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Uddhav Rejigs His Strategy, Keen To Teach Opponents A Lesson

With general elections few months away, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has rejigged his strategy that will see him increasing his public appearances. For now, he has declared that he will be visiting Palghar district outside Mumbai soon, admitting that he had not paid attention to the area which had elected his candidate to the Lok Sabha in 2019. Uddhav has been constantly criticised for not venturing out Matoshree, his family residence located in suburban Bandra. The criticism was sharp when he was the chief minister for over two years. “You have not visited Mantralaya even two and a half times,” his arch detractor Narayan Rane would say over and over again. Besides undertaking a few trips within the state and except for attending a couple of I.N.D.I.A meetings, Uddhav has stayed mostly in Mumbai and in Matoshree in particular. But it seems he will now become more active by appearing in public. Another possible reason for his aggressive posture could be the frequent media interactions his cousin Raj Thackeray has been enjoying, the latest regarding his victory on the issue of displaying Marathi boards in Mumbai by commercial establishments. Uddhav felt particularly aggrieved as some posters describing chief minister Eknath Shinde as “Hindu Hriday Samrat,” came up a couple of days ago. As the title was bestowed upon Balasaheb Thackeray Uddhav said, “The saboteurs will be taught a fitting lesson by the people in the coming election.”


BJP Feels Social Media Heat, Bawankule At Receiving End

The BJP in Maharashtra is feeling the heat generated by the social media as its president Chandrashekhar Bawankule continues to be lashed by Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut over the former’s family visit to a casino in Macau. Raut on Friday (Nov 24) released a new video clip entitled ‘An Evening in Macau……..’ with a veiled warning that ‘Picture abhi baki hai.’ This is taken as an indication since immediately thereafter, Raut declared that he has 27 photographs and five video clips in this connection. On top of it, Raut taunted the BJP by saying, “If I post this material, the BJP will have to close down its shop. But I will not do it. We are soldiers of Balasaheb Thackeray.” When the first video clip was uploaded by Raut a few days ago, Bawankule had claimed that in Hong Kong – Macau, when you go in any hotel and need to go to another area therein, you have to pass by a casino table.” Bawankule had lamented that he was facing such type of criticism after being in politics for 34 years. He said he had barely visited his home in the last 14 months. Therefore, his daughter and daughter-in-law had secured three days’ time from him for a family outing. As part of this planning, the family was in Macau, he clarified. Raut’s new revelation has rattled the BJP, which is expected to rebound soon.

Bhujbal Abandoned By Congress Leader On Maratha Reservation Issue

Firebrand OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal seems isolated over the Maratha reservation issue in Maharashtra, once again highlighting the fact that politicians can change their stand at the drop of a hat, without batting an eyelid. Bhujbal was supported by Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar over the OBCs’ determination that no curtailment would be permitted in their reservation quota to accommodate the Maratha reservation demand. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Wadettiwar attended the first OBC rally, which was organised to express unity among various OBC beneficiaries of reservations. Wadettiwar was present although the Congress party has not taken any stand over the sensitive issue. He has been under attack from within the Congress for his various statements and also for supporting Bhujbal, fearing a backlash from the Maratha caste in the coming elections. Sensing the threat to his own position, Wadettiwar has now declared that he will never share a dais with Bhujbal. Maintaining that those in power are expected to resolve problems of the populace, Wadettiwar said it is patently wrong to poison the relationship between two sections of society in this battle for reservations. “Who will be responsible if lives are lost?” he thundered. Expectedly, his new stand has been welcomed by Maratha leader Manoj Jarange Patil, who is proceeding towards Mumbai to precipitate the matter by exerting pressure on the rulers.

Chhagan Bhujbal Sparks Backlash From Maratha Caste, Centre Silent Spectator

Senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s attack against the Maratha caste reservation demand and his various utterances against the government of which he himself is a member have created a piquant situation in Maharashtra. His own party, the Nationalist Congress party (NCP), has disowned his stand against the Maratha caste to which the party leader Ajit Pawar belongs. On the other hand, various Maratha leaders have started demanding his removal from the Shinde-Fadnavis-Pawar ministry. In retaliation, OBC leaders irrespective of party affiliations have started uniting under Bhujbal’s stewardship. Both sides have hardened their respective stands. While the Maratha leaders are firm that their caste must be granted reservations, OBC leaders have made it clear that no slice from their quota to the Marathas would be permitted under any circumstances. Though Maharashtra’s prominent leaders take pride in describing the state as the most progressive in India, casteism was always present though not as articulated as now. Rallies by leaders of both sides have been evoking tremendous response, sending warning signals in view of the volatile situation. The approaching general election next year will be definitely affected by the reservation imbroglio. Curiously, the Centre has maintained silence over the burning issue, fearing that any stand taken by it would have repercussions in other states like Rajasthan and Haryana where similar demands have been pending for a long time. Hence, the developing situation in Maharashtra is watched keenly by the political stakeholders.
Uddhav Raj

Uddhav And Raj Thackeray Attack BJP In Unison, EC Under Fire

Uddhav and Raj Thackeray rarely sing the same tune. But Union home minister Amit Shah has now provided them the fodder and both have used it to lambast the BJP. In almost simultaneous media conferences, Uddhav came down heavily on a statement made by Shah. He was meeting the media in Mumbai. In next door Thane, cartoonist Raj lampooned Shah. An irate Uddhav wondered how the Election Commission had not taken any cognisance of Shah’s inducement to the voters in Madhya Pradesh. He said Shah had promised the MP voters free of cost visits to Ayodhya if the BJP returned to power in the state. Uddhav recalled his father Balasaheb Thackeray and some Shiv Sena leaders and legislators were barred by the EC for six years from even voting on charges that the Sena had resorted to Hindutva in the 1987 Vile Parle assembly byelection which the party had won. “Has the EC revised its rules? If so, let all parties know about it,” Uddhav taunted. He has written a complaint to the EC to demand an explanation. Raj, with tongue in cheek, advised the BJP to open a tour and travel agency. He also took the opportunity to attack NCP leader Sharad Pawar. The MNS chief reiterated that casteism in Maharashtra has proliferated ever since the NCP was founded in 1999 by Pawar.

Will Pro-OBC Rally Further Stoke Caste War In Maharashtra?

The first rally to demand protection to the OBC reservation in Maharashtra is scheduled on Friday (Nov 17) in Jalna district wherein the first protest for demanding the Maratha caste reservation was ignited. As indicated earlier, top OBC leader and state cabinet minister Chhagan Bhujbal will be the star speaker at the rally to be held at Dhait Nagar in Ambad taluka, where the sentiments on the issue are very strong on both sides. Bhujbal will be accompanied by another cabinet minister, Dhananjay Munde, elected from neighbouring Beed district. The supporters of OBC reservations had been holding their fire for a long time. Now that Diwali festivities are over, the atmosphere in the state is getting surcharged. The rally is being described by its organisers as a ‘Save Reservation Clarion Call Meet.’ While it is claimed that the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar (Congress), too, will be present to express his support of the OBCs, former minister Pankaja Munde, too, has been invited. The tagline of the rally is: ‘Jo Desh ke Hit kee Baat Karenga, Vo hi Desh pe Raj Karega.’ The second pro-OBC rally will be held at Hingoli, another political hotbed in Marathwada. On the other hand, Maratha reservation leaders have demanded fulfilment of their demand by December 24 this year. Otherwise, a statewide agitation would be launched, they have warned.
Maratha agitation

Maharashtra Caste Differences Become Sharper, Post-Diwali Challenges Loom For Shinde Govt

