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surendra kumar agarwal

Photo : punekarnews.in

Pune Porsche Accident: Three Generations Of The Same Family In Police Custody

It is not just rarest of the rare, it is perhaps unique. Three generations of the same family find themselves in custody in connection with the same incident. Pune builder Vishal Agarwal’s minor son, just short of 18 years, had been arrested by the police for allegedly causing the death of two techies under his speeding Porsche on Sunday, May 19. Vishal’s father Surendra Kumar Agarwal has now been arrested by the police. He will cool his heels in custody till May 28. The ill-fated car’s driver, Gangaram Pujari, was detained illegally in Agarwal’s house and was pressured by Surendra to tell the police that he (Pujari), and not the minor, was at the wheel at the time of the tragedy, according to police charges. Pujari was taken to Agarwal’s house by a police party to recreate the alleged detention’s chain of events. Surendra, it was reported earlier, has been found to have links with underworld don Chhota Rajan. His act of detention of the driver will be presented to the court soon. The police party also interrogated the household help and checked some documents. Incidentally, after a prolonged silence, Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has explained that he has been monitoring the investigation of the case in Pune, he being the guardian minister of the district. His silence had become a topic of speculation and criticism.
sharad pawar lawyer

Photo : X - Lawyer Prashant Patil sitting to Sharad Pawar’s right

Sharad Pawar Angry Over Questions About His Photo With Agarwal Family Lawyer

The Pune car crash tragedy is taking a political turn as different angles connected with the police station concerned and the family of builder Vishal Agarwal are coming out, one after another. The latest is about veteran leader Sharad Pawar. A picture of Pawar with the lawyer of the accused family members went viral on social media. When Pawar was asked about it on Friday, he lost temper and said connecting any past meeting with this episode was not fair. He retorted that it was not necessary that he should express opinion on every issue. The Pawar family is facing criticism on several counts about the deadly car crash. His daughter Supriya Sule, MP, broke her silence over the incident after she was repeatedly attacked for not saying a word for four days about it in her hometown. When Pawar was asked why his nephew and now adversary Ajit Pawar was not seen handling the investigation as guardian minister of Pune district, he snapped, “Ask this question to Ajit.” Even as the furore continues, local Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar has levelled serious allegations of corruption against Pune police force. The Lok Sabha candidate has circulated a couple of pictures of constables from a police station in inebriated mood and has threatened to expose such elements from different police stations every day from today. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has condemned politicisation of the sorry incident, saying that Pawar and I.N.D.I.A bloc are facing depression.
porsche accident

Photo : X

Pune Porsche Accident: Skeletons Tumbling Out Of Builder Agarwal’s Family Cupboard

Skeletons are tumbling out of the wealthy Agarwal family’s cupboard following the arrest of its young member, whose Porsche car crushed two people in Pune late last week. A feud over property between two brothers, Ram Kumar and Surendra Kumar Agarwal, had an underworld connection, according to a Shiv Sena (Shinde) functionary. Another allegation is that some molestation angle, too, has come forward, believed to be another cause of this clan conflict. The family business values over Rs 600 crore and many prestigious structures in Pune and around have been constructed by one of the family firms. Surendra is the grandfather of the accused youngster. Sena leader Ajay Bhosale has disclosed that Surendra had sought help from underworld don Chhota Rajan to pop off Bhosale, who was friendly with Ram Kumar. Visiting Bangkok to meet Rajan to discuss the alleged contract, Surendra had told the don that Bhosale was hindering the settlement between the two brothers. Bhosale was shot in Pune in 2009 and a case has been sub-judice in the matter ever since, he told the media. Bhosale’s chagrin was evident when he remarked that the Agarwal family thought that it could do anything and escape scot free. Vishal, father of the accused, has many high level connections, it has transpired. Once his mobile phone is unlocked, more skeletons are likely to follow, investigators believe.
sharad pawar_016

Rashmi Thackeray Wanted Aaditya To Be Maharashtra CM But Sharad Pawar Overruled It

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi’s insistence to install Aaditya as the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2019 was overruled by veteran leader Sharad Pawar, who had refused to offer the same post to Ajit Pawar in 2004 since he wanted to promote Supriya Sule’s image as a future chief minister. Once Aaditya’s name was rejected, then unified Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Anil Desai had pleaded with Pawar to appoint Uddhav as CM. This chain of events has been described by NCP (Ajit) chief spokesman Umesh Patil. He was trying to refute various claims being made by leaders of different parties involved over the past few days. Patil said the unified NCP had more MLAs than the Congress in 2004 and Ajit Pawar, as NCP legislative party leader, was the logical choice as CM. But Sharad Pawar put his foot down because he wanted to ensure that no competitor to his daughter Supriya should emerge. Patil also dismissed Raut’s claim that Eknath Shinde’s chief ministership was opposed by senior leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare. Even in 2019, it had been decided by the NCP to team up with the BJP. However, Sharad Pawar reversed his stand at the eleventh hour, Patil has said. He claimed that the then Sena had decided to elevate Shinde as CM but Rashmi’s intervention led to Uddhav’s appointment.
NItesh atul

Congress Leader Atul Londhe, BJP leader Nilesh Rane

NCP(Ajit) to Split, Uddhav & Family To Flee Country, Claim Political Opponents

No sooner was polling for the Lok Sabha over in Maharashtra, than a spate of sensational charges has started making rounds in political circles in the state. At least a dozen MLAs of the NCP (Ajit) are likely to cross over to the BJP after the results are out while many others may return to the NCP led by Sharad Pawar, according to state Congress spokesman Atul Londhe. He has specifically mentioned the names of NCP(Ajit faction) state president Sunil Tatkare and prominent OBC leader Dhananjay Munde, who had deserted the BJP a decade ago to join Sharad Pawar. The ‘X’ post by Londhe has taken a swipe, saying that Ajit Pawar perhaps would remain the lone member of his party. The post has come after Ajit’s trusted lieutenant Nilesh Lanke has once again refuted reports that he is returning to NCP (Sharad Pawar). He has stated that he will continue to follow Ajit Pawar. Even before denials were issued by NCP(Ajit) to contradict Londhe’s post, another audacious statement has created ripples. BJP MLA Nitesh Rane has claimed that Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and his family are planning to flee to London after the LS results are out on 4 June. Rane, the second son of former CM Narayan Rane, has demanded that the authorities impound the passports of the Thackeray family. The verbal battle in the state is certain to escalate in the days to come.
Ajit Pawar_006

Ajit Pawar’s NCP Defensive As Its MLA Faces Flak In Connection With Pune Car Tragedy

Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar) is forced to go on the defensive in connection with the two-day old Pune car tragedy as its local MLA’s name has been linked with the alleged royal treatment given to the minor offender. Congress and Uddhav Sena leaders have seized the opportunity to lambast the three-party Mahayuti government in the state. According to the chargesheet filed by Pune police, the accused’s speeding car killed two youngsters. His father, famous builder Vishal Agarwal, as well as the owner and manager of the bar when the minor consumed liquor have been arrested. From the moment the news of the accident became viral, the name of NCP (Ajit faction) MLA Sunil Tingre began surfacing. As the offender had been reportedly served with pizza and burger while under arrest in the police station, social media was agog with discussion that Tingre had intervened on behalf of the builder. On Tuesday (May 21), Tingre finally came out with an elaborate explanation, claiming that he had not hindered the police procedure at any stage. Soon thereafter, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar called Pune police commissioner Amitesh Kumar and asked him not to come under any political pressure. Amitesh denied all social gossip and maintained that the police had taken utmost precaution while applying various criminal charges. He announced that efforts will be made to apply IPC 302, considering the gravity of the incident.
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Uddhav Alleges Deliberate Ploy To Slow Pace Of Polling In Mumbai, Mulls Legal Action Against EC

