Latest Maharashtra Breaking News & Headlines

Maharashtra: 164 new Covid cases, 247 recoveries in Vidarbha
Times of India | 2 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:45 pm
Times of India
2 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:45 pm

NAGPUR: The 11 districts in the Vidarbha region together reported 164 new cases while 247 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. No death was reported due to Covid in the last 24 hours. More than 6,000 tests were conducted in the region during the last 24 hours. With 164 of them positive, the test positivity is less than 3.5% in the region. Now, less than 1,300 patients are under treatment. Out of them, 600-odd are in Nagpur district alone. Out of the 1,300 under treatment patients, less than 100 are hospitalized. In Nagpur, 43 patients are hospitalized. Only 12 are hospitalized in Akola. Total 1,773 tests were conducted in Nagpur district. Out of them, 1277 were conducted in the city and 496 in rural part. Out of them, 41 tested positive in the city and 40 in rural. Total 164 patients recovered in a day. Now, 609 patients are under treatment in the district. Out of them, 43 are in the hospitals. City now has 365 patients under treatment and rural has more than 250. The change in statistics indicate that cases are coming down in city and increasing slowly in district.

Maharashtra: 164 new Covid cases, 247 recoveries in Vidarbha
  • 51 Covid deaths in Delhi this week, highest in 6 months
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Delhi recorded 51 deaths from Covid-19 in the week ending Sunday, the highest weekly toll from the pandemic in the capital in six months, even as nationwide cases fell for the third week running. Deaths from the virus registered a slight rise in the country as 307 fatalities were recorded during the week (August 8-14), with several states yet to report their numbers for Sunday. The total may cross 310, which would be the highest weekly Covid toll in the country since the first week of March, when 626 deaths were reported, as per TOI’s Covid database. Last week, 295 deaths were recorded. Delhi weekly cases rise by 18%, highest in IndiaThe last time Delhi had reported higher Covid fatalities was in February 7-13, when the toll was 89. All figures are of fresh deaths, excluding fatalities from earlier months reconciled with the data during this period. India was likely to log around 1.05 lakh fresh Covid cases in the week (August 8-14), down nearly 16% from the previous week’s total of over 1.25 lakh. While new cases were declining in most states, Delhi, Haryana, UP, and Rajasthan, along with Mizoram, continued to record a rise. Cases rose by over 18% in Delhi, which registered 15,068 new infections during the week, the highest in the country. In Haryana, cases surged by 12% during the week while UP’s rise could not be quantified because the state’s data for Sunday wasn't immediately available. Rajasthan posted the highest rise in cases this week, with numbers up 43% to 4,260. The rise was a modest 7% in Mizoram. Meanwhile, Maharashtra showed signs of another possible increase in cases, with numbers rising towards the end of the week. The state reported 12,608 cases during August 8-14, up 1% from the previous week’s tally. In Goa, too, weekly numbers were up 3%. Apart from Delhi, deaths rose in Karnataka, Punjab and Gujarat.

  • Mumbai: More than 800 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, most in 24 hours in past 44 days
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The state and the city continued to witness a spike in new Covid-19 cases. On Sunday, the city saw its highest single-day detection in 44 days, with 882 fresh cases. It also increased the city's daily positivity rate to nearly 10%. The state registered 2,082 cases, a marginal rise from Saturday's 2,040 cases. About 65% of new cases in the state were reported from Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Besides Mumbai, which is adding to the lion's share of cases daily, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Raigad and Panvel detected fresh cases. Active cases in the state crossed the 12,000-mark on Sunday, while for Mumbai, it breached the 5,000-mark after nearly 40 days. The city saw nearly 60 (57) admissions on Sunday, the second day in a row of registering more than 50 hospitalisations due to Covid. Over 312 people are currently in hospitals due to Covid. The state registered three deaths on Sunday, including one from Mumbai and two from Pune circle. TNN

  • India records 14,092 Covid-19 infections; active cases decline
  • The Indian Express

    India added 14,092 new coronavirus infections taking the virus tally to 4,42,53,464, while the active cases dipped to 1,16,861, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.The death toll climbed to 5,27,037 with 41 fatalities which includes 12 deaths reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated.The active cases comprise 0.26 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.54 per cent, the ministry said.A decrease of 2,403 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 3.69 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 4.57 per cent, according to the ministry.The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,36,09,566, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent.According to the ministry, 207.99 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive.India’s Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19 that year. It crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4, 2021, three crore on June 23, 2021. It crossed the four-crore mark on January 25 this year.The 29 new fatalities include nine from Delhi, five from Karnataka, three each from Gujarat and West Bengal, two from Uttar Pradesh, one each from Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

  • Maharashtra sees 2,040 Covid-19 cases, one death, 2,048 recoveries
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Saturday reported 2,040 Covid-19 cases and one death, which took the tally in the state to 80,70,258 and the toll to 1,48,168, an official said. Maharashtra had reported 1,975 cases and five deaths on Friday, he added. Mumbai Circle led with 1,222 new cases, followed by Pune Circle (312), Nagpur Circle (184), Nashik Circle (138), Kolhapur Circle (72), Latur Circle (61), Akola Circle (32)and Aurangabad Circle (18), he said. The lone fatality occurred in Navi Mumbai, which is part of the Mumbai Circle, the official said. The recovery count increased by 2,048 in the last 24 hours and reached 79,10,243, leaving the state with 11,847 active cases, he said. Mumbai accounted for 4,624 active cases, followed by 2,118 on Pune and 1,401 in Thane, as per state health department data. So far, 8,36,13,679 samples have been examined for coronavirus in Maharashtra, including 34,186 in the last 24 hours, the data revealed. The recovery rate was 98.02 per cent, the fatality rate was 1.83 per cent and the positivity rate stood at 5.96 per cent, as per data. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 8070258; fresh cases 2040; death toll 148168; recoveries 79,10,243; active cases 11847; total tests 8,36,13,679.

  • Mumbai Covid count at 42-day high
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Covid-19 cases hit a 42-day high on Friday as the city saw a second spike this week. Mumbai reported 871 cases of Covid-19, the highest single-day count after July 1 (978 cases). On Wednesday, the city had recorded 852 cases, the highest in weeks. Till then, cases averaged around 380. Active cases of coronavirus infection have increased by 125% since the beginning of August. The rise in cases also pushed up the daily positivity rate to nearly 10% (9.4%) on Friday. Around 40 people were hospitalised across city Covid hospitals, but ICU occupancy continued to be low. As of Friday, a little over 1% (317) of Covid beds were occupied. Currently, 13 patients are on ventilator. Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the Covid task force, said that till hospital admissions are not witnessing a notable rise, there should not be cause for concern. He attributed the rise in cases to the highest testing numbers. "There is a rise in H1N1 influenza. In addition, a lot of people are coming with flu-like symptoms, which has pushed up the number of Covid tests being carried out," he said. A civic official said that of the 871 cases found, up to 95% were asymptomatic. The sole person to die was a 58-year-old with a history of liver disease. On Friday, Maharashtra registered a marginal rise in cases. The state recorded 1,975 fresh cases.

Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: ‘We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea, of course, fiscal management has to happen’
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 02:45 pm

