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
Madhuri Dixit’s New Role?Over the past few days, there has been speculation in political circles that actor Madhuri Dixit may take the political plunge. The actor is understood to be in talks with Bharatiya Janata Party for joining the political outfit. It is believed she might be fielded from the Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency in next year's general elections. If the plunge happens, she will be joining an array of actors who have taken the political route in their later years.
Harnessing YouthThe Shiromani Akali Dal has launched a youth membership drive of the Youth Akali Dal --- the party's youth wing --- to improve the party's reach amongst the young population. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s aim is to give appropriate electoral representation to youngsters at all levels and he has decided on 50 per cent reservation for youngsters on all organisational posts. Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the party is hoping to regain lost ground in Punjab.
Keeping UpThe end of campaigning for the ongoing assembly polls was observed by most leaders by taking a break with their families. Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel too took time off to meet his grandson. Posting a picture on social media, Baghel stated his grandson Vivansh had recently learnt to walk. "And walking along him has ensured that I am no longer feeling tired from the long campaigning," he added.
SP’s DilemmaThe clamour to take action against Swami Prasad Maurya is increasing within the Samajwadi Party. This comes after his repeated anti-Hindu comments. Leaders in the party feel that SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple Yadav themselves are people who follow Hindu religious customs, and the comments are going against the ethos of the party. Swami Prasad Maurya's repeated controversial statements are creating a lot of issues for the party and its leadership.
Uma Bharti Returns? Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti has expressed her desire to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The announcement has left many senior leaders worried as she is considered someone who is difficult to deal with. Though Bharti has herself refused to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, she is now preparing to contest the 2024 elections which is expected to create headache for the senior leadership.
Musician Politician Singapore’s Deputy PM Lawrence Wong recently showcased his musical skill in a heartwarming sitar performance alongside a sitar player named Karthigayan. Sharing the video on X, Wong expressed his gratitude towards Karthigayan for patiently guiding him through the fundamental techniques of the instrument. He conveyed his appreciation for the enriching experience and his eagerness to delve deeper into the exquisite realm of classical Indian music. Wong’s display of musical dedication caught the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who commended Wong’s commitment to the sitar. Modi applauded Wong's passion, expressing his hope that it continues to flourish, inspiring others along the way. He highlighted India's rich musical heritage, a tapestry woven with diverse rhythms and melodies that have evolved over millennia.
Karnataka LoP Soon?Days after finalising its Karnataka unit chief, the BJP is also likely to take a decision on the appointment of its LoP in the Assembly. While BS Yediyurappa's son Vijayendra has been appointed to the top post, the LoP is also likely to be a leader from his generation. The party is taking a long-term stand on the leadership in the state and is likely to appoint another youngster to the crucial position. The BJP MLAs in the state had been demanding appointments to the top two posts for the past several months.
Flawed StrategyThe media boycott strategy of the Congress seems to have boomeranged with three interviews being given to those on the list. The party was left red-faced but it also became a free for all within the party. The communication department head Pawan Khera came in for flak for not being able to implement the strategy. He gave an interview to defend himself. But with speculation rife that there could be another round of changes in the department ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, many aspirants have begun to tell the top leadership that this shows how Khera may not be the best person for the job.
Dynastic IssuesBy making BS Yediyurappa's son, Vijayendra, the president of its Karnataka unit, BJP has seemingly ended the issue of nepotism being pointed at by a section of party leaders. It is believed that the issue may be something to be said about in election speeches in the future but it is not an issue anymore for appointments in the organisation. Several leaders in the state unit were opposed to the appointment, but the party leadership has decided to play it safe ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Temple TreasuresThe Odisha Congress has launched a unique protest demanding the opening of all four gates of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and opening up of the temple's "Ratna Bhandar". Termed as “Sankirtan Satyagraha” the protest was held in front of all Jagannath temples across the state. Though the Puri temple has four gates, devotees are allowed to enter the temple using the front door only following the outbreak of Covid-19.
