India

The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya

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Meghalaya, in the north-east of India is a beautiful state with myriad of lush green forests, magnificent mountains, marvelous waterfalls and other breathtaking natural sights. Fortunately, the ambience of Meghalaya has the touch of nature still alive. The overwhelming environment with original simplicity welcomes the tourists from all over the world.

Well! Herein, I will narrate the story of the Living Root Bridges found on the serene land of Meghalaya. It is noteworthy that Meghalaya is renowned all over the world for its double-decker and single-decker root bridges. The most astounding fact is that these bridges are the huge tangles of the colossal thick living roots of the Rubber Tree, Ficus elastica. These intermingled strands of roots are capable of holding numerous people on the bridge. Yes, you can easily cross the river via these bridges.

Meghalaya is the place receiving the highest amount of rainfall on this planet earth. Mawsynram, the village in Meghalaya is recorded to have received 11,873mm of rainfall thus, establishing the record of the ‘wettest place of the Earth’. Due to the heavy rainfall, it was very difficult for the people of Khasi and Jaintia to cross the rivers. The bamboo bridges built by these tribal people used to rot and break down due to the downpours of rains.

Around 180 years back, the ancestors of the Khasi people devised a one-stop solution to sort out the problem of the people who remained stranded during the rains and were not able to cross the rivers. The roots of the Rubber Trees were escorted in the hollow canes of the Areca Nut Palms from both the sides such that they met in the middle across the stream. The roots were looked after and nurtured for years. Well! This ardent task bore fruits. With passage of time, these bridges became strong enough to hold the weight of humans.

The most spectacular Living Roots Bridge is built over the Umshiang River outside Nongriat, just 10km south to Cherrapunji. This legendary Umshiang Double-Decker Bridge is about 180 years old; still standing upright thus, adding to the pride of Meghalaya. Apart from this, there are many stunning bridges made from the living roots of the rubber tree found in the interior regions of Meghalaya, Nagaland and other north-eastern states.

However, with the advent of modern technology, the art of building these bridges is dying out since past 20-25 years. Now, these bridges are replaced by modern bridges made up of steel and other metals. However, the single-decker and double-decker bridges made from the living roots of Ficus elastica are the major tourist attraction from all over the world.

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Is Congress trying to be soft towards Hindutwa ? Rawat says, it’ll build Ram Temple if Congress comes to power !

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The recent statement of the former Uttarakhand chief minister n AICC general Secretary Harish Rawat about his affirmation that Ram Mandir would be actually constructed by Congress party if it comes to power n not the BJP has definitely raised question mark on his party’s secular credibility ?

The Congress ideology, its election menifesto nor any of its senior leaders including Sonia Gandhi or the present party chief have ever said either in camera or in public that they will ever stand for the construction of Ram Temple.

I my self question you, did they ever ? The 135 year old party that always stood for the pluralistic society, unity in diversity formula and for purely secular India , does not the statement of its all India general secretary Harish Rawat openly assuring the people of India about his party favoring construction of Ram Temple if it comes to power go against the party’s basic ideological tenets n principles n why is it that nobody in the party has so far issued any statement for or against the controvertial statement.

The alleged logic given behind the former Uttarakhand CM’s statement favouring construction of Ram Temple by his party n partymen is that since the lock of the disputed temple was got opened during the era of Rajivji’s premiership, it will ultimately be the Congress party which will construct the Ram Temple when it comes to power n not the BJP which has been deliberately dragging the issue for the last 26 years n taking undue political advantage under the false pretext of constructing the Ram Temple.

Now there are two basic points behind this statement. One, either it has been issued in haste by Harish Rawat to undermine the BJP for betraying the hindu bhakts for the last twenty six years or the Congress Party is allegedly trying to go soft on Hindu agenda in its quest to seek the votes of the majority community as well. One should not forget that it was during the tenure of Late Govind Ballabh Pant being the Home minister of India that Idols of Ram Lala were placed in the disputed site.