Caste dissensions in Maharashtra are becoming sharper over the Maratha demand for reservations as two ministers in the state are under pressure to lead active protest demonstrations to oppose any curtailment in the OBC quota of reservations. Various political parties have adopted a cautious approach towards the thorny issue as taking any stand either way will prove costly in the coming elections, they fear. The conflict is likely to assume wider proportions after Diwali. Followers of senior ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Dhananjay Munde, both ardent proponents of the OBC cause, are planning to vent their opposition to the Maratha consolidation by holding a rally in Jalna soon. The present Maratha agitation for the reservations had begun in a village a little away from this town in Marathwada. The situation in the state is intriguing as the state’s Leader of the Opposition, Vijay Wadettiwar, has come out openly in support of the OBCs and articulated his staunch opposition to the Maratha quota demand. Surprisingly, the Congress party to which he belongs has not taken any stand on the social conflagration so far. Various top leaders of different shades have started saying that a Maratha reservation should be durable and pass the test of the Supreme Court judgments in this regard. As this position is contrary to the Maratha demand, the atmosphere in Maharashtra after Diwali will test the acumen of the leadership.
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Sharad Pawar’s ‘OBC Status’ A Gameplan To Slander Him, NCP Insists He Is A Maratha

In a state where being a Maratha is a matter of prestige, top leader Sharad Pawar is facing slander which has gone viral wherein it is alleged that he has obtained a certificate which says that he belongs to the OBC category. Always described outside Maharashtra as a Maratha strongman, Pawar’s baby, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), also is dubbed as a party of the Marathas by his detractors. In the midst of the furore raised in the state over the Maratha caste demand for reservations, a purported school document which says that Pawar belongs to the OBCs went viral on social media within minutes. His daughter Supriya Sule, MP, ridiculed the attempt to defame Pawar. She pointed out that the so-called certificate is in English whereas during Pawar’s childhood nearly eight decades ago, no English medium schools were available in that area. Vikas Pasalkar, a Pawar acolyte, immediately circulated a school leaving certificate which clearly states that Pawar is a Maratha. Pasalkar implied that such a campaign against Pawar was being masterminded from Nagpur. Pawar’s grandson, Rohit Pawar, on the other hand, directly charged the BJP for the misinformation. The Maratha demand for reservations has roasted the caste leaders from both sides, asking them to clarify why they could not secure the reservation over the past 60 years even though they were in power. Pawar, too, is lampooned on this count.
Lalit _Pune

Pune Police Shielded Drug Kingpin Lalit Patil, Local MLA Alleges

Drug kingpin Lalit Patil’s arrest a few weeks ago is followed by sensational disclosures almost on a daily basis. The latest is pointing a finger at the role of Pune police in the sordid affair. At the centre of the controversy is Pune’s reputed Sassoon Hospital, where Patil had managed to stay for a long time claiming fake health issues. The hospital dean, Dr Sanjay Thakur, has been sacked as he was directly responsible for the treatment for the Nasik-based drug lord. Even as some more medical officials have been under the lens, Pune MLA Ravindra Dhangekar (Congress) has alleged that palms in the police commissioner office were greased by Patil to continue his operations. Its alleged drug lord Patil was alleged to have distributed Rs17 lakh every month to some Sassoon Hospital staff members to ensure his prolonged stay in the hospital. Dhangekar, who was elected to the legislative assembly only a few months ago, has been quite vocal about the purported cover-up. He said his demand to investigate those receiving the money from Patil has been overlooked by Pune police. Moreover, he feels that the state government is shielding Dr Thakur by just removing him. “I demand that Thakur must be slapped with MOCCA,” the MLA reiterated. Drug proliferation in Pune was alarming and the police were not arresting Thakur so as to divert attention from this situation, according to Dhangekar.

Iconic Air India HQ To Be Sold To Maharashtra Government

The iconic Air Building at Nariman Point in south Mumbai will soon become one more addition to the Maharashtra government’s scattered offices in the city’s commercial hub. The 23-storey commercial tower, the famous landmark, was once upon a time perhaps the most sought after business address when it began serving as corporate headquarters for Air India from 1974 till 2013. It has nearly 10800 square feet of office space on each floor. Air India vacated the structure a decade ago when its loan burden became unbearable and had been trying to sell it to raise capital. AI then shifted its headquarters to New Delhi, leaving behind precious art treasures and other choice articles. The Maharashtra government had plans ever since Air India moved out to take over the building but due to standard hassles, the proposal never came up for implementation. The state government has rented out vast spaces in and around Nariman Point to house its various offices for a long time. With the AI building in its possession, the space crunch will be eased to some extent. Now that the state government has announced its intent to occupy the structure will soon see the farmers, the poor and the labourer in this posh building, once frequented by leaders, business magnates and corporate honchos. The Maharaja on the AI flag will be replaced by another Maharaja, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

I.N.D.I.A Humbled In Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Polls, Losers Are Sharad Pawar And Uddhav Thackeray

The three-party coalition ruling in Maharashtra has humbled the NCP founder Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in the just declared results for the Gram Panchayats in the state. The BJP has emerged as the single largest winner in the public mandate which was tested for the first time after the change of guard last year. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and the two deputy chief ministers, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, have welcomed the outcome with claims that the ruling alliance will win 45 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in the 2024 elections. Initial reports suggest that out of 2359 Gram Panchayat bodies, the ruling side has won 1354, with the BJP bagging over 743, Shinde’s Sena getting over 240 and Ajit Pawar’s faction 371.  On the other hand, the NCP under Sharad Pawar has been able to win 178 bodies while Uddhav’s Sena has come last with 102 victories. The overall perception that the electorate will reject those defecting from the main party has been belied, especially since Ajit’s faction has emerged invincible in Pune district’s politics, which was dominated for decades by his uncle Sharad Pawar. This performance will have a direct impact on the seat sharing between the two sides and since the so-called I.N.D.I.A front has fared poorly. 
Ajit modi

Ajit Pawar Faces Dual Challenge From Cousin Supriya And BJP's Patil

Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has started facing a dual challenge in his stronghold, Pune city and district. His cousin Supriya Sule, MP, and BJP leader Chandrakant Patil have markedly activated their supporters in the affairs of the area. This is considered as a new challenge for Ajit, who has been holding the reins of the district and city for nearly two decades. Ajit controls almost all the important institutions, including the prestigious Pune District Central Cooperative Bank, which is the fountainhead of finances for various cooperatives like sugar factories. However, in the past two weeks, he has had to cancel his two appearances, one at the boiler firing ceremony at Malegaon Sugar Factory, which is his fiefdom. More conspicuous is his absence from the centrestage of the various discussions that have been taking place for the past fortnight over the Maratha reservation demand. Perhaps the most influential Maratha leader after his uncle Sharad Pawar, his explanation that he is down with dengue raised many eyebrows. While he was bedridden, Patil and Sule held a series of meetings with their supporters in Pune. Ajit’s supporters are awaiting a signal from him. There is no dearth of speculation. One which has gone viral is that Ajit’s wife Sunetra is likely to enter the Lok Sabha election arena to challenge Supriya, who has been elected repeatedly from Baramati constituency. Ajit’s next move is expected to be announced soon now that the Maratha agitation is withdrawn.  
Elvish yadav

Youtuber Elvish Yadav Performing Ganesh Aarti At Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Residence Goes Viral

Public figures are frequently made to face embarrassment as their pictures with controversial individuals standing next to them are later published. Their defence that they can’t know everybody in a crowd coming near them is valid, though mostly unbelieved by the general public. The latest such leader is embattled Maharashtra’s chief minister Eknath Shinde, who has been finding himself in a tight spot for the presence of infamous youtuber Elvish Yadav at his official residence during the 10-day Ganesh festival along with other celebrities. Barely recovering from the aftermath of an agitation to demand reservations for the Maratha caste, Shinde will be required to come out with his response to the tirade launched against him by the Opposition over Yadav’s presence at his house. Several videos of Yadav performing aarti at the CM’s home on September 25 have been made viral by leaders of the Opposition the moment the news of Yadav’s arrest landed on social media. Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar of the Congress, led the attack and was supported by Shiv Sena (Uddhav)  and NCP (Sharad Pawar) functionaries. Sena’s Sushma Andhare mounted an offensive by demanding to know how someone accused of making drugs from snake venom had reached the CM’s bungalow. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, too, had to face some unpleasant moments when his picture with a questionable Nagpur politician was circulated by his detractors.
Eknath fadnavis pawar

