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Nana patole Rahul gandhi

Maharashtra Congress In Aggressive Mood, Says Will Fight BMC Election On Own Strength

The Congress party’s confidence has suddenly heightened in Maharashtra following the sweep in the Karnataka assembly election. Maharashtra Congress since has begun to adopt an aggressive stand by indicating that it aspires to be the main partner of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi which has started planning for the 2024 general elections. Presently, the Congress is the smallest constituent of MVA. State Congress president Nana Patole has announced that the party’s election strategy will be discussed on 21 May at its Osmanabad meet, to be followed by a conclave in Mumbai on 23 May. MVA has decided to fight the assembly and Lok Sabha elections next year jointly. A committee consisting three members from each partner will be formed to discuss and finalise seat distribution. The MVA meeting was held at NCP president Sharad Pawar’s residence. However, the first litmus test will be the civic election in Mumbai, likely to take place at the end of the year. While earlier the party said that the MVA banner will be the collective front, a survey carried out by the Congress has forecast that it can emerge as the second largest party. Now, Patole is saying that the Congress will consider facing the BMC election on its own strength. The response by the NCP and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) will determine the future course of action.

Parambir Singh Reinstated, More Shocks To Follow In Maharashtra

Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court verdict in its favour, the Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has fired the first salvo against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) by withdrawing suspension of former Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh. Many more such shocks will be administered in the days to come, indications suggest. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has disclosed that the state government had merely implemented an order by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which had inferred that the departmental enquiry against Singh had been illegal and had scrapped the suspension. However, the coincidence is considered too significant to be accepted as an official formality. Singh’s new posting is expected to be announced soon. Singh’s reinstatement is viewed against the backdrop of another top IPS officer, Rashmi Shukla, who has already been accommodated in a Central posting. Both these officials were in the unwritten black list of the tripartite MVA, which ruled the state for 30 months. Singh had levelled serious allegations against then home minister Anil Deshmukh, a top NCP leader, who was facing the heat in connection with the explosives planted outside the residence of industrial magnate Mukesh Ambani. The case is sub-judice. Singh was suspended and an arrest warrant had been issued against him by the previous MVA government as its clashes with the Union government had escalated into a virtual war.  MVA is girding up to face the onslaught, according to one of its leaders.
sharad pawar_005

Pawar In Aggressive Mood, Hits Out At Sena (U) And Congress

Although NCP president Sharad Pawar has staged a comeback, the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray or the Congress in Maharashtra have refused to dilute their caustic stance towards the third partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi. State Congress president Nana Patole and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan are in the forefront of humiliating the NCP time and again for various reasons. Patole has warned the NCP that its cosy relationship with the BJP could vitiate the atmosphere. Chavan has directly implied that a sizable faction of the NCP is still in cahoots with the BJP. Angered by the attacks, Pawar has hit back at Chavan. “Let Chavan find out his own place in the Congress party. Which category does he belongs to? A, B, C or D? Chavan’s cronies will tell you (the media) but not openly,” Pawar remarked. The NCP is already in an aggressive mood after Sena (Uddhav) mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ censured Pawar’s decision to withdraw his resignation following a high-voltage drama. The most pointed statement in the ‘Saamana’ editorial was that Pawar had not been able to groom his successor. Firebrand OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal castigated Sena MP Sanjay Raut by telling him that Pawar’s political career was longer than Raut’s age. Pawar has thus sent out a signal that the NCP will not tolerate any such criticism and the verbal clashes are likely to become more thorny in the days to come.

Pawar’s Continuation Starts Looking Likely, Rebels In Party Isolated

A committee of top NCP leaders has rejected party chief Sharad Pawar’s resignation, sending out clear signals that the supporters of Ajit Pawar have been isolated. The decision of rejection will be conveyed to Pawar, whose final response is awaited. Senior leaders Praful Patel and Jayant Patil briefed the media about the committee’s decision, claiming that there was mounting pressure on Pawar by important leaders across the political spectrum in the country. The committee’s verdict was more or less expected since barring Ajit Pawar, none had endorsed Pawar’s announcement to lay down reins of the party, formed in 1999. Over the past two days, Pawar loyalists had been lobbying for consolidating the situation in their favour. Expectedly, the rank and file fell in line, reiterating the demand that Pawar should continue. Whatever decision Pawar takes, it has become evident that he will control the party affairs. The moment chosen by Pawar to resign is considered fraught with many tacit messages, especially as he has castigated former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Ajit Pawar. At the same time, Pawar has blunted the constant grievance that there are plans at the Centre to wean away Mumbai from Maharashtra. ‘There is no such move,’ Pawar has declared in no uncertain terms, deflating Uddhav’s persistent campaign to rouse pro-Maharashtra sentiments. Pawar’s continuation, at least till the next general elections in 2024, has started looking probable now.

Uddhav Was Unable To Handle Crisis, Ajit Shocked, Pawar Reveals In His Revised Autobiography

NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s revised autobiography ‘Lok Majhe Saangaatee’ has made several sensational disclosures, including the fact that then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray felt short in handling the situation within the Shiv Sena, created after he decided to form Maha Vikas Aghadi. Admitting that he did not foresee such momentous developments in the Sena due to the formation of MVA, Pawar said with Uddhav, he did not enjoy the ease he felt while talking with Balasaheb. “Owing to Uddhav’s health and his medical appointments, it was necessary to seek his appointment,” Pawar has revealed. About the revolt by his nephew Ajit Pawar to form a government with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, the NCP boss has noted that he was shocked when his telephone rang at 6.30 am on 23 November 2019. He was told what Ajit was up to. This was going to be a major jolt since the NCP was in the forefront of forming the MVA government. Had this happened, it would have finished NCP’s credibility. Pawar then rang up Uddhav and broke the news. Soon, it became evident that about 10 NCP MLAs had gone with Ajit. Immediately, Pawar sprang into action and the revolt was nipped in the bud. The book is replete with many interesting nuggets but was ignored after Pawar declared his decision to step down.

Two Sena Factions Battle Over Barsu Project, Congress And NCP Watching

While the two Shiv Sena factions are battling over the proposed mega refinery project at Barsu in Ratnagiri district, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have kept away their organisations from the imbroglio so far. Chief minister Eknath Shinde announced that the opponents of the project have gone back and peace has returned to the area. He disclosed that over 70% of those to be affected have backed the project. On the other hand, former CM Uddhav Thackeray will visit the area in the first week of May, according to Sena (U) MP Vinayak Raut. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has condemned the police action against the protestors though other top leaders of the party have more or less kept mum. NCP leader Ajit Pawar has objected to the lathi charge by the police but has not opposed the project. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, too, has been advising the state government to hold a dialogue with people affected by the project and proceed only thereafter. The Congress and the NCP have not organised or joined any protest march. The BJP, too, has refrained from making its presence felt, leaving the responsibility to Eknath Shinde and industry minister Uday Samant. The project issue will be the main focus of the Maha Vikas Aghadi rally to be held in Mumbai on 1 May, Maharashtra Day
Uday samant_letter

Refinery Project Proposed In Konkan To Dominate Maharashtra Politics

How political loyalties prompt various parties to make an about turn over their past policies is seen in Maharashtra at present over the land survey process for the proposed oil refinery at Barsu-Solgaon in Ratnagiri district carried out under heavy police bandobast. Although Maha Vikas Aghadi chief minister Uddhav Thackeray himself had written a letter to the Prime Minister to offer the same land for the project, the three MVA partners have attacked the Shinde-Fadnavis government for the survey. Industry minister Uday Samant, while releasing the letter to the media, alleged that the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena under Uddhav are adopting double standards now. Quoting from the letter written by Uddhav on 12 January 2022 to PM Narendra Modi, the minister said the state government had offered 1300 acres in Barsu and 1344 acres of land at Nate for the refinery. Uddhav had assured the PM that almost 90% of land was unoccupied and hence there would not be any displacement. Moreover, the project would boost the Maharashtra economy without harming the environment. Samant alleged that Uddhav had also opposed the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi expressway but wanted to inaugurate the project to take credit for its completion.  He was not successful due to a change of government. The issue will dominate the MVA rally to be held in Mumbai on 1 May, Maharashtra Day. 