Jasmine Shah has been with the Delhi government for the better part of a decade. Shah is the face behind initiatives such as the new EV policy, last mile connectivity, outcome budget, and most recently the Rozgaar initiative that the Delhi government has rolled out. The conversation will be about Delhi and what the future holds.The full conversation:Q. For starters, could we get a brief introduction of what the DDC does? Shah: DDC was set up in 2015 immediately after the AAP government first came to power. The idea was that we felt there is a need for a think tank that can bridge the gap between government and stakeholders outside the government, who can and must contribute to the process of policy-making. With the genesis of the AAP, with people who were in activism, people like me who were in think tanks in the policy world, but you always feel like there is a huge gap or a barrier in accessing government, sharing ideas contributing to policy making; you don’t get appointments for months.So, the idea was to create a commission that can bridge that gap and knowing that this is a national capital our governance issues are not trivial. Unless we are able to access the best of ideas from India, from around the world; be it from academia, be it from civil society, be it from industries, be it from cities like New York, London, and Singapore—how are we going to solve ideas in a sustainable manner? So, that was the idea of creating a body that can bridge this gap and be the policy think tank of the government.Q. We’ll start with something we identify you most with, which is the EV push in the Capital. How successful do you think it’s been so far?Shah: I would say first that when we started out putting the framework for the EV policy the targets that we laid down were something that people didn’t even believe, it seemed very theoretical and at that stage and I’ll tell you why, you know, the EV policy came exactly two years back in August of 2020. The year before that in 2019-20, EVs constituted 1.2 per cent of the newly registered vehicles in Delhi. We said we will take it to 25 per cent in three years. The average in India was less than 1.2 per cent. We believed it was possible, but it was still very ambitious. As of date, we are at around 11 per cent. This is thrice as compared to any other state or even if you look at large cities, no large city has crossed 5-6 per cent. Delhi is at 11 per cent.So, I would say there is a lot to cheer about as far as how Delhi has moved along in the EV journey. We compare ourselves with other cities like London. London has an adoption rate of 11 per cent, Paris has that. Norway as a country has around 30-35 per cent. I think if there is one city in India that can aspire to join the Global League in terms of sustainable transport, it is Delhi.Having said that, obviously, there’s a lot that as a government and as a city that we must do. There is a huge focus this year on charging infrastructure and because it’s infrastructure, because we have the issue of multiplicity of agencies in Delhi, it’s always something that takes time. But the government is cognizant of that. We are planning moves like making it mandatory for fleets to transition a part of their vehicles to EVs. No city in India is even thinking or talking about that. I think, on the whole, the glass half full I would say.Q. Has there been any pushback from private players when it comes to transitioning to EV? When it comes to charging infrastructure, there are concerns about whether you can put them out in open spaces where there is a fear of theft. Have you faced these challenges?Shah: The first question is on the private players. Fortunately, there hasn’t been (pushback). There is always a little bit of concern when you start thinking about mandates. I would say though that the way the Delhi government has approached it is you first provide the facilitating environment, rather than bringing mandates. If we had started talking about that in 2020, there would have been a huge pushback because neither the incentives mechanism was in place, nor was the charging infrastructure. Today, Delhi is far ahead of all the cities in terms of active charging points and we are still planning for more.But the last two years have given a lot of confidence to the players in the industry that the government is in fact thinking ahead of what even we ask individually for our businesses. DDC is at the centre of the bi-annual Delhi electric vehicle forum. It is a forum of around 200 stakeholders—the industry players, fleet business, all those who have some skin in the game if Delhi were to transition to 25 per cent electric. Every six months, we sit together and talk about what are the challenges they are facing. What is it that the government can do? So, I think this kind of collaborative effort and this kind of access that most people today have to the Delhi government as far as EV is concerned, has done a lot in terms of giving confidence that we will be heard.Everybody is concerned about their children, everybody is concerned about pollution and they know that vehicles do constitute a major chunk of pollution. It’s not going to be completely organic. I think the time for waiting for organic change is over. We need to push ourselves, but obviously in a coordinated fashion. Government should do everything that it ought to do, but the private players can’t sit back and just watch. That’s the message that we’re giving.Coming to charging infrastructure, we have already set up more than 2,300 public charging points in Delhi today. No major city in India would have crossed the thousand figure and we’re just getting started. The CM just opened 7 charging stations in DTC Depot. There’s another big tender that is at the implementation stage, where we are setting up 100 charging stations by and large in Metro stations, which will cumulatively add about 900 charging points. All of this is going to happen by the end of the year.Regardless, we are also encouraging private businesses, mall owners, hospitals, hotels to set up charging points. The government gives them a single window facility, net of subsidy, which has also taken off in a very big manner in the last one year. We have installed close to 500 charging points through that.So, there’s a host of efforts and I think it’s taken us two years to get here because literally everything that we are doing in Delhi is being done for the first time in India and I think that needs to be understood. We never had a public-private partnership model of setting up charging points. If you look at how charging stations are being set up all over the country or even before the Delhi EV policy, it was given to a PSU to set it but no care was taken to ensure they are maintained or functional or accessible. We innovated and created a PPP model which has today resulted in the lowest charging rate per unit—Rs 2 a unit.Nowhere in the world can you access EV charging at this rate, a single window facility where any business or RWA can go to the DISCOM website, apply and get everything facilitated net of subsidy and an EV metre installed within 7 to 10 days, nowhere in the world does this exist. We are now talking to other cities and other states who are interested in learning from Delhi’s experience. We are very optimistic about where we are headed.Q. Which states have reached out?Shah: Punjab for sure. We’re talking to Maharashtra. Haryana has just come up with its EV policy. Hopefully, more will come.Q. You don’t mind collaborating with the opposition?Shah: We collaborate regularly. I think it’s an unfair remark because if you look at the number of states that have sent official delegations to Delhi government schools, it would be 15 to 20. People come and look at how our school transformation has happened, how the happiness curriculum works. Now, how the business plaster programme works.We have had international delegations come and visit. We know as a country we have to be far ahead than we are in terms of educational outcomes, health care outcomes. Ten states are setting up or have already inaugurated the equivalent of Mohalla Clinics. They may be called by different names with exactly the same model. It is not new. Mid-day meal scheme started in Tamil Nadu, and the rest of the country adopted it. Today, there is a hesitation to say that we are learning from so and so state.Q. Which segment has seen the biggest adoption of EVs?Shah: Two-wheelers and three-wheelers are the primary targets of the EV policy and that’s when the growth is. First, if you look at the entire pollution profile, the majority of the vehicular pollution is contributed by two and three-wheelers. Trucks and buses are separate. EV transition can happen when there is almost price parity or you are approaching price parity. Incentives cannot change the market dynamics beyond a point.In four-wheelers, we have not reached that point. You will see a certain class of society that can afford a private (electric) four-wheeler. But that’s not the case for two and three-wheelers. Because the battery sizes are small and there are other economies of scale, we’re almost achieving price parity. And if you put together the fact that the running cost of EV is probably one-fifth of that of petrol or diesel vehicle, you would be stupid today to buy a petrol two-wheeler. You get fantastic models; the upfront cost is marginally high if not less because of the subsidies that you get. You will recover everything within the first few months and run it for 10 years.In terms of what has happened in Delhi, traditionally because we had the e-rickshaw subsidy always, the entire growth of EVs was in e-rickshaws. Two years ago, electric was e-rickshaw. Guess what is the largest category today? Two-wheelers. Today, they constitute the single largest category. We are registering 25per cent growth month on month in EV vehicles. Dynamics work out; you don’t need to run them for more than 80-100 km a day. With cars, it’s a problem. Two-wheelers are leading, e-rickshaws are still there. The commercial three-wheeler fleet is beginning to take off, hopefully, very soon you will count electric auto rickshaws as well.We have rolled out the scheme but part of the reason that we have not had the numbers we wanted is because manufacturers were not ready to supply electric autos. When we said we will put out 4,100 electric autos, the cumulative market in India was probably 1,000 electric autos in a year. Now the market is warming up to the fact that Delhi is willing to take the lead and I am very sure almost all categories of two-wheelers and three-wheelers, including cycles, which is a segment we are very optimistic about, will take off in a big way in the coming one or two years.Q. E-cycles are very expensive. How do you see that market growing? Shah: You are right; probably for recreational cycling it will not make a lot of sense to people. But our primary target is actually the delivery boys. For them, it’s about getting a two-wheeler which is Rs 60-70-80 thousand. With a Rs 15-20 thousand net of subsidy, you get an electric cycle. It gives you a 40 km range. The good thing is that if you run out of battery, you can pedal for 5 km. It really brings down the economics. It is a very new idea in India.Globally, cycles are taking off, especially for last-mile deliveries. We have started a segment called cargo cycles which can actually carry up to 40 kg of weight in their specially designed carriers. We provide double subsidies there. For normal cycles, we give Rs 7,500, here it is Rs 15,000.Q. What is the stance of big car manufacturers towards EV?Shah: There is a reason why Tesla is leading the world in EVs and not the Toyotas and General Motors. EV is a market where innovative models, and new-age automobile start-ups have actually taken the lead. By and large, the traditional auto leaders have been reluctant. They wanted to see how the market takes off rather than make the market. There is a grudging acknowledgement that this is going to be the future. If you talk to them, they say we have big plans for EVs.Q. The CM took a very direct approach to the Delhi government’s stance on ‘revdi‘ politics. I don’t think social welfare has ever been so polarised in the last few decades. How do you weigh in on this?Shah: We welcome the fact that today as a nation we are debating social welfare models. I think for long we have seen the national debate being occupied by all issues other than how to improve the condition of our people. In 75 years of Independence, have we achieved the kind of development that we intended to and therefore, where are we lacking? I see this discussion in that larger frame. Probably the message set in motion by the PM and then followed by BJP leaders is because it’s not that seeing the success of the AAP’s development model or the welfare mode; we do believe in investing a maximum percentage of our budget in education and health and it’s an article of faith for us because that’s core to the idea of how we see this country developing. At the same time, we do realise that there are huge inequalities in this nation.Large chunks of our population need social protection and social protection cannot be that I have given rice, wheat in PDS. AAP has offered a very distinct definition of what the social welfare model can be. It is a tragedy that when the chief minister of Gujarat buys a private jet for Rs 180 crore, nobody calls that into question. When Aam Aadmi Party decided that we will make bus rides free for women, and there is a reason behind that since when we know about the outcomes and we know the gender gap that exists in the nation today and what mobility does for a host of outcomes such as education employment, the immediate reaction is that we have given freebies. There is no question asked when the Rajasthan CM buys a private jet of Rs 200 crore. Our expense on free bus rides is around Rs 200-250 crore but it is impacting lakhs of women. Look at the kind of incentives given to the business side. We had a major corporate tax cut in 2019 just before Covid. The cumulative loss to the exchequer was about Rs 1.5 lakh crore. We know the NPA write-offs both at the time of UPA and NDA. It is close to 11 lakh crore.The question the CM asked was how do we grasp this as a nation? Whose money is this? Is there some policy to stop writing it off in the future? It can happen only if you are actually going to penalize the people. By attaching a few properties of a Mallya or Choksi here and there, you are not actually giving them any punishment. They have all managed to evade the country. How many of these people have been put behind bars? That is a simple question. You will not be able to think about even one person. I think it is a welcome opportunity to question the kind of narratives that are being put out, to acknowledge the fact that there is a wholesale write-off that is happening on public money.But the moment you are using this public money to make education free, and this we should know that education is not free in many states; Haryana charges a fee, Karnataka charges a fee. If you ask children to pay a fee, no one will say anything but if you provide free education, if you’re providing free quality health care questions will be asked. Knowing the status of unemployment, we feel unemployment allowance is a good idea.Of course, fiscal management has to happen and AAP is committed to doing that but raising a question saying this is a freebie. The CM spoke about how many developed countries are already doing this. It is a great debate to have and people need to ask what they are getting as tax-paying citizens of this country. And which model has a better chance of improving their lives?Q. What is the Delhi government’s subsidy bill as of now?Shah: The subsidy bill for electricity is Rs 3,200 crore, around Rs 600 crore is water, and around Rs 250 crore for buses. Then we have a budgetary expenditure on health and education. Rs 4,000 crore out of a budget of Rs 75,000 crore. We are talking about 5-6per cent.We did a household survey asking people which of these five major benefits are you actually benefiting from and what does it mean in terms of per month contribution to your saving. The number was Rs 2,500 per family per month. There is also an opportunity cost they are saving on. Because we have improved the quality of education, many want their children to be in government schools rather than private schools. If you add all of that, it is a substantial benefit.We are asked where this money comes from. What allows us to put out this welfare model is that corruption is a no-tolerance issue for us. The biggest source of corruption is in tax collection. When AAP came to power in 2015, the budget was Rs 30,000 crore. In the first five years, we doubled it to Rs 60,000 crore. If you look at the previous 5 years in the last term of the Congress, the budget increased from around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 crores. For us, it is the BJP acknowledging that they will not be able to match welfare politics. In the history of any BJP or Congress, no government has spent 25per cent of its budget on education. So what do you do, you denounce that welfare model rather than saying we will match or better it.Q. How is the freebie discussion playing out in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh which go into polls soon? How do you counter the political narrative that free services are harmful to the nation?Shah: The advantage that BJP has in a state like Gujarat is that they are the incumbent there and access to the WhatsApp networks through which they can sync in the narratives is unparalleled. They will be the first ones to reach out with any message but AAP is there for good. I think the people of Gujarat are realising now that AAP is no fly-by-night party. We are committed to the state, to addressing the issues of the people of the state and I think you can perhaps fool people for a short duration. Has Gujarat moved out of poverty? Look at the malnutrition, at the educational outcomes of Gujarat, they are actually very poor. So, when the AAP goes and actually says we will fix your government schools, clinics, hospitals, you’ll be amazed at how people listen to it with rapt attention.You look at some of the sabhas of the AAP, 500-1,000 people in small villages are gathering to hear about it and that’s also because there’s been a political vacuum. We are firmly committed to what we stand for. We’re not going to change what we feel the Delhi model and the Kejriwal model can do for people. It’s about giving people the confidence that you will stay and if I vote for you, you will actually deliver.Q. Even before allegations of corruption were made against the Delhi government for its excise policy, things had started to go wrong with private players pulling out of their contracts. What went wrong?Shah: Let me first tell you what the excise policy was trying to solve. We have to acknowledge that even in a place like Delhi, the sale of illicit liquor was a huge business. There was a mafia. There were many people benefiting from it. Just in terms of numbers, ever since we came to power in 2015, 3,977 liquor shops have been shut down by the Delhi government. Lakhs of liquor bottles are being caught every year. Why does it happen?The first reason was that in practicality, there was always partial prohibition in Delhi. Half of Delhi—around 134 wards—had either no shops or one shop. So, that’s what promoted unscrupulous means. The duty structures were also regressive because the retail licences were given at meagre sums of Rs 8 lakh but the government would then take excise duty on the sale of liquor and therefore, you would indulge in the sale of non-duty paid liquor.The third thing was the government was dominating the sales of liquor. Around 60per cent of the shops were with the government and the experience was not the best. Brand pushing was the name of the game. You would never get the brand you wanted. We realised that despite our crackdown, a new policy was needed. The policy first and foremost brought in the equitable distribution of liquor shops as a core principle. It was the foundation of the policy that if you want to cut down on illegal sales, you have to ensure equitable distribution of shops without increasing the overall number. Then, the government exited the business and private players came in.We also designed the policy in a manner that upfront annual fees are where the government would collect revenues rather than on sales. There is no incentive to cheat. The revenue collection was historic. The estimate of the government was that from Rs 6,000 crore, we would collect Rs 9,500 crore—a 50per cent jump in one year. Forty-eight hours before the policy was rolled out—the policy was thoroughly discussed and vetted by the former L-G—everything was in place, shops were about to open, but the foundation of the policy was attacked. The LG office acting on a suo-motu basis said that in non-conforming areas of Delhi shops will not be allowed without approval from DDA and MCD. And these agencies would not allow any activity since these were non-conforming areas. Why do you think unauthorised colonies didn’t have water and sewer lines? Because they thought it was not their remit to work in these areas. Now, even earlier on non-conforming areas did have liquor shops, the LG would approve those cases one by one. Even that provision was not made. So, we actually overnight became more regressive than even the earlier regressive excise regime. So that ensured that the target of how many liquor shops open got curtailed. We are also familiar with the kind of political opposition that played out.Everywhere where a shop was opening, the BJP tried to play the narrative that too many shops were opening. In Delhi on a per capita basis, even with 849 shops in the liquor policy, Delhi has one shop for 23,000 people. Noida has one shop for 1,400 people, Bangalore has one shop for 1,700 people and I think Gurgaon has one for every 4,000 persons. In Noida and Gurgaon BJP feels free to do this but the moment it is in Delhi, they apply a different lens. No private player likes to exist in a situation where there is a constant threat of local authorities. Everybody bid high but the moment a lot of these factors combined, people started pulling out and I think today it is a prime example of how politics has managed to fail a very progressive reform which probably should have been a model for the rest of the country.Q. Why did it take the government eight months to voice these concerns? Shah: The moment many of these things happened, including the L-G’s decision, formal letters and communications were sent out. The effort of the government is always to ensure that we can convince, we can take the stakeholders along and no wrong is done. We are not that kind of a government where in the first instance we will make it adversarial or start pointing fingers. We always believed and hoped that things would settle down. That we will be able to argue and reason out with all the stakeholders, and conversations do happen between all tiers of the government.What happened unfortunately is that BJP, we do know that BJP and the Central Government, have decided to make this a political tussle. By ordering a CBI enquiry, the intent was very clear that we are not going to sit with you and figure out how this new regime, which is trying to solve for the ill of the older policy, is going to be implemented and be successful. In fact, when the policy was sent to the LG at that time, many suggestions came and we tried to accommodate them to the extent possible. Our effort has always been to see how to move forward rather than back. There are trumped-up charges and it is now sub-judice, so the courts will decide and all these factors will then be considered.Q. You showcased your governance model in Delhi in education and health, but Delhi is not a full-fledged state. Now, you have got a shot in Punjab. It has been 5 months and everything will be tested there. Finances are in disarray, law and order is not in great condition. What is going wrong there? You have also not fulfilled a few manifesto promises, such as Rs 1,000 allowance for women. Do you think you need to prove your governance model in Punjab to be able to send out a signal to the country that you have something to offer?Shah: Let me disagree with your assessment. It is your assessment that things haven’t been off to a good start. We believe that the last few months have actually laid the perfect foundation for what we hope to achieve in Punjab. A little bit of context here is important. You know, it has taken 50 years of misrule. Punjab is a state in deep debt— Rs 3 lakh crore of debt. That has not happened over the last 5-10 years, it has happened over decades together. We can’t expect that to be erased in 3-5 months.The issue of drugs—again it has not happened overnight. It happened over decades and we are seeing almost one or two generations have been lost because of that. You don’t see youth in the villages of Punjab. They have all moved out. There are a lot of other issues that have been festering for a long time. I think today for the first time if you ask the people of Punjab—the perception from Delhi may be different—but if you talk to the people of Punjab there is real hope, there is genuine hope that people do have from the AAP and that’s because they know that these people are not typical politicians, they are not here to make empty promises.I’ll tell you about some of our important wins. Within the first month of coming to power, we announced an anti-corruption action line. A few thousand calls are received every day. Tell me about any state’s anti-corruption helpline, where a few thousand calls are received. The fact that people are calling, giving evidence shows that they have faith that the government would act on it. There are a lot of anecdotes, in taluk offices, for example, the ‘retail bribes or retail corruption’ has really gone down. Corruption is endemic in Indian governance systems, but a big start has been made on that front.On the matter of drugs, in July 2,500 people were arrested on drug-related charges. The police for the first time know that there will be no political interference if we are going to catch somebody red handed and that is the faith with which we are making sure that the Punjab Police, which is one of the most capable police forces, can actually act on issues that have been festering for decades. We have announced the promise of free electricity. It is not a small promise. While we have made our promises, manifestos are for 5 years, not three months. We call these guarantees and stand by everything we have said. We’ll make sure that each of these guarantees is fulfilled. Some could happen in the first year, some in the second year.How it will happen is decided by a host of factors, one of them being the fiscal window available. This is the first year. If you look at the trend of tax collection, the last three months actually have been very good. We have some fiscal space to start introducing new schemes and policies. We have announced Mohalla clinics and are launching them on August 15. A huge revamp is planned for schools. We have announced MSP on Moong and the cultivation under Moong dal has gone up by 75per cent because of that announcement. We announced to move ahead on progressive farming practices.One of the big things that threaten Punjab’s ecology is the water table because of the paddy crop. We have incentivised the direct seeding of rice technology which consumes around 30 per cent to 40 per cent less water. Rather than just evangelising about this technology, we said that every farmer will get Rs 1,500 per acre. These are very long-term, well-meaning reforms. It is good that people are expecting things to happen; it keeps us on our toes.But if you talk to the people of Punjab and from what we hear, people are very optimistic about what the next five years hold. I feel with the kind of politics that Punjab was in the grip of the last many decades, this kind of politics where we’re not beholden to any interests, things are bound to happen in the coming few years.Q. AAP says that BJP has police control in Delhi, which they use to show their power. You have police under you in Punjab and there have been instances where the Punjab police have come to question or arrest leaders like Kumar Vishwas, Tajinder Bagga and Alka Lamba. Are you going in the same direction as the BJP?Shah: If somebody has violated a law in India, the treatment can’t be different depending on which party you are from. We have seen all kinds of corruption scams happening and BJP leaders being at the centre of them. How many of them have ED or CBI paid a visit to? Kumar Vishwas said that the CM of Delhi is out to divide this nation. Under the law, this is libel and invites prosecution.The action has to be as per the law of the land. In the cases you have mentioned, there have been severe violations of law. So far, they have been protected because one government is trying to back this. But the laws of the country should apply equally to everyone.Q. Yours is a party that originated from a movement. The Delhi CM has made several statements, which he later apologised for. In cases where someone may have gone overboard, in a democracy is there a need for immediate police action?Shah: The idea that there is some central war room where it is decided that the police need to be sent somewhere (is wrong). Punjab police and government decide on the cases. There are many other cases as well. These are political so they tend to be discussed more. The laws of the country should apply equally to everyone. If it is incumbent on me as a public figure not to make slanderous statements without any evidence, it should not be that someone from BJP has that right just because the agencies are under their control. It should be known to the people of the country that laws apply equally.Q. A new L-G has come in recently and several issues have arisen between the government and his office. Do you think he is interfering in governance? What is the relationship like?Shah: I think the people of Delhi are seeing what is unfolding. We are very clear that we are out here to deliver on the mandate that the people of Delhi have given us. If allegations are made against us, we are going to defend ourselves and we’re going to put the facts out. We have faith in the judiciary of this country. So far, 150 cases have been registered against AAP MLAs and ministers. There have been CBI raids, ED raids. Not one of them has stood the scrutiny of courts. The L-G of Delhi is a constitutional authority. Everybody needs to see what role they play in the larger governance system. At the end of the day, it’s the people of Delhi who need to realise what is happening with the mandate that they have given to the Aam Aadmi Party.Q. Why is it taking so long for the revised excise policy to come through? The revised policy was passed in the Cabinet in May but it was not sent to the L-G. Shah: I’m not privy to the timelines. We are going back to the previous regime because an environment was created for private players to pull out. As of date, we have only 468 operational liquor shops and many others said they want to pull out because the environment is not right. With every exit, the government loses revenue. We are very committed to the principles of the new excise policy but we cannot have a situation where we have scarcity for any interim duration.So with all these things, CBI enquiry etc, it may take a longer time to draft a new policy that still retains the principles of what we are trying to achieve. As a lesser evil, we decided to go back to the older regime where the government runs shops in a time-bound manner. This is only for 6 months and hopefully, all the stakeholders can come around with maturity and agree to what the new excise regime looks like.Q. Why did the government come out with the option to opt out of the power subsidy in Delhi? Shah: Many BJP leaders said that the subsidy is not needed and this will destroy the state. So we decided to give the option to all those who are against the subsidy to opt out. We created this option for bus rides for women also. It is not like you can’t go and buy a ticket. Please go and buy it if you want to. In our country targeting mechanisms are very difficult. Identifying who is poor, who is not is tough and therefore we use proxies. We said 200 units of power, why? We could have gone to the socio-economic survey that would itself have led to corruption on the basis of who was categorised as what. If your conscience does not permit you to take a subsidy, don’t take it. This option should have been there earlier.Q. You have formed a government in two states and you are fairly strong in Goa as well. How long will it take for AAP to become a strong opposition in the Lok Sabha? Shah: We believe that as a political party, we cannot decide this. We can show people a ray of hope. We can build an organisation in states and be prepared. We can make people believe that we mean well and we make good on our promises. At the end of the day, the people of this country will have to decide. Will the Aam Aadmi Party emerge as a sizeable party in the Lok Sabha in 2024 or 2029 or whenever? Probably in 2014 or even in 2019, we were not in a position to say that we are there as a viable option across the length and breadth of the country.Today, it is not so. As you yourself mentioned apart from Punjab and Delhi, we have been recognised as a state party in Goa. We have a strong organisation in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. We will perhaps contest in Karnataka and we will be there in Assam. The AAP today exists as a viable option for a large part of the country. People have to decide if they are happy with politics as usual or do they want to try this particular option? And this is what democracy is all about. We trust the people. We know what we have achieved in places like Delhi and Punjab and hopefully, people will support the AAP model.Q. Let us talk about your most recent initiative—the Rozgaar budget. Employment is something that everyone at some point grapples with. What did you have in mind when you tweaked the budget with this in focus? What are the aspirations you have?Shah: Emerging out of the Covid pandemic, the priority that the CM put out was very clear that unemployment and the distress created because of unemployment is the single largest issue facing the nation today. It’s the same in Delhi. We have seen a large number of livelihoods go out because of Covid. Some industries have been shaped permanently because of that. There have been efforts in the past, but I think it was time to fundamentally think about the economic trajectory of Delhi. We asked ourselves, where are the next 1 million to 2 million jobs in Delhi going to come from. It was a huge exercise under the leadership of the deputy CM and the CM, where we spoke to almost all sectors of the economy. It was a four to six-month exercise. Markets of Delhi, the manufacturing sector of Delhi, and the rural outskirts of Delhi.Out of all these conversations is where the plan for the Rozgaar budget, which was announced in this year’s budget, was laid out and it was a very precise plan. There are around 13-14 initiatives. Each has been mapped out as per its potential to create jobs in a five-year horizon. Some of the highlights are the revival of the markets of Delhi. Delhi is a service-based economy and we know that people come to Delhi to visit some of the traditional markets like Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar Market, Chandni Chowk. Because of physical development challenges or many other issues, they say the crowds have been going down. Chandni Chowk was a good template, but we said that probably all the major markets of Delhi need to be redeveloped to a level that can sustain the growth for the next 20-30 years.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxThere is a very ambitious redevelopment that the government has initiated. We will be having a national design competition bringing the best ideas to revive the markets of Delhi. Delhi will also have a shopping festival of a scale that has not been seen in the country before. It is a very ambitious idea. People talk about the shopping festivals in Singapore and Dubai. It’ll take a few years to get there. But Delhi has all the ingredients to pull off an international shopping festival.We are talking to some new economies of Delhi like cloud kitchens and food trucks. These are things that have been happening but in a very ad hoc manner. When we called 30-40 of the major cloud kitchen operators of Delhi for a consultation at DDC, they said they had never met a government official who wanted to understand how the industry works. They listed a litany of issues on licenses. You will see a very forward-looking, progressive cloud kitchen industry. We want Delhi to be a hub for the entire NCR. Come here and set up industrial-scale cloud kitchens and create jobs. In the electronics manufacturing space, we thought over time that maybe manufacturing has no role to play in a city like Delhi but if you look at Taiwan and Singapore, electronics is the largest industry in the world and is actually a clean industry. You don’t pollute a lot and therefore we have identified an 81-acre parcel of land in Baprola as the electronics hub. We are very gung-ho and optimistic.Q. Do you have a target in terms of the number of jobs you want to create? Shah: The entire planning was around 20 lakh jobs in the next five years. We are in the first three or four months of having announced the initiative. A lot of it is preparation for putting these plans out. I would say as soon as by the end of this year, you will start seeing results.

Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: ‘We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea, of course, fiscal management has to happen’
Vinayak Mete accident case: Raigad police detain tempo driver
Times of India | 5 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 01:49 pm
Times of India
5 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 01:49 pm

NAVI MUMBAI: The Raigad local crime branch team on Monday detained the tempo driver involved in the fatal accident of former MLC Vinayak Mete. Mete's SUV and the tempo had collided near Bhatan tunnel in Rasayani on the Mumbai carriageway way of Mumbai-Pune expressway on Sunday around 5.15am. Read AlsoEx-MLC Vinayak Mete dies in car mishap on Mumbai-Pune expresswayFormer member of legislative council Vinayak Mete passed away after his SUV met with an accident near Bhatan tunnel in Panvel taluka on the Mumbai-Pune expressway on Sunday at around 5.30am. He was travelling with his driver in a Toyota Fortuner SUV from Pune towards Mumbai.Dayanand Gawade, police inspector of Raigad local crime branch, said, "The detained tempo driver has been identified as Umesh Yadav, who has not been arrested yet and FIR is not yet registered. The exact cause behind the accident is yet to be ascertained after considering the Mumbai forensic science laboratory's inspection report and the postmortem report. Prima facie, a motor vehicle accident case was registered at Rasayani police station." He said, "The concerned tempo was identified from the CCTV camera surveillance at Bhatan tunnel, as the fatal mishap had occurred about 500 metres before the Bhatan tunnel and around 5.30 am, the tempo was spotted crossing the tunnel towards Mumbai. The tempo's registration number led us to the tempo owner in Palghar. With the help of Kasa police in Palghar, we traced the tempo owner, who provided us the tempo driver's name as Umesh Yadav and also mobile number and that he had gone to Vapi with the tempo. We contacted on Yadav's mobile and he recieved the call. When asked whether his tempo and a Ford Endeavour SUV had crashed on the Mumbai-Pune expressway near Bhatan tunnel, he confirmed it. But, he claimed that the SUV had crashed into his tempo from behind. Hence, he halted and checked if his tempo was damaged and then he travelled ahead. Yadav's mobile tower location was traced to Vapi, Gujarat. Our crime branch team reached Vapi and detained Yadav on Monday early morning. He has been handed over to Rasayani police station for further probe."

