Former Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely, who had switched over to the BJP in April last year, rejoined the Congress party on Saturday in the presence of the party’s Delhi in-charge P.C. Chacko and the present chief of Delhi Congress Ajay Maken Before the photo opportunity at the 24 Akbar Road headquarters of the Congress party, Mr. Lovely met party president Rahul Gandhi at his residence. He told the media that “he had left the party in pain”. I was an ideological misfitThough he didn’t elaborate, it was well known that he left because of his differences with Mr. Maken, who had replaced him [Mr. Lovely] as the party’s Delhi unit chief. “I was an ideological misfit in the BJP,” said Mr. Lovely during the brief interaction with the media after his re-induction into the Congress. His one time mentor and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that she is happy at Mr. Lovely’s homecoming.The development comes barely a couple of days after Mr. Maken and Ms. Dikshit addressed a joint press conference against the AAP government’s third anniversary in Delhi in an effort to show a picture of unity.The Delhi unit of the Congress has witnessed factionalism with both Ms. Dikshit and Mr. Maken openly blaming each other for the party’s debacle in the 2015 Assembly election where it didn’t win a single seat.
For a city with a centuries-old history of mining coal and producing steel, a gate at the entrance to Asansol, describing it as the “City of Brotherhood”, was scarcely noticed by residents and passers-by until a few years ago. However, after March 2018, the message put up by the city’s civic body is not only hard to miss but also presents the paradox the city is grappling with.In March 2018, Asansol burnt in hatred. Over 26 years after the city witnessed a divide along communal lines post-Babri Masjid demolition, the city appeared to be divided again. People were killed and prohibitory orders remained imposed for weeks as riots broke out over processions during Ram Navami. As the constituency gears up for polls on April 29, 2019, the fault lines of the communal divide seem more pronounced.Days before the polls, Trinamool Congress nominee Sreemati Dev Varma (Moon Moon Sen) had several events lined up earlier this week on Monday. At a crossing on the Domohani Road in Ward No. 31 of the Asansol Municipal Corporation, the 65-year-old actor made a brief speech to a crowd of a few hundred, largely comprising women and children.“The sound of azan from your mosque is the same as that of shlokas from the Gita,” she began. “Will you vote for those who want to divide us,” she asked in an apparent reference to the BJP.Ms. Sen, who represented Bankura Lok Sabha seat in 2014, had no hesitation in telling the audience that she is not familiar with Asansol and was contesting as per the wishes of her party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Her speech was replete with references to her mother, Bengali screen legend Suchitra Sen. Asked about her chances here, Ms. Sen’s reply reflected the wit of a politician: “Ask me what are the chances of Mamata Banerjee becoming Prime Minister and I will tell you its cent per cent.”Challenges galore The arithmetic of the last Assembly polls, held three years ago, may be with the TMC — it had won five of the seven seats in the Asansol LS constituency. But there are other challenges for the party. A TMC MP from Kolkata admitted that prime among them was of keeping the party’s flock together. This was one of the reasons why an outsider was given the ticket.Defending the seat is Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo. The singer-turned-politician’s greatest weapon this election is a song that has already courted a lot of controversy. Beyond the open coal mines of Raniganj where people can be seen carrying coal — mostly smuggled from the mines — on bicycles and their heads under the scorching sun, Mr. Supriyo is in the midst of a very busy campaign. As his convoy passes through Pandabeshwar, his supporters distribute booklets on the work he has done in the past five years, with his song playing in the background. Refuting the Election Commission’s reservations about the song, Mr. Supriyo expressed happiness at the over one lakh views it had notched on the Internet. “Why will you vote for Moon Moon Sen who is asking for votes in the name of her dead mother? What about the living and their problems?” he told a small gathering. While reminding people to play his song, the MP also raised slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ during his campaign.Corruption from coal and freedom to allow religious processions found echoes in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he addressed the public meeting at Polo Grounds in Asansol the very next day (Tuesday). Just on the other side of the railway tracks, where the Prime Minister addressed the public meeting, Noorani Masjid and its adjoining areas still bear the scars of last year’s violence. “There was an unfortunate incident last year. What happened then should not recur any time in the future,” said Maulana Imdadullah Rashidi, referring to the riots. The cleric’s 16-year-old son was killed in the riots but he defused the situation with love, threatening to leave the city if members of the community targeted others.Another flare-upEarlier this month, a communal flare-up was also reported at Barakat in Asansol over a Ram Navami procession when authorities had to intervene, make arrests and suspend Internet services in the area. Imam Rashidi tried to downplay the incident. “There were some rumours in Barakat. Everything is quiet now. Elections will come and go. Asansol needs to, and will return to, where it was before 2018,” he said, his voice reflecting the same sanity and reason he had put forth a year ago.For Imam Rashidi, Asansol is really the city of brotherhood. “We are brothers living together here for centuries. Those who are used to hate will never realise what brotherhood means,” he said.
Special LIVE #BYUSN edition Monday at 6pm ET for complete #BYUtoBig12 coverage including press conference on BYUtv & BYU Radio pic.twitter.com/EcO9Zqvhdh— BYU Sports Nation (@BYUSportsNation) October 17, 2016But according to various sources, this is far from a done deal (even now with today’s announcement at 5 p.m.). Here’s my man Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports on the situation.Officials at the highest level of the Big 12 have indicated to CBS Sports over the past few weeks that they have no idea which way things are headed. One person with intimate knowledge of the process said there was a “fairly good” chance expansion may be tabled, then quickly added, “I have no idea what’s going to happen.”I still think the Big 12 could be playing chicken with FOX and ESPN. There is a sense that not only are those networks not excited about programming with BYU or Cincinnati, but they might be willing to pay more money to the Big 12 for it to not happen.How crazy would that be? The Big 12 could presumably pad its revenue by $1 billion over the next 10 years because of clauses in its contracts with ESPN and FOX which is of course enticing. But you would also be pissing off two partners who you will have to eventually re-negotiate with.Maybe that ship has already sailed. Maybe Shanks and his colleagues at ESPN are already so angry that none of this even matters. Monday’s announcement (of lack thereof) will be really intriguing, and either way, it looks like the Big 12 will increase its revenue flow in the short term. I just wonder if it will even be around in the long term to realize the benefit.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers! I think this might be the first time we have an executive from either FOX or ESPN — the two companies the Big 12 currently has TV contracts with — speaking out against Big 12 expansion. Of course the Big 12 is seemingly about to follow that up by, you know, expanding because the Big 12 will always Big 12 so hard.Anyway, here’s Eric Shanks, president of FOX Sports.“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference,” Shanks told Sports Business Daily. “We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference. Who knows where expansion is going to go. Reading the smoke signals, [expansion talk has] cooled off. I don’t know why. We’re still in discussions with them. We still have a long way to go in the deal. We’ll work through it the best way that we can.”Now the Big 12 will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon to announce … something. BYU tweeted about it which implies pretty hard that BYU will be prominently involved.