Maharashtra Politics On Cliffhanger, Pawar Family Adds To Suspense

Efforts by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and the party’s top leader Ajit Pawar to lift the veil of suspense have only added to the uncertainty hanging over Maharashtra’s political future. On the one hand, Maha Vikas Aghadi’s principal partner, the NCP, is seen fighting the lone battle to ward off the cloud of intrigue over it. On the other hand, studied silence by the top guns of the BJP and chief minister Eknath Shinde over several recent developments is considered a lull before the storm. On Tuesday (Apr 18), Ajit Pawar made a spirited denial about the possibility of his crossing over to the BJP along with his supporter MLAs. The Congress and the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray have made little effort to dismiss the rumours surrounding Ajit’s likely jump into the saffron camp. Ever since Sena MP Sanjay Raut flashed Sharad Pawar’s purported admission before Uddhav that his party MLAs were targeted by the BJP to join it, a sense of unease is felt in Maharashtra’s polity. As if to add to the mystery, Supriya has predicted that two explosions will take place within the next 15 days, one in Mumbai and the other in Delhi. But she did not specifically mention the Supreme Court’s expected verdict which will determine the direction of future equations.
Ramesh Bais

Maharashtra Governor Likely To Bid Bye, BJP Will Have To Search For New Face

Maharashtra governor Ramesh Bais is said to be replaced soon so as to free him to lead the Chhattisgarh BJP for the coming assembly election at the end of the year. A top leader in the state once under BJP’s domination, Bais was appointed as Maharashtra governor on 12 February in place of Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who had to pack his bags amidst a slew of protests over some of his statements. Bais had been elected to the Lok Sabha repeatedly to represent Raipur constituency, the capital of Chhattisgarh. However, the BJP’s decision to deny another chance to all its sitting MPs in Chhattisgarh had come as a shock. Never reacting to this decision, Bais worked as governor of Tripura between 2019 and 2021. Later, he took over as governor of Jharkhand in July 2021. The BJP leadership’s search to prop up some state leaders after its defeat in the last assembly election came to a naught. Therefore, it is said to have decided to come back to the trusted and tasted Bais to accept the mantle. Bais has maintained a stoic silence about the possibility. In case Bais is replaced, the party will have to install some loyalists into the sensitive Mumbai Raj Bhavan in view of the soon to be expected Supreme Court verdict about the change of government in Maharashtra and the Lok Sabha as well assembly elections next year.  
Sharad pawar

Pawar Backtracks On JPC, Barbs Uddhav For Resigning Unilaterally

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has revised his stand on the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Adani issue. “I am all for opposition unity and hence will not be rigid if other friends feel differently,” Pawar told Marathi news channel ABP Majha. He said although his views could be different, he would not permit the Opposition team to be affected on this count. Pawar spoke on various developments including the change of guard in Maharashtra in June 2022. He criticised then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to resign without consulting the other two partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which ruled the state for 30 months. Pawar pointed out that the coalition had come to power unitedly and hence Uddhav should have interacted with them before taking such a decision. Unilateral decisions can lead to an adverse outcome, he warned. Pawar has been hitting headlines over the past few days, refuelling speculation about his party’s exact policy and plans. For instance, the NCP chief had dismissed the need to investigate the Prime Minister’s academic degree. Pawar’s luncheon visit to the residence of senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari at Nagpur a week ago had similarly renewed innuendos by some opposition leaders to recall Ajit Pawar’s swearing in with Devendra Fadnavis in 2019. They are apprehensive about his future steps.
Eknath Shinde

Maharashtra CM To Visit Ayodhya On Sunday, New Political Scripts Will Emerge Thereafter

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s whirlwind visit to Ayodhya on Sunday will achieve multiple objectives. Besides reaffirming the faith of the Shiv Sena under him in aggressive Hindutva, it will also force the hand of the rival Sena outfit led by Uddhav Thackeray to adopt a more pronounced hardline, but not without assessing the reaction of the Congress and other opposition parties in several states. Although Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party has been taking ambivalent stands on different issues, the Congress is upset since it has been compelled to backtrack on the Savarkar imbroglio. According to Shinde’s itinerary, he will spend April 9 in Ayodhya after landing at Lucknow airport, where he will be welcomed by thousands of Shiv Sainiks, who are already on their way to Uttar Pradesh. Shinde is likely to meet his UP counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, during the sojourn. Shinde’s supporters have enthusiastically participated in the Savarkar Gaurav Yatra in different areas of Maharashtra over the past week. Shinde and his ministers do not waste a single opportunity to needle the Sena (Uddhav) over the twin planks: Hindutva and Savarkar. Though Uddhav could bend the Congress to his will following his outburst over Savarkar, many regional opposition parties have not liked the outcome.  Hence, Shinde’s one-day visit will result in scripting the next political moves, not just in Maharashtra.

No Holds Barred: Uddhav And Fadnavis Attack Each Other, Use Invectives

A vituperative verbal war has erupted between two topmost Maharashtra leaders over alleged manhandling of a woman political activist in Thane, hometown of chief minister Eknath Shinde. Both have used select abuses to attack each other. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has warned former CM Uddhav Thackeray, “I am from Nagpur and can use still worse language,” while responding to the invective hurled at him. Uddhav has called him ‘fadtoos’ (worthless) and a bootlicker while condemning an alleged attack on his follower Roshni Shinde by some women followers of the CM. The atmosphere in Thane was surcharged as the news of the incident spread on social media. Initial reports said Roshni was manhandled despite her being pregnant. She has been kept in the ICU ward of a Thane hospital. A spokesman of the hospital told the media that Roshni did not show any grievous injury nor was she pregnant. However, Uddhav rushed to Thane along with wife Rashmi and son Aaditya. After meeting her, Uddhav showered insults at Fadnavis, calling him the most inefficient home minister. “This is an impotent government which instigates attacks against women,” he charged. Fadnavis reacted with equal venom.  He said, “”Some elements are worried since I am holding the home portfolio. They are trying their best to get rid of me. But they won’t succeed.” He has warned Uddhav to mind his language or face the consequences.