Vinayak Mete accident case: Raigad police detain tempo driver
  • Vinayak Mete was a voice for Marathas that parties couldn’t ignore
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Netas across the political spectrum in Maharashtra mourned the death of Vinayak Mete, founder and president of the Shiv Sangram Party. Mete was close to late R R Patil of the NCP and was first elected to the legislative council on an NCP ticket. In 2014, he contested the assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Beed district but lost to NCP's Jaydutt Kshirsagar. He then went on to form his own party. He was nominated to the legislative council by the BJP in 2016, and was elected unopposed. Mete had taken up the issue of reservations for the educationally and economically backward Marathas in the state. He became an important voice for Maratha reservation which other parties found difficult to ignore. During his tenure as chief minister, BJP's Devendra Fadnavis made him the chairman of the committee set up to oversee the construction of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in the Arabian sea. Such was his equation with other political parties that even after the MVA government came to power, he continued as chairman of the committee for sometime and resigned only when the media raised questions. He aided Fadnavis in ensuring the defeat of BJP's Pankaja Munde from the Parli assembly constituency in Beed, said political observers. However, when his term ended in July this year, the BJP did not renominate him to the legislative council and he was upset about it, said political observers. "With the untimely death of Vinayak Mete, I have lost a very close friend. It is a great loss to the society as he had been striving for the welfare of the poor," said NCP chief Sharad Pawar. CM Eknath Shinde said, "It is unfortunate that Vinayak Mete met with a fatal accident on his way for a meeting summoned by me for discussion on the demand for Maratha reservation. Throughout he raised the issue of the families of the youths who lost their lives in the agitation for Maratha reservation."

  • Maratha leader Vinayak Mete dies in Mumbai-Pune expressway accident
  • Times of India

    NAVI MUMBAI: Former member of legislative council and a prominent voice in the Maratha community, Vinayak Mete, 52, passed away after his SUV met with a fatal accident early Sunday morning. The accident took place about 500 metres ahead of the Bhatan tunnel at Rasayani on the Mumbai-Pune expressway about 6 kms from Palaspe traffic Chowkie around 5.15am. Mete was travelling with his bodyguard, constable Ram Dhobale, and driver Eknath Kadam from Beed towards Mumbai for a meeting on Maratha reservation later in the day. Constable Dhobale has sustained serious injuries while Mete's driver Kadam escaped with minor injuries. Kadam claimed none of the passing private vehicles stopped to help them reach the nearest hospital. He informed the bodyguard of BJP leader Pravin Darekar after which the message was conveyed to Raigad police control room and forwarded to IRB ambulance. Ganesh Burukul, police sub-inspector of HSP Palaspe traffic unit, said, "On receiving a wireless message from the police control room, an IRB ambulance immediately rushed to the accident spot and reached within 10 minutes around 5.40am. The ambulance reached MGM hospital in Kamothe at 6.20am, where the doctors declared Mete as brought dead." Dr Kuldeep Salgotra, administrator at MGM hospital, Kamothe, said, "Patient Vinayak Mete, when brought to our hospital's casualty ward at 6.20am, was already dead." Burukul said Mete was seated on the rear seat, while his bodyguard Dhobale was seated beside the driver. "Prima facie, as Mete's SUV has got damaged on the left side, it indicates Mete's driver crashed into an unidentified vehicle ahead either while overtaking from the right side or while the vehicle ahead changed lane," said Burukul. "Ten teams have been formed to investigate various aspects of the mishap. The statements of the injured duo are yet to be recorded," said Ashok Dudhe, superintendent of police, Raigad. "As there is no CCTV camera surveillance at the accident spot, the other vehicle involved is unidentified. Mete's bodyguard had to be extricated from the mangled SUV. Dhobale and Kadam were saved as the airbags opened after the crash. Mete was asleep in the rear seat. Mete's driver claimed it was a goods vehicle, probably a truck," said Burukul. Kailas Dongre, senior police inspector of Rasayani said, "It is being probed as to how Mete's SUV and the unidentified vehicle collided. The forensic teams from Raigad, Mumbai and Thane have done inspection of the damaged SUV. The speedometer was locked just below 60 kmph." The post-mortem of Mete's body was conducted at the Panvel sub-district office and brought to JJ hospital for embalming and then taken to Beed. CM Eknath Shinde, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Darekar and NCP chief Sharad Pawar visited MGM hospital. Shinde said he has ordered an inquiry into the hour-long delay in providing help.

  • Vinayak Mete killed in mishap: CAG report snubbed MSRDC over trauma care centre location
  • The Indian Express

    Amid questions raised over the alleged lack of medical aid provided to Shiv Sangram chief and former MLC Vinayak Mete after his accident on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, which resulted in his death on Sunday, The Indian Express has accessed a Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) inspection report on Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the year 2018-19 which had raised questions over a trauma care centre’s location at Pune side of the road and had even recommended an investigation into the deal to construct it on private land.The centre, aimed to provide medical aid to the injured within the golden hour, was inaugurated by then minister for MSRDC and present Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in September 2019. It is located on the Pune side of the road.“The trauma care centre was constructed without any involvement of experts in the field and therefore, it is not matching with the requirements of a Level-IV trauma care centre,” the report said. The MSRDC had entered into an agreement in 2012 with Woodstock Helicopter Pvt Ltd for leasing the land at Ozarde village, Maval taluk, Pune, for providing the trauma care centre along the expressway, the report has noted.The salient features of the agreement were, the Woodstock would construct Level IV trauma care centre with heliport/helipad in the 5. 5 acre of land in their possession as per the plan and specifications approved by MSRDC in lieu of allowing access from expressway the 9.5 acre land to be acquired and commercially developed by Wood stock. Also, Woodstock would provide ambulance parking bay and free use of helipad for landing and taking off to MSRDC/GoM and accident victims and Woodstock would complete and hand over the project to MSRDC within a period of 24 months from the date of obtaining permissions and Woodstock would apply for permissions within three months from the date of letter of acceptance.The report pointed out that MSRDC issued work order on February 2019 for modification of the building at a cost of Rs 81.21 lakh though Woodstock was liable for construction of the building/facilities which meets the requirement of a Level IV trauma care centre. “The actual beneficiary of the deal is Woodstock, in which they ensured right of way to and permission for commercial exploitation of their huge land parcel acquired/to be acquired with restriction of access to all other land owners in the vicinity, which would not have been possible but for this agreement,” the note said. The report also pointed out that the MSRDC has sufficient land bank along the expressway, which could have been developed for a trauma centre of the required level.“The company may initiate a probe into the deal and find out the reasons for entering into such a non-transparent agreement without due diligence/vetting and responsibility may be fixed for negligence, if any,” it said.

  • Newsmaker: Vinayak Mete, the Maratha quota votary & former Maharashtra MLC killed in road accident
  • The Indian Express

    He was one of the leading Maratha voices demanding reservation for the community and took the initiative to organise Maratha Kranti Morchas across Maharashtra. On Sunday morning, former MLC Vinayak Mete, 59, was on his way to Mumbai to meet Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to discuss issues concerning the community when he died in a road accident on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.Mete was from Rajegaon village in Beed district’s Kej tehsil and belonged to a family that did not have any background in politics. He became a leader of the Maratha Mahasangh and entered the state legislative council for the first time in 1995 after the Mahasangh extended support to the then Shiv Sena-BJP government. He spent a total of five terms in the council.He formed the Maharashtra Lok Vikas Party in 1996-’97 and changed its name to the Shiv Sangram Sanghatana around 1999. Soon afterwards, Mete developed links with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and joined the party, which appointed him its vice president and made him MLC twice. In 2008, Mete was at the centre of a storm after Shiv Sangram workers attacked the house of then Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar over an editorial criticising the plans to build a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea.In 2014, he quit the NCP and backed the BJP. The BJP ensured that the Shiv Sangram Sangathana leader completed his third term as a legislator in the council and made him MLC for the fourth time as well. Mete helped the BJP gain a toehold in the Maratha community.Mete was made the president of the Shivaji memorial. In October 2018, tragedy struck when a boat capsized while ferrying members of the Shiv Sangram Sanghatana and government officials to the site of the memorial under construction. One worker of Mete’s organisation died.Early last year, Mete came out against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s move to accommodate Marathas under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS). He asked the Uddhav Thackeray government to restore Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC), raising apprehensions that once the EWS was enforced Marathas will never make it to the SEBC where benefits are higher in terms of reservation in education and government jobs. After the Supreme Court struck in May 2021 struck down a Maharashtra law granting reservation to the Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state, Mete warned of a statewide protest.Following the Maratha leader’s death, Shinde ordered an inquiry amid allegations that medical aid did not reach him for more than one hour after the accident. Senior politicians, including the chief minister, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Sharad Pawar, and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ajit Pawar, visited the MGM hospital Panvel where Mete was admitted.Maharashtra minister and former state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said Mete’s death was shocking. “He was genuinely following up the issue of Maratha reservation. It is a huge loss for us and the Maratha community,” Patil said.Congress leader and former chairman of a Maharashtra sub-committee on Maratha reservation Ashok Chavan said, “It is unfortunate to lose a leader like Mete. Despite we being in different political parties, Mete and I were almost on the same page over the issue of Maratha reservation in the state.”Sharad Pawar expressed grief over the Maratha leader’s death while Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray issued a statement mourning Mete. The former MLC is survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter.

  • Vinayak Mete, a Maratha leader who worked for community till his last breath
  • The Indian Express

    Shiv Sangram party chief, former MLC and prominent Maratha community leader Vinayak Mete died in a road accident Sunday morning on the Mumbai-Pune expressway near Khalapur toll plaza while on his way to Mumbai. He was 52.Mete, who hails from Rajegaon village in Kej tehsil of Beed district in the Marathwada region, had been a member of the state Legislative Council for five terms though he came from a family without any political background. He was one of the leading voices demanding reservation for the Maratha community and took initiative in organising Maratha kranti morchas across the state. Mete was also made president of the memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to be constructed in the Arabian sea.Mete was heading to Mumbai on Sunday to participate in a meeting called by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to discuss issues related to the Maratha community when he met with the accident.A leader of the Maratha Mahasangh, Mete was sent to the Legislative Council for the first time in 1995 after the Mahasangh extended support to the then Shiv Sena-BJP government. He later formed the Maharashtra Lokvikas Party. Mete then came in close contact with Sharad Pawar and joined his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He became vice-president of the NCP and was made MLC twice. During his third term, he quit the NCP and supported the BJP with his newly formed Shiv Sangram party. The BJP ensured that he completed his third term as MLC and sent him to council for a fourth time as well.

Video Shows Mukesh And Nita Ambani Celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav With Grandson Prithvi | WATCH
India | 6 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 12:03 pm
India
6 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 12:03 pm

Mumbai: India is adorned in the patriotic colours of saffron, white and green as the nations celebrates 75 years of Independence. From political leaders, film makers to common citizens, everyone celebrated Independence Day in their own ways. Similarly, Reliance Industries Chairman, Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita Ambani were seen celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav with their beloved grandson Prithvi.Also Read - Independence Day 2022: Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin Hoists the National Flag at State SecretariatIn this heartfelt video the Ambanis can be seen enjoying the celebrations with their little grandson. In the backdrop several other are also waving the Indian National Flag. Wearing Indian flag brooches on their attire, the Ambanis gleefully indulged in the celebration.#WATCH | Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani along with his wife Nita Ambani and grandson Prithvi Ambani celebrates Independence Day pic.twitter.com/QNC8LmtoHL— ANI (@ANI) August 15, 2022The little one-year-old Prithvi is the son of Akash Ambani and Shloka Mehta who is seen to be reaching out for holding the flag in the video. Ahead of the Independence Day, their grand mansion, Antilia was also lit up in the shades of the tricolour flag.Earlier today, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoisted the flag at Red Fort in Delhi and delivered a powerful speech.  In his speech he stated that it is a historic day for India as it takes a new path, new pledge with renewed strength and urged people to strive for unity.During his long speech today, PM Modi addressed various developments that have unfurled in India. At the onset, greeted the nation and paid tribute to the many freedom fighters, hailed the Naari Shakti of the nation, and spoke about their empowerment. Crediting India as the mother of democracy, he talked about the developments and challenges faced in the last 75 years.