RLD-Congress TroublesRashtriya Lok Dal, which was expecting four-five seats from Congress in Rajasthan, has been allocated only one seat. RLD leaders believe that over this unexpected behavior, RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary may not have openly come out against Congress like Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, but he has taken note of the allocation. The impact of the move is likely to be visible in the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha elections next year.
BJP’s HopeThe Bharatiya Janata Party, which is fighting 18 years of anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh, wants opposition candidates from Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to do well in the forthcoming polls. With most pre-poll surveys predicting a close contest between the BJP and Congress, the party hopes that even 10-odd wins by these two parties could ensure its comeback.
Missing PilotDespite claiming that all is well within the Rajasthan Congress leadership, things on the ground seem different. The photographs of former deputy CM Sachin Pilot are missing from posters at the party’s headquarters in Jaipur. Political speculations have been fueled ever since these posters went up and have turned into a political issue. Questions have once again been raised on whether the party high command has truly been able to resolve the leadership crisis in the Congress.
‘WoW’ Railways!Union minister for Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, shared a post on social media of Vande Bharat Express passing Kerala’s lush green Vellayil railway station. The collage image of two trains attracted many netizens to comment on the minister’s X post, but it seems that Vaishnaw also keeps a tab on the current social media trends very well. He not only posted the pictures but used a caption saying “Just looking like a WoW”. This phrase recently became famous on social media platforms.
Rahul, Varun Gandhi Meet in KedarnathThe two Gandhi family scions, Rahul and Varun, on the opposite sides of political spectrum, met in Kedarnath. The “chance” meeting set off a bout of speculation in the political circles ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Over the past few months, Varun Gandhi has not been actively involved in BJP programmes. There have been speculations that the Pilibhit MP is unhappy in the saffron unit and is exploring options outside the party ahead of the general elections.
Grassroot TrainingBJP veterans and IT cell members have shared insights and strategies with party Vistaraks at a training session recently in UP’s Ghaziabad. The training focuses on 120 Lok Sabha seats from nine states. In the coming days, these Vistaraks will work to win back the lost political ground by talking to Panna Pramukh, Booth President, Mandal President and other office bearers of BJP. General Secretary of the organisation, Dharampal, also interacted with Vistaraks from Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, Ladakh, Delhi and Uttarakhand.
‘Akhilesh for PM’ PostersPosters portraying Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav as the “future Prime Minister” have been put up outside the party office in Lucknow. With months to go for Lok Sabha elections, various INDIA bloc parties, including the SP, have been posturing to secure the coveted position. Only time will reveal whether the demand finds support among other allies or is limited to respective party cadre.
DKS' Vokkaliga ConsolidationA meeting of Vokkaliga leaders called by Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar has caused a buzz on whether he is rallying support to lay claim to the CM's chair. It is rumoured that many MLAs had approached Shivakumar, or DKS as he is popularly known, to express unhappiness with the way the state is being governed, and sought help to get funds for their constituencies cleared. The same fight for the top job had earlier been curtailed by the high command's intervention. The next few days will reveal whether its intervention is required this time as well.
Mulayam Memorial Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has decided to build a memorial in the memory of his father Mulayam Singh in his native village Saifai. Akhilesh is expected to lay the foundation stone on November 22, which is also Mulayam’s birth anniversary. Party cadres have been invited to the event, which is also expected to mark the launch of the 2024 campaign by the party. The memorial is being built where Mulayam’s Samadhi is located. The design of the main building of this memorial will be like that of Parliament. There are also plans to install a bronze statue of Mulayam at the site.
Shobha as Chief?There is talk that MoS Shobha Karandlaje may be made the Karnataka BJP chief. If this is so, then the leader who has been elected twice as an MP from Udupi-Chikkamgaluru seat will have to look to forfeit her chances of being nominated again for an MP ticket. Insiders say BJP's senior leader CT Ravi, who lost his Chikkamagalur seat in the May 2023 elections, may be given the ticket to this seat instead of Karandlaje.
