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Ashok_Chavan

Largesse Showered Upon Ashok Chavan By Shinde-Fadanvis Revives Doubts About His Plans

The suspense about former chief minister Ashok Chavan’s next move has deepened as the Maharashtra government has sanctioned a Rs728 crore water grid scheme for his Bhokar assembly constituency though it has reversed almost all the decisions of the earlier Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. On his part, Chavan has maintained studied silence about his plans. It has been reported time and again that Chavan will walk into the BJP fold along with his nine supporters MLAs. Chavan has not reacted to such news items, adding to the rumour mongering. Chavan had disclosed a few days ago that chief minister Eknath Shinde had approached him in 2014 with a proposal to form a coalition government with the Congress by the Shiv Sena. The Congress party has not reacted to this claim. However, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has ridiculed Chavan’s disclosure. Pawar said, “I am president of my party. Had any such proposal been mooted, I would have been informed.” The Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray or CM Shinde have preferred to remain mum about Chavan’s statement even after a week.  Chavan’s absence at a crucial confidence vote in the state legislative assembly began generating doubts about his loyalty with the Congress. Now that Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra is to enter Maharashtra soon, the controversy has been revived.
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Unprecedented Turnout Certain For Rival Senas’ Dussehra Rally, Hindutva To Dominate

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Tussle between the two Shiv Sena factions will wear a stark saffron hue that will manifest in many ways on Wednesday in Mumbai on the occasion of Dussehra. It is going to be an unprecedented turnout for the rallies of both sides. The law and order preparation is ready like never before. The central theme of the speeches will be the ardent Hindutva propagated by Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. The faction led by Uddhav Thackeray claims that the Sena’s Shivaji Park rally will overflow the traditional venue while chief minister Eknath Shinde’s spokesmen say the sprawling BKC maidan will seat at least two lakh sainiks tomorrow. Supporters of both sides from faraway districts have already started their journey towards Mumbai. According to reports reaching the state headquarters, more than 10,000 buses have been requisitioned by the two sides across Maharashtra. Moreover, thousands of supporters will arrive by train or in private vehicles. Adequate sanitary and parking arrangements are being made. Several thorny questions are flung by the rivals at each other. One such sensitive issue is the food to be served to the party workers. Shinde group’s Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik said he had placed orders for feeding two lakh people. Uddhav confidant and former mayor Kishori Pednekar has questioned the propriety of such a sumptuous menu.
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First Electoral Battle Between Uddhav And BJP In Andheri On 3rd November, Congress Sidelined

The Andheri assembly constituency by-election scheduled to be held on November 3 will be the first electoral combat between the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), though the Congress party has still kept its stand undeclared, creating some suspense. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has declared his support of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) candidate Rutuja Latke, wife of the deceased MLA Ramesh Latke. The other factor that will impact the outcome will be the allotment of the election symbol, Bow & Arrow, claimed by both Sena factions. The Election Commission will decide which claimant gets the symbol. The Sena’s Eknath Shinde faction has decided to allow the BJP to fight the by-election though earlier, it wished to stake its ownership of the seat, since it wants to establish itself as the ‘true’ Sena. But a BJP announcement on Sunday that it will field veteran Murjibhai Patel has put all speculation to rest. Patel had contested the 2019 election as an independent candidate and gained substantial votes. Late Ramesh Latke was a popular personality since he used to help anyone who approached, irrespective of party affiliation or caste or creed. Uddhav Thackeray’s unilateral decision to allow Rutuja is considered a smart move although the Congress party is facing a dilemma since its electoral presence in Mumbai is going to be reduced further.
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Now Raj Thackeray Demands Ban On Illegal Madrassas In Maharashtra

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena supremo Raj Thackeray has demanded that the government should investigate all madrassas in the state and ban those which are illegal. After MNS successfully conducted a campaign against loudspeakers on mosques, it has again flexed its muscles against what it calls anti-national activities. MNS spokesman Yashwant Chile told the media that his organization would launch a campaign against illegal madrassas in the state if the government did not concede to the MNS demand for a comprehensive survey and investigation. He said MNS was taking this step after receiving several complaints. Chile said unauthorized madrassas were being conducted in many residential areas with the object of turning such localities into Muslim-dominated pockets. Chief minister Eknath Shinde will be submitted a petition to demand such a survey by MNS on Monday (Oct 3). The faction’s spokesman Deepak Kesarkar said a decision in this regard would be taken by the government after consulting all concerned. Vishwas Hindu Parishad’s Maharashtra unit leader Shankar Gaikar’s meeting with Raj Thackeray against the backdrop of this warning is considered significant.
Milind

Uddhav’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar Hits Headlines, Will He Desert His Boss?

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s confidant Milind Narvekar has become the focus of political developments following a claim by a senior minister that Narvekar is likely to join the Shinde faction in near future. Known as Man Friday of the Thackeray family for over a decade, Narvekar is regarded as a troubleshooter during any political crisis in the state. It was Narvekar who was rushed to Surat by Uddhav to persuade the rebels to come back to the Sena fold. Off and on, Narvekar has been in touch with both factions. A trustee of the Tirupati Balaji Trust, Narvekar and Shinde have met at least twice in recent times. Minister Gulabrao Patil, famous for his outlandish statements, told a public meeting that Champa Singh Thapa, who was always found by the side of Balasaheb Thackeray, had joined the Shinde camp and Narvekar, too, would be doing so soon. Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s visit to Narvekar’s residence for Ganesh Darshan had generated speculation that the latter was about to desert his boss Uddhav. The statement by Gulabrao Patil has revived it, especially since there are reports that Uddhav has appointed Ravi Mhatre in place of Narvekar as his personal secretary. However, the Sena has neither refuted nor confirmed such reports.
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Dussehra Rallies To Test Uddhav And Shinde Factions’ Claims Of Strength

Both Shiv Sena factions are making all-out preparations to outshine each other by ensuring a larger turnout than that of the rival for their Dussehra rallies. While the Uddhav Thackeray faction says the traditional rally venue of Shivaji Park will overflow with Sena supporters, loyalists of chief minister Eknath Shinde maintain that their meeting will be three times larger, endorsing the claim that they represent the true Shiv Sena. While the political atmosphere in Maharashtra is warming up hour on hour, the police administration is busy planning the traffic flow on that day as it has to ensure that at no place the two factions accost each other. An equally major concern is the traffic management since thousands of vehicles are expected to converge around the two rally venues, Shivaji Park in Dadar for Uddhav supporters and the BKC Maidan for Shinde loyalists. Reports are pouring in about bus reservations being made by both sides to ferry their workers. Some clips have surfaced, claiming that workers from even other friendly parties are being wooed to attend the mega event. Uddhav and Shinde factions have put up colourful hoardings and their teasers are keeping social media alive. Both sides say they are the true torch bearers of Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. MPs, MLAs and corporators from different towns have been assigned a specific quota of people to be made present for the Dussehra rallies, leading to political suspense.
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Eknath Shinde Faces Twin Assault By Uddhav Faction And Congress