Video Shows Mukesh And Nita Ambani Celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav With Grandson Prithvi | WATCH
Maha CM Shinde Says Govt Committed to Extend Reservation Benefits to OBCs, Marathas
News18 | 7 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 11:56 am
News18
7 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 11:56 am

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said his government’s priority is to work for the common man and it is committed to extending the reservation benefits to the Other Backward Classes, Maratha and Dhangar communities.Speaking on the country’s 76th Independence Day after hoisting the national flag at the state secretariat as the CM for the first time, Shinde said several parts of the state have witnessed floods due to heavy rainfall. We started working from day one and our priority is to work for the common man, farmers, the working class, he said.The government is committed to extending the benefits of reservation to the OBCs, Maratha and Dhangar (shepherd) communities, he added.The CM said 15 lakh hectares of land in 28 districts of the state has been affected due to floods. The assistance to the affected people has been doubled, he said. To find a permanent solution to the floods, we are undertaking a programme of deepening and desilting of rivers in a scientific manner, he said.Read the Latest News and Breaking News here

Maha CM Shinde Says Govt Committed to Extend Reservation Benefits to OBCs, Marathas
  • "Committed To Extend Reservation Benefits To OBCs, Marathas: Eknath Shinde
  • Ndtv

    "The government is committed to extending the benefits of reservation to the OBCs, Maratha," he said.Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said his government's priority is to work for the common man and it is committed to extending the reservation benefits to the Other Backward Classes, Maratha and Dhangar communities.Speaking on the country's 76th Independence Day after hoisting the national flag at the state secretariat as the CM for the first time, Mr Shinde said several parts of the state have witnessed floods due to heavy rainfall.“We started working from day one and our priority is to work for the common man, farmers, the working class,” he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com“The government is committed to extending the benefits of reservation to the OBCs, Maratha and Dhangar (shepherd) communities,” he added. The CM said 15 lakh hectares of land in 28 districts of the state has been affected due to floods. The assistance to the affected people has been doubled, he said.“To find a permanent solution to the floods, we are undertaking a programme of deepening and desilting of rivers in a scientific manner,” he said.

  • Maharashtra government committed to extend reservation benefits to OBCs, Marathas: CM Eknath Shinde
  • The Economic Times

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said his government's priority is to work for the common man and it is committed to extending the reservation benefits to the Other Backward Classes, Maratha and Dhangar communities. Speaking on the country's 76th Independence Day after hoisting the national flag at the state secretariat as the CM for the first time, Shinde said several parts of the state have witnessed floods due to heavy rainfall. "We started working from day one and our priority is to work for the common man, farmers, the working class," he said. "The government is committed to extending the benefits of reservation to the OBCs, Maratha and Dhangar (shepherd) communities," he added. The CM said 15 lakh hectares of land in 28 districts of the state has been affected due to floods. The assistance to the affected people has been doubled, he said. "To find a permanent solution to the floods, we are undertaking a programme of deepening and desilting of rivers in a scientific manner," he said.

Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli celebrate Independence Day at home, Akshay Kumar participates in rally. See photos
The Indian Express | 7 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
7 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 11:45 am

Actor Anushka Sharma and husband, cricketer Virat Kohli, joined a host of Bollywood celebs as they joined the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign on Independence Day 2022. Sharing a selfie with the Tricolour, Anushka wrote, “Celebrating 75 years of our independence. Wishing all the Indians around the world a very #HappyIndependenceDay !”  A post shared by AnushkaSharma1588 (@anushkasharma) Meanwhile, actor Akshay Kumar along with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, participated in a bike rally to celebrate 75 years of independence. Kumar and Phadnavis flagged off the 10 km race and car and bike rally which was held from Marine Drive, Mumbai. According to ANI, 3,500 police personnel participated in the rally of 100 four wheelers and 60 bikes. Mumbai | A 10 km race of 3.5k police personnel & rally of 100 four-wheelers and 60 bikes held from Marine Drive today to mark 75 years of IndependenceDeputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and actor Akshay Kumar flagged off the race and car & bike rally. pic.twitter.com/aMSvrq6vJZ— ANI (@ANI) August 14, 2022From Shah Rukh Khan to Aamir Khan, many Bollywood actors have expressed support for the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government launched the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign as a part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to honour India’s 75th anniversary of independence.  A post shared by Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk)On Sunday, Shah Rukh Khan and his wife Gauri Khan took to Instagram and shared picture and video of their pre-Independence Day celebrations. In the photo, Shah Rukh, Gauri and their sons Aryan and AbRam are seen standing in front of the Indian flag.  “Teaching the young ones at home the essence and sacrifice of our Freedom Fighters for our country India, will still take a few more sittings. But getting the flag hoisted by the little one made us all FEEL the pride, love and happiness instantly,” Shah Rukh wrote in the caption.Aamir Khan, Kartik Aaryan, Alia Bhatt and R Madhavan also supported the campaign by hoisting the tricolor at their house. Anil Kapoor decorated his house with tricoloured lights and also hoisted a flag outside his house. Apart from that, celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Farah Khan, Disha Patani, Neetu Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor among others took to their Instagram stories and wished their fans, “Happy 75th Independence Day.” 

Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli celebrate Independence Day at home, Akshay Kumar participates in rally. See photos
  • BJP holds celebrations in Mumbai on evening of Independence Day
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The BJP held processions in various parts of the city and the state on the eve of the 75th anniversary of India's independence. Processions were held from Malad to Borivli with people carrying a 1.25-km-long Indian flag. A walkathon was also organised in Malad East. Similar processions were held in Nagpur too. Later in the evening, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis attended Partition Horrors Remembrance Day at the Nagpur collector's office, which was preceded by a silent march. "The freedom we have got is not for free, but because of the relentless struggle and fight by our freedom fighters and that sacrifice needs to be valued, told and known by the next generations," said Fadnavis.




Maharashtra Political News

The many lives of Shah Faesal: the doctor-bureaucrat who took to politics, now back where he began
The Indian Express | 23 hours ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
23 hours ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

With his appointment as Deputy Secretary in the Union Ministry of Tourism on Saturday, Shah Faesal had come full circle — the young Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official who gave up his career in a flush of idealism and took to politics “to change the political dynamics” of Kashmir, before finally returning to government service.In the summer of 2010, amid anger in Kashmir against the government over civilian killings that had led to violent street protests, the region basked in the glory of a 26-year-old doctor from Lolab Valley in Kupwara — Faesal had become the first person from Jammu & Kashmir to top the UPSC exams and make it to the IAS.Despite the massive public uprising against the government, the success of Faesal, the son of a school teacher who had been killed by militants, had inspired a number of youngsters who saw education and the civil services as a way out of their conflict-ridden lives. Around that time, Kashmir saw a surge in the number of youth cracking the prestigious civil services exams.The young bureaucrat was appointed to some of the most prestigious posts in his home state, including as Deputy Commissioner, Director of School Education and Managing Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation.Eight years after joining the IAS, Faesal went to Harvard University as a Fulbright fellow. He was supposed to return to his duties in June 2019, but in January that year, while home on vacation, Faesal surprised everyone when he announced his resignation from the IAS citing “unabated killings” in Kashmir.In March 2019, four months before the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Faesal founded the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM), a party that promised a new political alternative to Kashmir with its “hawa badlegi (winds of change)” slogan.Then came August 5, 2019, when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’ special status and downgraded the state into two Union Territories. A day before the abrogation, the mainstream political leadership and key separatist leaders were put behind bars. Faesal, who was in Delhi, escaped that round-up, but on August 14, he was detained at the Delhi airport, while on his way to the US.A day before his detention, Faesal had said in an interview to BBC’s Hard Talk that there were “only two types of people in Kashmir now — stooges and separatists, and I am not a stooge”.By the time he was released from detention 10 months later, Faesal appeared a changed man. On August 9, 2020, he announced that he was quitting both politics and the party he founded.While Faesal resigned from the IAS in January 2019, his resignation was not accepted. The government cited a pending inquiry into some of his social media posts for not accepting his resignation, thus leaving the door open for his return. In May, he returned to the bureaucracy, before being finally appointed in the Union Home Ministry on Saturday.Earlier this year, he had said in a series of tweets, “8 months of my life (Jan 2019-Aug 2019) created so much baggage that I was almost finished. While chasing a chimera, I lost almost everything that I had built over the years. Job. Friends. Reputation. Public goodwill. But I never lost hope. My idealism had let me down.”

The many lives of Shah Faesal: the doctor-bureaucrat who took to politics, now back where he began
BJP banking on welfare schemes to prepare ground for 2024 general elections: Maharashtra leader
The Economic Times | 1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 10:09 am
The Economic Times
1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 10:09 am

With Maharashtra polls just more than two years away, the Bharatiya Janata Party which returned to power recently after a dramatic turn of events, will rely heavily on welfare politics to prepare the ground for the general and state elections, a senior party leader said. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had indicated that the new government, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, will focus on covering more population under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in urban areas.According to the BJP leader, welfare politics has indeed played a crucial role for the saffron party in reaping dividends in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. "With a very short period at our hand, the Maharashtra BJP unit has almost finalized to prioritise such schemes and policies over any big-ticket project," the senior leader said. Fadnavis had indicated that the Shinde-Fadnavis government will focus on expanding the PMAY coverage. "Our review found out that only 16 per cent of urban beneficiaries have built their homes under the PMAY. It is too little and instructions to increase the coverage of the scheme have already been given. In rural areas, the PMAY's coverage is nearly 75 per cent," he had said. Another welfare scheme the state government, in which the BJP is a majority player, may prioritise the laying of pipelines supplying drinking water at every home in semi-urban and rural areas of Maharashtra under the 'Jal Jeevan Scheme'. Launched in 2015, the PMAY is a flagship scheme of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Although at the time of its launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had envisaged leaving no urban person without a pucca or properly-constructed house, various glitches and the coronavirus pandemic put a spanner in its coverage, the BJP leader said. Although the tenure of the current Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly ends in March and October 2024 respectively, due to the model code of conduct, the incumbent state government will have less than two years to take and implement policy decisions. The model code of conduct will also kick in during elections to several civic bodies due in the next few months. When asked about the two key welfare schemes the Shinde-Fadnavis government will focus on, the BJP leader said, "A house under PMAY scheme and laying of pipelines supplying drinking water at every home in semi-urban and rural areas are the two key projects we would like to focus on in the next two years. If we could succeed in increasing the number of beneficiaries under both these schemes, it would have a long-lasting impact on the beneficiaries and the goodwill could reflect in general and assembly elections in our favour". Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, followed by 48 in Maharashtra, 42 in West Bengal, and 40 in Bihar. "If we have to retain power comfortably (at Centre), the BJP needs to win a maximum number of seats in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The benefits of PMAY were witnessed in the UP elections, and we hope to expand PMAY coverage in Maharashtra ahead of the Assembly polls and Lok Sabha elections," said another BJP leader. According to the latest Maharashtra Economic Survey, urbanisation in Maharashtra is more than 42 per cent. Underlining the Survey findings, a former Maharashtra minister who belongs to BJP said, "The 'Jal Jeevan Scheme' of the Union government, which Maharashtra is also going to implement on a large scale, will be another key welfare project which we hope will create goodwill for us by the time the election schedule is announced. It would address very crucial and long pending problems in the rural areas". He said rural parts of the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions would be targeted under this scheme as the maximum number of people from these areas suffer due to a lack of assured drinking sources. "With the 'Jal Jeevan Yojana', the government would undertake laying of water supply pipelines, construction of drinking water tanks and connecting them to every household," he said. Out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the BJP had contested 25 and won 23 in the 2019 polls and 105 out of 288 seats in the state Assembly polls. During a bye-election, the BJP won one more seat increasing its tally in the Lower House to 106.