Not only this but when Congress CM Veer Bahadur Singh was the UP CM n late Rajiv Gandhi PM, the locks of the temple were opened. And during Narsimha Rao’s tenure as the PM in 1992 the Babri Masjid was demolished by the hindu fundamentalists n the Kar Sewaks. But despite all this the Congress party has never ever compromised on its secular credentials n beliefs always believing in this vexed issue to be resolved through the honourable highest court of the country whereas the right wing parties, the BJP , VHP, RSS n other hindu outfits had been demanding bringing of the legislation on Ram Temple issue.

However, prime minister Narendra Modi preferred not to fall in their trap n assesing the dangerous implications behind such moves honoured the Court’s ruling leaving it fully on the nation’s judiciary. However, to keep the firward n upper castes of the country in good humour he instead went for ten percent reservation legislation for the economically deprived classes of the general catagory.

The general elections are round the corner n every party is trying its best to appease the voters of all communities, classes, religions n catagories of the society by way of either polarisation of votes in the name of religion or through introduction of various populist measures like Ram Temple, reservation or through other means. While BJP has so far failed to impress upon its majority community voters through Ram Mandir construction issue by not being able to get the ordinance introduced through the centre Uttar Pradesh’s Saffron clad CM Yogi Aditya Nath has thrown a new card of pensions to Sadhus n Sanyaasies in UP, never ever heard in the last 7 decades of the country’s polity.

While BJP’s repeated pleas n assurances on Ram Mandir issue is digestible to an extent as it’s a pro hindu party but Congress leader n national general secretary Harish Rawat’s new “Shagufa” populist announcement that Congress party will get the Ram Temple constructed in Ayodhya if it comes to power is something completely indigestible and out of context.

Is Congress really trying to hijack the BJP’s Ram Mandir issue in view of the fast aporoaching general elections could be anybody’s guess? Then what about its national minority vote bank? Is Congress really prepared to play such a huge risk ? Would anybody answer?
What’s your take friends?

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NDTV journalist Bahuguna comes out in open defence of NSA Doval n his sons in his FB post. Says those who’re serving the country honestly are being unnecessarily targetted

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It sounds interesting and transparent that a senior journalist of NDTV and three time recipient of prestigious Ramnath Goenka Award Sushil Sharma has taken the courage to openly come out in defence of the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his two sons who’ve recently been allegedly labelled as D Company by a magazine Caravan, published from New Delhi in his face book post in Hindi titled : RIGHT LEFT KE JHAGDE MEIN FACT KI MAUT AUR PATRAKARITA MEIN SIYASAT KA GHAALMEL. ( Death of fact in the quarrel of Righ left and mishmesh of politics in journalism). According to senior journalist Sushil Bahuguna, in the present day blind/ desperate politics the tirades have so badly taken the front seat that truth and facts get disappeared forthwith.

In the quest for accusing the arch rival and being desperately vindictive nobody is taking the pain to get the facts substantiated. Even journalism has got converted into Red, saffron, blue and green in view of squeezed political considerations. What’s black n white, nobody is least interested to know. This desperation becomes criminal when even those people are brought under its cover who are not related to politics directly.

Those who are honestly connected/ associated with the service of the country and the society. The current issue is connected with the targetted National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who is doing a great service to the country with full integrity as per the prestige of the post he is holding.

Just imagine as to what will be the mentality of those writers who don’t hesitate to accuse those who are serving the nation with commitment, determination and morality. Where should we bring words to criticize or condemn people with such derogatory mentality.

Those interested to hurriedly target Modiji should have at least found the credible evidence before inflicting such baseless charges or accusations on the NSA and his sons( duo).

On the top of that if ethical, intelligent and knowlegeable politicians like Jairam Ramesh start losing their tempers that one would be constrained to believe that the bad days of politics have indeed started.

However, now a criminal defamation case have already been launched against the website Caravan and politician Jai Ram Naresh. All the facts have been brought in the knowledge of the honourable Court.

Now rest of the work is of the Court. Vivek Dobhal has submitted all his economic documents of the last 18 years to the court. Now those who’ve accused the NSA n his sons will have to find the logics behind their accusations n prove them. When logics are buried down then the factories of generation of arguments come up.

Let’s hope that justice will arrive soon so as to bring those to justice who’ve levelled fabricated n concocted charges on the people doing their honest duties.

