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The rise and rise of Chinnamma

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It was no surprise when J Jayalalthaa’s close confidante Sasikala Natrajan, clad in a black sari followed the former Chief Minister on her last journey too as the entire state mourned the death of their beloved ‘Amma”. She even sidelined senior ministers of AIADMK and the new CM O. Panneerselvam and dominated the last rites also as had done previously during Jayalalthaa’s heydays in office.

Sasikala, who is also called ‘Chinnamma”by the millions of AIADMK followers had a tumultuous relationship with Jayalalithaa which has been rewarding for both in their personal as well as public life. As a matter of fact the special bonding of these two attracted more attention than Jaya’s equally stormy relations with her mentor MGR and M Karunanidhi, the patriarch of main opposition DMK in Tamilnadu.

Now who is this Chinnamma who was born in 1957 in an agricultural family at Mannargudi. We need to revisit the eighties, nearly thirty years ago a woman who ran a video rental store in Chennai also began to shoot for video films at wedding and other functions. At around the same time an ex leading female Tamil film star joined the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) at the behest of her co-star and mentor MGR. The former was Sasikala while the latter was none other than mercurial J Jayalalitha. Their paths were soon destined to converge and spark off a decades-long friendship.

Sasikala came from a rather modest background and her husband M. Natrajan, an assistant public relations officer with the Tamil Nadu government approached V.S.Chandralekha, Cuddalore collector and sought an appointment with Jayalalithaa, the popular silver screen goddess who had joined the AIADMK in June1982. Natrajan was an ambitious man and he knew that the political patronage will take her wife’s fledgling business to a different level and he got permission from Amma to video graph the meetings of the party.

The actor-turned politician was made the propaganda secretary of the AIADMK and Sasikala became incharge of shooting her speeches at the various public rallies which Jayalalithaa addressed. Jayalalithaa was very fond of watching Hindi,Telgu and Malyalam movies and Sasikala was the one who catered to her immense appetite for watching movies. It was normal for an ex-silver queen to be fond of being clicked and shot in videos and Jayalalithaa was no exception.

AIADMK party founded by MGR, split into two after his death, one faction was led by his widow Janaki Ramachandran while the other faction went under Jayalalithaa but only to be reunited after Jayalalithaa took absolute control of the entire party. Sasikala stuck with Jayalalithaa during this whole crisis and also moved to her Poes Garden residence in the late 80s to become an integral part of Amma’s life.

AIADMK party was thrown into a crisis when the founding father and the chief minister Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR passed away in 1987. MGR was not only a megastar of Tamil films; he was also a cultural icon of the state and was in the seat of chief minister for almost ten years between 1977 and 1987.

After a prolonged power struggle Jayalalithaa finally became the chief minister in 1991 and since then Sasikala and her entire clan have been Amma’s shadow. Sasikala, though a member of AIADMK has never occupied any formal post in the party hierarchy but it never became an impediment for Chinnamma for stepping in the spotlight.

Sasikala’s bonding with Amma became so strong that Jayalalithaa even adopted Sasikala’s nephew V N Sudhakaran, a hitherto unknown entity in Tamilnadu politics as her foster son. Sudhakaran was betrothed to the legendary Tamil matinee idol Shivaji Ganesan’s granddaughter Satyawati and the wedding was scheduled to be held in the September of 1995.

Jayalalithaa clearly instructed her party cadres that the marriage of her foster son should be considered as one within the family and should be celebrated with pomp and show with no holds barred. The pompous and the extravagant wedding spelled the downward spiral of Amma and public anger built up against her as a princely sum of around eight crore rupees was splurged on the wedding and the images of a fully decked up Amma with her companion Sasikala became a symbol of corruption and nepotism.

After the wedding of Sudhakaran, things soured between Jayalalithaa and her foster son. Jayalalithaa, though, never revealed the reason for disowning her foster son, various reports from the time suggest that Sudhakaran used his position to siphon off crores of rupees from her Poes Garden residence which he never returned. He was disowned by Amma on August 25, 1996 and a day after he termed it as his “Independence Day”.

In an interview to the Outlook magazine in 1997 Sudhakaran said that Jaya made him his foster son on his day of engagement only to settle her old score with the legendary and hugely popular Shivaji Ganesan. As per Sudhakaran’s version every time Shivaji Ganesan entered a function, Jayalalithaa had to stand up which she highly resented. So by positioning herself as the groom’s mother Amma ensured that Shivaji was relegated to an inferior status, being the bride’s emissary, he alleged.