Political Parties In Maharashtra Alarmed By Violence Over Maratha Reservation Issue

Alarmed by the spreading violence over the Maratha reservation demand, various political parties in Maharashtra have found it prudent to jointly issue an appeal to the general public to maintain law and order. In their joint statement, they condemned the acts of arson and rasta roko that have been taking place in some parts of the state. A meeting convened by chief minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday (Nov 1) was attended by veteran leader Sharad Pawar, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) faction and various political party leaders. The agitation over the reservation demand has taken an ugly turn since Beed MLA Sandeep Kshirsagar’s house was set afire even when several family members were inside. Deputy chief minister (DCM) Ajit Pawar’s staunch supporter Prakash Solanke’s house too was attacked by an unruly mob. In several villages, politicians of all shades have been banned entry. In view of the developing situation, the state government has made preparations to deploy police bandobast outside the residences of prominent OBC leaders since the community is opposed to granting any Maratha reservation from its quota. Those supporting Maratha reservation have alleged that the ruling coalition is trying to drive a wedge between the two sections by taking such a step. The police have filed several criminal cases against the arsonists and violence-spreaders. At least half a dozen cases will be under IPC Section 307, attempt to murder, according to DCM Devendra Fadnavis.
Eknath shinde_003

Maharashtra CM’s Two Loyalist MPs Resign, Bowing To Maratha Demand

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s two loyalist MPs have resigned over the Maratha reservation demand that has engulfed the state in an orgy of violence. Shiv Sena (Shinde) Lok Sabha members from Nashik and Hingoli, Hemant Godse and Hemant Patil, have thus supported the long-pending reservation demand proactively. While Patil submitted his resignation to the Lok Sabha secretariat in New Delhi on Monday (Oct 30), Godse has sent his resignation letter to Shinde. Patil drafted his resignation letter on the spot and handed it over to the agitators when he was accosted by Maratha agitators in Yavatmal, challenging him to state his stand on the reservation demand. Soon after the news became viral, Patil was belittled by many of his detractors, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter and fellow MP Supriya Sule. She termed Patil’s resignation as a mere stunt. In retort, Patil said, “I am not born in a family whose two or even three generations are in power.” He regretted that although several leaders from the Maratha community became Maharashtra chief ministers, the caste didn’t get anything. Likewise, Godse drafted his resignation letter in Nashik when Maratha demonstrators asked him to clarify his stand on the burning issue. Patil was recently in the news when he had forced the dean of the government hospital in Nanded to clean toilets after the MP visited it following 24 deaths in 24 hours.

Cheers! Beer To Be Less Dear In Maharashtra

For the first time perhaps, a government is proceeding with a plan of action to promote the sales and consumption of beer in the state. As a result, beer lovers in Maharashtra are soon likely to cheer up each other more spiritedly at a lesser cost. Concerned by the swelling loan burden that is around Rs7 lakh crore now, the declining amount of the excise revenue has created concern for the authorities. Noticing the declining excise recovery from beer, the state has set up a five-member committee to study the beer industry threadbare and recommend ways and means to swell its coffers by promoting the beer swill. The committee, to be headed by an additional chief secretary, has been asked to submit its report within a month. Probably, so that the New Year can be welcomed more spiritedly. Maharashtra and Telangana each have 14% share in the all-India beer market, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 9%. Kerala (6%, Tamil Nadu (7%) and Karnataka (8%) are the other major beer consuming states. The sole non-official member of the Maharashtra committee will be a nominee of the All India Brewers’ Association. The government resolution (GR) dated 16 October 2023 says the beer sales in the state have been going down ever since the excise duty on the brew was increased. The reason for the doddering revenue is that the alcohol content in beer is less as compared with liquor, imported and made indigenously. As a result, the sales of beer are drying up as boozers are not attracted to it due to its higher price. The committee’s report is awaited eagerly.
Fadnavis _002

I Am Attacked Since I Am A Brahmin, Thunders Fadnavis

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has adopted an aggressive stance towards his critics who have been attacking him on the basis of his caste. “I am a Brahmin and can’t change this. Those calling me names on this basis know that I am a soft target on this account,” he said in an interview to a TV channel. Fadnavis has been at the receiving end in view of the Maratha caste’s demand for reservations, the issue which has been holding fire for several decades. The deputy chief minister said as chief minister between 2014 and 2019, he had granted reservations for the Maratha caste and it was upheld by the  Apex Court. However, the later regime could not retain it in the Supreme Court for various reasons, known to everybody. He thundered, “Those talking for Marathas have not been able to do anything for the caste, except making allegations and demands. It was I who had given the reservations. Still, I am castigated on account of my caste.” The state is in turmoil because of the Maratha demand and its vehement opposition by different sections like the OBCs. As its side effects, some other castes like Dhangar (shepherd) have also began agitations to press their similar demand. Several villages have been declared out of bound for political leaders by the Maratha Kranti Morcha for ignoring their demand. The candid observation by Fadnavis has the backdrop of this situation.

Car Of Opponent Of Maratha Reservation Attacked, Poses Questions For Sharad Pawar And Supriya

Controversial lawyer Gunaratna Sadavarte has hit the headlines again as his vehicle in Mumbai’s Parel area was damaged by three youths on Thursday (Oct 26), reportedly ardent supporters of the demand for reservations for the powerful Maratha caste in Maharashtra. Those opposing the demand include Sadavarte, who has been in the news time and again. In a major incident a few months ago, he was booked for an attack at the residence of NCP president Sharad Pawar. Now that the Maratha agitation is gaining traction, both sides have adopted intransigence stands. Sadavarte has registered his total opposition to the Maratha reservation. After his car was damaged, the police have arrested three youths, who have been enlarged on bail by court, with stipulation that they will not enter Mumbai without the court permission. The alleged attackers have been felicitated by certain Maratha groups. In view of this, Sadavarte has asked, “Why has Sharad Pawar not reacted to the attack? Supriya Sule had said recently that a ‘correct’ programme would be done for lawyers. Is this the correct programme?” No immediate response had come from Pawar or the NCP. The renewed Maratha reservation demand was viewed with concern as it has potential to incite social tensions. The violent turn has alarmed the authorities as no immediate solution to the thorny issue is seen.
Manoj Jarange patil

Manoj Jarange Patil

Maratha Reservation Demand Back, Will Become A Thorny Election Issue

A virtual war of attrition between the powerful Maratha caste and the Other Backward Class (OBC) population over the former’s demand for reservations is raging in Maharashtra, with both sides unwilling to budge from their firm positions. Suggestions that a share of the OBC reservations should be allotted to the Marathas has been vehemently rejected by National OBC Federation president Babanrao Taywade. On the other hand, his proposal that both sides should prevail upon the Centre to do away with the 50% reservation ceiling has been spurned by firebrand Maratha leader Manoj Jarange Patil, who has resumed his indefinite fast unto death. Patil had granted time to the state government to announce reservations for Marathas by the end of 24 October. As this did not happen, he restarted his fast, which he had suspended earlier following a firm assurance by chief minister Eknath Shinde that the reservation would be granted for the Marathas. Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have airdashed to Delhi to discuss the matter with the BJP leadership. Their unscheduled visit became a topic of political speculation since another deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, was not asked to accompany them. He feigned ignorance about this crucial visit. The explosive issue is expected to gain traction again in view of the impending general election next year.