This would be a lesson for them. Let Modi, Rahul n others do their politics but such personalities ( like NSA Doval) should be kept out of the poisionous or venemous accusations. At least there should be some people on whose behalf the country may run smoothly writes Sushil.

It may be recalled that sr journalist of NDTV n News Anchor Sushil Bahuguna is the third time recepient of prestigious Ram Nath Goenka Award for his outstanding work to highlight the plight of people of Uttarakhand n those living in border areas due to incessant exodus to the cities, town n metropolises from Uttarakhand villages making them peopleless.

He also made documentaries on the demerits of big dams like Pancheswar and subsequent displacement of more than thirty thousand people. Sushil is also credited with thoroughly higlighting the peoples’ agony in the 2013 ecological catastrophe of 2013 Kedarnath tragedy. He is an outstanding journalist of electronic media commanding tremendous respect in the journalistic fraternity.

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Pensions to Sadhus n Sanyasies of UP. Is the UP CM baffled due to the BSP SP alliance ?

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Sounds ridiculous, not because, the people of the lowest ebb of the society or those unemployed should not be helped or assisted financially irrespective of their educational back grounds or being unskilled but when the chief minister of the biggest state of the country forgets giving employment to the educated unemployed youths and helping farmers come out of the agrarian crisis n those at the lowest ebb n instead proposes to give pension to the infinite number of saints or saffron clad sadhus of the state right at the time when national elections are round the corner on religious grounds ?

What a mockery of a system n the post of a chief minister who’s supposed to be the “Khairkhwah” the welfare doer of the entire state n society irrespective of caste n religious considerations but shamelessly talks of pensions for Sadhus n Sanyaasis on religious grounds for Hindu polarisation knowing very well that in a state and country like India that believes in composite culture and pluralistic society with secular credentials making such hollow, unethical n reactionery announcement would lead to nothing but divisionary results amounting to pure sectarian decision making for the good of one sect leaving rest of communities n religions under second grade catagory as if they are not the part n parcel of the state’s decision making having played no role in government making by virtue of their non participation in the democratic process of voting.

If Sadhus n sanyasis have been chosen for the so called pension benefits why is it that other religious heads have been left out. And what about distressed farmers, down troddens, educated n uneducated unemployed youths n those at the lowest ebb of the society.

Is it that the the saffron clad devout Hindu CM is the CM of a particular sect or community or is he baffled by the recent BSP SP pre electoral alignment or he’s not confident of the good outcome of the 10% reservation legislation passed by the centre for upper caste economically deprived or poor hindus within the annual income limit of 8 lakhs per annum. If It’s not so then what was the hurry for announcing pensions for Sadhus n saints of UP question anxious political analysts. And why the announcement for Saints of Hindu religions why not for the religious heads of other communities viz Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, n Budhists etc.

The crux of the story is that after the recent tie up of the two former arch rivals BSP n SP and the way this alliance got positive media coverage the BJP in Uttar Pradesh seems to be in quandary especially after losing Phoolpur, Sitapur and Kairana parliamentary byelections few months ago.

The sinking leadership of BJP CM in UP and its failure on several fronts of law and order, agrarian crisis, unable to provide employment to the uneducated youths n failure on Ram Mandir issue by not able to bring the ordinance compounded with annoyance of the forward castes on SC, ST act turning down the Supreme Court’s verdict both the SC, STs, upper castes n the general masses, even the majority community is slowly n steadily turning away from them. The Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is looking for issues n populist measures that can atleast keep its majority vote bank intact. Hence these desperate populist moves like pensions to the Sadhu Sanyasies of UP never ever heard in the last seven decades after India gaining independence.
What’s your take friends?

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India

Rupee weakens by 26 paise against US dollar in early trade

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The rupee weakened by 26 paise to 71.45 against the US dollar in early trade on Monday on increased demand for the American currency from importers amid rising crude prices and foreign fund outflows.

At the interbank forex exchange, the rupee opened lower at 71.38 and weakened further to quote 26 paise down at Rs 71.45 against the dollar.

Forex dealers said the dollar’s gains against some other currencies overseas too weighed on the rupee sentiment.

However, a positive opening of the domestic equity market capped the rupee’s losses, they said.

