be possible then.




Trinamool Congress unveils Lenin’s statue in Kharagpur in presence of Left leaders


Trinamool Congress unveils Lenin’s statue in Kharagpur in presence of Left leaders

The outlandish political event took place at Lenin Park in Kharagpur’s block number 20 when local MLA Pradip Sarkar unveiled the Marxist icon’s sculpture.

In a strange turn of events in West Bengal ahead of the much-talked-about assembly polls, Trinamool Congress unveiled a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Kharagpur on Tuesday.

The outlandish political event took place at Lenin Park in Kharagpur’s block number 20 when local MLA Pradip Sarkar unveiled the Marxist icon’s sculpture.

After dethroning the Left Front regiment in 2011, TMC is known to have celebrated the May Day as well. But a party legislator disclosing a statue of one of the most significant leftists and garlanding it is something unheard of.

“Lenin should not be associated with a single party. He is an inspiration to workers across the world. Our party works beyond the domain of partisan politics. That’s why we have called the left leadership as well,” Sarkar said.

BJP, meanwhile, hurled a common attack on both TMC and the left parties. Demanding a statue of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee instead of the former Soviet Union premier, local BJP leadership said that the other parties had come together to form an alliance, forgetting their ideologies and promises to people.

The left leaders have refused the allegations and said that they were happy with the gesture from TMC. They hoped that the West Bengal-governing party would build Lenin’s statue across the state.

According to local media, the park was established in the 70s during the Congress regime under former Chief Minister Siddhartha Shankar Roy.

However, with the change of tide in Bengal politics, the park was left in the ruins. Following requests from citizens, the local municipal authorities decided to renovate it and unveil a new statue of Lenin.




Controversial CAG report to be tabled in Assembly today


Controversial CAG report to be tabled in Assembly today

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s( CAG’s) audit report for the fiscal year ending 31 March, 2019, containing alleged irregularities in the market borrowings of controversial government entity KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) may be tabled in the Kerala Assembly on Monday.

A controversy had erupted when state finance minister Thomas Isaac took the unprecedented step of attacking the CAG last November, alleging its conclusions were politically motivated. He had said that the Kerala government will not allow the CAG to destroy KIIFB.

Following this, the Opposition moved a breach of privilege notice against the finance minister. Congress MLA VD Satheesan had filed the complaint against Thomas Isaac to the Assembly Speaker. The complainant alleged the finance minister revealed the content in the CAG report to the media before tabling it in the Assembly.

The CAG report is considered a secret document till it comes before the House. According to accepted norms, any document that is the property of the Assembly, cannot be discussed outside before it is presented in the Assembly. The CAG has, reportedly found serious breaches by KIIFB, particularly with its market borrowings, including a masala bond issue floated on the London Stock Exchange.

Finance minister Isaac had initially said it was CAG’s draft report, but later admitted it was a final one, which should have been tabled in the Assembly. But he defended his decision as an extraordinary measure taken at an extraordinary situation created by the CAG report

Meanwhile, there are reports that the Privileges and Ethics Committee chaired by MLA Pradeep Kumar, may table its final report soon. There are indications the committee may come to the conclusion that there was no violation of rights on the minister’s part.




SAD mobilises parties to protect federal structure


SAD mobilises parties to protect federal structure

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday said the party has decided to create a joint strategy along with likeminded parties on ways and means to strengthen the federal structure of the country which “is being eroded under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government”.

Disclosing this in a statement here, senior SAD leader Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said the Akali Dal and likeminded parties including Trinamool Congress (TMC), Shiv Sena, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Samajwadi Party (SP) will hold a conference in Delhi after 15 January that will deliberate on current erosion of federalism and its impact on farmers as well as financial wellbeing of states.

Chandumajra said a three member party committee had been formed by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to reach out to like-minded parties who were perturbed by the rise of a unitary system in the country.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday said the party has decided to create a joint strategy along with likeminded parties on ways and means to strengthen the federal structure of the country which “is being eroded under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government”.

Disclosing this in a statement here, senior SAD leader Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said the Akali Dal and likeminded parties including Trinamool Congress (TMC), Shiv Sena, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Samajwadi Party (SP) will hold a conference in Delhi after 15 January that will deliberate on current erosion of federalism and its impact on farmers as well as financial wellbeing of states.