Drug Kingpin Lalit Patil Earned Rs 50 Lakh A Month, Mumbai Police Recover 3 Kg Gold

Drugs kingpin Lalit Patil and his brother Bhushan enjoyed 5-Star lifestyle, had purchased at least 8 kg of gold and had knit a network of suppliers and retailers for drugs throughout the country. The Patil brothers had, in fact, set up a factory to produce 50 kg per day of drugs called Mephedrone near Nashik. Ever since Patil was arrested, more and more shocking details have been coming out. Although Patil’s health problem was minor, he was resting in the government-run Sassoon Hospital in Pune for a long time. During his hospitalisation, rooms in nearby posh hotels were booked in his name. Payments for the rooms were made through a bank account. His closest accomplices included two women, now in Mumbai police custody. Pradnya Kamble and Archana Nikam, both hailing from Nashik, were seen with Patil time and again. Video clips of Patil and the women meeting outside the hospital are in possession of the police. Their initial investigations have led to the recovery of 3 kg of the gold the brothers had purchased in Nashik. The police have so far arrested two more suspects who had been helping Patil in the drug production and distribution. The alleged political links Patil has had are providing ammunition to both camps in Maharashtra as charges and counter-charges are flying thick and fast. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has indicated that several skeletons are going to tumble out of the proverbial cupboard very soon. The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has posed several questions to him about Patil and his activities.

Maharashtra’s Drug Racket Case Becomes Murkier, Uddhav Thackeray’s Name Dragged In

The multi-crore drugs racket that originated in Nashik in north Maharashtra is becoming murkier by the day as now the name of former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has been dragged into the controversy. Nashik’s guardian minister Dada Bhuse has alleged that the kingpin of the scandal, Lalit Patil was admitted into the then Shiv Sena by Thackeray. Bhuse’ allegation comes a couple of days after Sena (Uddhav) leader Sushma Andhare levelled serious charges against him and another minister Shambhuraje Desai. While Bhuse has hit back orally, Desai has sent a legal action notice to Andhare, giving indications that it is going to be a long-drawn battle. According to Bhuse, Patil’s entry into Sena happened around the time Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut was liaison in-charge for north Maharashtra. He was talking with the media after Raut led a protest march in Nashik against the drug menace. Bhuse warned that those receiving regular hafta from Patil will soon be exposed. Why was Raut camping in Nashik every month, what was happening in the Express Inn, he demanded to know. In his counter-attack, Raut maintained that such a huge racket could not continue for so long unless there was political patronage to the perpetrators. He has demanded Bhuse’s resignation on moral grounds. The matter will get more traction as one accomplice after another of Patil is caught in the police net.
Sharad pawar_007

Pawar’s Palestine Remark Evokes Strong Reactions From Senior BJP Leaders

NCP founder Sharad Pawar’s assertion that India has always supported the cause of Palestine has become a matter of state politics. Addressing his party workers, Pawar had remarked that Israel was an outsider that had encroached on Palestine’s land. Union minister Piyush Goyal, BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have castigated Pawar while reminding him about the Mumbai 26/11 attacks and asked him to condemn terrorism in all forms, outright. Goyal said in a post that Pawar’s remark was “disturbing” and “preposterous”. He said it was a pity that India’s former defence minister had such a “casual view on issues relating to terror”. “Pawar was a part of the government that shed tears on the Batla House encounter and slept while there were terror attacks on Indian soil. This rotten mindset has to stop,” Goyal has quipped. Fadnavis said India has consistently opposed terrorism and urged Pawar not to indulge in such politics for the sake of votes. Tawde has wondered if there was anything else besides vote politics in Pawar’s public statement. However, Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut has questioned the BJP’s locus standi to criticize others. He said Maharashtra had become a den of criminals. As the home minister of the state, it would be in order for Fadnavis to talk about this deterioration rather than on world subjects. 

Drug Kingpin Lalit Patil Threatens To Blurt Out All Details, Two Maharashtra Ministers Face Charges

Notorious drug kingpin Lalit Patil’s threat to blurt out all the details about his flight from a Pune hospital and the subsequent arrest in Chennai have created sensation since Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leader Shusma Andhare has levelled serious allegations against two Maharashtra ministers, Dada Bhuse and Shambhuraje Desai. As both had walked out of the parent Sena following Eknath Shinde, the charges have assumed gravity since Patil was reportedly enjoying patronage from political, police and hospital quarters. Patil’s escape from police custody from the state-run Sassoon Hospital had hit the headlines last week and the state government had to appoint an inquiry committee to unravel the scandal. After Patil was brought to Pune, he was remanded to police custody. While being taken in a police van, he told a TV channel that he had not fled to Chennai, he was taken there. “I will spill out everything,” he was saying when he was whisked away by the police team. Both ministers have declared that they are ready to face any probe. Desai said he would quit politics if even the slightest evidence of his involvement in the matter was found. Bhuse said he was ready for any investigation, including a narco test. Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has indicated that those vocal at present criticising others will shut up after the truth is out.
uddhav eknath pawar

Dussehra 2023 Will Mark The Cacophony Of Several Political Bugles In Maharashtra

Veteran leader Sharad Pawar, former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his successor Eknath Shinde as well as embittered BJP leader Pankaja Munde are scheduled to address public rallies on 24 October on the occasion of Dussehra, which is considered the ‘Seemollanghan’ (crossing the frontier) moment in India. As the Lok Sabha and then the state assembly election are slated to take place in 2024, these rallies will prove to be a watershed development in Maharashtra politics. While the Shiv Sena has been holding Dussehra rallies for decades, Pawar will be addressing a Dussehra rally for the first time in his political career of over half a century. The rally to be held in Pune will be keenly watched as the second city of the state is a stronghold of Ajit Pawar, who has left his uncle’s side. After that sensational event, how Pawar outlines his future moves will determine the course of many political decisions in the state. In Mumbai, both Sena factions will have their separate rallies. While Uddhav will address his followers from the centrally located Shivaji Park, the traditional Sena venue, the man who displaced him, Eknath Shinde, will hold his rally at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, which has witnessed many landmark events during the freedom struggle. Pankaja will exhale much fury but not expected to precipitate decision.
Ajit pawar_Meera B

Former Pune Top Cop Book Alleges Ajit Pawar’s Interference In Land Deal

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is once again haunted by a serious charge of alleged corruption, this time levelled by a top woman IPS officer. Though Pawar has refuted the charge, he will have to answer several tricky questions as the potential beneficiary concerned is a prominent developer. The disclosure in then Pune commissioner of police Meera Borwankar book concerns a three-acre land parcel belonging to the police department. It is adjacent to Yerawada Central Jail in Pune. In her soon to be released autobiographical account, ‘Madam Commissioner,’ Borwankar has dealt in detail with the purported transaction which Ajit had directed her and other officials to conclude in favour of Shahid Balwa, promoter of DB Realty, an influential group. Borwankar said the reason the land parcel could be saved was since then home minister RR Patil had endorsed her opposition to the land transfer after she explained that the land could be utilized for various police establishments as it was situated in a prime locality. The book is full of disclosures about many sensational criminal cases in Maharashtra and with which Borwankar was directly involved as an investigating officer. After a close associate of Ajit threatened her with legal action, she said she would be ready to face it. This will be the second time Ajit will have to survive such a serious charge. A decade ago, he had resigned as Dy chief minister after grave allegations were levelled against him regarding the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