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was trading 0.46 per cent higher at USD 62.99 per dollar, its two-month high.

On Friday, the rupee had shed 16 paise to end at 71.19 against the dollar.

Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose 32.76 points, to 32,419.37 in opening session Monday.

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India

Nepal’s Central bank announces ban of Indian notes above Rs 100

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Nepal’s central bank has banned the use of Indian currency notes of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations, a move that could affect Indian tourists visiting the Himalayan nation where Indian currency is widely used.

Nepal Rastra Bank on Sunday issued a circular prohibiting Nepali travellers, banks and financial institutions from holding or carrying and trading Indian bank notes higher than Rs 100, the Kathmandu Post reported.

The central bank said in its circular letter that Indian currency of 200, 500 and 2,000 denominations cannot be carried and used for trading, it said, Under the new regulation, Nepali citizens cannot carry these denominations to countries other than India. Similarly, Nepalis are also not allowed to bring such notes from other countries. Indian notes of 100 or below, however, are allowed for trading and conversion, the bank’s circular reads.

On December 13, the Cabinet had decided to publish the notification in the Nepal Gazette not to allow people to carry Indian currency notes above 100 denominations in Nepal.

The ban has been criticised by travel traders and entrepreneurs, saying that it would hurt the country’s burgeoning tourism at a time when the government has announced ‘Visit

Nepal’ campaign with an objective to draw at least 2 million tourists in 2020.

Since a majority of Indians come to Nepal over land from bordering towns, it is difficult for them to convert their currency to dollar or Euro, they said.

The overland Indian visitors’ survey showed that 1.2 million Indians came to Nepal through the surface route while 160,132 travelled via air. The average length of stay of Indian tourists coming overland was 5.8 days. Average expenditure per visitor was as much as Rs 11,310, the paper said.

The Indian government introduced new banknotes of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations after the demonetisation of old notes worth Rs 500 and 1,000 in 2016.

However, the move hit countries such as Nepal and Bhutan where Indian currency is widely used.

Nepal Premier K P Sharma Oli said earlier this year that demonetisation hurt the Nepalese people and added that he would raise the matter with Indian leaders.

People have been using the new Indian currency in Nepal for nearly two years now.

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India

BMC’s Wastewater Treatment Facility still a distant away

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While two arms of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) sewerage department are doing more than the other departments of the BMC combined, its third and most ambitious arm is yet to take off.

The sewerage department, which is bifurcated in three separate arms: operation, project and disposal, has seen the least movement for its last and the most important arm.

On an average, various departments of the BMC like sewerage, road, storm water drains have spent nearly 36 per cent of the total budget, with the first two spending over 40 per cent of it.

However, there is a 14-year delay in the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WwTF) at seven centres where the second phase of the plan is to be executed. After the completion of Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project (MSDP) phase I works, sewerage master plan II was prepared in 2002, but the actual implementation started in 2016 and is yet to gather steam. Under phase II, the BMC will upgrade the secondary and tertiary treatment plant at eight locations across the city including Dharavi.

The city gets 3,800 million litres of water a day (MLD). According to official records, 2,100 MLD water goes to the sea as sewerage water. The city’s sewerage system includes 44 satellite pumping stations and seven WwTF with preliminary treatment facility at Worli, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Versova, Colaba, Bandra and Malad. The treated effluent is discharged into the creek.

In a bid to move forward with the plan, the BMC has appointed a Project Management Consultant for the Worli, Dharavi and Bandra plants. Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Versova plants are still in the planning stage. Meanwhile, the upgrade work of Colaba plant is underway. The Malad WwTF is waiting for environment clearance. The estimated cost of all seven centres will be around Rs 14,000 crore. The budget allocation for the same was Rs 538 crore, but only 15 per cent amount has been used for the work until now.

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Bageshwar’s Gold Medalist Nitendra to participate in London Merathon

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The athletes n sportspersons of Uttarakhand are making the Himalayan state proud by their outstanding performances and Gold medal winning streak in various national n international competitions.

While the shooting prodigy and daughter of the internationally acclaimed shooter Jaspal Rana has made Uttarakhand n India proud in her outstanding pistol shooting achievements in the World pistol shooting championships n Khelo India games by winning several Golds n silver medals another athlete of Uttarakhand namely Nitendra Singh Rawat who’d recently won the prestigious Gold medal in Mumbai Merathon 2019 has surprisingly qualified for the World marathon championships to be held in Doha in the near future.

