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KCR and the art of killing the Opposition

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Six months after he swept the assembly election, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is slowly making the opposition Congress bleed, having lured a dozen party MLAs into his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The total strength of the TRS in the assembly has risen from 88 to 103 MLAs since the elections last December.

KCR’s move might seem puzzling because the TRS secured a landslide 88-seat majority in the 119-seat Telangana assembly. The answer perhaps lies in the emphatic verdict itself. KCR hopes for a total wipeout of rival political parties. The TRS has orchestrated the decimation of the opposition in the assembly by gradually whittling away two-thirds of the 18-member Congress Legislature Party.

Not only has the Congress been deprived of status as the recognised Opposition, it has just six MLAs-one less than the second largest party and TRS ally, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM). The total number of opposition MLAs in the assembly is now in single digits-six of the Congress, one each from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the BJP, with one vacant.

The politically astute KCR served as transport minister in N Chandrababu Naidu’s cabinet in 1996 and was deputy speaker in 2001 before quitting the TDP to set up the TRS. The party was built on the grievance that Andhra Pradesh was discriminating against its Telangana region. KCR won the 2014 election soon after the formation and now plans to tighten his grip on the state.

Earlier this year, he is thought to have nursed dreams of becoming prime minister or at least a deputy PM in the event of a hung Parliament, hence KCR’s efforts to form of a federal front without the BJP or the Congress. Within Telangana, KCR welcomed defecting Congress MLAs to dampen the Grand Old Party’s morale and boost his clout and hold a bargaining chip in case of a hung Parliament.

KCR had hoped to repeat his assembly poll sweep in the Lok Sabha election, but was shocked when the BJP won four parliamentary seats, the Congress three, his party only nine and the AIMM one seat. With an emphatic NDA victory shattering his Delhi dreams, KCR’s plan for regional domination continues. He hopes bleeding the Congress will help him in cabinet expansion as well as in leadership succession plans. He wants to ready the pitch for his son and TRS working president KT Rama Rao (KTR) to step into his shoes in government, against the backdrop of a perceived threat from KCR’s nephew and former irrigation minister T Harish Rao.

KCR perceives the Congress, which has a strong cadre base across the state, as a potential threat and wants to crush the prospects of its resurgence. Soon after sweeping the assembly poll in December, the TRS managed to lure four Congress members from the legislative council. The Congress now has only one MLC to the TRS’s 32 in the 40-member legislative council. KCR is eyeing three more seats in the byelections to be held soon.

Dominance in the assembly will help KCR implement whatever he wishes without much protest, given the strength of the opposition. The increased strength in the assembly also helps get TRS activists elected to all seats falling vacant in the biennial elections from the state to the Rajya Sabha until such time the BJP is able improve its strength.

Finally, albeit indirectly, marginalising the Congress can possibly accrue to the advantage of the BJP in emerging as the principal opposition party in the state. In turn, it can lead to better bonding between the TRS and the BJP, helping get what the state reckons as its rightful share of central government-administered resources.

Both the Congress and the BJP are understandably furious. “KCR has a penchant to stifle dissent and the opposition because he cannot tolerate any criticism,” alleges Uttam Reddy, president, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee. “He did this earlier too, after the 2014 assembly election, when the TRS won just 63 of the 119 seats. He managed to get 25 other MLAs to align with his party for purposes of patronage.”

Reddy also alleges abuse of power by KCR. “He does not transact official business at the state secretariat. Perhaps he does not want to go the assembly too and wants to govern the state with brute majority from his farmhouse,” he says. “The man who promised to make a Dalit the state chief minister before the 2014 election is not even prepared to see a Dalit leader of the opposition in the assembly, having already deprived a Muslim from being the leader of the opposition in the legislative council.”

The BJP won four Lok Sabha seats as against three by the Congress. G Kishen Reddy, the BJP’s Secunderabad MP, was appointed minister of state for home affairs. “The BJP will liberate the state from the clutches of the Kalvakuntla (KCR) family. The brutal attack and killing one of our workers in Mahabubnagar district exposes the intolerance of KCR. It is the beginning of his downfall,” says state BJP president K Laxman.

Shah chairs meeting on internal security; NSA, Home Secy present

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Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting on internal security at Ministry of Home Affairs in North Block here on Monday.

In the high-level meeting, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval who was reappointed to the post for five more years and given Cabinet rank in the second term of the NDA government, was also present in the meeting.

On Thursday also Shah had held a high-level meeting on with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba.

Shortly after taking the charge on June 1, Shah had held a meeting with top officials of the ministry and had discussed a slew of issues related to internal security along with terrorism and Naxalism.