BJP banking on welfare schemes to prepare ground for 2024 general elections: Maharashtra leader
Newsmakers of the Week | TMC leader Anubrata Mondal, new Chhattisgarh BJP chief Arun Sao, Rajasthan Cabinet Minister
The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 13-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 day ago | 13-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

Trinamool leader and the party’s Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal who is now in CBI custody, new state BJP chiefs in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, and Rajasthan Cabinet minister who is under fire from his MoS — we bring to you the Newsmakers of the Week.Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata MondalTrinamool leader and the party’s Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal, who has been evading the CBI’s summons in a cattle smuggling case, was on Thursday taken into custody, allegedly for not cooperating with the central agency. Mondal, popularly called “Kestoda”, is considered among the most trusted aides of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, enjoying more clout and power in the state than ministers and several MLAs. Mondal, who has not contested any election so far, is the TMC’s strategist for Birbhum, preferring to manage the party from behind the scenes. He has been with the TMC since its inception in 1998. Read Sweety Kumari’s report on the TMC strongman and artful dodger now in CBI net.Also read |Punjab Speaker Sandhwan, whose guards thrashed truck driver, a Kejriwal admirer and AAP’s farm faceMaharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Krishnarao BawankuleThe appointment of Chandrashekhar Krishnarao Bawankule as the president of the Maharashtra BJP is a strategic decision to further consolidate the party’s base amongst OBCs in the state. Bawankule, a native of Vidarbha region, belongs to the Teli community. Bawankule was the Energy Minister in the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government led by Devendra Fadnavis (2014-2019), but in the Assembly elections that followed, he had been denied a ticket to contest. The talk then was that the central leadership was uneasy over corruption issues during his tenure as minister, charges that were denied by Bawankule. Bawankule had kept a low profile after that. But the change now seems to be prompted by the BJP’s realisation of the electoral arithmetic in Vidarbha cotton-growing region, where the party got 15 seats lesser in the 2019 Assembly polls compared to 2014 (a fall from 44 to 29 of the total 62 seats). Read Shubhangi Khapre’s report on the new state BJP chief.‘Bandra Boy’ Ashish ShelarA BJP leader dubbed the “Bandra Boy” for making Mumbai his political turf, Ashish Shelar was on Friday brought back by the party as the president of its city unit. The appointment of the 49-year-old, who served as Mumbai BJP president for seven years earlier and was a minister in the 2014-2019 government, sends a clear message on the BJP’s intent regarding the coming elections to the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has long been controlled by the Shiv Sena. A Mumbaikar, Shelar is set to be pitted against Aaditya Thackeray as BJP hopes to finally wrest BMC.Only in Express |The Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan interviewNew Chhattisgarh BJP chief Arun SaoA year before the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, the BJP has appointed Bilaspur MP Arun Sao to counter the Other Backward Class (OBC) politics of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel who belongs to the OBC Sahu community. Sao replaced tribal leader Vishnudeo Sai at the helm of the state unit. OBCs account for almost 45 per cent of the state’s population and their support for the Congress ensured the party’s victory in the 2018 Assembly polls. At the time, Congress insiders said that Baghel was picked as CM ahead of his party rivals because of his stature as an OBC leader and a party leader pointed out that Chhattisgarh was “an OBC state and the election was swung on OBC votes coming to the Congress”. The party hopes Sao can end Baghel and Congress’s grip on OBC votes. Who is Sao and how did his political journey begin? Read here. More From Political PulsePunjab Speaker Sandhwan, whose guards thrashed truck driver, a Kejriwal admirer and AAP’s farm faceKerala Governor: 'Shah Bano, Satanic Verses... issues were dealt with not on merit but to build vote banks, a disaster for country'Gujarat polls: With poaching, Murmu plank BJP looks to wrest Cong tribal vote, blunt rising AAPClick here for more Maharashtra minister Abdul SattarMaharashtra MLA Abdul Sattar on Tuesday became only the second Muslim minister — after Danish Ansari in Uttar Pradesh — to be inducted into a BJP-led state government currently in power. Sattar was among the first Sena MLAs to join the incumbent CM’s faction when he rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray. The MLA’s perseverance paid off, with Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis deciding that it made far more political sense to face criticism over Sattar’s inclusion than to rub him the wrong way. Read Zeeshan Shaikh’s report on the Sillod MLA who cut his teeth in politics in the Congress, winning the gram panchayat elections in 1984, and today is the only Muslim face in the Shinde-BJP govt.Rajasthan Cabinet minister Ramesh Meena Ramesh Meena has had a roller-coaster of a ride in politics over the past 14 years. He entered the Rajasthan Assembly for the first time in 2008 after being elected on a BSP ticket, but soon afterwards left to join the Congress and extended support to the Ashok Gehlot-led government. The 59-year-old MLA from Sapotra in Karauli is now the Minister of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development. Over the past few weeks, he has been dealing with a crisis. A large number of sarpanches from across the state have accused the minister of calling them corrupt and there were protests in parts of the state demanding his ouster. Meena has stuck to his guns, claiming that he did not call sarpanches corrupt. Who is Meena, a Sachin Pilot loyalist who is now under fire from his MoS? Read here.

Newsmakers of the Week | TMC leader Anubrata Mondal, new Chhattisgarh BJP chief Arun Sao, Rajasthan Cabinet Minister
Sushil Modi: ‘Nitish aides approached Bihar BJP leadership over his wish to become Vice-President. This shows his national ambition’
The Indian Express | 4 days ago | 10-08-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 days ago | 10-08-2022 | 10:45 pm

As Nitish Kumar starts a fresh innings as the Bihar Chief Minister in alliance with the seven-party Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) after severing his Janata Dal (United)’s ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), BJP MP and ex-deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi speaks to The Indian Express at length about Nitish’s move and aspiration as well as the way forward for the saffron party in the state. Excerpts:What was the immediate trigger for Nitish Kumar to break up with the BJP? As his ex-deputy, are you surprised that he reacted too fast and so soon?We are stunned at what he did and the manner in which he broke up with us. When he had done so in June 2013, he had apprised the state and Central BJP leaders about his stand well in advance. So even if it was still betrayal of mandate for NDA, we could still say that we knew it. But this time, it was complete betrayal of mandate for PM Narendra Modi. The 2020 Assembly elections was not a mandate for Nitish Kumar as JD(U) had got only 43 seats and finished third after RJD and BJP.Did the BJP try to placate Nitish or stop him? Or did your party just decide to move on?Nitish Kumar should remember that we made him the chief minister five times since 2000. Even when JD(U) came third in 2020 polls, we kept our word and made him CM. Even after our recent two-day party meet, we said Nitish would continue to be CM till 2025. We also talked about going to the 2024 (Lok Sabha) and 2025 (Asembly) polls with JD(U). We had not sensed much discomfort in JD(U). Even when Union home minister Amit Shah talked to Nitish Kumar on phone Monday and asked if there was any problem, Nitish ji did not say anything and said ‘Just as you have Giriraj Singh in your party, we have Lalan Singh’. He had also dismissed media reports of JD(U) going to snap ties with us.So what did Nitish really expect from the BJP?Some of Nitish Kumar’s aides had approached the state BJP leadership with the message that he wanted to become the Vice-President. This shows Nitish did nurse national ambition.Do you think Nitish did not have a smooth communication line with the current BJP leadership as he used to have with you as his deputy and the late Arun Jaitley?It is not fair to say that, as only recently Dharmendra Pradhan held one-on-one meeting with him. Yet, Nitish did not complain much except making a passing reference to some grudges against Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha. Besides, PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and our national president JP Nadda would speak to him at regular intervals. But it is true that he used to share a very good rapport with Arun ji and me. He would often say in recent times that he had become CM this time on the PM’s request and was not very comfortable in the present set-up. But there was no communication gap. More From Political PulseIn Bihar BJP cloud of gloom and rage, an admission: We were complacentAs Kodanad estate heist probe crawls, Stalin’s promise remains a distant realityJD(U), RJD pitch for Nitish Kumar, Tejashwi's Bihar template as Oppn national model against BJPClick here for more So, why do you think Nitish took such a quick call?It could be because of his national ambition. He could have believed that it was not possible to fulfil his national ambition with BJP. By 2025, he could have served as CM for almost 19 years and we could have expected a graceful exit from him after that as 20 years as CM is a long time and very fulfilling and rewarding in politics.What is your response to allegations that the BJP often tries to subsume its allies? Does the party need a fresh strategy to get new allies and retain them?If one is referring to Shiv Sena and Eknath Shinde episode, one should know Shiv Sena was no longer our ally. And what would we have gained by breaking JD(U)? After all, it would have led to fall of our government as we have only 77 MLAs. And the insinuation of BJP trying to cultivate RCP Singh as an Eknath Shinde is preposterous as RCP is a bureaucrat with little political constituency and he cannot break JD(U) at all. What continues to nag Nitish is his party being reduced to 43 seats. He would often complain that it was sort of rejection by people. He is still not willing to accept this and decided to switch sides with hopes of staying afloat and relevant. But it is just a matter of time. He should start reading the writing on the wall given his multiple anti-incumbency and the fatigue factors. In fact, we are happy that we will go to the 2024 and 2025 polls without any anti-incumbency baggage.Do you think Nitish can try to emerge as a nucleus of anti-Modi politics in 2024 polls?It is not possible with the kind of image and overwhelming popularity Narendra Modi enjoys now. But everyone has the right in democracy to contest. One has to first see if there is a united Opposition. There are many claimants of PM position from the Opposition camp. There is Mamata Banerjee as well. There could be a few other names as well.What is the BJP’s version of RCP Singh becoming the Union minister?When the NDA decided to offer a single ministerial berth to its each ally irrespective of number of seats they won (in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls), Nitish had let go the offer saying there were too many ministerial claimants in his party. When BJP made the offer a second time, it was Nitish who had cleared RCP Singh’s name. The version he has been giving now is not correct and is borne out of his political constraints and kind of shrewd politics he does often.You often agree that Bihar politics is a story of three pillars and when the two come together, they become unassailable. Now that BJP is all by itself, do you feel overawed by seven parties, the Grand Alliance constituents, coming together against the BJP?Let me make it clear that the 2024 polls is not the 2015 Assembly polls when Nitish, Lalu and Congress had come together and defeated us convincingly. We had conducted five surveys before 2020 Assembly polls and found that Nitish’s popularity has been constantly on the wane. Plus, it is Modi who has now emerged as the voice of EBCs (Extremely Backward Classes) besides other social groups. If Nitish considers himself such a big stakeholder of EBC votes, why did he not get them in 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which JD(U) got only two seats. As for new allies, every party tries to look for new allies. We will also do so at the right time. It is not proper to name any party or leader who could be our allies in future.Don’t you think Bihar BJP needs a face, if not for 2024, at least for 2025 to give some clarity to voters?Narendra Modi alone is the leader. We did not project anyone in Tripura. We talked about Devendra Fadnavis as he was Maharashtra CM. We have state-wise strategy. Our next goal is 2024. Just that Grand Alliance looks strong socially on papers, it does not mean it would work greatly. Our party has covered a long way in terms of acceptability among all social groups and have big central welfare programmes besides a decisive and dynamic leadership at the helm whereas there is no Opposition leader at the national level.

Sushil Modi: ‘Nitish aides approached Bihar BJP leadership over his wish to become Vice-President. This shows his national ambition’



Maharashtra Election News

Maharashtra: Eye on chairperson’s poll, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray not to quit council
Times of India | 14 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:01 am
Times of India
14 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:01 am

MUMBAI: Over a month after he stepped down as CM and announced his resignation as member of the legislative council, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is still to quit his Upper House membership. Sena sources said Uddhav was unlikely to resign, but would instead continue to ensure that the party's newly appointed leader of opposition in the council, Ambadas Danve, retains his post. Besides, the Sena is keen to ensure more votes for the MVA when election for the council chairperson is held. "Uddhavji hasn't given a formal letter of resignation. So, he is still an MLC and he will continue. He will not attend any session, but will retain his membership so that the Sena's and the MVA's numbers do not fall short during the election of the chairperson," a senior Sena functionary said. "At present, the post of chairperson is vacant and deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe (Sena) is holding charge. If the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government gets the 12 nominees from the governor's quota appointed, every MLC will count during the chairperson's election. So, it has been decided that Uddhavji will not resign for now. If the chairperson's election is held before the 12 members are nominated, the MVA can easily win it. So, Uddhavji's vote is important," the functionary added. The Sena has 12 members in the legislative council and has claimed the support of one independent. The NCP has 10 members and the backing of an independent. The BJP has the maximum of 24 members, while the Congress has 10.