As a sequel to that Nitendra Singh Rawat got an opportunity to participate in the London Merathon where he would be participating for the first time representing India.

A high spirited enthusiastic racer Nitendra Singh primarily belonging to village Aana near Garud in Bageshwar district of Kumaon, Uttarakhand while talking to this reporter disclosed that he is the only n first athelete from Uttarakhand n India who would be participating in the significant London Olympics.

According to a report of Anshul Dangi of HT hindi, UK, popular as a merathon runner Nitendra Rawat has secured the Gold medal in the Mumbai Merathon after being out of races for the last one year due to severe injury. However he is back to the racing track with renewed vigour n vitality. Nitendra won the race in the catagory of Indian atheletes in two hours, fifteen minutes n fifty one seconds.The qualifying deadline for participation in the the World Merathon championship was 2 hours 16 minutes which Rawat qualified a minute before.

He is also credited with winning Gold in the South Asian Games but due to injury ( he) was constrained to be out of the games for over a year.

The future of Nitendra Rawat as a merathon runner is quite bright and as such the government of Uttarakhand should take notice of such budding atheletes by helping them financially to the core.

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Delhi

Now, Delhi-based venture to help you book trucks using mobile application

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The mobile application based cab booking business model has been a big hit in metro cities and has prompted a sudden increase in usage of taxis by daily commuters. Some of the reasons for this sudden success are believed to be reasonable pricing and quick availability on demand.

Taking inspiration from the same concept, a mobile application based truck booking venture has been brought to the light of the day by Mavyn, a truck booking venture. The application has been connecting truckers with companies operating in various sectors like Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), lifestyle and E-commerce.

This venture initiates the process of connecting the trucker with the company by verifying credentials at both ends. This is critical because the business operates on a post paid module, where the shipper has to pay zero advance to the trucker and payment is made only after getting proof of delivery.

Mavyn’s concept benefits all four stakeholders of the trucking industry – shippers, truckers, drivers and partners. The model provides lowest freight rates at a minimal operational cost in the industry.

The company is the brainchild of Sachin Haritash who has been previously associated with the Chetak group, a pioneer in logistics and supply chain solutions in India. Haritash, who was formerly director of Chetak Logistics, commercially began the operations of Mavyn about a year ago. He believes that instant availability of trucks and handsome returns to the truckers will ensure that the platform soon becomes a rage among the trucking community.

“The main motive behind this venture is to make trucking a white collared job and to ensure that every stakeholder involved in the industry is provided with proper margins and value to survive and flourish,” said Haritash.

The Mavyn app allows guaranteed lowest freight rates for the day, along with guaranteed booking within six hours, live tracking through GPS and 24X7 access to the shipper about their shipment.

Currently operating in ‘line long haul’ segment Mavyn only caters to services on long routes along with a heavy load option of at least 9 tonnes. But according to Haritash the company is focusing on increasing its truck base and targets inclusion of  60 thousand vehicles by 2020, which will allow the company to provide services on shorter distances also, with lighter weights.

“The company has already tied up with more than 14 shippers, 600 truckers and has over 1200 trucks registered on its portal. But we are aiming to have 60 thousand vehicles by 2020. This will increase the current shipments from 225 per month to 500 shipments in the coming future,” Haritash added.

With its headquarter in Delhi, the company operates digitally and promotes paperless transactions.

“We have been the first in the field to introduce digital proof of delivery (PoD) feature, which allows the trucker to digitally provide us with the PoD and we in return transfer the payments within 36 hours of raising the PoD,” added Haritash

The venture is focusing on increasing its truck base and targets inclusion of  60 thousand vehicles by 2020, which will allow the company to provide services on shorter distances also, with vehicles having a lighter weight

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Crime

24-year-old American attacks Sikh man in an alleged hate crime in US

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A Sikh man has been brutally assaulted in an alleged hate crime by a white man who pulled his beard, kicked and punched him in the face at a store in the US, the latest such incident in the country.