Chandumajra said a three member party committee had been formed by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to reach out to like-minded parties who were perturbed by the rise of a unitary system in the country.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday said the party has decided to create a joint strategy along with likeminded parties on ways and means to strengthen the federal structure of the country which “is being eroded under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government”.

Disclosing this in a statement here, senior SAD leader Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said the Akali Dal and likeminded parties including Trinamool Congress (TMC), Shiv Sena, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Samajwadi Party (SP) will hold a conference in Delhi after 15 January that will deliberate on current erosion of federalism and its impact on farmers as well as financial wellbeing of states.

Chandumajra said a three member party committee had been formed by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to reach out to like-minded parties who were perturbed by the rise of a unitary system in the country.




T’gana govt permits liquor sales till midnight on New Year’s eve


T’gana govt permits liquor sales till midnight on New Year’s eve

In a government order dated 29 December the prohibition and excise department has granted permission to liquor shops to remain open till midnight on 31 December and permitted bars and event organisers who are license holders to serve liquor till 1 a.m. on the same night.

Even as union health ministry asked states to consider imposition of appropriate restrictions on 30 and 31 December Telangana government has given permission for liquor sales till midnight, beyond the stipulated time of 11 p.m. on New Year’s eve.

In other words there will be no restrictions on celebrations and revelry with bars, event managers and Tourism Development Corporations allowed to sell and serve liquor till late in the evening even as the pandemic rages on.

This comes at a time when neighbouring Karnataka has decided to impose section 144 on New Year’s eve to cut down on revelry due to Covid 19 pandemic. Hence, any public gathering of five or more people have been barred under the prohibitory orders.

The Telangana government’s decision seem to be prompted by revenue concerns, particularly after lock down had badly effected revenue collection as many agencies like the Hyderabad civic body teetering at the edge and failing to clear dues of contractors on time. Liquor sales is one of the popular revenue generating avenue for state governments.

In a government order dated 29 December the prohibition and excise department has granted permission to liquor shops to remain open till midnight on 31 December and permitted bars and event organisers who are license holders to serve liquor till 1 a.m. on the same night.

However, the permissions granted will be subject to observance of Covid -19 protocol. Meanwhile, all flyovers except the one at Begumpet will be closed to traffic to curb rash driving and police will keep a vigil on drunken driving.

In fact Cyberabad commissioner VC Sajjanar drew a parallel between drunk drivers and terrorists who kill anyone who appears in front of them while adding that they are booking drunk drivers under section 304 of IPC which amounts to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The traditional Open House regularly held every year at Raj Bhavan on 1 January as part of New Year celebrations has been cancelled in view of the pandemic and instead governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan will accept the greetings through phonein.

Mission Build Andhra Pradesh case.

Andhra Pradesh High Court has ordered the registrar general to file contempt charges against IAS officer Praveen Kumar for filing a false affidavit in Mission Build Andhra Pradesh case.

The state government had filed an affidavit in the court requesting Justice Rakesh Kumar to recuse himself expressing concern that he might be biased and his continuance in the division bench could deprive it of a fair hearing.

The affidavit was filed by Mission of AP Special officer Praveen Prakash who also holds the post of Principal secretary in the chief minister’s office and considered to be the most power bureaucrat in the present government.




After Rajini U-turn, TN parties continue business as usual


After Rajini U-turn, TN parties continue business as usual

AIADMK continued it’s assertion that chief minister Edpppadi K Palaniswami is the CM candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls, but its ally, the BJP today said the NDA coordination committee would take a final call on the CM.

The day after Rajinikanth shocked everyone with his withdrawal from entering active politics, the Tamil Nadu politics did business as usual.

While the difference of opinions between the ruling AIADMK and it’s NDA ally BJP continued, the opposition DMK today moved Madras High Court against AIADMK workers indulging in distribution of Pongal cash incentive and gifts.

AIADMK continued it’s assertion that chief minister Edpppadi K Palaniswami is the CM candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls, but its ally, the BJP today said the NDA coordination committee would take a final call on the CM.