Ajit Pawar Shows Maturity, Livid At ‘Inhuman’ Statement By A Congress Leader

Top Nationalist Congress party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar has once again shown how a mature politician should behave and talk. Taking to task a Congress leader for his ‘inhuman’ utterances about selecting a candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha byelection, Pawar pulled up his own party colleague Jayant Patil for predicting the fall of the Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra. Pawar’s sharp response to media questions on both these sensitive issues was laced with outrage. He also admonished Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders not to vitiate the atmosphere in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, which is shaken by a communal incident in the night after Ramnavami. MVA has planned a public meeting there on Sunday (Apr 2) but it is doubtful if the administration will allow it in view of the tension in the area. Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar had stated that MVA will file a candidate in Pune seat, vacated owing to the demise of BJP MP Girish Bapat. When asked for his response, Pawar angrily said, “Have some humanity. It is just three days for the death of Bapat.”  About Jayant Patil’s prediction, he said, “I shall be meeting Patil on Sunday. Shall ask him what clue he has found to make such a statement.” Refusing to criticise the state government about the Sambhajinagar incident, Pawar quipped that the priority was to restore normalcy. MVA leaders should desist from making any controversial statements, he has advised.
Sharad pawar_Meeting

Sharad Pawar’s New Masterstroke, Rahul To Stop Attacking Savarkar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar has once again kept his supporters and opponents intrigued simultaneously, this time by preventing censure of Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.  He has done it by forcing the Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi to sheath their tirade against the Hindutva icon. At a meeting of various Opposition leaders at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, the contentious issue was raised by Pawar, who warned that attacks against Savarkar would prove politically costly for all three partners of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – the NCP, Congress and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena – in and beyond Maharashtra. This stand was supported by various Congress leaders, making Rahul to yield. Pawar has shocked the polity time and again by his changing priorities. A close confidant of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP leader Pramod Mahajan,  he became a powerful minister under Manmohan Singh for 10 years. In 2014, he announced unilateral unasked support for the BJP in Maharashtra after the assembly elections. This announcement forced the BJP and the then Sena to form a coalition. In 2019, his nephew Ajit Pawar took oath along with Devendra Fadnavis but their regime survived barely 72 hours. Pawar’s masterstroke was installing Uddhav as Maharashtra chief minister. Once again, he has shown that he can give politics the direction he wishes. 

Aurangabad Renaming Opposed By Over A Lakh, Supporters Just 1300

While the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition over the renaming of Aurangabad saying it would be heard in the high court in Mumbai next week, over a lakh objections have been filed against the change though the number of supporting applications is less than 1300. The last date for filing objections or supporting applications in the Divisional Commissioner office is March 27. On March 23 alone, over 46000 objections were filed to oppose the rechristening. So far, around 115,000 applications against the renaming have been received. The total number of supporters was less than 1300 till last evening. Despite spirited speeches and demonstrations by the pro-renaming groups, those in favour of changing the name to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar are much less as compared to the opponents. Some supporters have announced that 30,000 postcards to support the renaming will be sent to the authorities. A similar scenario is seen about the renaming of Osmanabad to Dharashiv. About 20,000 objections have been received but the number of supporting applications could not be ascertained. It is believed to be just a couple of hundred. The renaming issue is becoming political and the final court verdict will determine the direction in which it will be exploited by either side. The state government had attempted to rename Aurangabad in 1996 but the court had issued an order to maintain the status quo.
devendra fadnavis dharavi

Maharashtra Government Stands By Adani Group Over Dharavi Redevelopment Project

The embattled Adani Group has been provided with much-needed relief by the Maharashtra government, which has strongly defended its decision to entrust the Dharavi redevelopment project to the giant. Disregarding a demand to drive the conglomerate away in view of the clouds hovering over it due to the Hindenburg disclosures, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made this clear in the state assembly. Dharavi’s Congress MLA and former minister Varsha Gaikwad had demanded that the project should be handed over to some other reputed firm by taking it away from Adani. Maintaining that the group had won the bid in open competition, Fadnavis said unless Adani Group fulfilled all the legal and financial formalities, the government would not issue it with a letter of intent (LoI). If financial institutions were satisfied with Adani’s status, they would extend the funding. In such a situation, there was no reason for the government to intervene. Former finance minister Jayant Patil reminded the government that Adani had recently withdrawn from a huge power project buyout in Central India and asked what was the timeline for completion of the project?. It will be completed within seven years, Fadnavis assured him.  The project was originally conceived nearly three decades ago. Redeveloped Dharavi will absorb the overflow into the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and add billions to the government’s coffer.
amruta devendra

Bribery Trap: Fadnavis Disclosure Could Affect Many Politicians And Top Cops In Maharashtra

A tacit message by Maharashtra Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that he has in his possession the names of some top politicians and police officials in connection with an attempt to implicate his wife Amruta in a bribery trap has cast a pallor of apprehension since many heavyweights would face trouble, if his threat becomes a reality. The disclosure by Amruta that a designer, Aniksha, had tried to offer her a bribe of a crore of rupees in return for protecting her father Anil Jaisinghani who is a bookie, shook the political circles in the state. Immediately, guesswork began about the different angles of the serious matter. Fadnavis himself explained later that there was truth in the complaint and many prominent names could tumble out during the investigation. Aniksha  has been arrested and sent to police custody till March 21. In the special court, Mumbai Police said that they have added charges of extortion against Aniksha, for demanding Rs 10 crore from Amruta. While most political leaders desisted from commenting upon the shocking development, Uddhav Thackeray’s follower Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha member, was engaged in a Twitter war with Amruta. She wondered how Aniksha could obtain access to such an important household. In retaliation, Amruta has castigated Priyanka for doubting her honesty.

Political Clash Likely In Maharashtra Over Bhushan Desai Joining Eknath Shinde

Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s right hand Subhash Desai’s son Bhushan’s entry into the Shiv Sena is likely to create a political clash between the two parties running the Maharashtra government. The BJP’s Goregaon unit leader Sandeep Jadhav has strongly objected to the development. In his letter to CM Eknath Shinde, he says, “Bhushan is afraid of getting implicated in some economic transaction and hence has joined the Sena to protect himself. Entry to such a tainted person can adversely affect the BJP’s alliance with the Sena.”  Desai’s political career of over four decades shaped in Goregaon, is now the BJP’s stronghold. Although Desai has politically disowned his son, the local BJP’s anger against Bhushan can’t be overlooked by the party, it is felt. As Shinde himself welcomed Bhushan into the Sena fold on Sunday (Mar 12), all eyes are now on deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who will have to douse the sparks which threaten to erupt any moment in an inferno. Uddhav’s spokesman Sanjay Raut recalled that industry minister Uday Samant, earlier with Uddhav, had levelled serious allegations against Bhushan in the past. “The CM has cleansed him through his washing machine,” said Raut. Explaining his decision, Bhushan has said that he decided to support Shinde who was following the path laid down by Balasaheb Thackeray.

MNS Leader Attacked, Investigate Aaditya Thackeray And Sanjay Raut Says Party

Fatal attack by four unidentified assailants on MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande  in the busy Shivaji Park area has fuelled a bitter political war as his party colleagues have demanded arrest of Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut. The police are treading cautiously as any wrong action by any side can potentially blow up in a serious law and order problem. Known as a politically mature state once upon a time, increasing incidence of violence has become the norm in recent times. Beating up of government officials and assaults on police personnel was never heard of in older times but even that scenario is changing for worse. Alleged involvement by ministers like Jitendra Awhad or Bachchu Kadu in thrashing political opponents and conviction of some of them has been becoming frequent. The sad part is that the political parties concerned avoid taking any disciplinary action fearing electoral fallout. Deshpande, a vocal critic of the Thackeray family and a confidant of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, has been in the forefront of exposing the BMC corruption. He has vowed to continue his crusade.