Natrajaan was quite ambitious and his actions soon displeased Jayalalithaa and Amma made sure that he is kept away from Poes Garden. After the debacle in the 1996 assembly elections even Sasikala went away from Jayalalithaa. In December, 2011 Sasikala and all her close relatives were expelled from the AIADMK’s executive council but Sasikala made a dramatic comeback after few months later after writing a public apology.

O. Panneerselvam was unanimously chosen as the successor of Jayalalithaa and was hurriedly given oath as the next Chief Minister but posters supporting Sasikala sprang up dramatically in entire Chennai projecting their Chinnamma (Mother’s sister) as the next party general secretary. It was Sasikala who stood next to Jayalalithaa mortal remains at Rajaji Hall and also her entire clan –siblings, nephews, nieces of Sasikala and Natrajan came out in public for the first time and surrounded her body. Although Amma had her own blood relatives it was Sasikala who performed her last rites. It will be interesting to see whether Chinnamma the new empress of AIADMK will also run the party with iron hand like her mentor J Jayalalithaa.

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Royal Orchid announces the opening of group’s newest hotel in Nashik

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 Royal Orchid Hotels, the fastest growing hospitality chain in India today announced the opening of its new hotel in Nashik named ‘Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village’. Nashik popularly known as the wine capital of the country has gained immense popularity among the tourist in India.

Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village, with 32 rooms offers boutique accommodation with varied dining and banquet facilities. The glorious property will give travelers a mesmerizing experience and contemporary luxury.

On-site amenities at the hotel include a completely refreshed restaurant, a winery, a state-of-the-art fitness center and outdoor pool, as well as a business centre, and spa services. The hotel has a wide range of facilities that let the guests choose from various room categories designed in keeping the touch of the city with elegance and relaxing atmosphere.

Located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra, Nashik is developing as a lively city with a blend of the ancient and modern touches attracting tourists from across the country. The city has numerous forts, temples, historic sites as well as a home to industries. The city offers green pastures, mountains and tours of the wine yard.

The most important attraction of the city includes Vineyards and Hindu temples situated in and around Nashik. May it be an important corporate event or a business meet or a simple getaway to explore nature and feel the essence of spirituality, Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village allows enormous options to its guests. The guests can experience the beauty and culture of Nasik just by availing one of the several facilities that the hotel provides to its patrons.

Chander K. Baljee, Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels said, “The hotel is the perfect complement to our recently refreshed Regenta portfolio of hotels across India. We are taking continuous steps towards expanding our presence all over India. The new hotel in Nasik is one such move towards achieving our aim. The government push toward tourism sector is giving us the much needed enthusiasm to go aggressive in adding new properties to our bouquet. Going forward we will continue to add more properties to both-explored and unexplored tourist destinations”

By now we have added eight properties – Mysore, Ahmedabad, Dehradun, Kanpur, Dwarka, Indore, Pushkar and now Nasik in the current fiscal year taking the number to 49 hotels. We will continue our efforts in expanding our presence all over India”.

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Nationalism of Narendra Modi is under question

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The economic bungling by Jeweller Nirav Modi, Business tycoon Vijay Mallya  and Lalit Modi has put a serious  question mark on the nationalism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His conspicuous silence on  India’s largest banking fraud to the tune of Rs 11,400-crore and still counting is shocking as he repeatedly claimed to have won the huge mandate on the basis of giving achhe din to the people of India but crony capitalists have escaped India with taxpayers’ money and there is no clarification from Narendra Modi who has taken the voter for a ride.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi  to speak on  the Nirav Modi and Rafale scams rather than seeking suggestions for his Mann Ki Baat programme from the general public.

The intentions of Modi government are also conspicuous when the central government  opposed a plea seeking an independent Special Investigation team ( SIT )probe and deportation of billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi in the Supreme Court,citing an FIR has already been filed and that a probe was on.

The Supreme Court has already admitted the PIL, filed by lawyer Vineet Dhanda in the Rs 11,400 crore PNB fraud and has now been listed for further hearing on March 16.The PIL has made Punjab National Bank, Reserve Bank of India and the ministries of finance and law and justice as parties.

Modi has been touring the world citing that his government is enhancing the status of India as an investor friendly country and where there is an ease of doing business. On the contrary, his reforms of demonetisation and GST has benefitted selected Business people having links with the ruling party and crony capitalists and general public has been made to bear the burnt. The economic frauds have dented the image of India globally and these types of  incidents would amplify questions about distress in the country’s financial sector reeling under bad loans.