Addressing press conference in the presence of BJP Tamil Nadu president L Murugan after a meeting of organisers of assembly constituencies and in-charges, BJP national secretary and Tamil Nadu in-charge C T Ravi said once the NDA comes to power in the state, the NDA coordination Committee will take final decision about the chief minister.

While asserting that its relationship with its alliance friends were open and cordial, he said the seat sharing will be finalised once the elections were announced. Ravi’s remarks comes at a time when senior leader and AIADMK deputy coordinator K P Munusamy, during the launch of party’s election campaign, had bluntly told BJP that there was no question of sharing power or Cabinet berths i f the AIADMK-led Front wins the polls and retained power for a third time.

On Monday CM EPS also said that the people of Tamil Nadu will not accept a coalition government and so the sharing of power after election is out of debate.

Taking potshots at National parties often blaming the Dravidian parties–AIADMK and the DMK–of ruining the country and the State, Munuswamy in a veiled reference to the BJP, said it has to accept Mr Palaniswami as the CM candidate and should not demand a share in power or else the saffron party should rethink its options.

Meanwhile DMK today moved Madras High Court against the alleged involvement of ruling AIADMK cadres in distributing the Pongal cash and gift announced by the State government.

The petition was filed by DMK MP R S Bharathi. In the petition, Bharathi stated that since the AIADMK cadres are distributing the tokens, many people will not receive it.

Bharathi requested the Court to take the petition for hearing at the earliest. The Court has said that it will consider Bharathi’s request. Chief Minister Edappay K Palaniswami announced Rs 2500 and a gift kit for all ration card holders in the state as Pongal gift from the government this year a few days back.




Bihar: RJD fishes in troubled NDA waters


Bihar: RJD fishes in troubled NDA waters

RJD leader claims multiple JD-U legislators ready to switch sides

Is something cooking between the RJD and the JD-U in Bihar? Although nothing is officially known about this, claims and counterclaims by the two parties have infused sudden interest in Bihar politics.

In a fresh political development, former RJD minister Shayam Rajak today claimed at least 17 JD-U legislators were in touch with the RJD to switch sides any time.

“At least 17 JD-U legislators are desperate to join the RJD at the earliest since they are feeling suffocated in the company of Nitish Kumar who has literally surrendered before the BJP. However, we have told them to wait till their number goes up to 28 since we don’t want to violate anti-defection law,” Rajak told the newsmen today.

He claimed their strength would touch the required number very soon.

Strangely, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was quick to reject such claims although he is not known for making comments over such issues; rather he allows his smaller party leaders to give their comments over them.

“This kind of claim is totally baseless,” the chief minister said today.

JD-U spokesperson Sanjay Singh, on the other hand, claimed 18 RJD legislators were touch with the JD-U and would cross over to the latter after ‘Kharmas’ (end of inauspicious month) on 14 January.

Only yesterday, the RJD suggested the chief minister to quit the NDA and return to the Grand Alliance, citing BJP’s alleged contempt for smaller parties.

However, the RJD’s condition is that Kumar should install Tejashwi Yadav the chief minister of Bihar and the RJD in turn would try to project him as the Prime Ministerial candidate in 2024. The very offer has come from senior RJD leader and former assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary.

Political circles are agog with the news that the chief minister has been known for surprising everyone with his “unexpected decisions” and it won’t be a surprise if he displayed another such move very soon the way he did a couple of days back by relinquishing the post of the JDU’s national president and handing it to his close confidant RCP Singh, a Rajya Sabha member.

Again, in 2013, Kumar had walked away from the NDA after Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, was projected as the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate, in 2014, he resigned as the chief minister and handed over his throne to Jitan Ram Manjhi after his party fared badly in LS polls while in 2015, he joined hands with his archrival, RJD president Lalu Prasad. Barely two years later, he broke alliance with the RJD midway and returned to the NDA.

The fresh twist in the state politics has come after the BJP caused a split in the JD-U in Arunachal Pradesh and inducted six of total seven legislators into the party, leaving its Bihar ally furious.

The JD-U has dropped ample indications in the past one week that it is in no mood to forgive its ally over the issue.




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