Wealth Amassed By Former MLA Shocks ED, Holds Rs 386 Crore Assets

The Enforcement Directorate sleuths have been confounded by the wealth amassed by a former MLA of a non-descript political party from a backward district of Maharashtra in an ongoing investigation. In the past, ED had confiscated property and assets worth Rs 234 crore from Vivekanand Shankar Patil, an MLA belonging to the fringe Peasants and Workers Party (PWP). Another seizure of property and assets worth Rs 152 crore has taken the total of the haul to Rs 386 crore, so far. Patil has been under the scanner in connection with a massive fraud in the Karnala Urban Cooperative Bank based at Pen in Raigad district. An MLA for a number of years, Patil was chairman of the bank whose depositors have been knocking on various official doors for a refund of their deposits.   The alleged fraud involves around Rs 550 crore, mostly deposited by small account holders, many of whom had kept their life savings in the bank. Mumbai police had initiated the action against Patil and others in 2019 and the matter was taken by ED. It has been suspected that the fraud amount has been routed and rerouted through 67 bogus bank accounts. ED’s investigations have reported established a link between the Karnala Charitable Trust and the Karnala Sports Academy. Both bodies have been under Patil’s control. The money has been deposited in their loan accounts, it is learnt. Patil was arrested by ED on 15 June 2021. At present, he is cooling heels in judicial custody. The bank has had over 50,000 depositors.
Eknath shinde_002

There Was A Plot To Kill Eknath Shinde, Alleges His Confidant

There was a plan to eliminate the present Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, who could survive only because he decided to walk out of the united Shiv Sena, one of his confidants has alleged. The charge has been refuted by the supporters of then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Buldhana MLA Sanjay Gaikwad, who followed Shinde out of the Sena last year, said he was making this statement with utmost responsibility. An indirect endorsement of the serious charge has been made by cabinet minister Shambhuraje Desai, who also left the Sena along with Shinde. According to Gaikwad, the threat to Shinde’s life emanated from the Naxalites when he was guardian minister of the tribal Gadchiroli district. It was recommended in view of the perception that Shinde should be provided with Z-Plus security. A file was prepared following this and sent to Uddhav for his signature as it was the CM’s prerogative to sanction the cover. Desai, who was a minister of state for home under Uddhav, said he repeatedly tried to follow up the matter but never heard from the CM office. Gaikwad did not name Uddhav or any individual but said a telephone call had been received from Matoshri for holding up the file when a meeting was underway at Desai’s residence to discuss the matter. Gaikwad said the plan was to engineer Shinde’s murder by making him vulnerable to the Naxals. 

Raj Thackeray’s MNS Intensifies Agitation Against Toll Plazas

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray’s challenge to Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis over the latter’s statement regarding the road toll tax in the state has culminated into many MNS workers storming toll plazas in several areas, damaging some. Thackeray said that Fadnavis had declared that there was no toll tax in the state for small cars. “Despite this, the toll levy is recovered everywhere. What is the truth,” he asked the government to explain. Following this, irate MNS activists reached different toll nakas and started allowing the passing of cars without paying the levy. The police soon intervened to restore normalcy. Later, the office of Fadnavis explained in a statement that a dozen toll nakas had been discontinued with effect from 31 May 2015.  Similarly, toll for certain categories of vehicles had been abolished from 53 toll nakas from the same date. The issue of toll tax for using certain roads, highways and expressways has been hanging fire for a long time. Successive regimes have announced their intention to do away with the toll but legal bindings prevent them from actually implementing the assurance. As the ruling coalition and various Opposition parties are presently engaged in political activities, the MNS agitation has received sudden mileage. Raj has declared that the next step would be to burn down the toll plazas unless corrective action is taken.
Shiv sena_Dean toilet

Maharashtra Medicos Condemn MP Who Forced Hospital Dean To Clean Toilet

Hingoli’s Member of Parliament Hemant Patil has been condemned by the medical fraternity after his compulsion to the Nanded hospital dean to clean toilets in the premises. Belonging to the Shiv Sena faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde, the MP had rushed to Nanded two days ago where 24 deaths were reported in 24 hours. While the toll went on mounting, including some infant lives, Patil stormed the government hospital along with his supporters and demanded explanation from the dean Dr Shyamrao Wakode for the tragedy. Not satisfied by the response, Patil forced the dean to accompany him to visit various sections of the hospital. When he saw a filthy toilet, Patil made Wakode to clean it. Even while there is a wave of anger against the MP, the state government has filed a case against the dean and another doctor of the hospital for culpable homicide under IPC Section 304.  Meanwhile, a FIR has been lodged against Patil under the SC & ST Atrocity Prevention Act. Doctors and medical staff in several government hospitals have condemned Patil for his behaviour and demanded stringent action against him. Shaken by the tragedy, the government has set up a six-member inquiry committee to investigate various charges, including the allegation that there was a shortage of essential medicines in the hospital. Maharashtra CM has declared that none will be spared if found guilty.

Crowd Funding Helps Pankaja Munde Raise Rs 11 Crore To Pay GST Arrears

BJP leader Pankaja Munde’s supporters have collected over Rs 11 crore through crowd funding in response to a GST notice for Rs 19 crore arrears against Vaidyanath Cooperative Sugar Mill controlled by her. They have declared that the entire amount would be raised within a few days so that she will be presented with the purse of the fund on the occasion of Dussehra in a public function. Daughter of BJP giant Gopinath Munde, she was a cabinet minister in the last BJP government headed by Devendra Fadnavis. Always eager to indicate her willingness to be the chief minister someday, Pankaja was sidelined in the state after she lost the 2019 assembly election to her cousin Dhananjay Munde, from the family stronghold Parali in Beed district in Marathwada region. Time and again indirectly suggesting that her defeat was engineered from within the BJP, she has been touring Marathwada in a bid to mobilise support for her. The GST notice has provided her with a tool to hit out at her unnamed foes, in the party and outside. Her future had become precarious since Dhananjay is now in the Shinde-Fadnavis cabinet, following his leader Ajit Pawar. In the midst of these developments, Pankaja has received the GST notice which seems godsend as it has enabled her to rouse her supporters from various parts of Maharashtra.
Shankarrao hospital

24 Deaths In 24 Hours: Tragedy At A Public Hospital Jolts Maharashtra Govt

A series of deaths one after another at a government hospital in Nanded has jolted the Maharashtra government as it has happened in a span of just two months. The authorities have reported 24 deaths within 24 hours at the Shankarrao Chavan Hospital and Medical College in Nanded. Shockingly, half of them were newly-born infants. Chief minister Eknath Shinde has announced a thorough investigation of the tragedy and strict action against those responsible. The incidents underscore apathy of the hospital machinery and the government’s failure to supply essential medicines on time to its establishments. Only a few weeks ago, a woman delivered at the gates of a government hospital at Kalyan since she was not admitted in the hospital. Prior to that, 17 patients breathed their last the same night at Thane’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital. An enquiry committee’s report has found none guilty for the mishap, according to Mantralaya officials. A couple of years ago, 10 infants were charred to death at Bhandara’s district government hospital when the equipment caught fire. A serious lapse in essential medical supplies by the Haffkine Institute of the state government to its various hospitals owing to budgetary and administrative complications has resulted in such unfortunate situations, it is reported. Expectedly, political allegations have started hurling thick and fast with demands for the resignation of the health minister Tanaji Sawant.
Eknath Uddhav

Sena Vs Sena: Which Faction Will Hold Dussehra Rally At Shivaji Park This Year?