Sena Appoints Whip In Legislative Council, Uddhav Cornered

Even as the SC hearing about the political developments in Maharashtra is underway, the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde has created a sticky situation for Uddhav Thackeray. It has appointed a lone Sena member in the legislative council, Viplav Bajoria, as its whip in the upper house. Since Uddhav is a member of the council, any directive issued by Bajoria can create difficulties for him, legal experts feel. The Sena has sought council’s deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe’s recognition for Bajoria’s appointment. Uddhav’s response to this challenge is awaited with bated breath. The Thackeray faction has 10 members in the council while Bajoria is the only one to have supported Shinde. The Sena has appointed Bharat Gogawle as its whip in the assembly. He has already issued a directive to all 55 ‘Sena’ members, which includes those supporting Uddhav. They have declared that no such whip can apply to them as the matter is before the Apex Court. Despite this, the Shinde faction has appointed Bajoria, a move aimed at cornering Uddhav. The Shinde faction earlier in the day flashed portraits of Shinde and his mentor Anand Dighe alongside that of Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray in the parliament complex party office, removing pictures of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. Both sides have declared that they will fight to the finish.
milind narvekar

Uddhav’s Closest Aide Milind Narvekar Presence In Maharashtra Legislature Central Hall Raises Eyebrows

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s closest aide Milind Narvekar shot in the news after a gap of some months as his presence in the central hall of Maharashtra legislature became the most discussed political development on the opening day of the state’s budget session. Later, he said he had entered the hall owing to a misunderstanding. Narvekar had hit headlines in the past due to his close personal equations with various top leaders like Sharad Pawar, Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde. His perceived plans to jump into one camp or another are always a matter of curiosity as he has been associated with varied institutions, from the Tirupati Temple Trust to the Mumbai Cricket Association. Political speculation was rife when Narvekar was seen in the hallowed precincts. His clarification that he had sat in the hall, mistaking it for the viewers’ gallery, was considered thin. Narvekar’s act, ostensibly inadvertent, has raised many questions as he is not new to the legislature to commit such a blunder. His party leader Aaditya Thackeray, when quizzed said, “Ask Milind if he entered the hall due to a mistake or it was his wish.” To corner the Uddhav faction over the issue, Eknath Shinde’s trusted supporter Sanjay Shirsat said, “Narvekar is in touch with us and many more MLAs are also in contact.”

With Eye On Election, Shinde-Fadnavis Government To Adopt Aggressive Hindutva Line

The Maharashtra government under Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis has decided to adopt the path of aggressive Hindutva in the days to come after the Centre’s nod to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad in Marathwada. Following the favourable decision, there are demands rising that Ahmednagar, the largest district in the state, should be renamed as Ahilyanagar to perpetuate the memory of Ahilyabai Holkar, the 17th century ruler of Indore. Similar demands have been made to rename Islampur as Ishwarpur or Alibaug as Shribaug but have not enjoyed much traction as earlier regimes didn’t respond to them. As a step in this direction, the state government has announced a grand tribute to Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar on February 26 at Bhagur, his birthplace near Nashik. More such celebrations are in the offing across the state.

Several Opposition Leaders In Our Contact, Claims Sanjay Raut

After Delhi and Punjab chief ministers met Shiv Sena (U) leader Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, party MP Sanjay Raut claimed that many top Opposition leaders were in contact with their party. However, no names were disclosed by him. AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann called on Uddhav at his residence Matoshree, Bandra. They later attacked the Union government and the BJP for misusing various Central agencies for political purposes. Kejriwal felt that Maharashtra was behind Uddhav. But he averted a direct reply when asked if he would form an alliance with Uddhav. Nonetheless, he indicated that the association among Opposition parties would be strengthened rather than fighting with each other. Uddhav had earlier announced that he would liaise with major opposition parties to mount a joint front against the BJP. His supporters had hinted that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, too, could come to Mumbai to further the process. But she has yet to make any such plans known. Sena (U) detractors remember Raut’s prediction at the time of Uddhav swearing-in as chief minister in 2019 that he (Uddhav) would be a prospective PM choice by the non-BJP opposition in 2024. Though Uddhav himself has never been heard to have made any such intention public, he has neither discounted the possibility. Political activity in Maharashtra will warm up after the two Pune assembly byelections results are out next week.
Untitled (900 × 900 px) (7)

Pune Bypoll Campaign Steeped In Communal Blizzard, Pawar Defends Controversial Statement

Electioneering for the Kasba and Pimpri-Chinchwad assembly byelections has been caught in a communal blizzard in its last moments as NCP president Sharad Pawar has defended a controversial appeal to the voters by former Congress Pune corporator Usman Hiroli. Addressing an NCP meeting, Hiroli had said, “Bring all those back from Dubai or Saudi on February 26. Even those should be made to vote who are no more.” When quizzed by the media, Pawar said there was nothing wrong to call back those who may have gone to Dubai or Kathmandu. It would have been proper to object had Hiroli asked non-voters to vote, Pawar observed. In the speech, Hiroli is heard saying, “We can win this war, defeat Modi and the RSS, only when we vote, not just 99% but 100%.” Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has condemned the appeal, saying that this bypoll is a battle between the supporters and opponents of the removal of Article 370 to liberate Kashmir. It is an attempt to polarise society on religious lines, he alleged. In a bid to clarify his statement, Hiroli said that about 1500 young boys and girls from Kasba constituency are in Saudi, Dubai and Kuwait. “All I meant was that they should be called for voting as they frequently come here,” he explained.
supriya sule

Flex Board Mystery Deepens, Now Supriya Sule’s Name Surfaces As First Woman CM Of Maharashtra

Even as various disclosures are rocking the polity in Maharashtra, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is haunted by some unidentified elements which are projecting one party leader after another as the next possible chief minister of the state. Fearing an avoidable sticky situation, NCP MP Supriya Sule, only child of party supremo Sharad Pawar, was livid as her image was flashed on a flex board outside the NCP office in south Mumbai. It was hastily removed but only adding to the mystery shrouding the identity of the ‘well-wisher’. Supriya demanded immediate action against the mystery man by the police. First, it was NCP Maharashtra president Jayant Patil and he was followed by Ajit Pawar on flex boards. The flex on her said, “Supriya Sule, first woman CM of Maharashtra.” She demanded that the identity of the flex displayer should be established. When the flex about Patil as the next CM was put up, it was brushed aside as a misplaced birthday wish. However, within days, Ajit’s name was flashed. Even before the party had recovered, Supriya’s name has been propagated. In a bid to quell the sensation, Ajit had reiterated that there was no competition between Supriya and him. But she has taken the matter gravely, indicating that she will pursue it.

