In 2013, money will flow in the political battlefields of the country. Six states go into elections, while three—Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya—have held theirs. There is also a fair chance that elections to Indian Parliament will be held in 2013. The ruling UPA may not wish to wait for the results of all the state elections, as some of them, due to anti-incumbency factor, may turn out to be unfavorable for some of the political parties in the coalition, particularly the Congress. As everyone is aware, political funding in India is more by way of cash than by cheque. Elections are also getting more expensive. So this may well be the year when money flows during the elections like never before. Political pundits say that in the 2004 Parliamentary elections which the NDA was expected to sweep, cash flowed very heavily in order to stop it from returning to power. Opposition parties were flush with funds, even foreign funds, to stop the NDA at all costs. There is a possibility of history repeating itself again in 2013. Neither the UPA, nor the NDA, would want to lose the opportunity of ruling India again. Whoever comes in may well rule for a long time.
Questions will soon be raised about the Indian cricket team’s sponsorship by the Sahara India Pariwar. Sahara has done yeoman service to Indian cricket by having sponsored the Indian team for close to two decades. But of late things have come to a heady mess as far as this Lucknow-headquartered company is concerned. The SEBI is baying for its blood in a Supreme Court monitored case. The principal issue is that Sahara group companies—Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation—have raised nearly Rs 25,000 crore from investors who now need to be refunded the money. Sahara is playing for time, but time clearly is running out for this giant conglomerate. SEBI has even sought for the arrests of Sahara boss Subrata Roy, a move that the Pariwar finds is objectionable and has vendetta written all over it. Given where matters stand today, the time may soon come when the Board of Control for Cricket in India may have to take a call about its relationship with Sahara. Cricket must come clean, and until Sahara is able to bail itself out completely and prove itself above board, the sponsorship may have to be re-evaluated. The game is bigger than the sponsor.
While there is no doubt that Akshay Kumar is an entertaining actor, there is also no doubt that he may not be Bollywood’s most talented. When it comes to talent, after the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, we have the three Khans. Between them, the Khans also deliver huge blockbusters every passing year.
But what is significant is that for the 6th year running, Akshay Kumar has become the Bollywood actor that has become the highest advance income tax payer. His advance tax for 2012 – 2013 is a whopping Rs 18 crore. He has once again left the more talented Khans, with their very high incomes behind.
There is no doubt that at a time when the Income Tax department has been pressing hard to get more collections—only 3.2 crore people pay income tax in a land of a billion plus—Kumar’s integrity shines like a beacon. Mascot material for the IT Department, one could say.
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