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has fired the first salvo in the electoral battle by implying that the election officials in Mumbai had been deliberately slowing the pace of polling and that delays were occurring in the areas supporting him. It may be recalled that he was the first prominent I.N.D.I.A bloc leader to come out against EVMs a couple of months ago. A visibly ruffled Uddhav told the media that in certain localities, voters’ identity was verified repeatedly. It appeared that the Election Commission representatives in various polling centres were delaying the process. “If you find that the delaying is on purpose, get the names of the officials concerned so that if we go to court tomorrow, the information will be useful,” Uddhav thundered. He explicitly alleged that this was Modi government’s design to see to it that the voting against it was lessened. “But don’t fall for such tricks. Wait till tomorrow morning but do vote,” he appealed to people. Uddhav said these complaints were received from the areas where voting was in favour of the Opposition. He charged that this dirty game was being perpetrated through the EC. It could be said that the EC was working for the Modi government, he taunted. Uddhav was speaking against the backdrop of the complaints that the pace of polling was very slow and causing harassment to the elderly and the physically challenged.
Praksh ambedkar_002

Raj And Uddhav Thackeray Likely To Join Hands With Modi, Says Prakash Ambedkar

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray’s presence at the dais graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mumbai on May 17 has started generating political speculation. The most common inference is that MNS and the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde will come together and the new entity will be headed by Raj, who will be called Shiv Sena chief, a title exclusively used for the late Balasaheb Thackeray. At the NDA rally at Shivaji Park, Raj praised Modi’s leadership and had presented five demands on behalf of Maharashtra. In response, Modi declared that all that was required for Mumbai would be done by him. However, the prominence given to Raj, who spoke just before Modi, has surprised even his supporters. Taking a cue from the social media posts, Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, too, has predicted that Raj will head the Sena (Shinde). However, Ambedkar ridiculed both Raj and Uddhav Thackeray. He said it was likely that both cousins will go with Modi. The caustic criticism of the PM by Uddhav was just a charade, Ambedkar remarked. On the other hand, Uddhav has lashed out at Raj and called him ‘suparibaj’ in an interview. He said the NDA wanted a Thackeray on its stage and got one, like the hired crowd that had filled up the venue. Raj has maintained total silence though expected to give a reply in his trademark stinging fashion soon.
Eknath Rally

Election Officials In Nashik Check Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Bag, Finds Nothing

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s last Nasik visit had turned into a political slugfest since Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut had questioned why the CM needed large suitcases for such a brief visit. “What was in the bags,” he had asked, apparently to imply that they were stuffed with cash. When Shinde landed at Nashik on Thursday (May 16), his luggage was examined by election and police officials. They later declared that the baggage contained only some essentials, including medicines. Shinde then teased his opponents by saying, “Yes, today also I have come with bags.” The Nashik Lok Sabha seat is among prominent fights in the state as Shinde’s loyalist Hemant Godse finally secured the NDA nomination despite local BJP and NCP opposition. He is opposed by rival Shiv Sena’s Rajabhau Waje, picked by Uddhav to wrest the seat. Senior NCP (Ajit) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, too, had thrown his hat in the ring and his name was almost finalized though Godse was asked to go ahead at the last minute. Ever since, the holy town of Nashik has turned into a fierce battlefield, Shinde, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and other top leaders from both sides have been frequently visiting it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 15 rally has only highlighted the importance of the constituency.
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Ending Speculations, Ajit Pawar Says Will Attend PM’s Shivaji Park Rally

He was conspicuous by his absence. Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was missing when PM Narendra Modi visited Maharashtra on May 15.  Ajit’s second disappearance has become a topic of political speculation though his aides have clarified that he is down with throat infection. This is Ajit’s second act of disappearance in as many years. The first disappearance was in April 2023 and it immediately became hot news against the backdrop of constant gossip that Maharashtra’s BJP leadership had been in touch with him. Ajit teamed up with the BJP in July 2023 as deputy chief minister and was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public function by tapping him on the back. At that time, too, it was clarified that he was indisposed and hence unavailable. It was also remembered that he was not present when Modi filed his Varanasi nomination a couple of days ago. Ajit’s NCP was represented by senior leader Praful Patel. When Modi visited Kalyan on May 15 before reaching Mumbai, Ajit’s close confidant Sunil Tatkare honoured the PM. Now, it has been confirmed that Ajit Pawar will attend mega rally at Shivaji Park on Friday. The rally’s another highlight will be MNS chief Raj Thackeray, a severe critic of the unified NCP. Ajit was last seen publicly on 13 May at Baramati from where his wife Sunetra is pitted against cousin Supriya Sule. Taking a swipe at his nephew, veteran Sharad Pawar sarcastically quipped, “Ajit is really unwell at present.”
raj thackeray_004

Confirmed! Raj Thackeray To Be On Stage At Modi’s Friday Mumbai Rally

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Friday (May 17) will have one more attraction. MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s presence at the crucial campaign meet is expected to benefit the ruling Mahayuti for the polling to be held on 20 May in Mumbai and around. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has confirmed the consent of Raj, after calling on him to thank the MNS for its help in Pune and Nashik election campaigning. The six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai as well as those in Thane and Kalyan have become a prestige issue for both sides, the Mahayuti and the Maha Vikas Aghadi, as the political fates of chief minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray will depend upon the outcome. To ensure the saffron alliance’s victory, PM Modi was urged to give time for the Mumbai rally. His acceptance has boosted the spirits of the Yuti. Raj is expected to lambast cousin Uddhav’s decision to embrace the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP, as well as his increasing affinity towards the minorities. CM Shinde and Raj jointly plan to breach the traditional strongholds of the Sena (UBT), especially in Mumbai. The partnership will apply to the legislative assembly election slated in October this year. Considering the potential of this cooperation, Raj has been wooed by the BJP and Shinde. He, too, has responded positively, signalling a long term camaraderie.
bhinde

Photo : @ramkadam

Ghatkopar Tragedy Kingpin’s Pic With Uddhav Goes Viral, Faces Rape Charges

The alleged kingpin of the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse tragedy, Bhavesh Bhinde, is facing serious charges like attempt to rape and at least two dozen other cases are pending against him, according to his own declaration. The 51-year old had unsuccessfully contested an assembly election in 2009 from Mulund constituency. The absconding Bhinde’s picture along with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has gone viral and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders have launched a tirade against their arch political foe. Though most of the cases against Bhinde pertain to erecting unauthorised hoardings, the one at Ghatkopar has opened Pandora Box after its collapse that claimed over 14 lives and left 74 injured. The controversial hoarding has been standing since 2022. Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had filed complaints against it though no action was taken by the authorities. This has led to a political slugfest between the Sena (UBT) and the BJP. Sena MP Sanjay Raut has blamed the fact that there is no elected civic house and hence the administrator in Mumbai is responsible for the mishap. In a sharp retort, BJP MLA Nitesh Rane has said that Raut’s brother Sunil had taken Bhinde to Matoshri to meet Uddhav. While former minister Anil Parab has maintained that his party is not connected with Bhinde, top leaders of the Congress and the NCP headed by Sharad Pawar have maintained silence about the incident.
Raj sushama

Uddhav Sena’s Sushama Andhare Openly Attacks Raj Thackeray

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeay has become a latest target of the Shiv Sena (UBT) after he pledged his support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Nationalist Democratic Alliance (NDA). Now, Sena leader Sushama Andhare’s attack of Raj in choicest terms after the former had targeted her in a public rally a couple of days ago is repeatedly flashed by Marathi news channels. At the time, Raj had shown an old video clip of Andhare, who had criticised Balasaheb Thackeray about 27 years ago. ‘How could you accept such a person in your party?’ Raj had asked cousin Uddhav, in a bid to embarrass him. An enraged Andhare, who has emerged as a firebrand orator, said Raj is known for his pro-establishment stands taken from time to time. As he has no constructive agenda, he is filled with negativity, Andhare told news channels after the speech of Raj went viral. She said Raj should have respected Balasaheb’s memory by honouring the Sena chief’s appeal to take care of Uddhav and Aaditya, made before his demise. Andhare reminded Raj that his MNS was ridiculed by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the past. ‘Now you are campaigning for the BJP,’ she pointed out. Andhare also dug up the sensational Ramesh Kini murder case to hit out at Raj.
raj thackeray ujjwal