It is worth noting that Kashmir is the focus area for Shah in view of the promises made in the BJP manifesto like abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution.

The Centre’s muscular anti-terror policy pursued in Kashmir is likely to be continued under the new government.

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Actress thrilled with gift from Jackie Chan

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Actress Yami Gautam received a special gift — a traditional shawl — from international icon Jackie Chan during the promotions of “Kaabil” in China. She was thrilled.

“I was surprised when I heard that Mr. Chan had sent across a gift for me. I couldn’t meet him as I was still in India then shooting for ‘Bala’. But when I made it to Beijing, I was handed over a parcel from him. It was such a kind gesture from his end to think of sending me a thoughtful gift.

“As kids, we have grown up seeing his movies and I personally have been a fan of his work. He’s such an icon and a legend globally and I do hope to meet him in person soon,” Yami said in a statement.

Yami and Hrithik Roshan were in Beijing recently, and received an overwhelming response from all their fans and the audiences.

Hrithik had met Chan, and had posted photographs of their meeting on social media.

Reddy Quits As MLA Reluctantly

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy, who was once dreaming to become the chief minister, is now compelled to leave the state for Delhi.

On Wednesday, Uttam resigned from his assembly membership, albeit reluctantly, as he got elected as Lok Sabha member from Nalgonda district.

He went to the state assembly and submitted his resignation letter to assembly secretary Narasimha Charyulu.

In fact, after winning the Huzurnagar assembly seat with a very less margin in December elections, Uttam was happy as he thought he would continue to enjoy power in the party in Telangana.

Despite the serious loss in the assembly elections, Uttam continued as the PCC chief and was helplessly watching the party MLAs defecting to the TRS one after the other.

But when the Congress high command had chosen him for Nalgonda Lok Sabha seat, as there were no other suitable candidates to fight the election, Uttam could not say no though he was not interested in going to Delhi. And surprisingly, he won the LS seat defeating the TRS.

Now, the time has come for Uttam to move to Delhi. According to party sources, he is unlikely to continue as PCC chief and will have to hand over the mantle to some other seniors.

YSRC set to wrest power in Andhra with landslide win

Dashing all hopes of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) appeared set to wrest power in Andhra Pradesh with a landslide victory on Thursday.

YSRCP was leading in 145 seats in the state’s 175-member Assembly while the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was ahead in 28 constituencies.

Actor Pawan Kalyan’s party Jana Sena was leading in two constituencies, according to information available with the Election Commission.

Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party was racing ahead across the state from the time the initial trends started emerging.

YSRCP also appeared to be making a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha polls as the party was leading in 24 of the 25 constituencies.

The results came as a huge shock to TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, who was not only confident of retaining power in the state but was hoping to play the role of kingmaker at the Centre.

In 2014, the TDP had bagged 102 seats while its then ally BJP had won four seats. The YSRCP had won 67 seats while two independents were also elected.

In the Lok Sabha elections held simultaneously, the TDP had won 15 and the BJP two seats. The YSRCP bagged the remaining eight seats.

The trends so far show that BJP and Congress are not leading in any of the Assembly or Lok Sabha seat. No change in fortune is expected for Congress, which drew a blank in the simultaneous polls in 2014.

Kangana flaunts princess-like look at Cannes red carpet

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut looked no less than a princess out of a fairytale in a stunning pink and lavender hued trailed gown at the ongoing 72nd Cannes Film Festival.

After flaunting bold looks, the “Queen” star opted for a stunning soft and feminine gown by Filipino fashion designer Micheal Cinco.

But what really caught the eye was her beautiful long embellished trail.

“I am wearing a Michael Cinco Couture gown, with pink and lavender hues and it’s jewelled. It is very structured but at the same time, it has an absolutely romantic vibe to it. It is fierce and translucent but has a romantic vibe,” Kangana, who is here courtesy a brand association with Grey

Goose, said in a statement.

The 32-year-old actress completed her look with Chopard jewels, soft curls and minimal make-up.

Talking about her look, she said: “The hair is very romantic and regal and the make-up is also soft and we didn’t create contrast. I have never done softer looks, I have never done pink for any red carpet and it’s not my colour, so for me, it’s a definition of a risk.”

Kangana made a smashing red carpet appearance with a classic Kanjeevaram saree paired with a corset, followed by an edgy Nedret Taciroglu pant-suit for an after a party.

Boyapati Planning film with RX100 Hero

Boyapati who received shock from Nandamuri Balakrishna is now toying with the idea of making a medium range movie with a young hero.

Boyapati Srinu was hoping to start Balakrishna’s film from June or July but the Nandamuri star threw a surprise by announcing a film in the direction of K S Ravikumar from June.