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has become the common target for the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena as they have joined hands to level serious allegations against the CM. As soon as senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan had disclosed that Shinde had approached him in 2014 with a proposal to form a Congress-Sena coalition government, Shinde’s confidant Naresh Mhaske countered that Ashok Chavan himself had remained absent during a recent crucial voting in the state assembly. Moreover, Chavan had not denied news reports that he was planning to join the BJP, Mhaske pointed out. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule shot back that the Sena was run by Uddhav Thackeray in 2014. “It must have been Uddhav who himself had asked Shinde to meet Congress leaders,” Bawankule said. Uddhav loyalist Chandrakant Khaire rushed to support the statement of Ashok Chavan. He said that Shinde was trying to join the Congress party along with 15 MLAs when Prithviraj Chavan was the chief minister. However, the plan fizzled out when the news reached Uddhav. The former MP alleged that Shinde had deserted the Sena just for chair and not for any ideology. Shinde faction MP Hemant Patil said the opposition was rattled since Shinde’s popularity was increasing day by day. Hence attempts were made to divert public attention from his good work.
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Wave Of Anger Against Bhujbal For Demanding Removal Of Saraswati Portrait From Educational Institutions

Police bandobast has been beefed up outside former minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s residence in Nasik following his demand that the portraits of Goddess of Learning, Saraswati, should be removed from educational institutions. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have summarily rejected the demand. Addressing a function, Bhujbal had criticised the practice to adorn walls of educational institutions with portraits of Saraswati, who is revered as Goddess of Learning and Knowledge. He had said that instead, portraits of social reformers should be used in such places. “What has Saraswati done for your education? Worship those who fought society to spread education for you,” suggested Bhujbal. Bhujbal also alleged that just 3% of the population has benefited because of Saraswati, who had deprived other sections of education. Fadnavis said Goddess Saraswati was regarded as embodiment of knowledge, arts and culture. Only those disagreeing with these values can make such statements.  Shinde said his government belonged to the people and would do what the people wished. No portraits would be removed just because someone says something.  In the midst of the raging controversy, Bhujbal was not in Nasik, his personal staff told a BJP delegation, which had rushed to his farm house to protest.
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Popular Front Of India Was A Silent Killer: Devendra Fadnavis

Popular Front of India (PFI) was a ‘silent killer,’ according to Maharashtra deputy chief Devendra Fadnavis while chief minister Eknath Shinde has warned that no anti-national activities would be permitted to take place in the state. The ban is welcomed across the state. Also holding the home affairs portfolio, Fadnavis has disclosed that the PFI had kept many prominent people on its hit list. It was planning to engineer unrest. PFI had created a huge financial network. Its modus operandi was something like this: open a large number of bank accounts and deposit small amounts so that no suspicion would arise. Fadnavis said very soon, action would be initiated against PFI and six other organisations under the Centre’s direction. If any evidence was found, more people and organisations would come under the radar, he indicated. Supporting the ban, Shinde said the elements which shouted pro-Pakistan slogans were dangerous for the country and needed to be dealt with ruthlessly. In fact, people subscribing to such ideology had no right to live in India. He said the state home department and the police would ensure that no such activities recurred in Maharashtra. Workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have welcomed the ban on PFI. In Pune, the ban was celebrated by MNS by distributing sweets. Its leader Sainath Babar said MNS chief Raj Thackeray was the first to demand banning PFI.
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Fotocorp

Gujarati Dandiya To Don Marathi Attire With Eye On BMC Polls

Though anguish is being expressed over major industrial projects shifting to Gujarat from Maharashtra, there is no dearth of enthusiasm in donning Gujarati Dandiya with Marathi attire. This cultural fusion, with strong political overtones, will be enjoyed by Mumbaikars soon. To exploit the situation, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar has taunted the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray by saying that Hindu festivals were banned by the previous regime. “But henceforth, all Hindu festivals will be celebrated with full vigour.” BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha has organised one such event, meant to assault the so-called Marathi bastions in Mumbai. So far, these prominently Marathi-speaking areas were regarded as a Shiv Sena monopoly. However, after the split in the Sena, the BJP has launched all-out preparations to oust the Sena’s Uddhav faction from power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). One aspect of the plan is to organize political events, couched as cultural activities. The ‘Marathi Dandiya’ is just an example, which will be replicated in hundreds of localities in the metropolis. Kotecha’s event will be among the largest. It will take place at Kalachowki in south-central Mumbai, a traditional Shiv Sena stronghold. Marathi Dandiyas will be held in various areas between 30 September and 4 October. Around 15000 visitors are expected daily by the conveners.
Nirmala Sitaraman

No Tacit Pact With Sharad Pawar About Baramati, Sitharaman Tells BJP Workers

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has declared in unequivocal terms that the BJP’s central leadership has no tacit electoral understanding with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar regarding Baramati parliamentary constituency. “Don’t be misled by any talk,” she told her party workers. Sitharaman was interacting with BJP workers of Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, a fiefdom of the Pawar family for decades. She has been entrusted with the responsibility of the seat for 2024. She was trying to dispel the widespread impression that Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s camaraderie had prevented any serious BJP attempt to wrest the constituency from the powerful political family. This sentiment was articulated by Daund MLA Rahul Kul, who told Sitharaman bluntly that such signals affected the enthusiasm among the party workers. The finance minister replied that her mission was to strengthen the BJP and hence she was not concerned for any particular family. Sitharaman advised the BJP workers to comb all six assembly segments of the constituency to spread the Union government’s message about the various welfare schemes. She blamed Pawar for ignoring genuine problems of grape growers when he was India’s agriculture minister. “Our colleague Nitin Gadkari led a farmers’ delegation to me and the grievance was resolved,” she recalled. Pawar’s daughter Supriya won the last LS election by a slim margin and the victory was attributed to Modi’s decision to skip the constituency from his campaign tour.
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High Court Takes BMC To Task, Allows Uddhav Faction To Hold Dussehra Rally At Shivaji Park

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s faction has lost a spirited battle against Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena as the High Court in Mumbai has permitted the latter to hold its traditional Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park, Dadar. The issue has sentimental overtones as Sena founder Bal Thackeray used to address huge rallies for decades. This is the second time the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been taken to task by the High Court in two days. The issue about getting the BMC permission was hanging fire for several weeks as the faction loyal to Eknath Shinde, too, had staked its claim for the venue soon after the Uddhav faction had filed its applications. Considering the potential breach of peace, the police and finally the BMC decided on Thursday (Sep 22) to reject both the applications. However, even before the BMC had taken any stand, both sides had moved the HC to claim the venue. Terming the BMC’s decision as improper, the court permitted the Uddhav faction to hold the rally but laid down certain conditions like maintaining peace on the occasion. The court said the BMC had misused its powers. Only a day before, the HC had issued stern directions to the BMC to demolish illegal construction in Union minister Narayan Rane’s Juhu beach bungalow. It had castigated the civic body for shifting its earlier stand of not tolerating the irregularity.
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Vilasrao Deshmukh’s Name Surfaces In Dharavi Controversy

The controversial Dharavi Redevelopment Project is leading to newer disclosures even as the Maharashtra government is hastening the process to issue fresh tenders for the estimated Rs 28000 crore plan.  Now, the name of then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who passed away in 2012, has surfaced in connection with a meeting convened by NCP president Sharad Pawar to discuss the much-delayed project. The plan has not moved an inch despite major changes in the state. The sudden call by industrialist Gautam Adani on former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray at ‘Matoshri’ has added another dimension to the controversy. While chief minister Eknath Shinde has merely promised ‘to look into the matter,’ Dharavi Redevelopment Project CEO SVR Srinivas has announced that fresh tenders will be issued within a fortnight. Dharavi has remained a thorny issue for decades and no chief minister has been able to find a satisfactory solution. But for a brief period, Dharavi assembly constituency has remained loyal to the Congress party. However, the Congress and the NCP have maintained silence over the meeting between Uddhav and Adani despite its suddenness. The Sena under Uddhav, too, has not divulged any details about the hour-long closed-door talk. Close to the prestigious Bandra Kurla Complex and the international airport, Dharavi’s redevelopment has immense potential. That is the reason several international firms are also interested in grabbing the project.
Sharad Pawars