Raj Thackeray Expected To Jump Into Campaigning Soon

Now that all Lok Sabha candidates have been announced in Maharashtra by major parties, the ruling Mahayuti alliance is planning to add ace orator Raj Thackeray to the list of its star campaigners. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the party established by Raj, has already become active in select Lok Sabha constituencies though its rank and file is yet to be roped in across the state. But that will happen in a couple of days, it is expected. Raj has already declared his support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA. He himself will launch his state tour either from Mumbai, Pune or Nashik. Raj’s main attack will focus on cousin Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena faction led by him. Hence, Raj will be seen more in Mumbai, Thane and the Konkan region, which are all Uddhav’s strongholds. Veteran Narayan Rane, who is contesting from the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri seat on a BJP ticket, will be among the first to organise a public rally for Raj. Similarly, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant (Kalyan) and his confidant Naresh Mhaske (Thane) are looking forward to holding meetings for Raj on whom they called in Mumbai. Similarly, BJP’s high profile candidate advocate Ujjwal Nikam had an hour-long meeting with Raj at the MNS chief’s residence. Raj has kept mum all these days and it is said that he is storing his ammunition for setting it afire at appropriate times.
eknath ajit fadnavis

In Maharashtra Shinde Gains, Ajit Sacrifices And BJP Adjusts

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde is perceived as the main gainer in the Lok Sabha seat distribution among the three partners of the ruling Mahayuti alliance. While the BJP has the largest share of the seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) under deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has had to satisfy with just four the undivided NCP had won in 2019. Hence, Ajit’s political future is a matter of discussion now since his adversaries have started painting him as a loser. The Shiv Sena under Shinde has obtained 15 seats, leaving the remaining 28 for the BJP. The NCP (Ajit) will thus fight in Raigad, Dharashiv, Shirur and Baramati constituencies. On the other hand, Shinde has been able to secure Kalyan, Thane and Nashik LS seats, which will witness a close fight. Incidentally, the BJP was trying to obtain these three seats as it was under pressure from its local leaders. Sensing the possible criticism, Ajit had explained that the NCP (undivided) had won four seats in 2019 and would recontest them this time, too. Additionally, he wanted his party to get the prestigious Satara seat won by it the last time, but dropped its claim since a scion of the family of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was selected to stand there.  Ajit and Shinde have the assembly as the focus of their future politics. Hence, the present arrangement is viewed as an adjustment for the long term strategy to decimate the Congress and Sharad Pawar from the state political scene.
Ravindra yamini

Eknath Shinde Picks Two Mumbai Lok Sabha Candidates, Both Once Close To Uddhav And On ED’s Radar

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has selected two Lok Sabha candidates from Mumbai. According to the much-awaited announcement, MLAs Yamini Jadhav for Mumbai South and Ravindra Waikar for Mumbai North-West will take on Uddhav Thackeray’s confidants Arvind Sawant and Amol Kirtikar, respectively. Jadhav and Waikar, both close to Uddhav once, were also on the ED’s radar. Sawant has been elected twice from the constituency which houses all important government offices, including Mantralaya, the Reserve Bank and the Mumbai Stock Market, besides various international financial corporations. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has explained that the Shiv Sena led by Shinde was allotted three of the six seats from Mumbai and accordingly, Jadhav and Waikar are in the fray. Till last month, Waikar was with the Uddhav faction but changed sides recently to join the Sena under Shinde. He will be opposing Amol Kirtikar, whose father Gajanan has been representing the Western suburban constituency for a decade. The third Sena (Shinde) candidate is sitting MP Rahul Shewale, from Mumbai South Central, considered the stronghold of the Sena (Uddhav). His opponent is top Sena functionary Anil Desai, who is considered among the closest to Uddhav. The BJP has fielded ace lawyer Ujjwal Nikam (Mumbai North Central), Union minister Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Mihir Kotecha (Mumbai North East). All fights in Mumbai, thus, will witness a keen tussle.
Modi pawar

Voters Shocked As Maharashtra Electioneering Dominated By Allegations, Abusive Language

 The flurry of allegations and counter-allegations has reached another level in Maharashtra this election season. Day in and day out, various leaders slander their opponents, at times using abusive language. Now, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut has made a serious allegation against deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and his boss, Uddhav Thackeray, has endorsed it. Fadnavis has reiterated his charge that the Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government had tried all options to arrest him but failed since it did not find anything incriminating. Even a police commissioner of Mumbai was roped in but in vain, he added. Responding to the charge, Raut said that Fadnavis had ordered phone tapping when he was the chief minister. When the MVA government began investigating the matter, Fadnavis got worried and engineered the fall of the Thackeray government. Though Uddhav who so far had maintained silence about the issue he endorsed what Raut said. Uddhav also questioned the exoneration of various prominent leaders from charges of corruption. He was hinting at the clean chit issued by the Mumbai police to Sunetra Pawar in an alleged fraud case. Uddhav said such questions had been uppermost in people’s minds. Even if no answers are forthcoming, the voters will not forget them, he warned. Only a few days ago, Uddhav’s son Aaditya had used derogatory terms against CM Eknath Shinde. There is no sign of the combat of verbal invectives subsiding.
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Shinde Warns Uddhav, Behave Or Shall Expose Your London & Lucknow Property Details

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has threatened his arch enemy Uddhav Thackeray that various documents concerning properties from London to Lucknow and khoka to container are in his possession and if his predecessor does not observe limits of decency, everything will be made public and then he (Uddhav) will not be able to move around openly. In an interview to Marathi news channel ABP Majha, Shinde castigated Aaditya Thackeray for using intemperate language against him and others.  In an oblique reference to London, the CM said there was no reason for somebody to become restless when relaxing in the British capital was mentioned. “Observe limits, or else all will come out. We have documents about London and 200 acres in Lucknow,” Shinde warned Aaditya. He reiterated that the then Thackeray government had planned to jail top BJP leaders like Devendra Fadnavis, Ashish Shelar, Pravin Darekar or Prasad Lad. He recalled how Union minister Narayan Rane, MP Navneet Rana, journalists like Arnab Goswami were jailed during the Uddhav regime. He alleged that Uddhav was trying to weaken the BJP on one hand and strengthen Maha Vikas Aghadi on the other by using governmental machinery. Praising MNS leader Raj Thackeray, he said Raj was a broad minded person unlike Uddhav. He expressed confidence that the Mahayuti will sweep the polls in Maharashtra.
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(left) Sunil Tatkare and Anant Geete

Confusing Raigad Voters: Two Tatkare and Three Geete Contest From The Same Constituency

The battle between Mahayuti candidate Sunil Dattatray Tatkare and Maha Vikas Aghadi’s Anant Gangaram Geete in Raigad Lok Sabha constituency is likely to end in a suspense since namesakes of both candidates have filed nominations. Tatkare, the sitting MP, has been fielded by the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP while Geete is contesting on behalf of the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. Geete,  a former Union Industries minister, has been elected repeatedly from the constituency. Interestingly, there are two more independent candidates with the same name Anant Geete. They are Anant Padma Geete and Anant Baloji Geete. Similarly, there is a Sunil Dattaram Tatkare, who is not known locally at all. The three pose a risk of splitting the votes. In 2014 a similar thing had happened in Raigad. Tatkare and Geete were in a close fight but the seat was ultimately won by Geete by a slim margin of around 2000 votes while the “other” Tatkare had polled over 9,000 votes resulting in politician Takare losing. In 1991, top PWP leader Datta Patil had to suffer when a similar tactic was used against him. In fact, the Raigad constituency is known for such independent candidates, who can derail real candidates’ winning chances. It is said that Tatkare is using the same strategy this time, played by the Sena 10 years ago to defeat him.
uddhav sena