Maharashtra: Eye on chairperson’s poll, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray not to quit council
BJP banking on welfare schemes to prepare ground for 2024 general elections: Maharashtra leader
The Economic Times | 1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 10:09 am
The Economic Times
1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 10:09 am

With Maharashtra polls just more than two years away, the Bharatiya Janata Party which returned to power recently after a dramatic turn of events, will rely heavily on welfare politics to prepare the ground for the general and state elections, a senior party leader said. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had indicated that the new government, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, will focus on covering more population under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in urban areas.According to the BJP leader, welfare politics has indeed played a crucial role for the saffron party in reaping dividends in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. "With a very short period at our hand, the Maharashtra BJP unit has almost finalized to prioritise such schemes and policies over any big-ticket project," the senior leader said. Fadnavis had indicated that the Shinde-Fadnavis government will focus on expanding the PMAY coverage. "Our review found out that only 16 per cent of urban beneficiaries have built their homes under the PMAY. It is too little and instructions to increase the coverage of the scheme have already been given. In rural areas, the PMAY's coverage is nearly 75 per cent," he had said. Another welfare scheme the state government, in which the BJP is a majority player, may prioritise the laying of pipelines supplying drinking water at every home in semi-urban and rural areas of Maharashtra under the 'Jal Jeevan Scheme'. Launched in 2015, the PMAY is a flagship scheme of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Although at the time of its launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had envisaged leaving no urban person without a pucca or properly-constructed house, various glitches and the coronavirus pandemic put a spanner in its coverage, the BJP leader said. Although the tenure of the current Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly ends in March and October 2024 respectively, due to the model code of conduct, the incumbent state government will have less than two years to take and implement policy decisions. The model code of conduct will also kick in during elections to several civic bodies due in the next few months. When asked about the two key welfare schemes the Shinde-Fadnavis government will focus on, the BJP leader said, "A house under PMAY scheme and laying of pipelines supplying drinking water at every home in semi-urban and rural areas are the two key projects we would like to focus on in the next two years. If we could succeed in increasing the number of beneficiaries under both these schemes, it would have a long-lasting impact on the beneficiaries and the goodwill could reflect in general and assembly elections in our favour". Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, followed by 48 in Maharashtra, 42 in West Bengal, and 40 in Bihar. "If we have to retain power comfortably (at Centre), the BJP needs to win a maximum number of seats in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The benefits of PMAY were witnessed in the UP elections, and we hope to expand PMAY coverage in Maharashtra ahead of the Assembly polls and Lok Sabha elections," said another BJP leader. According to the latest Maharashtra Economic Survey, urbanisation in Maharashtra is more than 42 per cent. Underlining the Survey findings, a former Maharashtra minister who belongs to BJP said, "The 'Jal Jeevan Scheme' of the Union government, which Maharashtra is also going to implement on a large scale, will be another key welfare project which we hope will create goodwill for us by the time the election schedule is announced. It would address very crucial and long pending problems in the rural areas". He said rural parts of the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions would be targeted under this scheme as the maximum number of people from these areas suffer due to a lack of assured drinking sources. "With the 'Jal Jeevan Yojana', the government would undertake laying of water supply pipelines, construction of drinking water tanks and connecting them to every household," he said. Out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the BJP had contested 25 and won 23 in the 2019 polls and 105 out of 288 seats in the state Assembly polls. During a bye-election, the BJP won one more seat increasing its tally in the Lower House to 106.

BJP banking on welfare schemes to prepare ground for 2024 general elections: Maharashtra leader
Eknath Shinde Plans To Build New Sena Bhavan? Minister Says Misconception
Ndtv | 2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 12:22 pm
Ndtv
2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 12:22 pm

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has been calling his faction the "real Shiv Sena".Mumbai: While the battle for the claim to Shiv Sena is on in the Supreme Court, the Shinde camp is looking for a new Shivsena Bhavan -- a party office for the breakaway faction. Many claim the rebel faction is trying to set up a parallel Sena headquarters. Apart from Shivsena Bhavan, they are also planning to open new shakhas or local party offices everywhere, sources said.No location has been fixed yet for the new Bhavan, but they are looking for a place near the existing Shivsena Bhavan in Mumbai's Dadar, sources said.Rubbishing speculations of a parallel Sena Bhavan, newly inducted Maharashtra minister Uday Samant called it a misconception."There is a misconception that a parallel Shivsena Bhavan is being made in Dadar. However, we are trying to find a central office so that the CM can meet common people. We respect Shivsena Bhavan and it will remain so," he said.मुंबई दादर येथे प्रति शिवसेना भवन मा. एकनाथजी शिंदे करत आहेत हा गैरसमज पसरवला जात आहे..मा. मुख्यमंत्री महोदयांना सर्वसामान्य जनतेला भेटता याव ह्यासाठी मध्यवर्ती कार्यालय असावे आमचा प्रयत्न आहे..शिवसेना भवन बद्दल आम्हाला कालही आदर होता उद्याही राहील.— Uday Samant (@samant_uday) August 12, 2022Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has been calling his faction the "real Shiv Sena" and a follower of Balasaheb Thackeray's ideology while accusing the Uddhav Thackeray-led group of straying from the party founder Bal Thackeray's ideals.Earlier this week, Mr Shinde, who formed a new government in the state by joining forces with the BJP, expanded his cabinet after mounting criticism of a "two-person government". The Thackeray faction has claimed that administering ministerial oath to rebels MLAs, whose disqualification pleas are pending before the Supreme Court, amounted to "murder of democracy and the Constitution".Mr Shinde on Tuesday expanded his two-member ministry, 41 days after taking oath as the Chief Minister by inducting 18 ministers, nine each from his rebel Shiv Sena group and the BJP.The Thackeray faction is also fighting to keep their election symbol as the Shinde camp stakes claim over that as well. The Election Commission (EC) has reportedly given the Uddhav Thackeray faction 15 more days to submit documents in support of its claim on the party's election symbol -- a "bow and arrow".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMr Shinde along with 39 other Sena legislators had rebelled against the party leadership in June this year, leading to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. The MVA consisted of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. The Shinde faction said Mr Thackeray had Eknath Shinde took oath as chief minister on June 30 along with BJP leader and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Eknath Shinde Plans To Build New Sena Bhavan? Minister Says Misconception
Delhi Confidential: On-site Meetings
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 03:45 am
The Indian Express
2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 03:45 am

After taking over the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, one big change minister Bhupender Yadav has made is the way the ministry celebrates the special days. He made sure that meetings of the important bodies under the ministry are conducted at a location that has some relevance to the subject. So, the meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority in March was held in Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, and the International Tiger Day in July was celebrated in Tadoba-Andhari National Park in Maharashtra, while a Project Elephant event was held in Rajaji National Reserve in Dehradun in March. The minister took a trip to Sultanpur lake in Haryana to observe the World Wetland Day. On Friday, Bhupender Yadav went to Periyar, Kerala, to observe the World Elephant Day. In order to make the visit memorable, Yadav took a morning boat journey in Periyar Lake to get the glimpse of its beauty and the animals.Next Cong PresidentSetting in motion the exercise for election of the next Congress president, the Madhusudan Mistry-headed Central Election Authority is said to have written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, proposing the timeline for the election process. Sources said the leadership is keen on completing the election process before the start of the Bharat Yatra on Sept 7. According to the broad schedule announced earlier, the party has to elect a new president between Aug 21 and Sept 20. Sonia is expected to convene a meeting of the CWC soon to approve the timeline. With Rahul Gandhi not willing to contest, there is much interest in the party on who will be the next president. While some leaders believe Sonia will be persuaded to continue, many others argue a status quo will be disastrous. Among the names doing the rounds include that of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot.Back To BasicsRelieved of his duties as a Union minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been spending a lot of time in Uttar Pradesh, particularly Rampur. On Thursday, Naqvi was in Amroha, where he paid tributes to the UP Prachar Adhishthata of Arya Samaj, late Harish Chandra Arya. On Friday, he attended a party meeting with Rampur BJP chief Abhay Gupta. On Saturday, he will join residents and party workers at Rampur’s Mahatma Gandhi maidan for a Tiranga festival where kites in Tricolour will be flown. Kite-flying has been an old tradition in Rampur and the residents have made the tricolour kites on their own.

Delhi Confidential: On-site Meetings



Maharashtra Education News

Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: ‘We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea, of course, fiscal management has to happen’
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 02:45 pm