The next bout of clash between the two Shiv Sena factions is expected to intensify next week over each side’s claim for the Shivaji Park ground reservation for the traditional Dussehra rally, to be held on October 24. The sprawling ground in the heart of Mumbai has had a symbiotic association with the Sena since Balasaheb Thackeray had announced the formation of the militant organisation from this venue in 1966. The Sena headquarters, Shiv Sena Bhavan, is just outside the ground. Last year, too, there was a tussle between the factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and chief minister Eknath Shinde for the ground reservation and the matter had reached the high court. The verdict came in favour of Thackeray and the Shinde faction held its Dussehra rally at BKC grounds in Bandra (East). As a precaution this time, both factions have submitted their applications for the ground reservation at the civic G-North municipal ward.  As the application received first is accorded priority and the ground is reserved in its name, suspense has been created about the timeline of the submission of the two applications. Thackeray’s activist Mahesh Sawant and Shinde’s supporter MLA, Sada Sarwankar, are the two applicants. However, civic officials have declared that the matter will be examined on Tuesday since Mumbai is under a 5-day holiday till Monday owing to Ganesh Immersion, Eid and Gandhi Jayanti.
Ajit Pawar_008

Ajit Pawar Taunted By BJP Activist, Gossip Resurfaces

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is still not acceptable to some BJP workers and leaders, who take potshots at him and his faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The latest salvo has been fired by Mumbai-based BJP activist Mohit Kamboj against the deputy CM after one of Ajit’s followers urged Lord Ganesh to make his leader the state chief minister. This clip at the feet of Lalbaugcha Raja became viral and reactions began pouring in. One of them became a sensation as it was posted by Kamboj, who tweeted, “To become the CM, 145 MLAs are needed, not 45.” The reference was to Ajit Pawar’s presumed strength in the state assembly. While the matter of the Ajit faction recognition is still before the Election Commission, its leader Praful Patel has repeatedly claimed that the majority of the MLAs who were elected in 2019 are behind Ajit and not with his uncle Sharad Pawar, the NCP founder. Time and again, gossip surfaces that the BJP is bent upon clipping Ajit’s wings and will not permit him to aim for the top post in the state. On the other hand, Ajit has started holding meetings and touring the state extensively. His detractors claim that he is outshining chief minister Eknath Shinde, whose regime is dependent upon the BJP’s backing. Kamboj has not reacted after the sensation he has created.

Self Goal: Maharashtra BJP Chief Invites Media Ire, Party Embarrassed

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has once again put his foot in his mouth by exhorting party functionaries to ‘look after’ local media so that nothing adverse for the party is highlighted. After an expected furore, the former energy minister has tried to cover up by claiming that all he meant was to tell the party workers to understand the media, behave with it respectfully. However, nobody is buying his argument. Bawankule had told a party meeting in Ahmednagar on Sunday, “Take the local press people to the nearby dhaba. Serve tea to them. You must have realized what I mean by tea. In case some assistance is required, the local MP will be available to help.” The print and electronic media are infuriated with him. The BJP has launched the ‘Maha Vijay 2024’ campaign for the coming Lok Sabha election. Under the plan, one Super Warrior has been appointed to take care of four election booths. The campaign in Maharashtra has started from Ahmednagar South LS constituency. It is presently represented by Dr Sujay Vikhe, a scion of the powerful sugar baron family. The meeting was not open for the media but Bawankule’s priceless advice somehow found its way to the social media and provided ammunition to the opposition. The BJP leaders in the state were so embarrassed that it asked Bawankule to use the standard political excuse by saying that his statement has been misinterpreted.

Madhuri Dixit, Ujjwal Nikam Likely BJP Faces For Lok Sabha Election

The BJP is preparing to give a surprise gift in some Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. Thespian Madhuri Dixit, ace prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, former police boss Pratap Dighavkar and RSS strategist Sunil Deodhar are among the names reportedly discussed between Union home minister Amit Shah and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as likely BJP candidates for the coming Lok Sabha election. During their 30-minute tete a tete in Mumbai, the two leaders have discussed some urgent political matters, including the fate of the present Shinde-Fadnavis government in the state. Madhuri and BJP leaders enjoy a close association. Several top saffron functionaries have been meeting Madhuri over the years. Her name was considered for a Mumbai LS seat while Nikam, who successfully appeared for the government in the Mumbai attacks cases, was assessed for Jalgaon in north Maharashtra. A retired top cop, Dighavkar had consented to join the BJP on the condition that he would be fielded by the party from Dhule, adjacent to Jalgaon. Deodhar had structured a winning formula for the Tripura assembly election. In all probability, he will be tested for Pune. Shah was busy performing pooja at various famous Ganesh mandals during his Mumbai visit. After spending time with governor Ramesh Bais at Raj Bhavan and with chief minister Eknath Shinde at his official residence Varsha, he made it a point to bow before Lalbaugcha Raja.
Praful pawar

Pawar Reprimands Praful Patel, Their Picture Together Fuels Guess Work

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Rajya Sabha member Praful Patel has been reportedly reprimanded by his former mentor Sharad Pawar for uploading their picture together in Parliament two days ago. Patel had put the picture on his official X(Twitter earlier) account. The X post became viral as the two NCP factions are battling for recognition before the Election Commission (EC). Now that the EC has scheduled a hearing in the matter on October 6, speculations have intensified. Moreover, as both factions have denied that there is a rift in the party, guess work is in full swing. During the Rajya Sabha special session between 18 and 21 September, Pawar and Patel met in the precinct. The moment was captured on camera and has been used by Patel. It is not clear what response came from Patel when he was asked about the uploading by his former boss. Patel has maintained silence after the political sensation fuelled by him amidst reports that the NCP’s breakaway group’s leader Ajit Pawar has hardened his stand against his uncle, who introduced the nephew in politics way back in 1991. Also, the fact that Patel had been Pawar’s emissary for the past two decades has deepened the suspense about the NCP founder’s future moves. Although Pawar has been active in the I.N.D.I.A front deliberations, his followers are waiting with baited breath for the fallout of the EC’s verdict.
Sachin begging box

Begging Bowl For Sachin Tendulkar, Amaravati MLAs Novel Protest

Firebrand independent MLA Bachchu Kadu from Maharashtra has organized a novel agitation against cricket icon and Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar for propagating an online gaming company through a TV advertisement. The politician’s organization, Prahar Sanghatana, has kept a collection box called “Bheek Peti” (begging bowl) outside its Ganesh Mandal and declared that the collection will be sent to Sachin in Mumbai. Kadu has repeatedly condemned Sachin’s appearance in a commercial that advertises the online gaming application. He had staged an agitation outside Sachin’s Bandra residence, too. According to Kadu, online gaming is a dangerous addiction, which has resulted in many suicides. It is not proper for Sachin, being a Bharat Ratna, to do such advertisements, the Amaravati MLA said. “We are proud of Sachin as a great cricketer but can’t accept such crass commercialization,” Kadu has emphasized. He declared that he would demand a ban on such commercials and meet the Maharashtra chief minister in this regard soon. Kadu’s agitation has received some support across the state. In Solapur district, he was invited to perform the Ganesh pooja at Akolekati village. After the ceremony, Kadu dropped a hundred rupee note in the bowl and asked his followers to install such bowls at their pandals, too. Kadu said the trend to play online games was increasing with alarming speed and the main victims were the young boys and girls from predominantly poor and lower middle class families.