Uddhav Sena Dares Election Commission Directive Over Use Of Hindu & Jai Bhawani

The Election Commission’s directive to the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray not to use ‘Hindu’ and ‘Jai Bhawani’ in its campaign song has provided an unexpected boost to the party’s morale. Uddhav has already challenged the order, saying he is prepared to fight a legal battle over the intended ban. Burdened by the role as the largest partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Uddhav Sena has been finding itself cornered due to various sensational disclosures against Uddhav and his two-year rule. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar have been in the forefront in this regard. In this atmosphere, the EC’s fiat has come as a shot in the arm as the words – Hindu and Jai Bhawani – possess magical effect on the Marathi psyche, irrespective of any party ideology. Sensing this, Uddhav has declared his resolve to oppose the order. But deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and some other leaders have attacked Uddhav by reminding him that he had left the Hindutva long back when he decided to go with the Congress and other such forces. Uddhav has argued that PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah continue to invoke Lord Ram and Bajrang Bali in their speeches. Take action against them first, he has challenged the EC, which is yet to respond to the Sena’s communication opposing the ban.
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Antulay’s Son-In-Law Joins Ajit Faction NCP, Brightens Tatkare’s Winning Chances

The Congress in Maharashtra has lost another influential leader as former chief minister AR Antulay’s son-in-law Mushtaq Antulay has joined the NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. The development will impact the political calculations in Raigad, Antulay’s home district. State NCP president Sunil Tatkare is seeking a second Lok Sabha term from the constituency associated with the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was Antulay who as CM had renamed Kulaba district as Raigad in 1980. In his budding years at the time, Tatkare was a loyal soldier of Antulay but later switched over to the NCP set up by Sharad Pawar in 1999. Since then, Antulay and Tatkare became political foes. After Antulay’s exit, Mushtaq was sidelined by the Congress party for a long time. Ending this acrimony, Mushtaq has joined the NCP and supplemented Tatkare’s campaign against the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which has fielded former Union energy minister Anant Geete, who was trounced by Tatkare in 2019. Due to Antulay’s seminal developmental initiatives, he had a large following irrespective of party or caste considerations. Shrivardhan, Dapoli and Mahad assembly segments in the Lok Sabha jurisdiction were known to be loyal to him. Mushtaq, however, could not capitalise on this goodwill. Now in the NCP, he has an opportunity to resurrect his political career during the upcoming assembly polls.
supriya sunetra

Ajit Pawar’s Nomination Rejected, Wife Sunetra Takes On Supriya Sule In Baramati

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s nomination has been rejected by the returning officer on technical grounds for the prestigious Baramati Lok Sabha constituency. However, this decision will not impact the fierce electioneering or the outcome. Ajit had filed papers as a precaution in case his wife Sunetra’s nomination was rejected. Now, her paper has been found in order like that of her sister-in-law Supriya Sule, her main challenger. Citing a rule which stipulates that if a political party candidate’s nomination form received first is found valid, the other forms on behalf of the same party are rejected. Due to this provision, Ajit’s form has been unaccepted. Applying the same rule, the nomination form of Sachin Dodake was rejected since he had filed as a dummy for Supriya. However, Sachin’s nomination as an independent has been accepted. Interestingly, one Sharad (Ram) Pawar has also entered the Baramati arena. His nomination as an independent has been found valid. He belongs to a local autorickshaw union. His presence will only be a token. The real fight will be between two titans – NCP founder Sharad Pawar and nephew Ajit Pawar — through Sunetra Pawar and Supriya Sule. Baramati will go to the polls in the third phase, on 7 May. The constituency has remained loyal to the Pawar family since 1967. This is the first time that two factions of the family are taking on each other.
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BJP's Poll Strategy: Each NDA MLA Needs To Ensure Big Margin For The Lok Sabha Candidate In Their Constituency

The BJP is preparing a strategy under which each MLA will have to ensure a sizable lead for the NDA’s Lok Sabha candidate in his/her constituency. Each Lok Sabha constituency’s six assembly segments will play an important role in bringing back the saffron rule at the Centre. Accordingly, specific targets have been prepared for the BJP MLAs. These will be analysed after the election results are out. In the case of Maharashtra, the Assembly election will take place in October 2024. For Maharashtra, the NDA is working towards winning 40-plus out of 48 seats. The BJP, the dominant partner, is supported this time by the breakaway Shiv Sena and NCP factions. Much will depend upon the collective working by the triumvirate. In view of this situation, even MLAs of the Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar) will have to be wary and work assiduously to ensure the NDA’s victory. The other aspect of the plan is to curtail potential rebellion. It has started showing its effectiveness. The first beneficiary is Union minister Narayan Rane, who has filed his nomination for the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri constituency in the Konkan. The other strong claimant was Sena (Shinde) leader Kiran Samant, brother of Uday Samant, a top minister in Shinde’s cabinet, who has declared in the presence of his elder brother that he will work for Rane’s victory. More of this is anticipated around the state.
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Chhagan Bhujbal Withdraws From Lok Sabha Fray, CM Eknath Shinde Triumphs

Firebrand OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal has announced his withdrawal from the Lok Sabha election. He himself has made this momentous announcement, saying that any delay in deciding a candidate for the Nashik constituency could be denting the Mahayuti’s prospects. Bhujbal indicated that none had asked him to walk out but chief minister Eknath Shinde’s insistence for the seat is seen as the reason for this significant development. Had Bhujbal been fielded, there was the possibility of the Maratha opposition as he is the main exponent of the OBC’s opposition to their reservation demand. However, neither Bhjubal nor sitting Sena (Shinde) MP Hemant Godse have touched upon this aspect. But the announcement has almost endorsed Godse’s bid for a third term. Bhujbal thanked Union home minister Amit Shah, disclosing that Shah was insistent for him, as informed by DCM Ajit Pawar and confirmed by another DCM Devendra Fadnavis. Godse has expressed satisfaction over Bhujbal’s decision and the Mahayuti, too, feels relieved since Nasik was one of the seats for which so far no unanimity could occur. Bhujbal has now declared that he will tour Maharashtra for the victory of Mahayuti candidates. His presence in some constituencies could be beneficial, but inconvenient in some others due to his strident pro-OBC stance. 
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Shocker! Mahayuti Will Win Only 30 Seats In Maharashtrra, Says ABP Majha-C Voter Opinion Poll

The ruling saffron alliance in Maharashtra is predicted to suffer in the coming Lok Sabha election, according to an Opinion Poll conducted by the Marathi news channel ABP Majha and C-Voter. The channel has flashed the inferences drawn by the poll conducted across the state. The highlight of the prediction is that the three-party Mahayuti will have to content itself with just 30 seats, yielding the remaining 18 to the Opposition-led I.N.D.I.A front. The Mahayuti had won 41 seats in 2019. The shocking prophecy in the poll is that the NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar will not be able to win a single Lok Sabha seat. The broad findings of the poll are as follows: BJP 21/22, Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) 9/10, Shiv Sena (UBT) 9, NCP (Sharad) 5 and Congress 3. Moreover, in Baramati, Supriya Sule is likely to be re-elected, the poll says. The Congress party will improve its tally to three from the lone Chandrapur seat it won in the 2019 election. The NCP under Sharad Pawar will retain Satara and Shirur while the results in Madha, Nanded and Parbhani will be astonishing, according to the poll. The Sena under Uddhav Thackeray will receive a much-needed boost if it can win about 10 seats since most of its sitting MPs and MLAs have gone with chief minister Eknath Shinde.
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Will Raj Thackeray Share Dais With PM In Mumbai?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited Mumbai rally has raised extra curiosity since Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is expected to share the dais with him. Although no formal confirmation has been forthcoming about either the date or venue of the public meeting, it is likely to take place at the historic Shivaji Park grounds in the heart of Mumbai. Thakeray’s son Amit has indicated in Pune about Raj addressing the rally in Modi’s presence. Only recently, Raj had had asked his rank and file to work for Modi’s return and the NDA’s success. If his presence at Modi’s rally is announced officially, MNS workers will campaign for the saffron alliance more enthusiastically, it is felt. Amit hinted at the joint rally during his visit of Pune, which was for expanding his party’s presence there. BJP’s Pune Lok Sabha candidate Murlidhar Mohol, a former mayor, called on him during his stay, to enlist the MNS support. A BJP stronghold for a long time, the party had to face a defeat in the recently held Pune assembly byelection. Hence, the party is unwilling to leave anything to chance this time. The meeting between Amit and Mohol is a boost for the NDA in this situation. About Mumbai, Amit said that the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray will suffer heavily since in the capital city of Maharashtra.
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Ajit Pawar To File Nomination For Lok Sabha From Baramati As A Precautionary Step