Appearance LessonsDelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may have received some lessons in dealing with the ED from his counterpart in Jharkhand. Like Hemant Soren, the AAP leader too has decided to not appear before the investigative agency. The buzz in political corridors is that the Soren formula may be utilised by Kejriwal to deal with the ED. Soren has refused to appear before the agency despite receiving multiple summons over the past several months.
LoP TauntBJP MLAs in Karnataka have expressed their frustration over being taunted by the Congress for not having elected a Leader of the Opposition or re-elected a state party president. In an internal meeting with senior BJP leader and former CM BS Yediyurappa, many MLAs expressed that they will not be able to attend the winter session of the Karnataka assembly in Belagavi as they have had enough of being ridiculed by the ruling party. After the poll debacle in Karnataka, where the BJP, which had been in power, saw itself being reduced from 104 seats to 65, the party high command has played it tough with the state unit. It is said a final decision on both candidates is being delayed as the high command is extremely miffed with the Karnataka BJP and its leaders.
Aiding OpponentsMany in the BJP are happy with a recent post by Congress leader Supriya Shrinate. The post shows her pointing towards a BJP hoarding and making fun of the fact that Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is not being projected as the CM face in the forthcoming polls. The BJP is seemingly happy with this move as it is exactly the message that the saffron party wants to convey to voters with anti-incumbency being strong against Chouhan. A BJP leader involved in planning said “she has become our best campaigner”.
Cabinet Reshuffle?After hours of brainstorming at BJP headquarters in the national capital it is learnt that a cabinet reshuffle in Uttar Pradesh is being planned. Among the ministers that could be sworn in are Om Prakash Rajbhar and Dara Singh Chauhan. Portfolios of several ministers are also likely to be changed. Among those present at the meeting were BJP president JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
Kejriwal's Replacement The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is apparently seeking a leader to replace its convener Arvind Kejriwal after he was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate amid strong allegations of corruption in his government. There is a strong buzz that a senior leader from the national capital may finally replace Kejriwal in case the Delhi CM is arrested by the ED. A meeting of senior leadership is understood to have taken place to discuss the impending crisis.
Has Rahul Gandhi Given Up on Amethi?There is a buzz within the Congress that Rahul Gandhi is not keen for a rematch with Union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi as it is not considered "safe". The senior Congress leader is instead likely to continue with the "safe" constituency of Wayanad. If Rahul Gandhi decides not to contest from Amethi, it would be after many decades that the Nehru-Gandhi family has deserted the constituency.
Infighting Undoing? The Congress is seemingly squandering its advantage in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Polls. Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh factions are apparently squaring off. The rift has increased as the top two leaders are hoping to establish their respective sons in state politics. While Digvijaya wants his son Jaivardhan Singh to emerge, Kamal Nath wants the same for his son Nakul after the forthcoming polls.
A probable chief ministerial candidate is not keeping well despite polls just being days away. The senior leader has also come under attack from his opponents within the party who have pointed towards his lack of active campaigning in the ongoing electoral process. Though the party is seemingly in an advantageous position in the forthcoming polls, his party colleagues are unwilling to let go of the issue and are trying to involve the high command in the situation.
No Contest for Scindia in MPThe BJP leadership has finally laid to rest the speculation that Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia may not be fielded in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections next month. The party leadership decided not to let Scindia contest the elections as it could have turned up a tricky situation. It was believed that if Scindia had contested the elections, both the Congress and BJP workers of that area would have gotten together to try and defeat him. The leadership also understood this and finally decided to save its ace of spades for a later day.
Unity Candidate? There is a strong buzz that the opposition may field a joint candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Banaras. The name of Apna Dal (K) leader, Pallavi Patel, is being considered. The speculation was fuelled after her meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. It is understood that Akhilesh gave consent to Patel to contest elections as a joint candidate of the opposition. The announcement regarding the same is expected to be made soon after talks with other alliance partners.