Mystery Solved: NCP Formed Government With BJP In 2019 To End President’s Rule, Admits Pawar

NCP president Sharad Pawar’s suggestive response to a query about the swearing-in of an alliance of BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and his nephew Ajit Pawar in the morning of 23 November 2019 is indirectly endorsed by former Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The mystery is becoming murkier as Ajit’s resolve to maintain silence over the sensational development is disregarded by Pawar. “Where is the need for Ajit to speak? Would the President’s Rule have been lifted if there were no swearing-in?” Pawar said obliquely on Wednesday (Feb 22) in Pune. Fadnavis had revealed a few days ago that the two-party government was formed with Pawar’s blessings and knowledge. Last month, NCP leader Jayant Patil, too, had remarked that the alliance was formed so that President’s Rule could end in Maharashtra. Patil had hurriedly retracted the statement but Fadnavis had reiterated it a few days ago, reopening the debate. In spite of the provocation, Ajit has been declining to discuss ‘a long past’ incident. However, his uncle has decided to give credence to whispers that all this planning was hatched for making Uddhav Thackeray the chief minister by showing that an elected government could be formed in Maharashtra. Koshyari said in an interview in Dehradun while backing this supposition, “Leaders of both parties came to me, showed me signatures of the supporting MLAs. I administered the oath to both.”  
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Sanjay Raut Says CM’s Son Has Given ‘Supari’ To Attack Him

Uddhav faction Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has stunned the political circles in Maharashtra by alleging that notorious gangster Raja Thakur has been given a contract (Supari) to attack him by chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant, also MP. In a letter written to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, Raut said that Thakur is an ill-famed goon from Thane. While Shinde’s career began from Thane, Shrikant was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kalyan in Thane district. Thakur is a history sheeter from Thane, presently out on bail. Raut’s grave charge has come a couple of days after former chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan has complained to the police that he has been followed by certain elements and expressed apprehensions about his own safety. Raut says in his letter, released to the media, that incidence of threatening elected representatives and attacking them has been on the increase though it is not Maharashtra’s culture. A copy of the complaint is sent to Thane’s commissioner of police as well. Raut’s complaint needs serious attention, according to his party leader Aaditya Thackeray. However, it has been trashed by senior minister Shambhuraj Desai, who said, “Raut levels false allegations without producing any evidence. This is a design to defame Shrikant Shinde.”
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Testing Tuesday For Eknath Shinde And Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray are bracing to face Tuesday for a number of reasons, the most important being a Supreme Court view on the status of the ‘Shiv Sena’ MLAs and MLCs. Owing to the Election Commission decision to declare the Shinde faction as the official Shiv Sena party, several thorny issues are likely to erupt. As the SC is scheduled to take up various matters relating to the developments in Maharashtra on Tuesday, Uddhav has announced that he will not abide by the EC’s verdict as his side has challenged it and is awaiting the Apex Court’s fiat. On the other hand, Shiv Sena party has made it clear that the whips issued by it will be binding on everyone elected on the Sena symbol of bow and arrow. As this could apply to himself and his faction, Uddhav will be in a quandary if any SC judgment proves inconvenient for his side. At the same time, Shinde supporters are now looking forward to a meeting of the Shiv Sena national executive, to be held on Tuesday (Feb 21) after they possessed the Sena office in the Maharashtra legislature complex on Monday (Feb 20). The executive will meet tomorrow at Hotel Taj President in south Mumbai. The future course of action will be charted out at this conclave. 
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Sena Bhavan Will Remain With Uddhav, Next Battleground

The Election Commission’s decision to allot the name and symbol of the Shiv Sena to the faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde will not affect the ownership of ‘Shiv Sena Bhavan,’ the headquarters of the party for decades. The imposing edifice at Dadar in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park locality is associated with the memory of Balasaheb Thackeray. Legally, the structure is owned by a trust and hence is not likely to be covered under the EC verdict. Sena (U) leaders have maintained that all the Shakhas (units) of their party will continue to occupy the offices from which they have been operating for a long time. The issue of Shiv Sena Bhavan’s ownership was a topic for discussion for a while after the Shinde faction formed government in the state. However, it went into oblivion as the CM’s followers announced that they would be finding a separate office for their entity, but in the same vicinity. The search for a suitable office space is now expected to resume. The issue was raised again after the EC’s Friday (Feb 17) decision but the Sena (U) has firmly ruled out any change in the status of Shiv Sena Bhavan, saying it is part of the emotional life of every party worker. Uddhav Thackeray has already made it clear that he will continue to fight. His battle will be conducted from the Sena Bhavan.
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Is Midterm Election A Possibility In Maharashtra?

The Election Commission’s decision about the change of guard in Maharashtra is interpreted as a signal for a midterm election, considering the possibility of the Supreme Court ruling against the Shinde-Fadnavis alliance government. As the EC’s verdict is in favour of the Shinde faction, which has now the Shiv Sena name and symbol, leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – comprising the Sena (U), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – are assessing the likelihood of the dissolution of the assembly by the government to force a snap poll. If this happens, the Shinde faction and the BJP will be better equipped to fight the election, according to thinking in MVA circles. Though the alliance is in a celebratory mood, its leaders have concentrated all their efforts on the two assembly byelections in Pune since any MVA win at this juncture can result in loss of face for the BJP, the dominant partner of the alliance. Interestingly, NCP president Sharad Pawar has already advised Uddhav that there would be no point in criticizing the EC’s decision since it is a constitutional body. “Instead, choose a new symbol and go ahead,” said Pawar. In this age of information technology, it will be easy to transmit the new symbol all over the state, he pointed out. Citing the splits in the Congress and other parties, he recalled how the new symbols were accepted by the electorate.
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Sanjay Raut Alleges Plot To Liquidate Him, Fadnavis Dismisses Charge

Shiv Sena (U) MP Sanjay Raut’s allegation that there was a sinister design to liquidate him in jail custody has been ridiculed by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “Raut says something in the morning but does not remember it the same evening,” Fadnavis remarked. Raut had made the allegation while he was interacting with the media after calling on family members of Ratnagiri-based journalist Shashikant Warishe, killed last week under the wheels of a speeding vehicle. Warishe had been articulating the grievances of would-be project affected persons, who were protesting against the proposed oil refinery in the area. Following allegations that the journalist was killed by a member of the pro-refinery lobby, Fadnavis announced the establishment of a seven-member SIT to probe the incident. Raut said, “I am doubtful if the investigation by the SIT will be carried out honestly.” He reiterated that Warishe was killed and that it was not a death in a road accident. All three CCTVs where Warishe died were not functioning at the same time while footage from other CCTVs was not becoming available; the eight workers at the petrol pump nearby had been pressured not to give a statement, Raut said. The MP warned that the plot to eliminate him was known to many and he would throw more light on it at a proper time.
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Pune Byelections: Will Amit Shah’s Visit Tilt The Scale In BJP’s Favour?

The two Pune assembly byelections to be held at the end of February will prove decisive in many ways as they will test the respective clouts of the two warring sides. While the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is still grappling to quell the rebellion which is causing concern to its candidate, the BJP is feeling buoyant since its veteran Girish Bapat, called Kasba’s Tiger, has declared his resolve to participate in campaigning. Pimpri-Chinchwad MVA nominee Nana Kate has been handpicked by NCP leader Ajit Pawar. This decision has been challenged by one of his supporters, Rahul Kalate, who has filed nomination as an independent. Kate’s fight is becoming difficult since Kalate had polled substantial votes in 2019 as NCP’s candidate. Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar has declared the support of Vanchit Aghadi to Kalate, saying that he had sought it. Ambedkar had only recently announced his electoral pact with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, a major MVA partner. The seat was held by BJP’s Laxman Jagtap, whose demise has caused the byelection. In Kasba Peth constituency in Pune, the reigning BJP had some anxious moments as Bapat had pleaded inability to campaign due to indisposition. However, Union home minister Amit Shah’s Pune visit scheduled over the weekend has changed the scenario, with the BJP heaving a sigh of relief.
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Better Late Than Never: Uddhav’s Outreach To Non-Marathi Communities To Create New Voter Base