What type of image is being projected when the  picture in which billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi is seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Davos where the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum took place  from 23 to 26 January 2018. The summit was attended by world’s leading figures .

On January 31, PNB filed a case of “criminal conspiracy and cheating” against the gem trader, members of his family and others two weeks ago alleging a 2.8 billion indian rupee ($44m) fraud.

The Modi government is busy creating eyewash by deploying agencies to probe the scandal  and the Central Bureau of Investigation  on Tuesday arrested five senior executives in connection with the multi-crore PNB fraud including Vipul Ambani (President, Finance, Firestar International/Diamonds group), Kavita Mankikar (executive assistant and authorised signatory of 3 accused firms), Arjun Patil (senior executive, Firestar group), Kapil Khandelwal (CFO, Nakshatra and Gitanjali group) and Niten Shahi (Manager, Gitanjali).

Modi asked people of India in 2014 to vote out corrupt UPA regime then how he and his government is defending the scandals that have occurred under his tenure of just four years . Modi is even trying to bring back the culprits to India .

The question should be asked to the ministers of Modi government what type of nationalism they carry with them when they do not value the life of Indian citizens ,when Dalits are being thrashed ,security personnel get killed on the border when our ruling political class provokes the enemy country just to showoff the Indian voter (woo voters) that they are superior than other political parties. Modi should have strengthened  the country militarily, economically and cohesively as an answer to the huge mandate given by the voters on trust.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Arun Jaitley blames Auditors, Management for failing to detect PNB scam

PM Modi cannot afford to campaign in 2018 and 2019 elections on giving corrupt free government as massive scams are coming to light and government is assisting capitalists to run away with taxpayers’ money.

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Arun Jaitley

After five days,Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was quick to blame the PNB management and auditors for the Nirav Modi’s Rs. 11,300 crore fraud. It is pertinent to remind Jaitley that Dr Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister was charged for being responsible for the 1992 Harshad Mehta scam, therefore in the present context Finance Minister Jaitley cannot acquit himself of the eroding credibility of India’s banking system that has a direct cost on the country and the taxpayer and an indirect cost on borrowings and development as well.

Finance Minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot absolve their constitutional and democratic responsibility for the enormous scale of the scam which has many dimensions including fake bank guarantees or letters of Understanding.

Firms associated with Nirav Modi got fake LoUs from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), which is distributed to other banks stationed overseas seeking credit.The fraudulent transactions worth Rs 11,400 crore by Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi has embarrassed the government that claims to provide scam-free governance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot afford to campaign in 2018 and 2019 elections on giving corrupt free government as massive scams are coming to light and government is assisting capitalists to run away with taxpayers’ money.

PM Modi’s silence is amazingly stunning as he is not at all worried about India’s economy,one of the country’s biggest bank frauds, security and other problems of the common man but is rather living in his own false world and brags of giving good governance , acche din and Mann ki Baat where he continues on giving one sided communication.

Modi has fielded Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Education Minister Prakash Javadekar  to defend the government and clean the blot that could not have taken place without “top leadership involvement”.

Modi should step down for the financial fraud as 293 letters of undertaking (LoU), many letters of credit (LC), were issued during March, April and May 2017. Trying to hide failures of NDA government, the centre has sought the aid of seven agencies (Enforcement Directorate, Interpol, Central Bureau of Investigation, Income Tax department, Central Vigilance Commission,Ministry of Corporate Affairs) both at home and abroad to investigate the entire scam and investigators are conducting t searches at PNB branches and Nirav Modi’s properties.

Modi even claimed that his government had deregistered over 3 lakh dormant and shell companies listed with the Registrar of Companies but How is it possible that the ministry of Corporate affairs failed to identify the 200 shell companies of Nirav Modi and Choksi which the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate found to have been used to invest the Rs 11,400 crore of fraudulently obtained money.

The Indian banking sector is already struggling under the weight of bad loans or the NPAs valued as high as $150bn. and the government recently announced it would inject $32bn into the sector to help banks clean up their books, but analysts have questioned whether the money is enough without reforming the banks themselves. The Bharatiya Janata Party is also diverting the attention by saying that the Nirav Modi scam occurred during UPA regime and trying to accuse the Opposition for their failure to detect scams.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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