BJP MLC Remarks Against Pawar Family Angers NCP Ranks

Controversial BJP legislator Gopichand Padalkar’s disparaging statement against the Pawar family has suddenly created another potential explosive situation in Maharashtra, within days of the conclusion of the Maratha caste’s demand for reservations and the resultant agitation. The current fuse for the political outburst is Padalkar’s unsavoury language against Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit over the Dhangar (cattle shepherds) caste’s demand for reservations and Ajit’s assurance that he would try his best to secure it. Ridiculing this promise, Padalkar described the Pawar clan as wily wolves in an interview that went viral within minutes. Padalkar was once very close to Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar. He then changed his stance and joined the BJP, which has made him a member of the legislative council. An arch opponent of the Pawar family, he had contested one election unsuccessfully from Baramati, the fiefdom of Pawars for decades. Padalkar had also said that his caste did not have faith in Ajit nor did it respect him.  Taking strong exception to Padalkar’s hurtful words, Ajit’s opponents have warned the present ruling alliance that they will not care about their presence in the government if Padalkar was not reined in immediately by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “We will assault Padalkar in public, even if he apologizes. That day will come soon,” some of them have threatened.
NCP flag

Pawar Vs Pawar: Whose Time It Will Be Anyway

Although NCP founder Sharad Pawar has once again adopted a dual stand over the ‘split’ in his party, his nephew Ajit has reiterated that the majority of the party workers and MLAs are with his faction, which is the ‘real’ NCP. Pawar has maintained before the Election Commission (EC) that there is no split in his party and that some of his party colleagues have adopted ‘a different stand.’ Disregarding this argument, EC has decided to begin a hearing over the rival claims from 6 October.  Ajit, now Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister, has claimed that 41 of the 52 NCP MLAs are behind him. On the other hand, Pawar told his supporters that henceforth, his faction will operate as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi for future elections. His submission before the EC and his assurance to his followers have regenerated confusion about his exact posture. The EC, meanwhile, has informed both that it had concluded that there were two rival groups after considering the matter. The split came to the fore on 30 June when Ajit sought the EC’s recognition of his faction as the real NCP on 3 July, he was sworn in as DCM in the Shinde-Fadnavis government. Since the matter requires a ‘substantive determination’ under the rules, the EC has directed both sides to be present for a personal hearing on October 6.
Modi Mohammed

Saudi Crown Prince Visit Rings Alarm Bells In Konkan, Refinery Project To Revive

Even as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the conclusion of the G-20 Summit, alarm bells have started ringing in Maharashtra’s Konkan region. The reason was the concern over the logical outcome, which signalled the resumption of the plan to set up a mega oil refinery project on the ‘west coast of India’ which in other words could mean the verdant Konkan region. Though the first steps for developing the $ 50 bn refinery project there were taken in 2015, it has been stalled for mainly political considerations. The obstacle was the then Shiv Sena’s changing stance despite its presence in the government. Now that the major fraction of the Sena is sharing power with the BJP in the state, the double-engine push is expected to accelerate the project once more. Wise after the previous experience, the Centre has agreed to set up a joint task force to help in identifying and channelisng the $ 100 bn investments. Both countries have also decided to establish a monitoring committee for tracking the progress of the project. Due to this development, villagers at the Barsu sight in Ratnagiri district have started voicing their opposition to the project. However, no major political party has as yet come forward to support them. 
Shinde fadnavis pawar

Maharashtra Government To Outsource Staff Recruitment, Protests Likely

The Maharashtra government has decided to expand the scope of its scheme to recruit employees at various levels through private agencies to supply skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers. The decision has come in the midst of an agitation that has been going on for the Maratha caste’s demand for reservations. The government had awarded a similar tender to two agencies way back in 2014 for three years. The decision has the backdrop of the swelling expenditure on government establishment by outsourcing as much staff as possible so as to divert funding toward developmental purposes. Presently, the burden of staff salaries and pension payments is approaching alarming levels. Hence, now nine agencies have been authorised to supply a wide range of workers. They will include personnel like project coordinator, engineer, teacher, content writer, clerk, librarian, telephone operator, driver, carpenter, gardener, lift operator, sweeper and peon, to name a few. The government will have to face stiff opposition owing to this decision as no reservation will be provided for in the outsourcing. Moreover, some of the nine firms selected for the purpose are ‘outsiders,’ another reason for a potential protest. The government has stated that salary for each post has been determined and the agency concerned will be permitted 15% commission for each such recruitment. The decision will apply to all the establishments under the state government as well as to local self-governments and its corporations.
Manoj Jarange

Maratha Reservation Demand Stir Roasts Its Caste Leaders

The agitation for effecting reservations for the powerful Marathi caste in Maharashtra has started roasting senior leaders belonging to the caste. The latest target was former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, who had to face angry protests at Dharmabad in his home district, Nanded. Over the past few days, the agitation has been spreading to different towns in the state. On the other hand, the state government is witnessing another powerful group, of the OBCs, which has warned it that the existing reservation quota of the OBCs must not be affected in any manner in a bid to accommodate the Maratha caste’s demand for reservations. Several rounds of talks have taken place between the government and the protests led by Manoj Jarange in a Jalna district village. The protestors have been livid since the very leaders who enjoyed power for the past several decades but could not grant the reservations are now trying to grab the headlines by expressing their support for the Maratha demand at this juncture. Meanwhile, former home minister Anil Deshmukh, a NCP leader, has expressed opposition to the suggestion that the Maratha demand for the reservations should be adjusted from the OBC reservations, prevalent for a long time. His stance is said to be reciprocatory of the BJP’s OBC Cell’s similar demand. The reservation for the Marathas, as and when granted in whatever form, is bound to be challenged in court, many organisations have declared.  
fadnavis pawar

Charges Against Fadnavis At Pawar’s Instigation, Says BJP Leader

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh’s grave allegations against present deputy chief minister and home minister Devendra Fadnavis in connection with the lathi charge against a pro-Maratha reservation morcha at Jalna were made at the instigation of NCP president Sharad Pawar, said a close relative of Deshmukh. “If a pin drops in my house, Anil knows about it and if a phone rings in his house, I come to know about it,” BJP’s OBC Cell’s Ashish Deshmukh has said. Anil’s allegation that the Maratha demonstrators at Jalna were beaten up by the police under the orders of Fadnavis has led to a war of words. Castigating him, Ashish said Anil Deshmukh must apologise for this allegation. Recalling various serious incidents during Anil Deshmukh’s stormy tenure as home minister of the state, Ashish said the NCP under Pawar was now a moth-eaten crumbling structure. To save it, Pawar and Anil were politicising the Maratha reservation issue. When Anil Deshmukh was in power, he did not know anything about the explosives planted near Mukesh Ambani’s house nor was he aware of the permission granted to the Wadhawan brothers during their custody period. “How does Anil now know about the orders issued by Fadnavis if he was unaware of the extortion from dance bar owners in Mumbai by notorious police officer Sachin Vaze then ,” Ashish has questioned.   
Jeetega bharat

Only Lip Service To Women’s Representation In I.N.D.I.A And Congress Lists

Although every political party unerringly pays lip service to representation for women and social justice for the minorities, all of them behave differently whenever real politics is concerned. For instance, they have been demanding 33% share for women in parliament and state legislatures, but they do not grant the same proportion when forming their own committees. The latest example of political doublespeak are the coordination committee of the opposition I.N.D.I.A front and the newly recast central election committee of the Congress party. While the I.N.D.I.A committee’s lone woman member is Mehbooba Mufti, the Congress election committee has only two women members, Ambika Soni and Rajya Sabha member Amee Yajnik, besides Sonia Gandhi, of course. This has hardly come as a surprise since it has remained the policy of all political parties to give weightage to the ‘ability to win’ over all other qualities of a candidate. The other highlight of both the lists is the scant representation given to the minorities. The 14-member coordination committee has three Muslim leaders – Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Jawed Ali Khan (SP). The Congress list has three minority members among the 16 names announced. They are Salman Khurshid, Mohammed Jawed and KC George. Similarly, age is another factor that has not impacted the membership of the coordination committee. The case in point is its senior most member, Sharad Pawar, was born in 1940.
Mumbai INDIA

I.N.D.I.A Meet’s Menu Adds Spice To Political Sparring

The world famous Mumbai Vada Paav, Maharashtra’s iconic Puran Poli, popular savoury Baakar Vadee or plebeian staple Zunaka Bhakar were among the more prominent dishes served during the two-day I.N.D.I.A front meet underway at a 5-Star hotel in Mumbai. The entire menu, vegetarian though, has attracted attention since it became a matter of sparring between the state Congress, organisers of the meet, and the ruling BJP-led alliance. The social media army aligned with the BJP immediately published a rate list of the various items like a water bottle which was quoted as costing over Rs 200 and like NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s confidant Jayant Patil’s demand that a drought situation should be declared in Maharashtra in view of the absence of rains in large parts of the state became a tool for the trollers. They questioned the expenditure for the I.N.D.I.A meet at the luxury hotel in which each room rent runs in five figures and a cup of tea or coffee in hundreds. “If the Opposition is so much concerned about the privations suffered by farmers, it should explain the royal treatment meted out to the various leaders who have arrived in Mumbai for the I.N.D.I.A meet,” some remarked. State Congress president Nana Patole said that the entire menu was vegetarian and traditional Maharashtrian dishes were served. The give and take became spicy for a short while though ended without leaving any bitter after taste.