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray is on a spree to meet prominent leaders of various communities in a bid to spread the party’s outreach beyond just the Marathi-speaking population. He has been using the visits to castigate the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over different thorny issues. Last week, Modi had inaugurated the new academy of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Aljamea tus Saifiyah Arabic Academy, in Marol in Mumbai’s Andheri area. The event is viewed as part of the BJP’s plan to liaise with sub-sections of minority communities. Uddhav too visited the newly inaugurated campus. He was accompanied by his son and MLA Aaditya, a former minister under him. The Thackerays met the head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. A week ago, Uddhav had attended the Anjan Shalaka Pratishta Ritual of the highly revered 13th Tirthankar (Jin), Vimalnath Bhagwan. The ceremony was held at the Jain Temple near Walchand Heights in Bhayandar West, a BJP stronghold on February 9. He was also blessed by Jain muni Acharya Yashovarma Surishwarji Maharaj. The third such initiative was Uddhav’s presence in Goregaon where he interacted with North Indians at a rally. He roundly attacked the BJP, Modi and former governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. “Uddhav is conveying the message that the Shiv Sena under his leadership is changing,” according to one of his close supporters.
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Accusations, Counter-Accusations Fly Thick And Fast Between Pawar And Fadnavis

The bout of accusations and counter-accusation between the BJP and the NCP over the formation of government in Maharashtra by Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar soon after the 2019 assembly elections has now enveloped NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Though he has washed his hands off the whole affair, the BJP has challenged Pawar to come clean. “Ajit had come to your residence that morning to tell you about taking the oath with Fadnavis. You wanted it done in the interests of a stable government,” a BJP tweet said. The intriguing episode has been reopened by Fadnavis, whose second term as CM lasted just for 80 hours. “Sharad Pawar himself had blessed our coalition,” Fadnavis had revealed to a news channel. “If needed, I shall complete the story at a proper time,” he had indicated. Immediately thereafter, Sharad Pawar expressed displeasure over the ‘disclosures’ by Fadnavis. “I was holding Fadnavis to be a gentleman,” he said in anger but refused to say anything further. Detractors of Pawar point out that even after so much has happened, he continues to refuse to endorse Ajit as the next Maharashtra CM. Of late, Ajit has been attacking the BJP in more and more fierce language. This change in the otherwise cautious leader has been noticed and being discussed in hushed tones in the state.

Twist Pe Twist: Anil Deshmukh Jailed For Not Joining BJP, Alleges Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress party president Sharad Pawar has alleged that his party leader Anil Deshmukh had been sent an offer to join the BJP to avert jail custody. Pawar said at a public meeting in Wardha that 130 raids were conducted on people close to Deshmukh. “This was unprecedented in the country. Rejecting the BJP’s offer, Deshmukh had said that he would rather spend life in jail than deserting his party. Deshmukh was lodged in custody for repudiating the offer,” Pawar alleged. Corroborating Pawar’s charge, Deshmukh said had he accepted any such offer, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would have collapsed much earlier. In another allegation, Deshmukh said the much-discussed ‘No.1’ supposed to receive Rs.100 crore per month from dance bar owners in Mumbai was not himself but was then Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Ridiculing Deshmukh’s claims about the so-called offer, senior Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan said Deshmukh himself had approached the BJP twice before the 2019 election to join. “If he is confident that rejecting this offer was the reason for his internment, he is now free to prove his innocence before court.” Deshmukh was released from jail custody in late December after spending 13 months behind bars. He reached his hometown Nagpur after a gap of 21 months last week. He was given a victor’s welcome by NCP supporters.
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Sharad Pawar Evasive About Ajit As Next Maharashtra CM, Speculation Revives About His Plans

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar’s equation with his nephew and opposition leader Ajit has always remained a subject of intense curiosity.  Pawar’s evasive response to a party MLA’s call to make Ajit Maharashtra’s next chief minister has now led to a spirited revival of earlier conjectures about his plans for the future. NCP MLA Nilesh Lanke, considered a close confidant of the NCP boss, had made the appeal in a Pune public meeting in presence of Ajit.  There is a firm perception that Lanke is being groomed by the party to contest the next Lok Sabha election from Ahmednagar district, a stronghold of the NCP. He is always found in the entourage of Pawar. The MLA had said, “We must make Ajitdada the next chief minister. Under his leadership, Maharashtra will record 25 years’ progress within five years.” When Sharad Pawar was quizzed about Lanke’s resolve at Nashik, he cryptically said, “Everyone is entitled to whatever he wishes. But you need to have numerical strength. Had the NCP been the largest party in the state, we could have taken decisions by consulting our party colleagues. However, as we lack that position today, I feel it would not be proper to comment on this.”  It is recalled that Ajit had taken oath as deputy chief minister with Devendra Fadnavis as CM in 2019. The coalition had survived for barely 72 hours.
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Congress Meeting In Mumbai Without Patole, To Mollify Balasaheb Thorat

All India Congress Committee’s Maharashtra in-charge H K Patil is scheduled to visit Mumbai on Sunday (Feb 12) in a bid to end the feud kicked up by the angry missive of legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat to complain against state congress president Nana Patole. The meeting of top leadership will be marked by the absence of Patole, who is at the centre of the bickering within the party. Thorat is convinced that Patole played a political game to corner and defame him over the legislative council election in which ‘independent’ Satyajeet Tambe trounced the ‘official’ Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate by a massive margin. Patole repeatedly indicated that Thorat had engineered the plan. The fact that Thorat and Tambe are close relatives had given a different colour to the infighting, culminating in Thorat’s resignation. Given Thorat’s long association with the party, the high command has decided to rush Patil to mollify the warring factions. Thorat has already sent out feelers that he has not ‘resigned’ his post but has merely ‘complained’ to express his displeasure. Given his loyalty, the high command has asked Patole to remain away from the crucial meet, party leaders feel. Patole has declared that he would be busy with the campaigning for the two assembly byelections from Pune later this month and hence not present in Mumbai on Sunday. 

After Modi’s Third Maharashtra Visit, Amit Shah To Be In Pune Next Weekend

Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Pune on February 18-19, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third visit to Maharashtra on Friday (Feb 10). Shah’s visit assumes significance in view of the two assembly byelections to be held on February 27, in Pune’s Kasba Peth and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Demise of both BJP MLAs has caused the byelection. While the Pimpri-Chinchwad assembly constituency had just one claimant, the wife of deceased MLA Laxman Jagtap, the scenario in Kasba Peth was somewhat testing for the BJP as sitting MLA Mutka Tilak’s family members were desirous of getting the party nomination after her death. As the party did not do so, rumblings of discontent were heard for a short while. Sensing the opportunity, Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi has fielded Congress nominee Ravindra Dhangekar. The visit of Shah is expected to enthuse the rank and file to ensure the victory of BJP’s Hemant Rasane. Shah has accepted two functions in Pune. In the first, he will release a book, ‘Modi@20,’ on February 18. He will tour the ‘Shiv Srushti,’ a historical complex conceived and designed by late historian Babasaheb Purandare on February 19, the great day for Maharashtra since it is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shah’s presence will add colour to the BJP celebrations.

