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Book Ringside Seats For May 15 Post Poll Poker In Bengaluru



Book Ringside Seats For May 15 Post Poll Poker In Bengaluru

~By Saeed Naqvi

On May 15, when the Karnataka election results are announced, and the Congress, BJP and Deve Gowda’s JDS find themselves in an almighty scrum bargaining for power, a certain mysterious lady will be watching the proceedings from her suite in the country’s most luxurious, seven star Leela hotel on Bengaluru’s old airport road.

The hijab clad, 45 year old, Nowhera Shaik, President of the All India Mahila (Women’s) Empowerment Party (MEP) is fielding candidates in all the 224 assembly seats. It is a mistake to regard MEP as a woman only party. “A woman has a brother, father, son”, she says. Moreover, there is no taboo on men seeking MEP tickets.

Her hijab is a far cry from a docile acceptance of male oppression. It is an assertion of feminine independence. She is CEO of Hyderabad based Heera Group of companies, dealing with a wide range of commodities across the globe – building material, gold and diamond. The last mentioned, happens to be something of an obsession with her. Heera, name of her company, means diamond. Her election symbol is Diamond. Who knows her name Nowhera may be a contortion of Nav Heera, which means “novel diamond”.

In the Sherlock Holmes classic, mystery deepens when the dog “does not” bark. In Ms. Shaik’s case the deathly silence of politicians and the media at the high voltage election debut is as intriguing.

Book Ringside Seats For May 15 Post Poll Poker In Bengaluru

There are all sorts of ironies involved. The latest congress policy towards Muslims is based on the appraisal that the BJP’s shrill allegation, that the party appeases Muslims, has begun to affect the majority community. The Hindu increasingly sees the Congress as a “Muslim Party”. How should a party which is greedy for Hindu as well as Muslim votes, cope with the predicament.

It was to meet this situation that the new “cloak and dagger” policy towards Muslims was enunciated. The party will distance itself from Muslims to prevent a hemorrhage of Hindu votes. But by hint and gesture the Muslim voter will be persuaded that this “distancing” is only a tactic in the Muslim interest. The Muslim must not leap into the Congress lap in full public view, but, with expert slyness, sneak towards the Congress polling agent.

The game acquires a touch of situation comedy when an audacious, hijab wearing lady, with wealth beyond measure, a credible image of a philanthropist, jumps into the electoral fray. The Congress cannot throw up its hands and scream, “Help, help, she is nibbling away at Muslim pockets in a close election where even a few hundred votes matter.”

Nor can the BJP be ecstatic: “Welcome dear Begum Sahiba; go, damage the Congress.”

Unobtrusively, she just may end up marginally harming the Congress. If each one of her 224 candidates is pillowed with cash, the law of averages may return two, three or five winners. This may give her a hand to play in post poll poker. Her ambitions for 2019 leave one gasping.

If the Congress loses the Karnataka election, it will be difficult for the party to escape the label the opposition is in gleeful readiness to paste on the Congress forehead: P2, a party confined to Punjab and Pondicherry.

While nobody is conceding outright victory to the Congress, punters are willing to give it the largest single party status and therefore hope for coming state elections.

A representative group of eight senior journalists and political activists (including two having deep links with Communists and RSS) pondered over the election scene in my Bengaluru drawing room. There was no great difference of opinion on the way the cookie was expected to crumble on May 15. Congress, BJP and Deve Gowda led (JDS) Janata Dal Secular were expected to poll 95 to 100, 85 to 95 and 35 to 40 seats respectively. A hung house will enable the JDS to play a leading role in the post poll poker.

Let us pick up the narrative in 2010 when Siddaramaiah, then in the opposition, chastised the infamous Reddy Brothers (more popularly known in Karnataka as the Bellary mining mafia) on the floor of the state assembly.

The Reddy’s promptly dared him to repeat his charges in Bellary where, they threatened, he “would be finished”. Siddaramaiah took up the challenge. He undertook a 200 mile padyatra to Bellary. The voter, desperately searching for something he can respect, spotted a touch of heroism in “Siddaramaiah”.

There are now three principal caste groups (hundreds of smaller ones) in the contest:

Siddaramaiah with his diligently consolidated Kuruba caste; Deve Gowda, something of a Vokkaliga stalwart and B.S. Yedurappa the tallest Lingayat who had almost been ruled out by the BJP because of a jail term for massive corruption. His powerful caste Lingayat, has trumped all negative considerations.

Siddaramaiah is not a classical Congressman. Rather, his background should be a cause for concern for the Congress: there is in his DNA a trace of Lohia Socialist. This is what kept him in the JDS for 35 years. But his parting with Deve Gowda was so bitter that theirs is now a blood feud. Deve Gowda would rather jump in front of a train than allow Siddaramaiah a second term in Bengaluru.