Uddhav, Akhilesh, Kejriwal In PM Race, Indicate Their Wish Through Women Leaders

The multi-party I.N.D.I.A front is already besieged with the issue of electing its contender for the post of Prime Minister as former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, too, has indirectly expressed his willingness to enter the fray. Former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal are already believed to be in the race. The I.N.D.I.A front has started on a good footing as leaders of most prominent Opposition parties have arrived in Mumbai for the two-day meet. Though the previous two meetings, held in Patna and Bengaluru, could not decide on any of the major policy issues, the Mumbai meet will attempt to arrive at a consensus on the front’s logo, agenda and collective leadership. SP’s Juhi Singh has announced the name of Akhilesh for premiership. According to her, Akhilesh has established his credentials to hold the top post. AAP’s Priyanka Kakkar has praised Kejriwal’s performance as Delhi CM and has cited his various decisions like holding the price line in the national capital by subsidizing water, power, education and free bus travels for women. She claimed that he will be able to do it for the entire country, too, given an opportunity. Uddhav’s candidature has been declared by party MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, recalling his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. As all three names are forwarded by women leaders, the outcome will be awaited eagerly.

Chhagan Bhujbal Attacks Pawar, Nephew Ajit Silent

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is facing one attack after another from his long-time confidants, notably made in presence of his nephew Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. Chhagan Bhujbal, the first Shiv Sena rebel is at the centre of the latest furore which has erupted due to his allegations that Pawar made him resign as then home minister owing to the multi-crore Telgi stamp paper scam on 23 December 2003. Bhujbal reminded Pawar at a Beed rally that he himself had arrested Telgi, and had asked the police to invoke MCOCA against him. But based on some allegations levelled against him, “you asked me to resign,” he lamented. On Bhujbal’s charges, Ajit told the media that though he was on the dais, he couldn’t hear fully what Bhujbal had said. “I have read some newspaper reports about it but not yet spoken with him,” Ajit said. Bhujbal had walked out of the Sena in 1991, dealing it a severe blow to join the Congress party. When Pawar quit Congress to set up NCP in 1999 Bhujbal joined him. It may be recalled that a few days back, Pawar’s one-time secretary Dilip Walse Patil had remarked that Pawar inspite of being the tallest leader of Maharashtra had never been able to form a government in the state on his own. This observation, too, was endorsed by Ajit.

Pawar Backtracks Within Hours, Contradicts Supriya About Ajit’s Leadership

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has retracted his remarks about his nephew and breakaway group leader Ajit Pawar within hours, contradicting his daughter Supriya Sule as well in the same breath. Pawar’s public statement that “Ajit is a leader of our party” was flashed by social media within moments after it was made. Nearly four hours later, Pawar said he had never made any such claim. Moreover, Supriya’s assertion that Ajit was the party leader was also rubbished by Pawar. To top it all, Pawar flatly refused that there was a split in the party. He said certain members of the party had taken a different stand but it could not be termed as a split. Pawar’s diametrically opposite statements have created a question mark for the proposed I.N.D.I.A meet to be held in Mumbai next week. Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leader Sanjay Raut maintained that Ajit’s desertion of the NCP was very much a split. The Ajit group had appointed Sunil Tatkare as its own Maharashtra president while Pawar had continued Jayant Patil in that post. If there are two presidents of the same unit, is it not a split, Raut posed a counter question. Ajit Pawar was quizzed by the media in Pune about his uncle’s and cousin’s confusing statements. He merely said, “No comment” and walked away, deepening the suspense over the possibility of bridging the NCP’s split.

Onion Peppers Maharashtra Politics, Verbal Battles Ensue Between Pawar And Shinde

The Maharashtra onion crisis has triggered a fierce verbal battle in which top leader Sharad Pawar is the object of attacks by chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Ajit Pawar among others. The Centre has decided to purchase onion through NAFED at Rs 2,410 per quintal after the ruling alliance in Maharashtra pressed it for early decision in view of the glut in onion market and the resultant price crash. Opposition parties exploited the situation to corner the state government, which sent distress signals to Union home minister Amit Shah. Thereafter, Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who hails from Mumbai, has declared that the Centre will purchase two lakh tonnes of onion to start with and could buy more, if needed. Pawar has criticized the decision, saying that Rs 4,000 per quintal must be sanctioned by the Centre. He has been harpooned by Shinde, who recalled that Pawar had never taken such decisions in crisis situations during his 10 years as Union agriculture minister. Shinde has also reminded Pawar that the Centre has announced a Rs 10,000-crore package for the sugar industry, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative. Shinde’s observations articulated in presence of Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar were reciprocated by the Deputy CM, who has asserted that the state would always stand by the farmers, did not name his uncle but left no doubt about the object of his spirited support of Shinde.
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Yuva Sena candidates after filing nominations

Mumbai University Senate Poll Postponed, Aaditya And Amit Thackeray Condemn Decision

The Maharashtra government’s abrupt decision to postpone Mumbai University’s senate election from the graduate constituency has brought arch enemies Aaditya and Amit Thackeray on the same page, at least on one issue. The two cousins, who were bracing for a pitched battle between their youth wings to control the senate, have condemned the decision. Both have alleged that the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance has put the election on hold ‘fearing the BJP’s rout.’ On the other hand, BJP leader Ashish Shelar has defended the decision, saying that the electoral rolls were defective as many names had been missing. A university official announced the postponement ‘till further orders’ without citing any reason. At present, the senate is controlled by Aaditya as all its 10 seats were won five years ago by the Yuva Sena. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray’s son Amit was to fight his first political battle by fielding the candidates on behalf of his Vidyarthi Yuva Sena. As a trial of strength, the election would have been a game changer in Mumbai and surrounding areas. Amidst this slugfest, Aaditya’s close confidant Praveen Patkar declared his decision to join the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde. Yuva Sena’s past victories are credited to Patkar’s untiring efforts

Will MVA Split As Congress Eyes Supriya Sule’s Baramati Constituency?

The Congress party in Maharashtra has started sending feelers that it could consider contesting the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency election with various possibilities as NCP chief Sharad Pawar — one of the architects of I.N.D.I.A — actions have left many questions unanswered. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, considered close to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, has been indicating that a tacit understanding between Pawar and the BJP has been reached. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, too, has urged Pawar to make his position clear amidst various intriguing developments. Although Pawar has reiterated that he will not go with the BJP and asked his followers not to follow ‘misleading’ media reports, there are few who take him at face value. To open a front against Pawar in case such an eventuality occurs, his detractors are making preparations to challenge his daughter Supriya Sule in Baramati LS constituency which has remained steadfastly loyal to the Pawar family. His nephew Ajit Pawar also had been elected to the Lok Sabha from Baramati for a truncated term three decades ago. Supriya, who had adopted a low profile after the NCP split in early July, has become active again. Last week, she spiritedly attacked the Modi government while speaking on the non-confidence motion against the Modi government. Her presence to welcome controversial former minister Nawab Malik after his release on bail resulted in several raised eyebrows. She has sent signals that she will be more visible henceforth. Therefore, the Congress party’s move will be watched keenly.


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.