Eyebrows Raised As Devendra Fadnavis And Praful Patel Praise Each Other

When Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s powerful leader Praful Patel were patting each other on the back for their various individual virtues, the political circle was agog with speculation, to the extent of forecasts hinting at Patel’s change of loyalty. Both leaders shared the dais at Gondia, Patel’s hometown, to laud his father Manoharbhai’s 117th birth anniversary. Incidentally, only a couple of days ago, Patel’s certain properties were seized by the Enforcement Directorate. Amidst various rapid political permutations and combinations churning Maharashtra politics, eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Fadnavis had accepted the invite to attend the gala event. The rumour mill received extra grist as the venue is the base of state Congress chief Nana Patole, a former BJP MP, who had defeated Patel in the hustings in 2014. Sensing the possible fallout, Patel said Fadnavis was gifted with exceptional leadership qualities and added that both held discussions on a variety of subjects. Reciprocating, Fadnavis said they were political adversaries, not personal. Patel has been elected from Bhandara-Gondia LS constituency several times and is presently a RS member. Considered to be NCP president Sharad Pawar’s closest confidant, the ED’s order to attach some of his prime real estate properties in Mumbai were being interpreted as a signal for Pawar. The Gondia meet is hence considered significant.
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Congress Leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Nana Patole

Maharashtra Cong Leader Balasaheb Thorat’s Resignation Drama Confuses All

Maharashtra Congress legislative party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat’s purported ‘resignation’ from the post has become mysterious since he himself has made an about turn, saying that it was just a letter written to the high command to express his ‘anguish’ and not his resignation. While Thorat has been receiving open and tacit invites from the BJP and the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) to join, his sudden volte face has unnerved his supporters who don’t understand what stand to take. Similarly, his detractors are flummoxed due to the same reason, unable to welcome him or condemn. The confusion was kicked off by state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who declared that his party would welcome Thorat into its fold. Some NCP leaders, too, are reportedly wooing him in view of his clout in the sugar-rich Ahmednagar district. Thorat and his late father Bhausaheb have been representing the assembly constituency for over half a century. While Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole was projected as the villain of the episode involving Thorat’s ‘resignation’ all this while, the new revelation has created a question mark about Thorat’s next move. His nephew Satyajeet Tambe’s legislative council election win last week is viewed against this background since Congress leaders have blamed Thorat for the defeat of the official Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate in that contest. Hence, most Congress leaders are tight lipped about the quick turn of events
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Thackeray Vs Thackeray: Shinde Faction Plans To Field Nihar Against Cousin Aaditya Thackeray

Shiv Sena (U) party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya is likely to face his cousin Nihar in the next assembly election from Worli in Mumbai if plans of chief minister Eknath Shinde’s Sena faction materialise. A practising lawyer, Nihar is the son of Uddhav’s eldest brother Bindumadhav, who died young in 1996 in a road accident. Aaditya has been on the offensive over the past few days, challenging Shinde to contest against him any time. “Let us face each other in Worli or Thane. The choice will be yours,” Aaditya has said repeatedly. His Sena (U) followers are taunting the chief minister for being ‘scared of a 32-year young’ as Shinde has not reacted to the provocation. However, plans to persuade Nihar to jump into the fray are now under discussion. Nihar was the first member of the family of Balasaheb Thackeray to support Shinde. He had said, “Shinde is the true representative of Balasaheb’s ideology.” The association became firmer when Nihar became part of the legal panel representing the Shinde faction in the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. As Uddhav is a member of the upper house, Aaditya’s Worli assembly constituency will become one of the most prestigious electoral contests in Maharashtra. The fight will become national news if two Thackerays take on each other.

RSS ‘Clarifies’ Mohan Bhagwat’s Remark, Says No Slight To Brahmins

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reference to the learned section of society has been wrongly interpreted and it does not mean the Brahmin caste, the organisation has clarified. What Bhagwat had meant was ‘scholars,’ RSS has conveyed. Bhagwat was addressing a birth anniversary event of Sant Ravidas in Mumbai on February 5. He said the Sant had spent his life to accord dignity to work and not to caste. In the speech, Bhagwat had used the word ‘Pandit.’ Very soon, the speech report began making rounds of social media and the RSS had to ask news agency ANI to come out with a clarification as it had covered the event and reported it. At the same time, a statement has been issued by RSS leader Sunil Ambekar. Both have hastened to clarify that the meaning Bhagwat had in mind was ‘Vidvaan’ (scholar) and not Brahmins. Bhagwat’s ‘exact’ statement has been quoted by Ambekar as, “…Some Pandits speak of caste-based divides on (the) basis of Shastras, it’s a lie. It’s his exact statement…” Ambekar has emphasised.  The controversy has the backdrop of a whispering grievance that the RSS has been treating the Brahmin community unfairly although it was the anchor of the organisation in its fledgling years. In the Mumbai speech, Bhagwat had also said that we were misled by the caste superiority illusion which has to be discarded. These differences were exploited by others and outsiders ruled us, Bhagwat had observed.

Maharashtra & Karnataka Compete To Woo People Of Border Areas

In a bid to match the Maharashtra government’s announcement to extend ‘cultural funding’ to the Marathi-speaking areas along the border with Karnataka, a provision of Rs 100 crore has been declared by Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai for the Border Area Development Authority. The BJP government in Karnataka is completing its five-year term this year and will be presenting its last budget on 10 February. In view of the ensuing election, Bommai has made the populist announcement. Although the tension prevailing over the border feud has subsided, Bommai’s counter-announcement could provide another provocation for the protagonists from the neighbouring states to take up cudgels again. He has stated that the amount would be provided for in the budget for expending in border areas for education, industry, infrastructure development and for promoting Kannada. Earlier, the Karnataka government had made a provision of Rs 25 crore for these areas. Maharashtra’s Marathi language minister Deepak Kesarkar had declared that financial provisions would be made by the state to create facilities for educational and cultural activities in the Marathi-speaking border areas.  Bommai’s announcement has come to counter this move, it is felt. The border dispute has been holding fire for several decades and is now before the Supreme Court. Both states have fielded top-notch attorneys to reinforce their claims. Though the situation has remained peaceful after initial skirmishes, the initiatives by both the states are considered potent.
Ajit Pawars

Ajit Pawar’s Revelations Raise Hackles, Congress Livid

Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar’s sensational disclosures about the victory of Congress rebel Satyajeet Tambe in the legislative council election for the Nashik graduate constituency and Uddhav Thackeray’s perceived failure to prevent the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra in June last year are likely to become a bone of contention within MVA. The revelations have angered Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole as Tambe defeated official MVA nominee Shubhangi Patil by a huge margin. Tambe had claimed that he had not received the required authorisation from the Congress in time and hence was forced to contest as an independent. Ajit had said that NCP president Sharad Pawar himself had advised his Congress counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge to field Tambe but things didn’t work out that way. Similarly, Ajit said that Sharad Pawar had alerted then chief minister Uddhav about the possible rift in the Shiv Sena but the latter had replied that he did not expect his MLAs to walk away from him. The dramatic change in Maharashtra occurred soon thereafter. So far Uddhav or the Sena (U) have kept mum about Ajit’s utterances. Patole has objected to both statements, saying that though the NCP was holding the home portfolio, the Uddhav government fell. The matters will be taken up in the next MVA meeting with the NCP, he announced.