Patra Chawl Land Scam: Sharad Pawar Dares Government To Act Against Him

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has dared the Maharashtra government to begin a probe against him within eight days regarding a land deal in Mumbai. But his condition is that the government should first announce what its stand would be if the charges are proved unsubstantiated. Mumbai BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar had demanded an enquiry against Pawar after it was revealed that the ED chargesheet against Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had said that a former Maharashtra chief minister had held a meeting to discuss the multi-crore Patra Chawl housing redevelopment scheme in Mumbai. The MLA has written a letter to chief minister Eknath Shinde to press the demand. Stung by the allegation, Pawar hurled the challenge at the government. Former housing minister Jeetendra Avhad, who was sitting by Pawar’s side, said that Pawar did hold a meeting to discuss the matter but it was routine for Pawar to offer guidance and advice in any important situation, he being the elder statesman. Pawar has held thousands of such meetings, Avhad remarked. Last year, Pawar had threatened to walk into the ED office when news was splashed that he had been issued a summons. However, it proved a storm in a tea cup when the ED clarified that it had not sent any such missive to Pawar.
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Shinde-Fadnavis Intent On Reviving Nanar Project, Corner Uddhav Thackeray

Skewered by the Vedanta-Foxconn experience, the ruling leadership in Maharashtra has renewed its efforts to ensure that the massive oil refinery facility, popularly known as Nanar Project, stays in the state.  Additionally, it will be able to corner the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, who himself, as chief minister, had recommended to the Centre that the project should be revived. While chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have repeatedly proclaimed  that no important project will be lost to Maharashtra, Union minister Narayan Rane has announced that no efforts will be spared to start the Nanar project at the earliest. The 60-million tonne annual capacity project will entail an investment of around Rs 3 lakh crore. It shall be a joint venture between Saudi’s Aramco and oil PSUs of India. Originally planned to be situated at Nanar in the Konkan region, it was stalled by the then unified Shiv Sena, claiming local opposition. However, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray initiated its revival by writing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year. Instead of Nanar, he suggested that the project could be situated at Barasu, a nearby village. Rane said none will not be permitted to obstruct the project. He has had discussions with top leadership about its revival and the process will begin soon, he indicated. Rane blamed the Sena under Uddhav for delaying such an important opportunity.
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Uddhav Wanted To Continue By Taking BJP Along, Reveals Eknath Shinde

Uddhav Thackeray wished to continue as chief minister and was ready to do so by taking the BJP along, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has revealed in his various public functions. According to Shinde, the proposal to remain in power with BJP’s help was mooted by Uddhav after he was urged by many of his supporters to jettison the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), partners of the Maha Vikas Aghadi that ruled Maharashtra earlier. Uddhav wanted Shinde to liaise with the BJP to give a final shape to the arrangement. Shinde said during the earlier (2014-19) stint, then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had offered deputy chief ministership to him (Shinde) but Uddhav did not give a nod. Uddhav declined the offer. Replying to criticism his government is facing over the Vedanta-Foxconn decision to establish its project in Gujarat, Shinde said, “Our doors are still open for Foxconn.”  He reiterated that the Nanar oil refinery project and the Vadhvan port will definitely materialize in the state. Shinde blamed certain political forces for creating misunderstandings about the two great investment and employment opportunities. Shinde announced that Maharashtra will attain the objective of becoming a trillion-dollar economy much before the projected deadline of 2030 because of its policy of welcoming industry and business in the state.
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@Dev_Fadnavis

Maharashtra Will Overtake Gujarat In Two Years, Vows Fadnavis

Stung by opposition onslaught, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis have vowed to accelerate the state’s industrial quantum leap in the near future. Fadnavis has declared, “In the next two years, two mega projects will take off, thereby taking Maharashtra 10 years ahead of Gujarat.” He was referring to the oil refinery at Nanar in the Konkan region and the Wadhvan port complex in Palghar district. The projects had been stalled during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi regime. While addressing a function in Mumbai, Shinde said a roadmap is being crafted to chart out the state’s onward industrial march much more vigorously. Both leaders have been trying to prove that while they did not spare any efforts to keep the Vedanta—Foxconn project within the state, the MVA’s inaction was responsible for its departure to Gujarat. Shinde said such massive projects did not materialise in a week or two. It took a long time to weigh the pros and cons for the investors to make a final decision. As far as this project was concerned, he said no concrete assurances were forthcoming from the previous ruling combine. Just back from Russia, Fadnavis declared confidently that the efforts of the present dispensation will bring substantial FDI in the state, thus overtaking Gujarat by at least a decade.
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Poll Strategist Prashant Kishor To Guide Separate Vidarbha Movement

Election strategist Prashant Kishor has accepted an assignment to revive the decades-old movement to demand a separate Vidarbha state. He will be visiting Nagpur at the end of the month to begin his homework. His teams have already started collating data useful for framing a forceful argument in support of the demand. Former Congress MLA Ashish Deshmukh has invited Prashant to give direction to the movement that began even before India gained independence. Over the years, the popularity of the protagonists went on waning, finally the movement going into oblivion. With the entry of Prashant, the movement organisers hope to infuse a new life into it. Vidarbha in general and Nagpur in particular are a point of political prestige since the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is based in the second capital of Maharashtra. With the exception of the 1989 Lok Sabha election, the BJP was never able to win the Nagpur seat till Nitin Gadkari trounced his Congress opponent in 2014 with a huge margin and repeated his victory in 2019. The BJP was the first major political party to resolve the creation of a separate Vidarbha state. However, it kept the issue in cold storage as its then electoral partner, the Shiv Sena, was opposed to the demand, pressing for a united Maharashtra.
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Uddhav Thackeray Dealt One More Blow, Sena Leaders From 8 States Back Eknath Shinde

Even as the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray is striving to regain its lost glory, it has been dealt one more blow as top Sena leaders from eight states are reported to have decided to support Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde. The two factions of the Sena have been fighting for legal supremacy since July and exploring all avenues to bolster their numerical strength in a bid to win recognition as ‘official’ Shiv Sena on that basis. The Shinde camp already has a majority of Sena MPs and MLAs on its side. To cap it all, powerful leaders from the states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Manipur and Chhattisgarh in their Mumbai meeting decided to team up with Shinde. On the other hand, the Uddhav faction has claimed that the leaders who attended the meeting are not the ‘nominated’ Sena leaders. “We are in possession of sworn affidavits of the leaders who were appointed by us in various states,” it has clarified. In the ongoing legal battle, every member is likely to prove decisive. The support by these leaders from outside the state can also come handy, according to Shinde faction’s calculation. The Supreme Court is presently hearing various petitions filed by both sides demanding recognition as ‘official’ Shiv Sena.
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Shinde, Fadnavis, Narayan Rane To Meet PM To Urge Repatriation Of Vedanta-Foxconn Project