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s surprise move to decide to file a nomination from family fiefdom Baramati is seen more as a precaution than strategy. His wife Sunetra is the nominee of his faction of the NCP. His uncle Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Suleis seeking re-election from the constituency, facing the formidable challenge mounted by her sister in law Sunetra. Ajit has obtained nomination forms and is expected to file the same. As and when Sunetra’s papers are found in order, he will withdraw. The precaution has been prompted after the Congress fiasco in Ramtek seat in Vidarbha. There, official candidate Rashmi Barve’s nomination was rejected on caste certificate grounds. Fortunately for the Congress, her husband Shyamkumar had also filed papers as a dummy candidate. He is now in the fray. Emulating the lesson, Ajit has prepared to fight in case of any complications in the scrutiny. His action is perceived as a firm resolve to end his uncle’s hegemony in Baramati in particular and Pune district, too
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Sharad Pawar On Defensive, Denies ‘Outsider’ Remark About Ajit’s Wife

Veteran leader Sharad Pawar has backtracked on his controversial remark about nephew Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra, whom he had described as an ‘outsider’ in Baramati. Pawar had passed this remark while campaigning for his daughter Supriya Sule, and appealed to the electors indirectly to vote for a ‘local’ candidate. This remark to further Supriya’s prospects became viral and has been condemned by several women activists. Alerted by the likely backlash during voting, Pawar clarified before the media in Satara that he had never made such a statement. ‘I was only reacting to Ajit’s call to elect his wife by saying that after the people of Baramati had elected myself, Ajit and Supriya, they should elect another Pawar.”  Ajit and Sunetra were married in 1985, almost four decades ago. Although she has refused to react to the thorny issue, it is becoming election ammunition. Sunetra is the younger sister of Dr Padamsingh Patil, an ardent former confidant of Pawar and Dharashiv (Osmanabad) strongman, dreaded for his daredevil style of politics. In a bid to blunt likely opposition attacks, Pawar mentioned that he was the first chief minister in India to implement a special policy for women whereby they were granted reservations for local body elections. He recalled that it was during his term as defence minister that women were inducted in defence services.
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Sharad Pawar’s 50% Candidates ‘Imported’, Similar Story With All Major Parties

The NCP faction under founder Sharad Pawar is banking upon ‘imported’ candidates for the coming Lok Sabha election. The NCP (Pawar) is contesting 10 seats in Maharashtra and five of its nominees have come from outside. But the party is not alone. All major parties have adopted this route to ensure wins on their roster. After nephew Ajit Pawar engineered a vertical split in the NCP, most of the elected members, in the state and in parliament, chose to part ways with Sharad Pawar. Hence he explored the hopefuls elsewhere and offered them candidature, denied by their party. Those crossing over include BJP’s Shriram Patil from Jalgaon. Wardha’s NCP (Ajit faction) candidate Amar Kale has been elected on a Congress ticket to the assembly thrice. At least two Ajit followers have staged a homecoming. They are Nilesh Lanke from Ahmednagar district and Bajrang Sonawane from Beed district. Both have been fielded by Sharad Pawar soon after their return. Lanke is a powerful orator, who will take on the influential Vikhe-Patil family’s scion Dr Sujay, sitting MP. The latest to join him is Dhairyasheel from the powerful Mohite-Patil family from Solapur district. He will be contesting from Madha. He was BJP’s organising secretary for several years. Pawar himself is campaigning for them despite his advancing years. The Shiv Sena (Shinde), the BJP and the Congress, too, have welcomed such turncoats.
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‘Fixing’ For 20 Maharashtra Lok Sabha Seats, Alleges Ambedkar

Maverick leader Prakash Ambedkar’s allegation that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has reached an understanding with the BJP in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra is bound to add to the Opposition’s headache. At present, a series of allegations is heard against NCP chief Sharad Pawar that he had almost joined BJP and NDA but turned away at the last moment. Those repeating the charge include Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, both his former staunch supporters. As a result, an element of distrust appears creeping in MVA as Pawar has always remained unpredictable. Though Ambedkar’s many past statements have been found to be audacious, his latest claim could fuel the internecine conflict in MVA further. Ambedkar has alleged that the 20 constituencies where ‘fixing’ is made include Buldhana, Beed and Kalyan. Interestingly, the name of chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Dr Shrikant Shinde, current Kalyan MP, is yet to be announced as a candidate for the seat formally. However, his name has been mentioned by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as the nominee. Even as Mahayuti is still grappling with seat sharing among its three partners, MVA is riddled with protests and a pall of suspicion owing to the dispute over some prestigious constituencies can be felt. Added to the intrigue is constant whispers about some important MVA leaders crossing over to the saffron camp. Ambedkar is expected to reveal the so-called list in a day or two.
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Another Blow To Congress, Maharashtra LoP Likely To Join BJP

The embattled Maharashtra Congress is receiving one shock after another. Now, leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra legislative assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar, has been forced to refute claims that he is on the cusp of joining the BJP. Senior Congress leaders in various constituencies are coming out openly against the state unit’s decision on seat sharing with the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the NCP (Sharad Pawar). Some have even left the party. Though hardly any damage control effort by the party is seen, the so-called revelation about Wadittewar has been made by minister of food and drug administration Dharmarao Baba Atram. He told the media that talks about Wadettiwar joining the BJP had taken place in his presence. Wadettiwar is a close confidant of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who recently joined the BJP. Enraged by the claim, Wadettiwar demanded that a narco test should be carried out on Atram. He alleged that Atram was making false statements since the BJP was certain to lose the Gadchiroli seat held by it for the past decade. In Nasik and Mumbai, too, Congress workers have expressed anguish over the seat sharing and candidate selection. In Nasik, several Congress leaders have threatened to resign since senior worker Shobha Bachchav has been fielded from Dhule. Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad, too, has conveyed her hurt sentiments to the high command.
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First Casualty Of Raj Thackeray’s Support To Modi is MNS General Secretary

MNS president Raj Thackeray’s ‘unconditional’ support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP has scored its first casualty. MNS general secretary Keertikumar Shinde  left the organisation soon after Raj declared his stand at a huge rally in Shivaji Park in Mumbai on April 9. Shinde’s resignation has gone viral on social media. Raj’s critics, too, have come out to point fingers at him. The first such salvo was fired by Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, who has claimed that the BJP supporters from north and south India have begun feeling insecure because of the stand taken by Raj. MNS had in the past assaulted their brethren, Ambedkar recalled and said the undivided Shiv Sena and later MNS had launched violent agitations against ‘outsiders’ in Maharashtra. The other criticism of Raj was a statement by Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut. He was asked why his party had not sought Raj’s support if it had tried to enlist Ambedkar to its side. Raut sarcastically said that the moot issue was the seriousness of the person (Raj) to be approached and not if his help was sought. “Politics is not a game to pass time,” Raut quipped. Also, the silence of Raj about supporting the Sena led by Eknath Shinde and the NCP led by Ajit Pawar is considered significant. His clarification on this delicate aspect is expected to be issued soon.
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Praniti Shinde Gains CPM Support, Modi’s Admirer Singing Different Tune In Solapur

