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Thackeray-Ambedkar ‘unity’ rattles Maha politics; MVA lauds, BJP trashes

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Ending two months’ political suspense, the Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) entered into a brand-new ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ alliance here, coinciding with the 97th birth anniversary of the late Balasaheb Thackeray, on Monday.

Uddhav, 62, ex-Chief Minister and son of Balasaheb Thackeray, and Ambedkar, 68, the grandson of the Chief Architect of Indian Constitution Dr B. R. Ambedkar, jointly made the formal announcement of the new political tie-up intended to electrify the state political scenario, with plans to fight the upcoming BMC civic elections.

Addressing the media, Thackeray recalled how his grandfather, Keshav Sitaram, alias Prabodhankar Thackeray, and Ambedkar’s grandfather Dr B.R. Ambedkar were good friends and had followed the ideology of ‘Desh Pratham’ (Nation First).

“We are now coming together to safeguard the nation and raise the concerns of the masses. We will take decisions on the next political courses in due time,” said Thackeray.

Declaring that the BJP is trying to finish off political leadership with the help of central agencies like the ED, Ambedkar forecast that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership will end soon”, and the ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ tie-up will work to save the Constitution and Democracy.

Thackeray claimed that the new partnership has been discussed beforehand with the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies comprising Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-Sena (UBT), while Ambedkar expressed the hope that the MVA would soon accept the VBA.

The duo – Thackeray, flanked by senior leaders like MPs Sanjay Raut, Arvind Sawant and ex-minister Subhash Desai, and Ambedkar, accompanied by state president Rekha Thakur and Mumbai chief Abul Hassan Khan – expressed confidence that the new force would prove beneficial in dethroning the Bharatiya Janata Party and would work in tandem with other political parties.

Confirming that Thackeray had discussed the partnership with Ambedkar, Congress state President Nana Patole welcomed the new ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ alliance saying it will help the Opposition parties’ ambitions of dislodging the BJP in the state and Centre.

NCP leader Anil Deshmukh also welcomed the Sena (UBT)-VBA tie-up saying all parties have a right to make their alliances.

Sena (UBT) Chief Spokesperson Raut pointed out that the ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ experiment had been carried out in the past and “it was the desire of the late Balasaheb Thackeray that these two forces should unite in the state”.

Asked what will be the impact of the tie-up in the upcoming civic polls, Ambedkar said it will work with other MVA parties, “will succeed and emerge victorious”.

In his first reaction, Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed his ‘good wishes’ to the new entity, while the ally and BJP’s leaders like Union Minister Narayan Rane and state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule trashed it saying it will make no difference to the party.

Criticising the tie-up, Rane asked ‘where is the Shiv Sena’ and ‘what has Ambedkar done for Dalits’, while Bawankule predicted that the alliance will not last long.

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EC’s song ‘Main Bharat Hoon’ to nudge voters for upcoming polls

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The Election Commission (EC) is gearing up for the nine Assembly Elections this year and the Lok Sabha polls early next year with the aim of pushing the voter percentages through innovative communication strategies.

As one of the initiatives, the EC, in collaboration with Subhash Ghai Foundation, produced a song – ‘Main Bharat Hoon, Hum Bharat ke Matdata Hain’, featuring celebrities from different walks of life, appealing to the people to cast their vote.

The song, which was screened in the presence of President Droupadi Murmu on the 13th National Voters Day — January 25, is already beginning to gain traction on social media through celebrities and influencers.

Officials said that within a week since its launch, the Hindi and the multilingual format of the song had already got over 3.5 lakh views and 5.6 lakh impressions on four major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The song is one of such initiatives of EC’s ‘Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation’ programme, which is the flagship voter education programme focused on inclusion strategies and action plans for enhancing participation from all categories of voters under EC’s motto of ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’.

The song is aimed not only at educating the voters regarding their rights and responsibility towards strengthening democracy, but also at enthusing them for greater participation in the electoral process.

As per EC officials, the song was finalised after a number of interactions of the team led by Subhash Ghai with the Election Commission led by Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner.

The Chief Election Commissioner said: “The song is dedicated to each voter who takes cognisance of their national duty and casts vote, beating all odds.”

The motivating lyrics of the song are written and composed by the filmmaker, Subhash Ghai, in association with Whistling Woods International School of Music, Mumbai and it is sung in Hindi and 12 regional languages including Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Odia, Kashmiri, Santali covering the maximum geographical area.

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Mumbai: Elderly woman killed in Dharavi cloth unit fire

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Mumbai: A 62-year-old woman was killed in a massive fire that engulfed several small garment manufacturing units in Dharavi here on Wednesday, the BMC Disaster Control said.

The blaze was noticed around 1.p.m on Wednesday in four-five cloth producing units and spread quickly to two buildings of two floors standing adjacent to each other, sparking panic in the thickly congested locality.

The woman was trapped in the ground floor bathroom of one of the units and was rushed to the Sion Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as one Usha Londhe, 62, said the BMC, and more details are awaited.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade is fighting the conflagration which was confined to the electric wiring and installations, bundles of textile garments and machineries.

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Hindenburg report effect: Gautam Adani out of world’s top 10 richest list

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The richest Indian and Asian in the world, billionaire Gautam Adani, has seen his fortune decrease, which has caused him to fall out of the top 10 richest people in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Adani Group lost more than Rs 5,29,865 crore in the last seven days following the publication of Hindenburg Research’s investigative report accusing Adani of brazen fraud and stock manipulation.

The Chairman of the Indian conglomerate Adani Group, Gautam Adani, has a net worth of $84.4 billion, while Jeff Bezos’ net worth increased to $124 billion as of January 31, 2023. 

With $189 billion, Bernard Arnault is still the richest man alive. According to data from Bloomberg, Gautam Adani’s net worth dropped by $8.21 billion in the past day and has lost $36.1 billion overall.

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