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CM Naveen Patnaik’s close aide, former Odisha bureaucrat VK Pandian joins BJD

VK Pandian’s induction into the BJD holds significance for the party ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

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Putting an end to various speculation, former Odisha bureaucrat VK Pandian formally joined ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday. Notably, he also served as the private secretary to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. VK Pandian joined the party in the presence of Naveen Patnaik and other BJD leaders at Naveen Niwas in Bhubaneswar.

The recent development follows after VK Pandian took voluntary retirement from the Indian Civil Services on October 23. Reports stated that the Centre approved Pandian’s voluntary retirement, following which he assumed the role of the Chairman of 5T, Transformational Initiatives and Nabin Odisha in the Odisha government. After his voluntary retirement, there was chatter in the political circuit of Odisha over the probable entry of Pandian in politics.

The 5T initiative introduced in Patnaik’s fifth and current term to overhaul the administrative apparatus, is reported to be Pandian’s idea. Reportedly, the Ts stand for transparency, teamwork, technology and time, leading to transformation. Under the 5T initiative, the Patnaik government claims to have transformed over 4,000 high schools in Odisha, with refurbished classrooms, laboratories and playgrounds.

VK Pandian’s induction into the BJD holds significance for the party ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls. The BJD has started strengthening its organisational units in various constituencies to maintain its winning streak in Odisha. The former Odisha bureaucrat had earlier attended meetings in all districts of the state to review developmental projects.

VK Pandian from 2000-batch IAS officer, is a native of Tamil Nadu and began his career as a Dharmagarh sub-collector and later served as the collector of various districts. He joined the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in 2011. He held the position of private secretary to the Chief Minister for the past 12 years.

Notably, VK Pandian faced several criticism from the Opposition during his tenure as the 5T Secretary and Private Secretary to the Chief Minister, accused of engaging in politics while in civil service. Earlier in 2023, he attracted scrutiny for extensive tours and addressing large public meetings in several districts of the state.

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APCC President YS Sharmila spends night at Andhra Ratna Bhavan to escape house arrest

A video circulating on social media shows the Congress leader sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the party’s Vijaywada office. In another video, shared by party leader Manickam Tagore, other Congress leaders and workers are seen sleeping at the Congress office.

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Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president YS Sharmila had to spend the Wednesday night at the Congress Head office Andhra Ratna Bhavan as she feared that she might be put under house arrest. The APCC President led a Chalo Secretariat protest march on Thursday morning in support of the unemployed youth of the state in Vijaywada. Sharmila announced the protest march on Wednesday morning but the police did not give permission and started putting Congress leaders under house arrest.

A video circulating on social media shows the Congress leader sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the party’s Vijaywada office. In another video, shared by party leader Manickam Tagore, other Congress leaders and workers are seen sleeping at the Congress office. Sharmila avoided going to Congress MP KVP Ramachandra Rao’s house on Wednesday night where the police allegedly wanted to detain her.

Instead she chose to stay back in the Congress office. The police surrounded the Congress office on Thursday morning and many Congress leaders and YS Sharmila sat on a dharna and shouted slogans. The APCC president demanded that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government give orders to fill 23000 posts which he had promised to fill during his election campaign.

Addressing the protest meeting Sharmila said Elections are are just two months away and the chief minister has announced filling up 6000 posts. She said instead of holding a mega district selection committee for recruitment, he is doing a fraud. Sharmilla said the YSRCP rule is like dictatorship and anyone who protests is put under house arrest.

She said they have been surrounded by thousands of policemen. She added iron barricades have been put around them and they are being held hostage. She said those people who are raising their voices for the unemployed are being arrested. She said YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is a dictator who wants to stop them.

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Congress, Aam Aadmi Party finalise seat sharing alliance for 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi

During the seat sharing discussion the Congress is likely to contest from North Delhi, East Delhi and Chandni Chowk, while Aam Aadmi Party will contest from South, North West, New Delhi and West Delhi. The Congress is planning to field at least 1 dalit face in New Delhi. A general category face and a woman candidate will also be fielded by the party. According to reports the Congress is likely to give AAP 1 seat in Haryana and 2 seats in Gujarat.

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The Aam Aadmi Party and Congress finalised their seat-sharing alliance for the 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi on Thursday. Both the parties confirmed that they had settled for a four-three seat sharing formula, with AAP contesting four constituencies and Congress on three.

The seat sharing alliance was formed after many rounds of discussions this week. During the seat sharing discussion the Congress is likely to contest from North Delhi, East Delhi and Chandni Chowk, while Aam Aadmi Party will contest from South, North West, New Delhi and West Delhi.

The Congress is planning to field at least 1 dalit face in New Delhi. A general category face and a woman candidate will also be fielded by the party. According to reports the Congress is likely to give AAP 1 seat in Haryana and 2 seats in Gujarat.

The two seats for Aam Adami Party in Gujarat – Bhavnagar and Bharuch have been agreed upon to stave off Kejriwal’s demands in Haryana, Assam and Goa. The Aam Aadmi Party will give up its south Goa constituency for the Congress. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party has a sitting MP in Goa.The signs of an arrangement became clear when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal turned up at lunch hosted by Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi on Sunday.

Earlier the Congress finalised its pact with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and has agreed to contest 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. The Samajwadi Party will contest on 63 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The seat sharing pact was announced by the opposition alliance, which has been formed to defeat the BJP-led central government in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Samajwadi Party has announced three lists for the Lok Sabha elections and has named a total of 32 candidates including Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav and don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Afzal Ansari.

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Sandeshkhali violence: BJP slams CM Mamata Banerjee, questions Rahul Gandhi’s silence

The BJP leader said that Mamata Banerjee is risking the honour of women in Bengal in order to save her political reputation.

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The alleged land grabbing and sexual harassment case in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal has triggered a major political battle among the ruling Trinamool Congress party and the opposition. BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday claimed that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is hiding something in the matter and is protecting Shahjahan Sheikh and his allies.  

The BJP leader said that Mamata Banerjee is risking the honour of women in Bengal in order to save her political reputation. Questioning why parties like CPI(M) and Congress are  silent on the issue, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he heard that a woman leader of CPM visited the area but has not opposed the incident or made a public comment. He remarked that Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is also silent on the issue. 

Since last week, several women in the district have been protesting against TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh who is allegedly the mastermind behind the incident. Though the West Bengal police have arrested two TMC leaders, Shahjahan Sheikh is still absconding. The BJP leaders in the state claimed that the police administration has become the party office of the ruling party. 

Meanwhile, State BJP president Sukanta Mazumdar on Monday, said that the party would hold a 72-hour long protest in the coming days demanding the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan amid the turmoil in West Bengal over the Sandeshkhali violence. He added that the probable day of protest is February 22. 

Slamming Mamata Banerjee for accusing BJP of instigating violence in the state, the BJP president said that the Chief Minister should be a little more sensitive towards the women in the state and refrain from making such statements. He added that the Trinamool Congress party was in a complete denial mode of any violence in the state initially. 

Reportedly, West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali area has been witnessing massive unrest for more than 10 days as women protestors are seeking justice against alleged atrocities committed by TMC leader Sheikh Shajahan and his aides.

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