Top Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde’s daughter Praniti Shinde has heaved a sigh of relief after her traditional opponent, CPM’s Narasayya Adam has declared his support to her for the Solapur Lok Sabha constituency. Though Praniti had trounced Adam thrice since 2009 in the assembly election, the formation of the I.N.D.I.A front has ended this rivalry, even though it could be a transient arrangement. But more surprising is the fact that Adam has now claimed that the massive housing project that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated by specially visiting Solapur in January this year was not due to the BJP. In fact, it was Adam who had urged Modi in 2019 to accelerate the project and had publicly thanked him when it took off as well as after its completion. In the changing scenario, Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly spoke with CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri about the Solapur seat to seek CPM’s support. Sushilkumar’s proximity with the Gandhi clan is well known. He also called up Yechuri. Later, a meeting took place between Praniti and Adam, who had started singing a different tune. Considering these factors, the BJP has fielded Ram Satpute to take on Praniti. Still, some nervousness is palpable in the Congress camp as the strategy of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and the AIMIM is still uncovered. Nonetheless, Praniti’s prospects have brightened due to Adam’s support.
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Raj Thackeray’s Gudi Padwa Speech Awaited With Baited Breath By All Factions

Will Maharashtra Navnirman Sena founder Raj Thackeray embrace the BJP via the NDA? His Gudi Padwa Melawa speech which will take place at Shivaji Park, Dadar, central Mumbai is, hence, awaited with baited breath by all sides since some electoral calculations will depend upon his stand. A firm supporter of Narendra Modi in 2014, Raj was among the first to demand that Modi be made Prime Minister. Within a couple of years, he turned a bitter critic of the PM and continued to lambast BJP. After the dramatic change of power in Maharashtra in 2019, Raj trained his guns against cousin Uddhav Thackeray, who was installed as chief minister by Sharad Pawar and the Congress party. Thereafter, Raj gradually started changing his stance and recently, came out openly in support of the BJP. His meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah and his silence from the next moment till now has heightened the suspense about his next move. If Raj joins the NDA alliance, the Shiv Sena under Uddhav will be the most vulnerable as it will be difficult for it to repulse his acidic attacks, evoking Balasaheb Thackeray’s utterances against ‘anti-national’ forces. His staunch advocacy of Hindutva was praised by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday (Apr 8), giving indications that Raj is ready to make an important announcement on Tuesday (Apr 9).
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Eknath Khadse To Return To BJP Next Week, No Disqualification As MLC

A BJP heavyweight once upon a time, Eknath Khadse’s homecoming in the saffron camp was indicated time and again. Now that he has himself confirmed it, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) under Sharad Pawar has been dealt another severe blow on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections. Khadse had only a short while ago joined the NCP and was made a member of the state legislative council. Since the Pawar faction of the NCP has just three members in the upper house, including Khadse, his desertion of the party which elected him to the house will not legally amount to a defection. Hence, Khadse can continue to be a MLC. His daughter in law Raksha has been renominated by the BJP for the Lok Sabha. To counter the move, Pawar had decided to field Khadse. However, the former BJP boss declined, citing health reasons. Soon thereafter, his Delhi visits and his ‘courtesy call’ on Union home minister Amit Shah led to the talk of his returning to the BJP but he continued to discount the possibility. Finally, Khadse himself accepted that his donning the saffron garb again would be taking place soon. Having proved to be a headache for the formidable Devendra Fadnavis in his ministry, the Jalgaon giant will have to watch his step twice before opening his mouth about the BJP affairs.
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Ashok Chavan Called Trojan Horse, Hits Back At His Old Party Leaders

Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, now a BJP MP, has hit out at the state Congress leadership by calling it choice names. Chavan was provoked to come out strongly against the party which had made him and his father the chief minister when its leaders tried to portray him as a Trojan Horse while he was in the Congress. It is being whispered that as a member of the election committee of the Congress, Chavan deliberately undermined the party’s prospects by misguiding the leadership. Chavan’s claim that he was working for the Congress till the last evening before joining the BJP has become a tool for his adversaries to beat him. Finally losing his cool, Chavan has said that those critics were targeting him to hide their own failings and ineffectiveness. They lack a decision-making instinct, he has remarked. The possibility of Chavan joining the BJP was being discussed for the past one year. But the Congress party never took the hint seriously, always debunking it. Now that Chavan has been elected to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP, his erstwhile cronies in the Congress are holding him responsible for the Congress party’s lamentable show in Sangli and Mumbai over the seat-sharing discussions. Chavan has alleged that the so-called leaders all lack mass base and enjoy life by lunching in 5-star hotels, doing little for the party.
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Eyebrows Raised As Uddhav Thackeray Selects A Lightweight For Kalyan Constituency

Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement to field a not so well-known candidate from the prestigious Kalyan-Dombivli Lok Sabha constituency has surprised many though the ruling alliance appears pleased with the decision. Although chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Dr Shrikant is tipped to contest the seat this time, too, his name was not announced formally till Wednesday evening. The BJP’s insistence for the constituency is said to have delayed a final decision of the NDA. Seizing the initiative, Uddhav has justified his selection of Vaishali Darekar Rane, not even a frontrunner for the party ticket. A former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activist, Vaishali staged her homecoming in 2016. At present, she is heading one of the Sena shakhas. Although some more famous names were being discussed, Vaishali’s choice is intriguing for most Sena workers. On the other hand, Dr Shrikant Shinde, the CM’s son, is a formidable candidate but the tussle between the BJP and the Sena (Shinde) has continued despite several rounds of meetings. Now that Uddhav has fielded a lightweight, alliance leaders feel the seat is already in their bag. Vaishali is a Dombivli resident in the constituency. Uddhav’s wife Rashmi was born and brought up in the middle-class town, known for its unwavering support of Hindutva and the BJP. Thus, the so-called Dombivli connection is now viral on social media platforms.
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Denied Ticket, Outgoing BJP MP Unmesh Patil On Way To Uddhav Sena

Outgoing BJP MP of Jalgaon, Unmesh Patil, is expected to formally join the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray on April 3. After it became clear that Patil had been refused renomination this time by the BJP, he became unreachable all of a sudden. Former BJP MLA Smita Wagh has been fielded by the party since internecine differences caused the party’s rethink about Patil. A stronghold of the BJP, Jalgaon has been in the news since veteran leader Eknath Khadse is watched closely amidst news reports that he will be rejoining the BJP. Khadse was in Delhi two days ago and reportedly called on some top BJP leaders. His daughter-in-law Raksha has been selected to contest for the third time from the north Maharashtra constituency of Raver in Jalgaon district, a Khadse bastion. Though he joined the NCP under Sharad Pawar last year and has been made a MLC by the party, Khadse is said to be restless as he finds little acceptance for himself in the party dominated by western Maharashtra leaders. Against this backdrop, more political migrations in both directions are expected to take place in Jalgaon district. Unmesh Patil called on Sena MP Sanjay Raut and indications are available that he could embrace the Sena (U) tomorrow. ‘Wait and watch,’ is his only comment at present.
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Nitin Gadkari Again Endorses Modi As Next PM, Says 45 Seats In Maharashtra