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Narayan Rane are planning to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to ensure that the multi-billion dollar Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor manufacturing project remains in Maharashtra. The heat generated by the Vedanta Group to locate the ambitious project in Gujarat has shaken all political parties in Maharashtra, given its sheer size in terms of investment and employment generation potential. While the opposition Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav faction are blaming the present Shinde-Fadnavis government for the project’s shift, the ruling combine has decided to make efforts afresh to keep the project in the state so that it can counter the sharp criticism effectively. According to government sources, all permissions including land allotment are in place in Maharashtra while suitable land is still being searched. Moreover, the tax rebate offered by Maharashtra is better than Gujarat. Considering Maharashtra’s readiness to launch the project at a short notice, the PM will be requested to use his good offices to persuade the investors to reconsider their decision about the location. While Fadnavis is to return from his Russia visit soon, Rane called on Shinde this morning to discuss the various factors of the matter. The two leaders then contemplated visiting the PM.
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BJP and Shiv Sena’s Shinde Faction Face Acid Test Over Andheri Assembly By-Election

The ruling alliance in Maharashtra between the BJP and the Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde faction, will face its first acid test over the Andheri assembly constituency by-election, due to be held after the monsoon.  The by-poll is caused due to the death of Shiv Sena’s Ramesh Latke, who was elected twice from this western suburb constituency. He died a few months ago. His wife Rujuta is desirous of contesting. She had called on Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray last week and is reported to have received a positive signal. While chief minister Eknath Shinde is yet to make any statement about the by-election, the BJP is likely to consider the candidature of its erstwhile corporator Murjibhai Patel, who had been trounced by Latke in 2019. At that time, the constituency was allotted to the unified Sena under the BJP-Sena seat sharing pact. Still, Patel had entered the fray as an independent. He was said to have BJP’s tacit blessings. As the petitions of the two Sena factions are embroiled in legal cases, the BJP wishes to claim this prestigious seat. On the other hand, Shinde wants to record his faction’s first grand electoral victory by snatching away the seat from Uddhav. Taking any decision either way is going to prove an acid test for the ruling alliance.
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Vedanta-Foxconn Project Goes To Gujarat, Generates Slugfest In Maharashtra

As Gujarat already has a policy on semiconductor industry, the Vedanta-Foxconn combine decided to invest Rs 154,000 crore to set up a massive industrial plant in Gujarat rather than in Maharashtra as it has no such policy. However, the conglomerate’s decision has led to a free for all with every political party blaming its opponent for the loss of the huge investment and employment opportunity. There is a growing feeling in certain quarters in Maharashtra that major projects which could come to the state are going to other states due to political shenanigans. The allegation gained credence when projects like the International Finance Centre proposed in Mumbai was shifted to Gujarat, followed by the National Marine Police Academy, originally planned in Dahanu to Dwarka. Already, an atmosphere of deep suspicion is seen in the political arena of Maharashtra. Incidents like Ajit Pawar’s leaving the NCP national council meet twice without making a speech provide impetus to the rumour mongering. Members of the legislature and municipal corporations change loyalties overnight, adding to the political bitterness. The Vedanta-Foxconn episode has provided a new twist as the previous and present rulers perceive this as a golden opportunity to humble each other. The crux of the matter, that of making a policy, is overlooked in the political slugfest. The slow pace of decision-making in Maharashtra has been highlighted once again, it is felt.
Collage Maker-12-Sep-2022-12

BJP’s Electioneering Begins, Four Maharashtra Leaders To Play Major Role At The National Level

While Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra is just taking off, the BJP has appointed campaign chiefs and co-chiefs in 15 states, with leaders from Maharashtra being entrusted with major responsibilities. According to an official announcement from the BJP headquarters, former Union minister Prakash Javadekar will be in-charge for Kerala. The state that has been on the BJP radar for many years. An accomplished organization veteran, Javadekar will face a formidable challenge, it is felt. BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde will begin mobilizing support in Bihar, the state that was under a coalition of the JD(U) and BJP till recently. Known for his strategy skills, Tawde will be assisted by party MP Harish Dwivedi. Former minister Pankaja Munde has been appointed co-chief for Madhya Pradesh, a state under prolonged BJP rule with a brief interruption. Another senior BJP leader, Vijaya Rahatkar, is made co-chief for Rajasthan. She was chairperson of the women’s commission in Maharashtra. Javadekar was regarded highly by the media as an ace spokesman when the BJP was out of power. A find of Pramod Mahajan, he has handled various portfolios at the Centre. Javadekar was dropped in the latest cabinet reshuffle. He has maintained a stoic silence since. Pankaja had been expressing her dissatisfaction time and again. The new responsibility is expected to keep her busy and away from Maharashtra.
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Police Wives Demand Action Against Amravati MP Navneet Rana Over Love Jihad Allegation

Independent MP Navneet Rana now finds herself at the receiving end as the families of police personnel in Amaravati, Maharashtra, have demanded action against her in connection with Rana’s behaviour in a local police station over an alleged Love Jihad case. The anger against Rana turned into a barrage as the girl concerned in the so-called Love Jihad matter told the police that she was not abducted, but had gone away herself. The girl has charged that Rana has defamed her by making various statements about her absence from Amaravati. Spouses of the police personnel in Amaravati have said action must be initiated against Rana since she stormed into the police station, accompanied by a BJP functionary, argued with the police officials and generally created ruckus for over 20 minutes. “This behaviour of Rana amounts to creating obstructions in performing lawful duty by a public servant,” a policeman’s wife said. The tables turned against Rana as soon as the girl was traced and explained to the police that she had gone away on her own accord and that none had forced her. Rana has been in the news ever since she challenged then Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, daring to arrest her over reciting Hanuman Chalisa outside his residence, Matoshri. Her arrest had created a wave of protest against him.
Sharad Pawar

Sharad Pawar To Call For Opposition Unity At Sunday’s Conclave In Delhi

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The 8th All-India Convention of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will be held in New Delhi on Sunday (Sep 11) with the BJP as the main target. Party founder-president Sharad Pawar is expected to give a call for opposition unity, whose one-point agenda will be to dethrone Prime Minister Narendra Modi.   Pawar has been meeting top opposition leaders in a bid to convince them to keep aside their regional priorities and join forces to contain the BJP’s campaign to win more states, especially West Bengal and Telangana. Similarly, the Gujarat assembly election next year will also figure in Pawar’s plans. The developments in Maharashtra in recent times have pushed the Congress and the NCP in a corner since the Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has kept its cards close to its chest about any possible tie-up for the coming civic elections.  In turn, the Congress and the Uddhav faction are wary of the NCP since their own MLAs have complained that during the Maha Vikas Aghadi tripartite regime, the NCP grabbed the largest share of government funding, depriving the two partners of developmental expenditure. Besides external issues, the Congress is shaken by its internal dissensions. As the NCP has only token presence in parliament, Pawar is trying to bring it back in the national mainstream. He will spell out his plan of action on Sunday, his supporters say.
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Yakub Memon Shadows Maharashtra Politics 7 Years After He Was Hanged