Shocked by Balakrishna’s quirky decision, Boyapati started looking for available ‘stars’ to launch a film immediately.

No big star is ready to allot dates to him after “Vinaya Vidheya Rama” debacle.

Moreover, all the top stars like Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, Ram Charan, NTR Jr and Allu Arjun have enough projects in their kitty. Medium-range stars like Nani, Vijay Deverakonda, Varun Tej, etc too are busy with their prior commitments.

Boyapati Srinu has limited options now. He will have to approach his ‘Jaya Jaya Janaki Nayaka’ star Bellamkonda Srinu, Ravi Teja or Akhil Akkineni. However, Boyapati is now thinking of making a film with ‘RX100’ fame Kartikeya.

Boyapati’s assistant Arjun Jandhyala is currently directing Kartikeya for a film “Guna 369” and it is produced by Boyapati’s close friends.

It is also rumored that Boyapati is overseeing the direction of this movie. After watching Kartikeya’s work on the sets, he is planning to make a small film with him till he gets the dates of Nandamuri Balakrishna or other big star.

Will Boyapati really go with this plan? If this doesn’t work, his career will go downwards. If it clicks, he will have multiple options. A big risk indeed!

Battle between Dutt and Dil Raju

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The much-awaited ‘Maharshi’, Mahesh Babu’s 25th film, has created a huge conflict between two leading producers C Ashwini Dutt and Dil Raju.

Veteran producer C Ashwini Dutt is demanding Rs 10 Cr as a share in profits from this project at any cost, while Dil Raju’s version is that he has not gained a single rupee from this mammoth project from the pre-release business.

Dil Raju’s claim that “Maharshi” is a loss venture for him as the budget shot up and the pre-release business just covered the expenses. But producer Ashwini Dutt doesn’t buy his theory.

When you produce a film with a superstar like Mahesh Babu and do more than Rs 130 Cr pre-release business (theatrical, satellite and other avenues), and say that no profit has been gained on the project, does anyone would believe?

If you can’t even get a pie from Rs 130 Cr business, what is the point in producing a film with a superstar? Ashwini Dutt has this argument.

Ashwini Dutt wants minimum of Rs 10 Cr share from this film’s business. Since he had delivered many blockbusters in the past, he doesn’t want to be associated with a superstar’s project for the namesake.

He gains nothing from attaching his banner’s name to “Maharshi”, there is no added value to him if there is no monetary gain.

As everyone knows, the movie is produced by Dil Raju, Ashwini Dutt and PVP together on the advice of superstar Mahesh Babu. He wanted to settle all three commitments at one go.

Mahesh Babu took an advance from Ashwini Dutt long back. He wants returns on this project at any cost.

What will Dil Raju do now? How will this issue be settled? Will Mahesh Babu interfere?

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Retired Andhra HC judge booked for dowry harassment

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The daughter-in-law of a retired Andhra High Court judge on Sunday succeeded in getting custody of one of her two daughters, hours after her in-laws and husband were booked by for subjecting her to dowry harassment and domestic violence.

After nearly a day-long protest along with women activists outside the residence of former high court judge Justice Rammohan Rao here, Sindhu Sharma managed to get the custody of her younger daughter, one-and-half-year-old Srividya, with the intervention by police.

The 30-year-old also demanded the custody of her elder daughter. She vowed to continue her protest till the in-laws also hand over three-and-half-year-old Rishika.

Tension prevailed at the retired judge’s residence in posh Jubilee Hills as various women’s groups also joined her in her protest. Holding placards and raising slogans, they demanded justice.

Sindhu alleged that in-laws were refusing to hand over the elder daughter as they fear that she would speak out about the ill-treatment and physical assault.

She told media persons that Rammohan Rao suggested divorce with mutual consent. She, however, made it clear that the police case against them should first come to a conclusion.

She said that if her husband N. Vashista comes forward to live with her, she may give him a chance.

On a complaint by Sindhu, the Central Crime Station of Hyderabad police on Saturday filed a criminal case against Rammohan Rao, his wife Lakshmi and their son Vashista, charging them under sections 498-A (punishment for subjecting a married woman to cruelty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code and Dowry Prohibition Act.

Sindhu and Vashista had married six years ago and her father M. V. Sharma had given cash and gold as dowry. However, for last few months, her in-laws and husband had been allegedly harassing her for dowry and subjecting her to physical and mental torture.

Last week, she had to be admitted to a hospital after they allegedly thrashed her mercilessly. With the physical assault becoming unbearable, she decided to approach the police.

Rammohan Rao was a senior judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court who retired in 2017 while serving at Madras High Court.

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