BJP heavyweight Nitin Gadkari has discounted any possibility of him becoming Prime Minister and has once again endorsed the leadership of Narendra Modi. This frank revelation of perhaps the most popular minister at present has been telecast by Marathi news channel TV-9. In a frank interview, Gadkari has expressed confidence that the BJP-led alliance will win around 45 of 48 seats in Maharashtra. A Lok Sabha candidate himself, Gadkari has explained why he has friends across all parties. “I take decisions on merits. I don’t look at anyone’s party affiliation but put the public interest above everything,” he said. Gadkari was asked if he would be a PM candidate in case the BJP could win under 200 seats. He emphatically rejected any such possibility and predicted that the NDA will bag not less than 400 seats under Modi’s leadership. After the election, Modi will lead the government, he reiterated. Replying to a question, Gadkari said there was no plan to change the nation’s constitution nor was this a factor in the BJP’s agenda. On the other hand, the Congress had amended the constitution 80 times and had imposed the emergency in 1975, he recalled. Asked about admitting those into the BJP who had been facing corruption charges, Gadkari observed that politics is a game of contradictions, compulsions and limitations. People come and go, change parties. He refused to comment on several subjects, saying that the party’s spokespersons and office-bearers were taking care of such matters.
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Ambedkar Poses Threat To MVA Candidates, Uddhav Sena More Vulnerable

The threat posed by the Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar is worrying leaders of the Opposition-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) since his Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) had caused narrow defeats of seven Lok Sabha candidates in 2019. Known for his vacillating political postures, Ambedkar had kept MVA on tenterhooks till the last moment this time, too. Now that he has unilaterally announced the list of his candidates, the Congress, the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP led by Sharad Pawar are in a bind. While most VBA’s candidates this time are just locally known, the followers of Ambedkar are likely to vote en masse, perhaps at the cost of the MVA candidates. In 2019, the major beneficiary of VBA’s step was the unified Shiv Sena although it lost the then Aurangabad seat to AIMIM, which had fought the election jointly with VBA. As the Sena is splintered now and Ambedkar is going alone, his repeated allegation that MVA has treated VBA emissaries disrespectfully during seat sharing talks, could pose a serious threat for Uddhav’s nominees. Time and again, VBA has been described as the BJP’s “B Team” and every time, Ambedkar has refuted the allegation vehemently. Whatever the truth, his decision to field candidates had indirectly benefited the saffron party. Nanded, Buldhana, Parbhani, Gadchiroli, Solapur, Hatkanangale and Sangli seats were won by the BJP-Sena alliance, thanks to the VBA, in 2019.
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Supriya Vs Sunetra: Battle For Baramati Puts Ajit Pawar Under Pressure

Saturday, March 30 will be remembered by Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar as a harbinger of mixed feelings. While Pawar was just heaving a sigh of relief after his conciliation with his adversary Vijay Shivtare in Pune district, the Ajit’s nephew Rohit Pawar’s claim about the prestigious Baramati constituency going in favour of Supriya Sule went viral on social media. As Ajit is determined to trounce his cousin Supriya from the family fiefdom Baramati by fielding his wife Sunetra, the forecast by his family member came as a rude shock. Till a day ago, an enraged Shivtare had been threatening to ensure Sunetra’s defeat so as to avenge his own waterloo in Purandar assembly election of 2019. Ajit had then publicly declared that he would see to it that Shivtare was not elected. After he lost the election, Shivtare had raised the banner of protest against Ajit. But following elaborate talks two days ago, Shivtare relented and vowed to add 1.5 lakh votes to Sunetra’s victory margin. Even as Ajit was basking in the euphoria, Rohit’s prophecy in Pune that Supriya will win by a margin of at least 2.5 lakh votes must have come as a bolt from the blue for him. Rohit maintained that Ajit had conducted nine surveys in Baramati Lok Sabha constituency so far and each had predicted Supriya’s successful return to the Lok Sabha.
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Pawar’s Man Friday In Satara Not To Contest, Replacement A Challenge

NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s long-time confidant Shrinivas Patil has created a vexing situation for his mentor by declaring his inability to contest the coming Lok Sabha election from the prestigious Satara constituency — the rich sugar belt — in Maharashtra. While the ruling Mahayuti is zeroing on the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja’s family scion Udayan Raje Bhosale, currently a Rajya Sabha member, Pawar was reassured about fielding Shrinivas and about the latter’s re-election from the constituency, the stronghold of the NCP. A former IAS officer, Shrinivas is 83 now. In fact, when he was asked to contest in a byelection in October 2019, he was reluctant due to his advancing years. However, he bowed to Pawar’s entreaty and won the seat by defeating Udayan Raje. Now that he has shown unwillingness, Pawar will have to look for a replacement which will be formidable enough to take on the royal opponent, who was elected to the Lok Sabha earlier from Satara. A Congress citadel for many decades, Satara district has shown its preference tilting towards the BJP in recent years. Pawar sees this constituency as a prestige issue and has left no stones unturned to retain his hold on it. But after the rebellion by nephew Ajit, the NCP supremo is finding it challenging to keep his horde under control. He is expected to announce the name of his nominee by Sunday.
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Shivraj Patil’s Daughter-In-Law To Join BJP, Big Blow To Congress

Former Union home minister Shivraj Patil’s daughter-in-law Dr Archana Chakurkar is all set to join the BJP in Mumbai on Saturday. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan has played a vital role in this major political upheaval which will impact Marathwada region’s power structure from now on. The development has unnerved the state Congress party, which is already buffeted by one desertion after another. On the heels of famous thespian Govinda, the influential Shivraj family member’s decision has left Congress leaders speechless. Shivraj was the Lok Sabha speaker for a full term and had handled several major portfolios at the Centre, besides holding the gubernatorial reigns in Punjab. His trusted aide Basavraj Patil joined the BJP last month, sending out clear signals that Archana will follow him sooner than later. Belonging to the powerful Lingayat caste, the Patil clan has been wielding considerable clout in Latur, Dharashiv and Nanded districts, which share the state’s border with Karnataka. Archana, in fact, was all set to enter the saffron camp some years ago. However, that could not happen due to various reasons. After her arrival in Mumbai, Archana called on deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday afternoon. The picture of their meeting has been made viral, prior to her formal welcome. Some more prominent faces will soon join the BJP, it has been indicated.
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Firefighting Is Priority In Maharashtra For Both Camps

Eruption of discontent after a candidate’s name is announced is an expected occurrence for all major parties but when it is a three-party combination, the problems aggravate to another level. Leaders of the ruling alliance MahaYuti — the BJP, the Shiv Sena’s Shinde faction and the NCP’s Ajit Pawar group — are spending more time in dousing the fires than concentrating on campaigning. The case with the opposition-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is no different. The Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, the Congress and the NCP led by Sharad Pawar are so engrossed in settling their mutual disputes that it is becoming difficult to understand who is an official nominee and belonging to which party. Deserting the original party to join another has become rampant and has added to the headache of the leaders from both sides. To add fuel to the fire, Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, independent MLA Bachchu Kadu and splinter group leaders have been making one announcement after another to confound their own followers. Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut has been accused of playing a double game by Ambedkar who was wooed by MVA till the other day. On the other hand, the Congress is angry with Uddhav for unilaterally announcing the candidates for some disputed seats. Maratha reservation demand leader Manoj Jarange Patil has been contributing his bit by daily changing his stand. The picture will be clear only on the last day of withdrawal of nomination by the candidates.
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Photo : @UrmilaMatondkar

Kangana’s Remark Against Matondkar Resurfaces, Had Called Her ‘Soft Porn Star’

Actress and BJP candidate Kangana Ranaut has been reminded by several netizens of her remarks against popular star Urmila Matondkar when the latter was fielded by the Congress party in Mumbai North to contest the Lok Sabha election in 2019. On a later occasion, Kangana had expressed her willingness to stand for an election. In the course of that interaction, she had called Urmila a soft porn star. This has been recalled by several net users as a quip allegedly uploaded by Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate against Kangana has set off a war of words between BJP and Congress. The offensive tweet was later withdrawn but the verbal give and take continues.  Excerpts of Kangana’s 2020 interview to a TV channel have been uploaded. She says, “Urmila Matondkar, she is a soft porn star. I know it’s very blatant, but I want to ask you… she is not known for her acting for sure, what is she known for, for doing soft porn, right? If she can get a ticket (candidature for a political party), why won’t I get a ticket?” Kangana’s comment against Urmila followed Matondkar’s criticism of Ranaut for disrespecting veteran actor Jaya Bachchan. In a 2020 speech in parliament, Bachchan had spoken out against the tarnishing of the entire film industry. About the latest Congress post, Kangana will announce her next step after meeting BJP leaders in Delhi. Whatever the outcome, the ‘X’ post will continue to haunt the Congress party for some time.
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Photo : @JarangeManoj