Harwinder Singh Dodd, who was working at a convenience store in the US State of Oregon, was racially targeted on Monday by a 24-year-old Andrew Ramsey.

Ramsey targeted Dodd because of his perception of the employee’s religion, FOX 12 TV news reported, citing a court document.

Ramsey wanted rolling papers for cigarettes but did not have an ID and the clerk would not sell them to him, Justin Brecht, a legislative policy adviser in the Oregon State Capitol and a former combat Marine, was quoted as saying by the report.

When Dodd asked Ramsey to leave, he attacked him by pulling his beard, punching him in the face, pulling him to the ground and kicking him, Brecht said, adding that they held Ramsey down until officers got there, the report said.

“He was bleeding, he had gotten punched quite a bit in the face, and kicked on the ground and thrown to the ground very brutally. It was very serious.” Ramsey has been charged with a hate crime, assault, police said, adding that he threw his shoe at Dodd and tried to steal his head covering.

He was also charged with assault in the fourth degree, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass.

Hate crimes increased by 40 per cent in Oregon from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI.

In August 2018, in about a week, two Sikh men were brutally assaulted in the US State of California that raised concerns over increasing incidents of hate crimes in the country.

Last year, the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) published a report documenting a 45 per cent increase in hate violence and rhetoric against Indians, Sikhs, and South Asian Americans from the year prior

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If uttering truth means to be an anarchist/ rebel , then yes I am, says Shatru while challenging the BJP leadership

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AGAR SACH KEHNA BAGAAVAT HAI TO SAMJHO HUM BHI BAAGI HAIN ( If uttering truth amounts to being an anarchist/ rebel in the eyes of BJP then let me tell you that I am an anarchist too). This was the main sentence that reverberated in the UNITED INDIA RALLY organised by the West Bengal chief minister n Trinamool Congress yesterday, the 19th January at the Brigade Parade ground in Kolkatta mentioned by the BAAGI BJP leader n BJP MP from Patna Sahib Shatrughan aka Shot Gun Sinha, giving an open challenge to prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP Supremo Amit Shah.

The eloquent BJP leader n MP who’d been incessantly speaking against the BJP leadership n prime minister Narendra Modi for more than a year from various opposition forums including his twitter handle day in and day out was extremely vociferous at the United India Rally attended by about 22 non BJP opposition leaders of the Mahagathbandhan being formed to dethrone the BJP led NDA out of power in 2019.

The actor turned politician Sinha extremely envy of top BJP leadership spoke openly against the BJP led NDA government and appealed the massive rally attendees to dethrone the NDA government led by BJP by all means, unambiguously inviting his possible expulsion from the ruling party on whose ticket the actor turned politician entered parliament from Patna Sahib.

The former union health minister in Vajpayee’s government Shatrughan Sinha is an ardent supporter of the former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna advani n had number of times accused the BJP central leadership of deliberately sidelining the party veterans Advani n Professor MM Joshi, instead of honouring them with high political positions.

Sources reveal that while the BJP high command was tolerating the anti BJP stance n bad mouthing of Shatru for a long time but after his recent move of joining the anti BJP conclave at Kolkatta and openly challenging the central leadership, the party supremo has finally made up his mind to expel Shtru out of BJP as his repeated anti party salvos has caused much and irreperable harm to the party n leadership.

Shatru it seems has made up his open mind to take on the BJP with full confidence and as an arch rival being an important part of the grand anti BJP alliance.

Sources reveal that BJP baagi Shatru has options to go with RJD in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav or in the Congress party depending on the right substitute to click.

However, having good relations with almost all the party leaders in the opposition he had earlier been offered seat from Delhi by AAP earlier to contest from trans Yamuna parliamentary constituency having tremendous amount of Poorvanchali votes, in Asansol by TMC against actor singer Babul supriyo having majority of North Indian votes or from his home state Bihar under the RJD’s banner.

However, days of Shatru seem to be numbered in BJP n can be expelled any time. Shatru has already declared that he would not quit BJP on his own but would rather prefer to be expelled as he has done nothing wrong or anti party but has always tried to correct the wrongs of the party leaders. If the party thinks that he is anti BJP he should be expelled adds Shatru.

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