Minority OutreachThe Congress in Uttar Pradesh may be wooing the minority Muslim community through its outreach to incarcerated community leader Azam Khan. Even as top leaders of the Grand Old Party try to meet him in Sitapur jail, it is learnt that the Congress is desperately seeking support from Khan in a bid to improve its tally from the state in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The party hopes to secure extra seats from the state where it was reduced to just one in 2019.
Capital DenialWith Lok Sabha polls just months away, speculation over tickets has already begun in power corridors. There is intense talk in the BJP that three sitting MPs, of the seven in the national capital, will be denied tickets in next year's polls. This has already created panic amongst the ranks, with these possible leaders trying to reach out to the top leadership. It is feared that these MPs might even lose their political career and not just tickets in the 2024 contest.
Possible Successor?Days after Karthikeyan Pandian, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s trusted secretary for more than a decade, took voluntary retirement from IAS, there is massive speculation that he might emerge as Patnaik’s possible successor. The former civil servant, who has already been accorded a cabinet minister rank, has been the most trusted aide of the BJD strongman for the past several years and many see this as the logical next step in his post-retirement move.
Outsider AlertWith many pre-poll surveys predicting Congress’ strong show in Telangana, candidates have been making a beeline for the Grand Old Party. Ahead of the finalisation of the second list of candidates, a battle has seemingly ensued between insiders and newly inducted members. The insiders have warned that “outsiders” could adversely affect loyal supporters of the Congress. Though a flood of new entrants has helped optics, it has led to this new headache. Congress is likely to come out with the list of remaining candidates soon.
Son Rise in Chhattisgarh? The forthcoming Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh would be a litmus test for Amit Jogi. These polls will be the first time that former CM Ajit Jogi will not be present. The Janata Chhattisgarh Congress (Jogi) had won 5 seats and 7.6% of the vote share in the 90-member assembly in the 2018 polls. Both Congress and BJP are eyeing this pie of vote share, and it will be a tough ask for Amit Jogi to ensure that his flock and vote share stay with the party during the upcoming polls.
Stepping DownIn a surprise move, BJP leader and Union minister Narayan Rane's son, Nilesh Rane, has announced retirement from active politics. “I am stepping aside from active politics and there is no reason other than the fact that it no longer interests me as much," he wrote on social media. Rane, a former Lok Sabha MP, also extended apology to the people who may have suffered any inconvenience or may have felt offended due to any mistake by him.
Back to Pavilion?The political circles are fuelled with speculation that senior leader Captain Amarinder Singh may be willing to move back to the Congress. Though the former Punjab Chief Minister had joined the BJP a few months back, he is understood to be contemplating returning to the grand old party. It is believed that the senior leader is unhappy at being sidelined within the saffron front and not been accorded any important responsibility in the saffron outfit.
Delayed Revocation Though Telangana MLA Raja Singh's suspension may have been revoked, a section in the BJP feels it is too little too late. It is believed that the party could have revoked the suspension of Singh earlier and it would have benefited the saffron cause too. However, months of delay is understood to now cost the BJP as it tries to woo back the Hindutva voters in the state. Raja Singh, now fielded in the forthcoming polls, was suspended from the party after his controversial comments last year.
Puja FestivitiesUS Ambassador Eric Garcetti continued his tryst with local culture as he went pandal hopping during the ongoing Durga Puja festivities. “Shubho Pujo, everyone! I had an incredible time pandal hopping in CR Park in Delhi, participating in the cultural festivities and, of course, tasting some amazing Pujo food! As I continue to experience different celebrations across India, I remain in awe of Incredible India’s amazing cultural diversity,” he posted on social media. The US Ambassador has been experiencing various facets of India’s culture over the past few weeks.
Water Metro Kochi Water Metro has achieved a remarkable milestone of catering to one million passengers in less than six months since inception. It has soon become popular and has quickly become an integral part of Kochi's public transportation system. This also reflects the enthusiasm of the community to embrace this innovative mode of transportation. Currently operational in three routes, Kochi Water Metro is set to expand its operations in two more routes shortly.