Mumbai Bomb Blasts case accused Yakub Memon has generated a furore in Maharashtra politics seven years after he was hanged as the ruling and opposition parties have indulged in a blame game over the beautification of the 1993 blasts convict’s grave in south Mumbai. Police and civic authorities removed the marble slabs and decorative lighting as soon as the news was flashed, but not before the political storm had started sweeping the state. The revelation that terrorist Yakub’s grave in Bada Kabrastan at Marine Lines in Mumbai was beautified with white marble and decorated with LED lights dismayed the state. Within minutes, the ruling BJP came down heavily against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. BJP leaders lamented that the Uddhav government could go to this extent in its appeasement bid. Even as the onslaught continued, Congress and NCP leaders accused the BJP of diverting the public attention from the burning issues of the day. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar said, “Numerous farmers are facing hardships throughout the state, but the BJP is engaged in a political blame game, ignoring their plight completely.” Expectedly, a thorough enquiry has been ordered to find out how the beautification was permitted and took place. Yakub’s brother, Tiger Memon, is among the main accused led by Dawood Ibrahim, absconding since 1993.
Collage Maker-06-Sep-2022-05

BJP Resolves To Wrest Baramati From Pawar Clan In 2024

If Amethi constituency was the focus of BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, the spotlight for the next LS election will be Baramati, the traditional stronghold of Sharad Pawar and family. “We will wrest Baramati from the Pawar clan,” declared Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule after visiting the prestigious constituency in Pune district. He said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been entrusted with the responsibility and she will start touring the area soon to devise strategy to trounce sitting MP Supriya Sule, lone child of Pawar. Bawankule landed in Baramati immediately after Union home minister Amit Shah had addressed top BJP leaders in Mumbai on September 4 on how to plan for the coming elections in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Supriya will have to face a situation similar to what Rahul Gandhi had to encounter in Amethi. While Rahul lost very badly to Smriti Irani, taking on Supriya will be a formidable challenge for the BJP as the constituency has remained loyal to the Pawar family for decades. Pawar’s nephew Ajit has been elected to the legislative assembly from Baramati. The BJP’s strategy is to confine Pawar to Baramati so that he would hardly find time to campaign elsewhere in the state. Bawankule said, “We will win 200 out of 288 assembly seats and 45 out of 48 LS seats in 2024 in the state.”
Amit

@AmitShah

“Punish Uddhav’s Betrayal By Ousting His Sena From BMC,” Roars Amit Shah

“Punish Uddhav Thackeray for his betrayal by winning at least 150 seats in the coming BMC election,” Union home minister Amit Shah has exhorted BJP workers during his two-day visit to the financial capital. He has assured all the support to Mumbai BJP from the party headquarters for capturing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Shah told BJP workers on Monday that Uddhav had betrayed the BJP twice. In 2014, the Shiv Sena broke the alliance for a frivolous reason. In 2019, Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. “This treachery can’t be tolerated.  Teach him a lesson he will never forget. Oust the Uddhav Sena from the BMC and reestablish the Hindutva imprint in Mumbai,“ Shah said. Taking Uddhav to task for the rampant corruption in the BMC, Shah said it was time to make a change. To bring it about, every worker, office bearer, corporator, MLA and MP will have to take to the streets and mobilise the public opinion, Shah declared. The BMC has 227 electoral wards, which were earlier restructured by the Uddhav government in a bid to increase their number to 236 and to make them easier for the then ruling coalition. However, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s government has restored the earlier status. The BJP’s strategy planning will accommodate the Shinde faction, too, according to party insiders.
Collage Maker-03-Sep-2022-01

Congress In Maharashtra Jolted, Some MLAs May Make Drastic Move

The Congress party in Maharashtra seems caught in a trap of its own making as the party’s two former chief ministers and seven MLAs are under fire for different reasons, all certain to weaken the party further. The ‘coincidental’ meeting between former CM Ashok Chavan and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis a couple of days ago has caused acute embarrassment in the Congress camp. Chavan was missing at the time of Eknath Shinde government’s trial of strength on the floor of the legislative assembly. His absence at some other critical junctures is now remembered. Another Congress veteran, Prithviraj Chavan, has been facing flak since he called on Ghulam Nabi Azad after the latter left the Grand Old Party. A member of the G-23 Group, Prithviraj had advised the party leadership to pay attention to the issues raised by Azad. Following this, demands are being made to initiate disciplinary action against him. The unrest within the state Congress unit has resurfaced since the seven party MLAs who cross-voted during the recent legislative council election have been identified. It was owing to their breach of party diktat that the BJP was able to win one more seat in the upper house beyond its quota. The MLAs could take a drastic step fearing party reprisals, some leaders have warned.
Collage Maker-02-Sep-2022-03

Amit Shah To Launch ‘Mission BMC’ On Monday In Mumbai

Union home minister Amit Shah’s much awaited Mumbai visit will be marked with his directions to the BJP machinery on how to fight the coming election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), likely to take place later this year. After arriving in Mumbai on Sunday night (Sep 4), Shah will begin his itinerary Monday morning (Sep 5) with darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja, his longtime practice but interrupted due to Covid for two years. Shah will also take darshan of the Lord at the residences of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister Eknath Shinde and Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. During the day, he will be confabulating with his party leaders about the strategy to be adopted for the crucial election. The principal object of the BJP is to dethrone the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, which has been in power in the BMC since 1985. The Shinde-Fadnavis duo is tightening the screws against Uddhav by trying to isolate his faction. So far, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has responded enthusiastically to the saffron overtures. Raj is expected to go an extra mile to form an electoral arrangement with the duo to minimize the chances of the Uddhav faction. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party don’t have any strong presence in the BMC. Accordingly, they are yet to open their cards.
Sharad Pawarr

@PawarSpeaks

Not In PM Race But Shall Unite Opposition, Vows Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has every intention of uniting the non-BJP opposition though he is not prepared to become India’s Prime Minister. Pawar told the media that given his age, he was not ready to accept any governmental position now. “Morarji Desai became PM at the age of 82. I don’t want to emulate his example,” Pawar said in reply to questions. However, he asserted that he would continue to highlight people’s grievances, in the state and at the Centre. Pawar launched a broadside against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He charged that Modi had not fulfilled any of his promises.  In such a situation, it was necessary that all forces opposed to the BJP should come together to present a united front for the coming elections. “My effort will remain in this direction,” the 82-year-old said. Pawar has been combing Maharashtra in a bid to mobilise public opinion against the change of power ever since the Maha Vikas Aghadi formed under his stewardship collapsed due to the rebellion of present chief minister Eknath Shinde. As a first step, his effort is to make all three MVA partners contest the coming civic elections in the state jointly. So far, the response of the Congress and the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has remained tepid. But Pawar is going ahead with his efforts.
Raj

Political Focus Back On Raj Thackeray, Wooed By BJP Leaders

Focus in Maharashtra politics is back on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray, who is wooed by one top BJP leader after another. However, the issue of any alliance with Raj is still kept open by the BJP, apparently as a precaution. Maharashtra BJP’s newly-appointed president Chandrashekhar Bawankule called on Raj at the latter’s Shivaji Park residence on August 30. Bawankule said it was a goodwill visit. “I regard Raj as an elder brother and am impressed by his solid support of Hindutva,” he added. Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had received Raj at his official residence ‘Sagar’ on August 29 morning. In the evening, BJP’s all-India general secretary Vinod Tawde was closeted with Raj. Both are old friends. As Tawde is now burdened with various responsibilities, the visit has assumed importance. Union home minister Amit Shah is slated to visit Mumbai next week. He will bow before Lalbaug cha Raja, as has been his practice for many years. The visits were interrupted for two years due to the Covid outbreak. Shah will also perform Ganesh pooja at the residence of Fadnavis and meet chief minister Eknath Shinde.  BJP president JP Nadda will be visiting Mumbai in September. Bawankule said any decision about taking Raj along for fighting various civic elections in the state will be taken in Delhi by the party leadership. ‘Mine is just a friendly visit,’ he quipped.
Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari Scotches Rumours Of His Retirement, Declares Resolve To Fight 2024 Lok Sabha Election