Yedurappa poses the Lingayat challenge. This has propelled Siddaramaiah towards an audacious gamble. An old demand by a section of Lingayats seeking a status outside the Hindu structure has been dusted up by him. Yes, he says, Lingayats will be outside the Hindu fold. This is far reaching, tearing into Veer Shaivaite  Lingayat divide.

Trust a Lohiaite to have played this hand. There are echoes of V.P. Singh’s implementation of the Mandal Commission report. V.P. Singh himself was not a beneficiary of his machinations. But the post Mandal tumult brought to the fore Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad, Rath yatra to Ayodhya and so much mayhem. Let’s see how Siddaramaiah’s gamble plays itself out.

Latest world news

Watch: PM Modi poses for selfie with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at COP28 climate summit in Dubai

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni captioned the post Good friends at COP28 with the hashtag melodi.The post has got 5,63,598 likes on Instagram.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a moment of delight at the COP28 climate action summit in Dubai as he posed for a selfie with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The 46 year old Italian leader posted the selfie with PM Modi on her Instagram handle. She captioned the post Good friends at COP28 with the hashtag melodi.

The post has got 5,63,598 likes on Instagram. Large number of comments started coming on the social media post. One user said the world is one family. One user said this is the photo of the decade and there is so much power in this picture. Earlier PM Modi met Meloni on the sidelines of COP28.

He said India and Italy are looking for a sustainable and prosperous future. The two nations shared friendly relations when the Italian prime minister visited New Delhi for the G20 summit. She was warmly received by PM modi and she shook hands with him. Both the leaders burst into laughter after a brief conversation. PM Modi shared took to X (formerly Twitter) and said he had an excellent meeting with PM  Giorgia Meloni. He said their talks covered sectors such as trade, commerce, defence, emerging technologies.

The Italian Prime minister had also wished PM Modi on his 73rd birthday on September 17. She took to X(formerly Twitter) and wrote Happy Birthday Narendra Modi. A friend committed to building the future and proud of the history of great nation close to Italy. In March Meloni made her maiden visit to India and praised PM Modi. She said he is the most loved one of all leaders around the world.

The Italian prime minister’s visit coincided with the 75th anniversary of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. PM Modi warmly welcomed Meloni and congratulated her for becoming the first woman and youngest prime minister of Italy.

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India News

PM Modi proposes to host COP33 in India in 2028

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.



Prime Minister Modi was addressing the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on Friday, he proposed hosting COP33 in India in 2028. PM Modi said  India is committed to UN framework for climate change process. That is why, from this stage, he proposed to host COP33 Summit in India in 2028.

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.

As a special gesture by the UAE, PM Narendra Modi was given the honour of speaking at the Ceremonial opening of the summit, in which discussion will held on issues regarding climate change in the coming days. He said he announced one more pro planet, pro active and positive initiative- green credit initiative.

PM Modi said India’s goal is to bring down the emissions intensity by 45 % till 2030 and also said the country has decided to increase the share of non fossil fuel to 50%. He said India will keep going ahead towards the goal of net zero by 2070.

PM Modi will also attend three other high level events on the sidelines of the summit. Bilateral meetings with World Leaders like Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Israeli President Issac Herzog.

The COP28 conference brings together the heads of the state, climate activists, government ministers, scientists and other stake holders from all over the world so that discussion can take place and action can be taken on climate change. The key themes of the conference include slashing energy emissions before 2030 and fast tracking the energy transition, transforming climate finance, putting nature, lives, people and livelihood at the heart of climate action and mobilizing for more inclusive COP ever.

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Latest world news

US looks forward to seeing results, says Antony Blinken as India probes Pannu murder plot

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.



Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Thursday said that Washington takes very seriously the allegations that an Indian government official was involved in a foiled plot to murder Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Speaking to the media at Tel Aviv, the US top diplomat said that he couldn’t comment in detail on the matter as it was under judicial consideration, but welcomed the investigation launched by India into the alleged plot to kill Pannu.

He added that a number of them have raised this directly with the Indian government in past weeks. He mentioned that the Indian government announced that it was conducting an investigation, adding that it is good and appropriate, and that they look forward to seeing the results.

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Addressing a press conference, he said that India remains a strategic partner, and they are going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. He noted that at the same time, they take the aforesaid allegations and investigation very seriously.

John Kirby was responding to a question about the US Justice Department’s indictment of Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, which accused him of working with an Indian government agency employee to hire a hitman to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen and founder of the Khalistani outfit, Sikhs for Justice.

Kirby further acknowledged India’s responsiveness to the matter, stating that they are glad to see that India is also taking it seriously by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. He added that the US has been clear that they want to see anybody that’s responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable.

Meanwhile, India has already constituted an investigation team to probe the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Pannun. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday described it as a matter of concern and also contrary to government policy the US linking an Indian official to the man charged with the alleged conspiracy.

As per reports, Nikhil Gupta, 52, has been charged with two counts of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire for allegedly participating in the Pannun murder plot. He can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, if convicted.

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