Maratha Reservation Demand’s Champion Manoj Jarange Again Changes His Stand

Manoj Jarange Patil has once again changed his tactics for the coming Lok Sabha election. Now, he says only one candidate should be fielded on behalf of the caste in each Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra. Moreover, he has clearly stated that such a candidate need not belong to the Maratha caste but should be a votary of the demand. Jarange’s decision was announced at a rally of the Maratha reservation demand’s supporters. Diluting his aggressive stand further, Jarange has said that for the Maratha community, the assembly election is more important than the Parliament’s election. ‘We will teach the government a lesson at that time,” he said while criticizing chief minister Eknath Shinde. Earlier, Jarange had threatened to derail the election process by fielding one Maratha candidate from each village so that the ballot paper would carry hundreds of names and EVMs would have to be replaced by printed ballot papers. However, given the heat generated by the LS election process, Jarange has been more or less ignored by the media to which he was sort of addicted. The selection of candidates by various political parties and their alliances and fronts has a clear imprint of caste considerations. Thus, the spirit generated by Jarange to press his demand for Maratha caste reservations has evaporated. His claim that his decision can impact the results in 18 LS constituencies is hence viewed with disbelief.
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Seat Sharing Formula In Maharashtra Still Elusive

Intense bargaining for claiming more and more Lok Sabha constituencies has delayed the seat-sharing formulas in Maharashtra for both sides. While the ruling alliance is still to declare its candidates in many constituencies, an agreement on this issue is as yet eluding the Opposition I.N.D.I.A front despite several rounds of discussion. Top leaders from both sides are found closeted with each other or with potential defectors. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and two deputy chief ministers, Devendra Fadanvis and Ajit Pawar keep on assuring their followers that the formula is being finalized and will be announced soon. From I.N.D.I.A front side, Sharad Pawar, former CM Uddhav Thackeray and state Congress president Nana Patole have been meeting time and again to hammer out an agreement that would be respectable for all three constituents. Nonetheless, rebels are popping up all over the state to add to the headache for both camps. Family clashes concerning the Pawar and Thackeray families have added to the ferocity of the fight. Uddhav has mounted a bitter attack against cousin Raj for meeting Union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi, thereby implying that the MNS chief has compromised the honour of Marathi Manoos.  Ajit Pawar continues to be lashed by his adversaries while Beed candidate Pankaja Munde’s selection is described as a signal that her sister, sitting MP Pritam Munde, will be dropped this time. The role of their cousin Dhananjay Munde will be under scanner, given their earlier political enmity.
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Ajit Pawar’s Family Isolation Deepens, His Supporters Hit Back

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s isolation from the larger Pawar family in Baramati has deepened and appears to be heading to a point of no return. Now, his aunt has come out against him. Veteran Sharad Pawar’s younger sister Saroj Patil, a former school headmistress, has broken her political silence for the first time to stand by her elder brother. Saroj is the wife of the late ND Patil, who was an ardent political opponent of the Congress party and Pawar. In her late eighties, Saroj has alleged that it is the BJP’s plan to defeat Supriya Sule from Baramati, thereby finishing Sharad’s clout. But she has warned that Sharad can’t be uprooted from Baramati for which he has worked for such a long time. The family feud has come out in the open ever since Ajit decided to break away from the family patriarch and assumed serious proportions as he announced fielding his wife Sunetra against Supriya. Though Saroj has praised Supriya and Sunetra as ‘decent’ ladies, she has tipped in favour of the NCP MP and remarked that Sunetra is not so much studied. Her veiled criticism of Ajit comes on the heels of the onslaught by his brother Shriniwas, who said the Ajit is an arrogant person who does not respect family elders. In response, a communication has become viral in social media, in which it is said that Ajit has established himself with his talent and hard work. The signatory is “A Wise Baramatikar.”
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Raj Thackeray Moves Closer To BJP, Worry For Uddhav

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is appearing to be almost in the BJP’s bag, boosting the ruling alliance’s confidence for the Lok Sabha election. The BJP-MNS alliance was reportedly sealed after Union home minister Amit Shah met MNS chief Raj Thackeray in Delhi on Tuesday (Mar 19), though the meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday night. Raj has insisted on two Lok Sabha seats for his party, Mumbai South and Nasik and using his election symbol, the Railway Engine. If the alliance becomes a reality, the BJP will be able to hit several birds with a single stone as Raj will aggressively extoll Hindutva, will attack cousin Uddhav on ode to Veer Savarkar and kneeling before the Shiv Sena’s erstwhile political foes like the Communists and the DMK. Raj will thus prove to be an asset for the ruling alliance. BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde, an old friend of Raj, and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis played a behind the scene role in persuading the MNS leader to join the bandwagon. Raj was accompanied by his son Amit. No other leader was with him when Shah met them. MNS has been unable to make any dent in the electoral map of Maharashtra so far. The likely handshake will prove to be a win-win situation for both. Shortpost.in had indicated the possibility on Monday.
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Prakash Ambedkar Deals Another Blow To I.N.D.I.A Front In Maharashtra

As expected by many of his critics, Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar has dealt another blow to the I.N.D.I.A front in Maharashtra, attacking the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the NCP led by Sharad Pawar. He has suggested to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge that an arrangement should be made between their two parties about the seven seats which the oldest party will be contesting in the state. The presence of Ambedkar has been proving uncomfortable for the I.N.D.I.A due to his various public utterances. Sena MP Sanjay Raut had expressed displeasure about this before the media a few days ago. Undeterred, Ambedkar continues to assail his potential allies. In fact, veteran leader Sharad Pawar and Ambedkar have not seen eye to eye on most issues. However, the mercurial leader was accommodated into the Opposition front at the behest of Uddhav. But Ambedkar has also taken him to task. In his letter to Kharge, he has charged that the Sena and NCP leaders have not been even hearing his party emissaries. “They are giving us step-motherly treatment,” he complained. Still, he has not forgotten to dangle a carrot for the Congress by indicating that the two-party arrangement can continue in the future, also. Though busy finalising the seat-sharing formula, the Sena and the NCP are finding it difficult to find capable candidates in several constituencies like Nagpur. Ambedkar’s intransigence, hence, is considered a headache invited by I.N.D.I.A.
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Ashok Chavan Ridicules Rahul, Denies He Met Sonia Before Joining BJP

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s sly reference to him has been ridiculed by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan. Similarly, the scion’s claim that then finance minister Arun Jaitley had requested him not to speak about the Land Acquisition Act has been questioned by top BJP leaders. In his public rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on March 17, Rahul had described how a senior Congress leader from the state had wept before Sonia Gandhi while admitting that he was joining the BJP lest he would be arrested. Although Rahul did not name the leader, the reference was obviously suggestive and it was identified to be Chavan, who recently joined the BJP and was immediately elected to the Rajya Sabha. Chavan said if Rahul was pointing a finger at him, there was no truth in the allegation. Chavan said his decision to leave the Congress party was not known to anyone. He was busy with the party’s work till the previous evening and nobody had an inkling of his next move. The news broke out when Chavan submitted his legislative assembly membership’s resignation to the speaker. Hence, the claim that he had a meeting with Sonia Gandhi in this connection was utterly laughable and unfounded, Chavan stated emphatically. Rahul’s other assertion that Jaitley had met him has similarly been viewed with mistrust. Let him come out with evidence to substantiate his claim, BJP leaders have challenged Rahul.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.