Union highways and transport minister Nitin Gadkari has declared his resolve to contest the next Lok Sabha election, setting to rest all speculation about his probable retirement from active politics. Addressing a convocation ceremony at the All India Local Self Government Institute at Andheri in Mumbai, Gadkari said he has always believed that people respect good work and performance. “I have decided to ask for votes in the next election on the basis of what I have done for the nation. I will not offer even a cup of tea to anyone for supporting me. Let people see my work and decide,” he declared amidst huge applause. Without referring to the praise that had been showered upon him by Institute director-general Jairaj Phatak and other speakers, Gadkari said he had been working every waking moment to create new infrastructure of international standards in India. He outlined his vision for the future, expressing confidence that adopting proper technology and methods would catapult India to the top. Gadkari was in the news after the recent restructuring of the BJP supreme body, the Central Election Committee since he had been replaced by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Soon, there was talk of his saying goodbye to active politics. A couple of days ago, Gadkari had threatened to take legal action against all those elements spreading such canards.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-05

Uddhav Teams Up With Sambhaji Brigade, Eyebrows Raised

The Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has joined hands with Sambhaji Brigade to form a new equation in Maharashtra politics. The Brigade has been a controversial outfit which once upon a time had warned Uddhav to remove his father Balasaheb’s picture from the frontage of Shiv Sena Bhavan since it was above the portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Various BJP leaders have said that the alliance will not benefit Uddhav at all. Uddhav and Brigade president Manoj Akhare made the announcement of their alliance on Friday (Aug 26), signaling a major shift in the state politics in the near future. The Uddhav faction is already battered because of the rebellion by chief minister Eknath Shinde and his loyal band of 50 MLAs. His decision to go along with the Brigade will prove an acid test since his other two partners, the Congress and the NCP, had kept the Brigade scrupulously away all these years. Akhare said the Brigade and the Sena will contest coming elections jointly. Uddhav’s decision to take the Brigade along has been viewed by some as an attempt to play the ‘Maratha Card’ from now on. The powerful caste had been backing BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for his strong advocacy for reservations for the Marathas. Uddhav will try to wean away this factor, it is felt.
Raj-Thackeray

Raj Thackeray’s New Slogan Embraces Hindutva And Marathi Manoos

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has relaunched his duel campaign by coining a brand new slogan that appeals to Hindutva and Marathi Manoos at the same time. The new slogan is designed for mobilising response to the MNS enrolment campaign. Raj made this announcement in Pune on August 25 while presenting the slogan. Just two days ago, he had supported controversial BJP former spokesperson Nupur Sharma in a rally of MNS. At that meeting, he had announced his plans to tour the state to spread his message. The new MNS slogan is, “Mee Hindavi Rakshak, Mee Maharashtra Sevak” (I am a protector of Hindutva, I am a servant of Maharashtra.) It was made public after Raj inaugurated the enrollment drive. Banners displaying this slogan have come up at prominent locations in Mumbai and elsewhere. Raj’s return to the Hindutva plank is considered important since the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has been finding it difficult to make earlier claims of being the sole representative of Hindutva or Marathi Manoos after Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. As a result, there is a vacuum which Raj is planning to fill up. Since his bold assertion over Hindutva in Mumbai a couple of days ago, Raj has been receiving increasing response. In Pune, he enjoyed a hearty welcome. Soon, he will be visiting Nasik and Aurangabad.
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After Uddhav’s Right Hand In Custody, Left To Join Soon : Kirit Somaiya

Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has kicked up a fresh political storm by declaring that “The right hand of Uddhav Thackeray is already in custody, very soon the left hand will join him there.” Somaiya has been relentless against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray over the past two years by making one serious allegation after another. Although Somaiya has not mentioned any name, it is believed that he has trained his guns against former minister Anil Parab, whose sea-side resort at Dapoli in the Konkan is now on Somaiya’s radar for some illegal construction in the property. Parab has denied any connection with it. By right hand, Somaiya is believed to be referring to Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is in ED custody. BJP activist Mohit Kamboj has been similarly tweeting over the past few days to warn that ‘some big fish’ from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would soon be caught in the net. Kamboj says the list has 10 names but hasn’t disclosed any of them. Incidentally, only the Congress party is not targeted by any BJP functionaries. Somaiya poured out his chagrin against Uddhav by describing how his wife Medha, son Neel and he himself were hounded by the previous government. A retired naval officer was beaten up while a family was publicly shaved for talking against the then government, he recalled.
Raj

Raj Thackeray addressing party workers in Mumbai

Uddhav Faces Political Onslaught, From BJP And Raj Thackeray

The political focus in Maharashtra once again turned against Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray when he was challenged by the BJP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray in the course of the day. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar referred to Thackeray’s past announcement of resigning his legislative council membership and asked, “Where is that resignation?” Uddhav had made the announcement the night he quit the chief ministership following the rebellion in the Sena led by Eknath Shinde. In that connection, Bhatkhalkar ridiculed Uddhav and taunted, “You are telling your followers to come to the streets to fight for people’s problems. But what about you? Why can’t you come to the legislature and highlight them? Bhatkhalkar alleged that many crucial decisions under Uddhav’ government were taken at the behest of Aaditya Thackeray. He said these arbitrary decisions had cost Mumbai billions of rupees. Bhatkhalkar demanded a thorough enquiry of all such matters. Raj Thackeray, while addressing his party workers, challenged cousin Uddhav on many counts. He said, ”PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah had announced from public platforms in 2019 that Maharashtra’s next chief minister would be Devendra Fadnavis. Some of the announcements were made when you were on the same dais. Why did you remain silent then?” Raj announced his plans to tour Maharashtra after the 10-day Ganesh festival is over.
Sanjay Raut

Jailed Sena MP Sanjay Raut To Write A Book On Patra Chawl Deal, To Uncover Truth

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has announced that he is writing a book that will uncover the truth about the controversial Patra Chawl housing redevelopment matter, which has landed him in judicial custody. Raut’s had been a daily TV appearance till his arrest by ED on August 1. He was held in connection with the mega deal which would run in a thousand crore rupees at the most conservative estimates. For over two years, Raut used to castigate every person and party against the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray. He would appear on the small screen many times every day and dare the government to arrest him. Even after extension of his ED custody today, Raut showed that he has maintained his aggressive posture. The special PMLA court has extended his custody till 5 September. Over the past two days, ED has dug out some more information which can damage Raut’s case if proved correct. According to tax authorities, two cars with Raut belong to a real estate firm. Earlier, it was alleged that he had purchased property near Alibaug from the proceeds he received from some builder. Raut said he is working on a tome that will throw light on the Patra Chawl matter. He reiterated that he was not connected with it in any manner. The case against him is ‘false,’ he said.
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BJP Fires First Salvo For BMC Election, Attacks Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra BJP has fired the first salvo in the upcoming battle for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by squarely blaming the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray for the neglect and deterioration of Mumbai. The BMC has remained the Sena’s backbone and losing it would dent its main support base.  “We will make Mumbai free of corruption. Be sure that a mayor belonging to us and the Sena of chief minister Eknath Shinde is going to be installed,” declared deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis amidst huge applause at a rally today organised to felicitate newly appointed Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. All BJP bigwigs, including its city MPs and MLAs, were present to show solidarity.  Fadnavis recalled that when Shelar was heading Mumbai BJP earlier, the party had registered a handsome win in BMC elections. “Even at that time, we would have been able to install our mayor. However, as responsible alliance partner, we allowed the Sena under Thackeray to occupy the mayoralty,” Fadnavis claimed. The BJP and the Sena under Shinde have made it a strategy to corner and attack the Sena under Uddhav at every possible opportunity. He is yet to venture outside Mumbai. But Sena workers feel that Uddhav himself needs to be at the forefront of the assault. He is expected to announce his plans shortly.
NCP