Making Amends?SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who avoided visiting Noida during his tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, seems to be making amends by visiting the NCR city often. Visiting Noida was till recently considered inauspicious by sitting CMs and several earlier CMs, including Yadav and Mayawati. Yadav is seemingly following in the footsteps of Yogi Adityanath, who has been more than willing to visit the city to attend party functions.
Metro WalkUS Ambassador Eric Garcetti traveled in Delhi Metro from RK Puram to Okhla NSIC metro station on the Magenta Line to get a feel of the national capital's lifeline. He interacted with the passengers during his travel and is also understood to have bought a smart card for the trip. The Delhi Metro is often showcased as a world-class commuter system and several senior leaders from across the world have travelled on it.
Mending Ties?BJP Telangana president G Kishan Reddy and BJP MP Lakshman met with Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan, seeking his support in the Telangana elections. The meeting came after Kalyan declared that Jana Sena will contest seats in Telangana. The two NDA partners have been seeing friction over the past few months as Kalyan has been pushing for the entry of N Chandrababu Naidu into the saffron fold.
Royal EntryWith the joining of Vishvaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Maharana Pratap and a member of the former royal family of Udaipur, into the BJP just ahead of polls, speculation has begun on his possible fielding by the saffron party in next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Through the joining, BJP is also eyeing the sizable and influential Rajput vote in the state. Mahendra Singh, father of Vishwaraj Singh, a member of the former royal family of Mewar, was also elected as an MP from Chhittorgarh Lok Sabha constituency earlier.
Uniform CallsFormer Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot participated in an examination for his promotion from Captain to Major in the Territorial Army. He is understood to have missed an important Congress meeting to take the examination. After being successful in the exam, he is expected to be promoted to the post of Major in the Territorial Army. The senior Congress leader also met officers of his unit after appearing in the promotion examination. His father, late Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, was also a squadron leader in the Indian Air Force before joining politics.
Outreach MissionUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will launch women and Dalit outreach programmes this week. The plan is to hold a 'Nari Shakti Vandan Sammelan' and a 'Dalit Sammelan' in each organisational area of the BJP. The campaign aims to increase BJP's support base among women and Dalits. It is worth noting that the plan is to seek credit for the Nari Shakti Vandan Act, hence, the conferences for women in every assembly constituency. In an effort to make inroads among the Scheduled Castes, Dalit conferences are also being held in all six organisational areas of the state.
Saffron AllianceShivraj Singh Chouhan’s recent post on social media, featuring a JCB, is being interpreted as an indication of a possible new alliance between CM’s of two largest states in the country. Chouhan’s campaign mentions JCB as (Janata Chahti BJP) for Madhya Pradesh. Over the past few years, the JCB has become synonymous with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The two states elect over 100 Lok Sabha MPs and contribute majorly to the BJP’s kitty.
Vaastu Dosh After losing half a dozen odd polls in the national capital, the BJP has decided to seek intervention from Vaastu experts to remove its dosh. Senior leaders in the city are understood to have consulted Vaastu experts to help ensure that the 14 Pandit Pant Marg office is rid of its negative energy and the party returns to its winning ways. Over the past five years, the state unit has only been able to win the Lok Sabha polls (due to the Modi factor), while losing all assembly and local body elections in the national capital.
Political Violations Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury was seen riding a bike without a helmet recently. The video of him, apparently shot in Berhampur, Murshidabad, went viral trying stunts like riding with his hands off the bike’s handles. Many in his own political party as well as the opposition have criticised the senior leader for violating the traffic rules. Many on the social media also asked whether traffic rules were only for the general public?
No AllianceThe much-talked about merger of YSR Telangana Party and Congress seems to have been put on hold for now. YSR Telangana Party chief YS Sharmila has reportedly dropped plans to merge her party with the Congress. The party will now contest the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state. The Congress high command is understood to have buckled under pressure from party leaders, particularly state chief A Revanth Reddy, against any alliance with Sharmila.