Maharashtra Legislative Council Election Shocker For Shinde-Fadnavis And MVA

The severe jolt received by the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance in the legislative council election in Maharashtra has generated shocks on both sides as each has lost a prestigious seat or two from its assured traditional area of influence. The ruling alliance lost both Vidarbha seats, Nagpur and Amaravati, which the BJP had been holding for a long time. Similarly, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)lost the Raigad seat, which the BJP has won for the first time. The decision of Nashik seat victor Satyajeet Tambe about his future plans is yet to become public. Overall, the ruling alliance’s performance is considered dismal especially since deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is known to wield clout in Vidarbha area. The defeat of BJP’s Amaravati nominee Ranjit Patil, a confidant of Fadnavis, is intriguing since almost 6000 ballot papers bearing his name have been declared invalid in a battle he has lost by just over 3000 votes. The rules require that a voter has to indicate his or her first and subsequent preferences. As Patil’s was the only name marked, the votes were rejected. Rather than pleasing MVA, the outcome has sparked off a war of words within as Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has decided to admonish the NCP for some of its leaders’ remarks in connection with the election in Nashik.
Narendra Modi

Modi To Visit Mumbai Second Time In Three Weeks, Why?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second Mumbai and third Maharashtra visit within 50 days is being planned to highlight the importance the BJP attaches to the city and the state in view of the elections scheduled in the near future. With this visit scheduled on February 10, Maharashtra will be the only state to boast four Vande Bharat trains, two of them just within the state. The other highlight of Modi’s upcoming visit will be the opening of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s Arabic Academy in Andheri East. The sect’s head, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, will be present on the occasion, a community official said. Modi’s acceptance to attend this event will endorse the BJP’s systematic efforts to reach out to various sections of the minority population. One Vande Bharat train that Modi will flag off will be on Mumbai-Solapur route, the other will link Mumbai with Shirdi on February 10. The Mumbai-Solapur Vande Bharat train will cover the 455 km distance within six and a half hours while the Mumbai-Shirdi Vande Bharat train will traverse the 340 km distance in five and a half hours. Already, two Vande Bharat trains ply in Maharashtra. The first started running between Mumbai and Gandhinagar. The second, linking Nagpur and Bilaspur, was shown a green flag by Modi in December.
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Kasba Peth Assembly By-Poll: Acid Test For BJP As MVA May Play Spoilsport

By-election to the Kasba Peth assembly constituency in Pune is proving to be a potential battleground among the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners while the BJP is yet to decide upon its candidate after the demise of its sitting MLA Mukta Tilak. The last date for filing of nominations is February 7. A traditional BJP stronghold, the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena (U) have claimed the right to contest, trying to junk the assertions made by the other MVA constituents. However, the two Congress parties are serious claimants as the Sena had always left this seat for the BJP under the two-party electoral adjustment. Sitting Pune BJP MP Girish Bapat had been winning the seat successively. It was won in 2019 by his party’s Mukta Tilak with a thumping margin. Her untimely demise has caused the by-election, which will be a major test of strength between the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance and the MVA. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, too, has declared its intention to contest from Kasaba though it is not taken seriously. Internecine differences have surfaced over the probable candidature as each MVA party has at least half a dozen hopefuls. On the other hand, the BJP also is treading cautiously since it is determined to repeat its victory in the constituency. It will face a tough task to endorse a candidate, party leaders admit.
Collage Maker-31-Jan-2023-06

Tit For Tat Politics In Maharashtra: Sena (U) Leader Anil Parab’s Unauthorised Office Demolished

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s confidant Anil Parab’s Bandra (East) office demolition on Tuesday (Jan 31) has set off a verbal slugfest, joined by independent MLA Ravi Rana. Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had been pursuing the matter with Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in whose jurisdiction the office is located. Somaiya was prevented by the police from visiting the site. The political atmosphere in the state will become murkier as Somaiya has warned to intensify similar campaigns against former ministers Nawab Malik, Aslam Shaikh and Hasan Mushrif. Parab later led a Sena (U) morcha to MHADA offices to protest against the demolition which he himself had started the previous night. Taking on Somaiya at a Press meet, Parab asked him about his allegations against some leaders like Narayan Rane who subsequently joined the BJP and Somaiya’s silence thereafter. In retaliation, Ravi Rana said his residence in Mumbai was attempted to be dismantled by the BMC under Parab’s instigation. The vocal MLA challenged Parab to speak about a new residence of Uddhav Thackeray alleging that there was some FSI theft. A civic action against actress Kangana Ranaut’s apartment, too, came up.

Bageshwar Provides BJP-Baiters A Hefty Stick In Maharashtra, Utters Irreverent Remarks About Sant Tukaram

Self-proclaimed holiness Bageshwar Dham Baba Dhirendra Shastri has provided a hefty stick to the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra to kick the ruling BJP by making a ridiculous statement about Sant Tukaram, revered throughout the country for his egalitarian Bhakti philosophy. The spiritual-religious issue has turned political as all major parties have joined the chorus to embarrass Hindutva outfits. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have come down heavily against the BJP while the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has asked some stinging questions to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. According to Baba’s utterances shown in a video clip that has gone viral, he has said,“Sant Tukaram’s wife used to beat him up daily. When asked, the Sant replied that had he been married to a loving wife, he would not have loved God. This wife was giving him that opportunity.” Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has demanded immediate action against Bageshwar for the comment while Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant has alleged that this is a BJP conspiracy to demean Maharashtra’s icons. Its object is to banish reformist thinking and re-establish Manu’s tenets. If people don’t wake up in time, they will be chained forever, he has warned. Sena (U) firebrand speaker Sushma Andhare has challenged Fadnavis to take action against the controversial god-man. “While Bageshwar is insulting our topmost saints, why are followers of Mohan Bhagwat silent,” she has asked.
Sena Bhavan

Sena (U) Attacks Modi Regime For Honouring Mulayam But Forgetting Savarkar & Thackeray

The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has attacked the Modi government for conferring the Padma Vibhushan honour posthumously on Samajwadi Party leader and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ‘who had massacred Kar Sevaks’ in Ayodhya. Lashing out at the Union government for forgetting to honour Hindutva icons Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Balasaheb Thackeray with posthumous Bharat Ratna laurels, Sena (U) mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ has insinuated that the firing resorted to by the Mulayam Singh government killing Kar Sevaks had led to generating a wave of anger among the Hindus and finally politically benefitted the BJP in North India. “Is the honour bestowed upon Yadav for repaying this debt?” the edit has asked. Sena (U) MP and ‘Saamana’ Executive Editor Sanjay Raut said the government of Mulayam Singh had killed more than a hundred sadhus and sevaks, turning the Sarayu waters into a red pool. Afterwards, the Sangh Parivar outfits began calling him ‘Maulana Mulayam.’ They had also demanded to file murder charges against him. “The same Mulayam Singh has been selected for the second highest civil honour by a government claiming itself to be staunch Hindutvwadi,” Raut jeered. People should remember this lapse, he has advised in the edit. Raut alleged that honouring Mulayam and the late S M Krishna was a ploy to garner OBC and Vokkaliga votes, respectively, in the election
Prakash Ambedkar

Shocker: After Shaking Hands With Uddhav Thackeray, Prakash Ambedkar Warms Up To BJP

Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar keeps on shocking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) by expressing his opinions right and left. His conditional willingness to go with the BJP has administered another jolt to the three-party coalition. Already under fire due to charges that he heads the BJP’s ‘B’ team, Ambedkar’s latest handshake with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has generated many riddles in the state’s polity. On top of that, he has beckoned the BJP. Ambedkar told the media that the BJP would not be taboo for him ‘provided it burnt Manu Smruti.’ He also renewed his barbs against NCP president Sharad Pawar by charging that Pawar and BJP were hand in glove. Sena (U) MP Sanjay Raut and several NCP leaders had warned Ambedkar to be careful while talking about Pawar. However, he has not taken any cognisance of the disapproval. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole extricated his party from the simmering feud. He said Ambedkar has formed an alliance with the Sena (U) and MVA was not concerned with it. NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Sunil Tatkare have made it clear to Uddhav that the seat share for future elections will be limited to three MVP partners and if Ambedkar had to be accommodated, Uddhav will have to do it from his party’s quota. Ambedkar’s response to the developments is awaited with baited breath.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.