10 NCP Leaders On ED Scanner, Files Of 5 Ready, Claims Maharashtra BJP MP

BJP MP Ranjitsingh Nimbalkar has revealed that 10 NCP leaders are already under ED’s scanner while files of five of them are ready for action. Though he did not mention any name, he amply indicated that the 10 leaders are in the top bracket of the NCP. Nimbalkar has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Madha in Solapur district in south Maharashtra. The constituency was earlier represented by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The damning revelation has come amidst discussion that the ED’s action will not be too distant now. Nimbalkar is the third BJP functionary to have pushed the NCP in a corner. The first was former MP Kirit Somaiya. He was followed by Mohit Kamboj, who had said a few days ago that ED action against five NCP leaders was imminent. Nimbalkar touched upon the controversial Lavasa project developed near Pune. Pawar is alleged to have been associated with this huge project. The Mumbai high court has disposed of a petition filed against it by a farmer. Responding to such constant threatening utterances, NCP Maharashtra president and former minister Jayant Patil dared the government to go ahead with any action. Within 24 hours of this response, Nimbalkar has come out with a more serious statement against the NCP.
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Unique Constitutional Stalemate In Maharashtra, Solution Elusive

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A piquant situation has arisen in Maharashtra, the first such in parliamentary history of India, as the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the state legislative council claim to belong to the same party. Nobody has a ready solution. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and his 50-odd supporters have continuously maintained that they have not left the Shiv Sena; in fact, we are the real representatives of the original Sena, they claim. On the other hand, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s legislative wing had submitted to deputy council chairperson Neelam Gorhe that it was nominating Ambadas Danve as leader of the opposition in the upper house. Incidentally, Gorhe, too, is with Uddhav. Her decision to appoint Danve had generated intense speculation about its constitutional validity. This was viewed in the context of change of guard in the state. The situation became more intriguing as Uddhav had forwarded Danve’s name to Gorhe without consulting either the Congress or the Nationalist Congress party although they were partners of the earlier ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi. Both immediately expressed disapproval of this unilateral action by Uddhav.  As the power play is now before the Supreme Court through various petitions, it will be tricky for the authorities to take any decision either way. Hence, wait-and-watch seems the safe policy.
Collage Maker-29-Jul-2022-12

Uddhav’s Shiv Sena Now In Attacking Mood, Warns Shinde Faction

Uddhav Thackeray’s mouthpiece Saamana has warned the rival faction over its plans to erect another ‘Shiv Sena Bhavan’ in the vicinity of the original one in Dadar area.  Ever since the Shinde faction revealed its strategy to checkmate the Sena in its Dadar stronghold, restlessness was palpable in Uddhav’s followers since no rejoinder was forthcoming from their boss. Now that the legislature session is beginning in Mumbai tomorrow (Aug 17), the stern warning has been published by Saamana, whose editor Sanjay Raut’s absence was felt as the language and tone of the editorials in the daily had sobered. With this warning, Uddhav has sent clear signals that his followers are now prepared to take on the breakaway group.  The Saamana editorial said, “Shiv Sena Bhavan has been standing tall despite various challenges and attacks. It has been built to exhibit the spirit of Marathi manoos. This is not just a building. It is the impenetrable shield of Maharashtra. Those turncoats who jump from one camp to another need to remember this.” Shinde’s camp is jubilant as the chief minister has been receiving warm welcomes around the state. He has been praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis unreservedly in his every speech. Despite murmurs of discontent from among the 50 MLAs who walked out with him, Shinde is confident of placating them.
Sanjay Rathore

Sanjay Rathod Repulses Attack, Threatens To Prosecute Slanderers

In a dramatic turn of events, controversial minister Sanjay Rathod has threatened ‘anyone’ who makes derogatory statements against him in public. Rathod had to resign from the previous Uddhav Thackeray ministry in connection with allegations concerning the suicide of a female social media star, Pooja Chavan, in February last year. He is attacked for the same alleged misdeed. Rathod’s most spirited critic is BJP leader Chitra Wagh, who not only condemned his inclusion in the present ministry but also threatened to continue the battle against him, come what may. On the other hand, chief minister Eknath Shinde has said that Rathod had been given a clean chit by the earlier Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Rathod himself has said that there is no FIR against him nor has the judiciary entertained any charges against him. As allegations continued to be aired even after his clarification, Rathod has threatened to file defamation cases if any new damaging statements are made about him. Rathod said, “I have been elected repeatedly to the assembly from Digras in Yavatmal district. I have a family, parents. I know what I have gone through. Such slandering must stop.” Rathod was made to resign by Thackeray in February 2021 after his government was cornered over the suicide of Pooja in Pune where she had come from Beed to pursue a career
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Eknath Shinde Preparing To Deal One More Blow To Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief minister Eknath Shinde is preparing to deal one more blow to his nemesis Uddhav Thackeray in his stronghold, Dadar in central Mumbai. Shinde is reported to be looking for office premises for his faction, which he claims is the real Shiv Sena. His supporter and Dadar MLA Sada Sarwankar has revealed that Shinde is looking for space for a party office at a location convenient to people to visit. Shiv Sena Bhavan, the Sena’s headquarters near Shivaji Park in Dadar, has been like a place of pilgrimage for countless Sainiks. Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray and now Uddhav have been regular visitors to Sena Bhavan that has witnessed rise and downfall of various leaders over the decades. The most prominent former Sena leader, Raj Thackeray, has an office a stone’s throw’s away from Sena Bhavan and his residence, too, is close by. Thus, the area around Shivaji Park assumes political significance due to such happenings. Shinde has been feeling the need for a separate party office since the common public can’t easily meet him due to security reasons and the 24X7 police cordon at his Malabar Hill bungalow. If Shinde’s office comes up in Dadar, the after effects will be felt most by the Sena under Uddhav.
Collage Maker-12-Aug-2022-11

Sena, NCP Distance From Congress In Maharashtra, Patole Stoking Fire

Distance between Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and the Congress party in Maharashtra is widening. The latest provocation is Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole’s assertion that the earlier ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was not a ‘natural’ alliance. Sena’s unilateral decision to install its MLC Ambadas Danve as leader of the opposition in the state upper house has exposed older wounds in MVA. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has backed the Sena, isolating the Congress further. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan has attempted damage control by claiming that Patole’s statement was his ‘personal view’ though he concurred that Uddhav’s step was taken without consulting the Congress. On the other hand, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the party with the largest number of MLCs can automatically become the main opposition party. Pawar is the opposition leader in the assembly. NCP also had ignored the Congress earlier when its senior leaders called on chief minister Eknath Shinde to greet him. At that time, the NCP had informed neither the Sena nor the Congress. This had angered both. During the MVA regime, the assembly’s speakership was with the Congress. But Nana Patole, who was the speaker then, had resigned and the post was vacant till the Shinde-Fadnavis alliance elected Colaba MLA Rahul Narvekar to it after coming to power.
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‘Marriage Party’ Raids In Jalna Yield Rs 400 Crore Booty

When members of a marriage party that had just arrived in Jalna (Maharashtra) started striding purposefully towards the premises of two famous steel manufacturers rather than to any nuptial venue, the onlookers were puzzled. Because rarely any weddings happen in monsoons. But the suspense did not last for long. It soon became evident that huge amounts of cash and gold were being unearthed. It was a series of simultaneous raids by the Income-tax officials, who had hired about a hundred private vehicles which displayed the announcement, “Rahul Weds Anjali” for the surprise visit. Nearly 250 of them swooped on the establishments on August 3 and continued their operation till August 8. The raids yielded cash of Rs 58 crore and over 30 kg of gold, besides precious stones. The cash was found in a farmhouse outside the town in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. The officials needed 13 hours and eight note counting machines to calculate the booty. After counting, the notes were sealed in stout gunny bags which were stashed one atop another. The resultant wall was eight feet in height. The raids were based on intelligence received by the I-T’s Nasik office. However, it was kept a secret till the last moment. The businessmen concerned deals in steel, real estate and textile. Moreover, documents leading to benami property deals worth Rs 100 crore are also said to be recovered.
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Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion: Shinde-Fadanvis Government Faces Flak On Opening Day

Maharashtra’s two-party new cabinet is facing flak for various reasons, primarily aimed at the members of a faction belonging to chief minister Eknath Shinde, who himself is included in the attack. A Shiv Sena petition seeking disqualification of the original 16 ‘rebels’ is pending before the Supreme Court. Shinde’s name features prominently in the list. But the focus of the attack is against former ministers Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar. While Rathod was sacked by the previous Uddhav Thackeray government when a female forest officer committed suicide by allegedly blaming him, Sattar’s two daughters are said to be connected with a questionable academic employment test. Sattar has refuted the allegations and shown readiness to face any probe. Rathod, on the other hand, has refused to respond to media questions on the issue. However, Shinde claimed that Rathod had been exonerated. Till yesterday, Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis were under fire for their inability to form their cabinet though a month had elapsed after their own swearing-in. Now that the team has been expanded, inclusion of Rathod and Sattar is adding fuel to the fire. The most hurting onslaught against Rathod’s entry was launched by BJP leader Chitra Wagh, who had campaigned for his expulsion as a minister. A former NCP leader, Wagh has emerged as a strident female voice in the party. Indications are that she will become more vocal now.
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Fadnavis Assuages Apprehensions Of MPs From Shinde Faction

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has declared that the BJP will spare no efforts in 2024 to ensure re-election of the dozen Lok Sabha members who have pledged their loyalty to chief minister Eknath Shinde. This assurance by Fadnavis is viewed as an attempt to assuage the disturbed Shinde faction, which was said to be apprehensive after the BJP’s announcement that it will concentrate on the LS constituencies lost by the party in 2019 with a narrow margin or which it has never won. They include the prestigious Baramati constituency, which has remained with the family of NCP president Sharad Pawar throughout. Extra attention is being provided towards Baramati, from where Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule has been elected. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is entrusted with the task to snatch it away. She is expected to visit the constituency in coming days. Unease in the Shinde faction was palpable as the CM’s son Shrikant’s Kalyan constituency came in the picture. Kalyan has remained a bone of contention between the BJP and the Sena. Similar scenarios were seen in Thane, Aurangabad and Kolhapur’s Hatkanangale constituencies after local BJP leaders started saying that these seats will be in the party’s kitty in 2024. The reassurance by Fadnavis is expected to calm the troubled waters even as the Supreme Court is taking up the various petitions concerning Maharashtra.
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NIA Says Expense To Provide Documentation To 10 Accused In Antilia Bomb Case ‘Unaffordable’

The National Investigation Agency has submitted to a special court hearing the sensational Antilia Bomb Case that the expense of around Rs 40 lakh for providing the entire documentation to the 10 accused would be unaffordable for it. Moreover, given the volume of evidence, it would require 258 days to make enough prints, NIA’s submission has said. The case has been filed in connection with the explosives planted near Mukesh Ambani’s south Mumbai residence by some of the accused and the subsequent alleged murder of a businessman, Mansukh Hiren. The evidence gathered painstakingly by NIA includes vast amounts of digital record, which include videography conducted in Mumbai and Thane. This record has lakhs of such documents, according to the NIA. The NIA chargesheet runs into around 10,000 pages. It is accompanied by a list of nearly 200 witnesses out of which depositions of 164 persons have been recorded before the magistrate. NIA had urged the court for grant of extra days to submit the chargesheet. It filed it two days before the deadline.  The most controversial role in the affair was played by suspended police officer Sachin Vaze, who was re-inducted in the force and was very close to then home minister Anil Deshmukh. Another accused Pradeem Sharma, a former police officer, was a Shiv Sena candidate in the last assembly election.
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Clockwise L To R : Navneet, Swapna,Kangana,& Ketki

Sanjay Raut’s Utterances Against Kangana, Navneet, Swapna, Ketki Could Haunt Him In Future

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut’s past utterances against various women are likely to haunt him in future now that he is pushed into a corner. One of the women, Swapna Patkar, has filed a police complaint against Raut for allegedly threatening her by using objectionable language. Patkar was a contributor to Saamana edited by Raut some years ago. Mumbai police has invoked IPC sections 504, 506 and 509 against Raut based on her complaint. These sections respectively mean insult with intent to breach peace, criminal threatening and insulting modesty of a woman. Actress Kangana Ranaut was another victim of Raut’s wrath. When a portion of her residence was demolished, the Sena mouthpiece Saamana had come out with a headline, “Ukhaad Diyaa” (Demolished). Kangana had countered that she would not take the Sena’s pressure tactics lying down. Independent MP Navneet Rana had alleged before the media that she had been threatened openly by Raut. She described him as a “goon-like MP.” Navneet and her MLA husband Ravi Rana were arrested in Mumbai for declaring that they would chant Hanuman Chalisa in front of then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s residence ‘Matoshri.’Cine artiste Ketki Chitale was arrested by the police for retweeting an old post critical of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Reacting to this, Raut had described her as an addict (Nashebaaj) and a despicable worm.
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Sanjay Raut’s Efforts To Implicate Eknath Shinde In Cash Seizure Ridiculed

Why did Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut keep a cash amount allegedly given to him by then Sena minister Eknath Shinde for such a long time at his residence? This question is making rounds of political circles now that Raut has been remanded to ED custody for the next three days. It was claimed by the supporters of Raut soon after his arrest last night that the cash amount of Rs.11.50 lakh recovered by ED from his bungalow in north-east Mumbai’s Bhandup suburb was actually handed over to him by present chief minister Eknath Shinde in the past for the Ayodhya Ram Mandir construction. In fact, eyebrows were raised when seizure of such an insignificant amount was reported by ED. But the feeling soon turned into ridicule when Raut supporters tried to shift the ownership of the cash. Shinde faction’s vocal MLA Sanjay Shirsat fired a volley of questions. He said, “There is nothing to show that the amount was given to Raut by Shinde. But even if one assumes this claim to be true, why did Raut keep this cash with him for such a long time? Why was it not sent to Ayodhya? Why is this explanation coming only after the ED action?” Shinde merely retorted, “The loudspeaker that used to start every morning at 8 is silenced.”

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.