Jasmine Shah has been with the Delhi government for the better part of a decade. Shah is the face behind initiatives such as the new EV policy, last mile connectivity, outcome budget, and most recently the Rozgaar initiative that the Delhi government has rolled out. The conversation will be about Delhi and what the future holds.The full conversation:Q. For starters, could we get a brief introduction of what the DDC does? Shah: DDC was set up in 2015 immediately after the AAP government first came to power. The idea was that we felt there is a need for a think tank that can bridge the gap between government and stakeholders outside the government, who can and must contribute to the process of policy-making. With the genesis of the AAP, with people who were in activism, people like me who were in think tanks in the policy world, but you always feel like there is a huge gap or a barrier in accessing government, sharing ideas contributing to policy making; you don’t get appointments for months.So, the idea was to create a commission that can bridge that gap and knowing that this is a national capital our governance issues are not trivial. Unless we are able to access the best of ideas from India, from around the world; be it from academia, be it from civil society, be it from industries, be it from cities like New York, London, and Singapore—how are we going to solve ideas in a sustainable manner? So, that was the idea of creating a body that can bridge this gap and be the policy think tank of the government.Q. We’ll start with something we identify you most with, which is the EV push in the Capital. How successful do you think it’s been so far?Shah: I would say first that when we started out putting the framework for the EV policy the targets that we laid down were something that people didn’t even believe, it seemed very theoretical and at that stage and I’ll tell you why, you know, the EV policy came exactly two years back in August of 2020. The year before that in 2019-20, EVs constituted 1.2 per cent of the newly registered vehicles in Delhi. We said we will take it to 25 per cent in three years. The average in India was less than 1.2 per cent. We believed it was possible, but it was still very ambitious. As of date, we are at around 11 per cent. This is thrice as compared to any other state or even if you look at large cities, no large city has crossed 5-6 per cent. Delhi is at 11 per cent.So, I would say there is a lot to cheer about as far as how Delhi has moved along in the EV journey. We compare ourselves with other cities like London. London has an adoption rate of 11 per cent, Paris has that. Norway as a country has around 30-35 per cent. I think if there is one city in India that can aspire to join the Global League in terms of sustainable transport, it is Delhi.Having said that, obviously, there’s a lot that as a government and as a city that we must do. There is a huge focus this year on charging infrastructure and because it’s infrastructure, because we have the issue of multiplicity of agencies in Delhi, it’s always something that takes time. But the government is cognizant of that. We are planning moves like making it mandatory for fleets to transition a part of their vehicles to EVs. No city in India is even thinking or talking about that. I think, on the whole, the glass half full I would say.Q. Has there been any pushback from private players when it comes to transitioning to EV? When it comes to charging infrastructure, there are concerns about whether you can put them out in open spaces where there is a fear of theft. Have you faced these challenges?Shah: The first question is on the private players. Fortunately, there hasn’t been (pushback). There is always a little bit of concern when you start thinking about mandates. I would say though that the way the Delhi government has approached it is you first provide the facilitating environment, rather than bringing mandates. If we had started talking about that in 2020, there would have been a huge pushback because neither the incentives mechanism was in place, nor was the charging infrastructure. Today, Delhi is far ahead of all the cities in terms of active charging points and we are still planning for more.But the last two years have given a lot of confidence to the players in the industry that the government is in fact thinking ahead of what even we ask individually for our businesses. DDC is at the centre of the bi-annual Delhi electric vehicle forum. It is a forum of around 200 stakeholders—the industry players, fleet business, all those who have some skin in the game if Delhi were to transition to 25 per cent electric. Every six months, we sit together and talk about what are the challenges they are facing. What is it that the government can do? So, I think this kind of collaborative effort and this kind of access that most people today have to the Delhi government as far as EV is concerned, has done a lot in terms of giving confidence that we will be heard.Everybody is concerned about their children, everybody is concerned about pollution and they know that vehicles do constitute a major chunk of pollution. It’s not going to be completely organic. I think the time for waiting for organic change is over. We need to push ourselves, but obviously in a coordinated fashion. Government should do everything that it ought to do, but the private players can’t sit back and just watch. That’s the message that we’re giving.Coming to charging infrastructure, we have already set up more than 2,300 public charging points in Delhi today. No major city in India would have crossed the thousand figure and we’re just getting started. The CM just opened 7 charging stations in DTC Depot. There’s another big tender that is at the implementation stage, where we are setting up 100 charging stations by and large in Metro stations, which will cumulatively add about 900 charging points. All of this is going to happen by the end of the year.Regardless, we are also encouraging private businesses, mall owners, hospitals, hotels to set up charging points. The government gives them a single window facility, net of subsidy, which has also taken off in a very big manner in the last one year. We have installed close to 500 charging points through that.So, there’s a host of efforts and I think it’s taken us two years to get here because literally everything that we are doing in Delhi is being done for the first time in India and I think that needs to be understood. We never had a public-private partnership model of setting up charging points. If you look at how charging stations are being set up all over the country or even before the Delhi EV policy, it was given to a PSU to set it but no care was taken to ensure they are maintained or functional or accessible. We innovated and created a PPP model which has today resulted in the lowest charging rate per unit—Rs 2 a unit.Nowhere in the world can you access EV charging at this rate, a single window facility where any business or RWA can go to the DISCOM website, apply and get everything facilitated net of subsidy and an EV metre installed within 7 to 10 days, nowhere in the world does this exist. We are now talking to other cities and other states who are interested in learning from Delhi’s experience. We are very optimistic about where we are headed.Q. Which states have reached out?Shah: Punjab for sure. We’re talking to Maharashtra. Haryana has just come up with its EV policy. Hopefully, more will come.Q. You don’t mind collaborating with the opposition?Shah: We collaborate regularly. I think it’s an unfair remark because if you look at the number of states that have sent official delegations to Delhi government schools, it would be 15 to 20. People come and look at how our school transformation has happened, how the happiness curriculum works. Now, how the business plaster programme works.We have had international delegations come and visit. We know as a country we have to be far ahead than we are in terms of educational outcomes, health care outcomes. Ten states are setting up or have already inaugurated the equivalent of Mohalla Clinics. They may be called by different names with exactly the same model. It is not new. Mid-day meal scheme started in Tamil Nadu, and the rest of the country adopted it. Today, there is a hesitation to say that we are learning from so and so state.Q. Which segment has seen the biggest adoption of EVs?Shah: Two-wheelers and three-wheelers are the primary targets of the EV policy and that’s when the growth is. First, if you look at the entire pollution profile, the majority of the vehicular pollution is contributed by two and three-wheelers. Trucks and buses are separate. EV transition can happen when there is almost price parity or you are approaching price parity. Incentives cannot change the market dynamics beyond a point.In four-wheelers, we have not reached that point. You will see a certain class of society that can afford a private (electric) four-wheeler. But that’s not the case for two and three-wheelers. Because the battery sizes are small and there are other economies of scale, we’re almost achieving price parity. And if you put together the fact that the running cost of EV is probably one-fifth of that of petrol or diesel vehicle, you would be stupid today to buy a petrol two-wheeler. You get fantastic models; the upfront cost is marginally high if not less because of the subsidies that you get. You will recover everything within the first few months and run it for 10 years.In terms of what has happened in Delhi, traditionally because we had the e-rickshaw subsidy always, the entire growth of EVs was in e-rickshaws. Two years ago, electric was e-rickshaw. Guess what is the largest category today? Two-wheelers. Today, they constitute the single largest category. We are registering 25per cent growth month on month in EV vehicles. Dynamics work out; you don’t need to run them for more than 80-100 km a day. With cars, it’s a problem. Two-wheelers are leading, e-rickshaws are still there. The commercial three-wheeler fleet is beginning to take off, hopefully, very soon you will count electric auto rickshaws as well.We have rolled out the scheme but part of the reason that we have not had the numbers we wanted is because manufacturers were not ready to supply electric autos. When we said we will put out 4,100 electric autos, the cumulative market in India was probably 1,000 electric autos in a year. Now the market is warming up to the fact that Delhi is willing to take the lead and I am very sure almost all categories of two-wheelers and three-wheelers, including cycles, which is a segment we are very optimistic about, will take off in a big way in the coming one or two years.Q. E-cycles are very expensive. How do you see that market growing? Shah: You are right; probably for recreational cycling it will not make a lot of sense to people. But our primary target is actually the delivery boys. For them, it’s about getting a two-wheeler which is Rs 60-70-80 thousand. With a Rs 15-20 thousand net of subsidy, you get an electric cycle. It gives you a 40 km range. The good thing is that if you run out of battery, you can pedal for 5 km. It really brings down the economics. It is a very new idea in India.Globally, cycles are taking off, especially for last-mile deliveries. We have started a segment called cargo cycles which can actually carry up to 40 kg of weight in their specially designed carriers. We provide double subsidies there. For normal cycles, we give Rs 7,500, here it is Rs 15,000.Q. What is the stance of big car manufacturers towards EV?Shah: There is a reason why Tesla is leading the world in EVs and not the Toyotas and General Motors. EV is a market where innovative models, and new-age automobile start-ups have actually taken the lead. By and large, the traditional auto leaders have been reluctant. They wanted to see how the market takes off rather than make the market. There is a grudging acknowledgement that this is going to be the future. If you talk to them, they say we have big plans for EVs.Q. The CM took a very direct approach to the Delhi government’s stance on ‘revdi‘ politics. I don’t think social welfare has ever been so polarised in the last few decades. How do you weigh in on this?Shah: We welcome the fact that today as a nation we are debating social welfare models. I think for long we have seen the national debate being occupied by all issues other than how to improve the condition of our people. In 75 years of Independence, have we achieved the kind of development that we intended to and therefore, where are we lacking? I see this discussion in that larger frame. Probably the message set in motion by the PM and then followed by BJP leaders is because it’s not that seeing the success of the AAP’s development model or the welfare mode; we do believe in investing a maximum percentage of our budget in education and health and it’s an article of faith for us because that’s core to the idea of how we see this country developing. At the same time, we do realise that there are huge inequalities in this nation.Large chunks of our population need social protection and social protection cannot be that I have given rice, wheat in PDS. AAP has offered a very distinct definition of what the social welfare model can be. It is a tragedy that when the chief minister of Gujarat buys a private jet for Rs 180 crore, nobody calls that into question. When Aam Aadmi Party decided that we will make bus rides free for women, and there is a reason behind that since when we know about the outcomes and we know the gender gap that exists in the nation today and what mobility does for a host of outcomes such as education employment, the immediate reaction is that we have given freebies. There is no question asked when the Rajasthan CM buys a private jet of Rs 200 crore. Our expense on free bus rides is around Rs 200-250 crore but it is impacting lakhs of women. Look at the kind of incentives given to the business side. We had a major corporate tax cut in 2019 just before Covid. The cumulative loss to the exchequer was about Rs 1.5 lakh crore. We know the NPA write-offs both at the time of UPA and NDA. It is close to 11 lakh crore.The question the CM asked was how do we grasp this as a nation? Whose money is this? Is there some policy to stop writing it off in the future? It can happen only if you are actually going to penalize the people. By attaching a few properties of a Mallya or Choksi here and there, you are not actually giving them any punishment. They have all managed to evade the country. How many of these people have been put behind bars? That is a simple question. You will not be able to think about even one person. I think it is a welcome opportunity to question the kind of narratives that are being put out, to acknowledge the fact that there is a wholesale write-off that is happening on public money.But the moment you are using this public money to make education free, and this we should know that education is not free in many states; Haryana charges a fee, Karnataka charges a fee. If you ask children to pay a fee, no one will say anything but if you provide free education, if you’re providing free quality health care questions will be asked. Knowing the status of unemployment, we feel unemployment allowance is a good idea.Of course, fiscal management has to happen and AAP is committed to doing that but raising a question saying this is a freebie. The CM spoke about how many developed countries are already doing this. It is a great debate to have and people need to ask what they are getting as tax-paying citizens of this country. And which model has a better chance of improving their lives?Q. What is the Delhi government’s subsidy bill as of now?Shah: The subsidy bill for electricity is Rs 3,200 crore, around Rs 600 crore is water, and around Rs 250 crore for buses. Then we have a budgetary expenditure on health and education. Rs 4,000 crore out of a budget of Rs 75,000 crore. We are talking about 5-6per cent.We did a household survey asking people which of these five major benefits are you actually benefiting from and what does it mean in terms of per month contribution to your saving. The number was Rs 2,500 per family per month. There is also an opportunity cost they are saving on. Because we have improved the quality of education, many want their children to be in government schools rather than private schools. If you add all of that, it is a substantial benefit.We are asked where this money comes from. What allows us to put out this welfare model is that corruption is a no-tolerance issue for us. The biggest source of corruption is in tax collection. When AAP came to power in 2015, the budget was Rs 30,000 crore. In the first five years, we doubled it to Rs 60,000 crore. If you look at the previous 5 years in the last term of the Congress, the budget increased from around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 crores. For us, it is the BJP acknowledging that they will not be able to match welfare politics. In the history of any BJP or Congress, no government has spent 25per cent of its budget on education. So what do you do, you denounce that welfare model rather than saying we will match or better it.Q. How is the freebie discussion playing out in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh which go into polls soon? How do you counter the political narrative that free services are harmful to the nation?Shah: The advantage that BJP has in a state like Gujarat is that they are the incumbent there and access to the WhatsApp networks through which they can sync in the narratives is unparalleled. They will be the first ones to reach out with any message but AAP is there for good. I think the people of Gujarat are realising now that AAP is no fly-by-night party. We are committed to the state, to addressing the issues of the people of the state and I think you can perhaps fool people for a short duration. Has Gujarat moved out of poverty? Look at the malnutrition, at the educational outcomes of Gujarat, they are actually very poor. So, when the AAP goes and actually says we will fix your government schools, clinics, hospitals, you’ll be amazed at how people listen to it with rapt attention.You look at some of the sabhas of the AAP, 500-1,000 people in small villages are gathering to hear about it and that’s also because there’s been a political vacuum. We are firmly committed to what we stand for. We’re not going to change what we feel the Delhi model and the Kejriwal model can do for people. It’s about giving people the confidence that you will stay and if I vote for you, you will actually deliver.Q. Even before allegations of corruption were made against the Delhi government for its excise policy, things had started to go wrong with private players pulling out of their contracts. What went wrong?Shah: Let me first tell you what the excise policy was trying to solve. We have to acknowledge that even in a place like Delhi, the sale of illicit liquor was a huge business. There was a mafia. There were many people benefiting from it. Just in terms of numbers, ever since we came to power in 2015, 3,977 liquor shops have been shut down by the Delhi government. Lakhs of liquor bottles are being caught every year. Why does it happen?The first reason was that in practicality, there was always partial prohibition in Delhi. Half of Delhi—around 134 wards—had either no shops or one shop. So, that’s what promoted unscrupulous means. The duty structures were also regressive because the retail licences were given at meagre sums of Rs 8 lakh but the government would then take excise duty on the sale of liquor and therefore, you would indulge in the sale of non-duty paid liquor.The third thing was the government was dominating the sales of liquor. Around 60per cent of the shops were with the government and the experience was not the best. Brand pushing was the name of the game. You would never get the brand you wanted. We realised that despite our crackdown, a new policy was needed. The policy first and foremost brought in the equitable distribution of liquor shops as a core principle. It was the foundation of the policy that if you want to cut down on illegal sales, you have to ensure equitable distribution of shops without increasing the overall number. Then, the government exited the business and private players came in.We also designed the policy in a manner that upfront annual fees are where the government would collect revenues rather than on sales. There is no incentive to cheat. The revenue collection was historic. The estimate of the government was that from Rs 6,000 crore, we would collect Rs 9,500 crore—a 50per cent jump in one year. Forty-eight hours before the policy was rolled out—the policy was thoroughly discussed and vetted by the former L-G—everything was in place, shops were about to open, but the foundation of the policy was attacked. The LG office acting on a suo-motu basis said that in non-conforming areas of Delhi shops will not be allowed without approval from DDA and MCD. And these agencies would not allow any activity since these were non-conforming areas. Why do you think unauthorised colonies didn’t have water and sewer lines? Because they thought it was not their remit to work in these areas. Now, even earlier on non-conforming areas did have liquor shops, the LG would approve those cases one by one. Even that provision was not made. So, we actually overnight became more regressive than even the earlier regressive excise regime. So that ensured that the target of how many liquor shops open got curtailed. We are also familiar with the kind of political opposition that played out.Everywhere where a shop was opening, the BJP tried to play the narrative that too many shops were opening. In Delhi on a per capita basis, even with 849 shops in the liquor policy, Delhi has one shop for 23,000 people. Noida has one shop for 1,400 people, Bangalore has one shop for 1,700 people and I think Gurgaon has one for every 4,000 persons. In Noida and Gurgaon BJP feels free to do this but the moment it is in Delhi, they apply a different lens. No private player likes to exist in a situation where there is a constant threat of local authorities. Everybody bid high but the moment a lot of these factors combined, people started pulling out and I think today it is a prime example of how politics has managed to fail a very progressive reform which probably should have been a model for the rest of the country.Q. Why did it take the government eight months to voice these concerns? Shah: The moment many of these things happened, including the L-G’s decision, formal letters and communications were sent out. The effort of the government is always to ensure that we can convince, we can take the stakeholders along and no wrong is done. We are not that kind of a government where in the first instance we will make it adversarial or start pointing fingers. We always believed and hoped that things would settle down. That we will be able to argue and reason out with all the stakeholders, and conversations do happen between all tiers of the government.What happened unfortunately is that BJP, we do know that BJP and the Central Government, have decided to make this a political tussle. By ordering a CBI enquiry, the intent was very clear that we are not going to sit with you and figure out how this new regime, which is trying to solve for the ill of the older policy, is going to be implemented and be successful. In fact, when the policy was sent to the LG at that time, many suggestions came and we tried to accommodate them to the extent possible. Our effort has always been to see how to move forward rather than back. There are trumped-up charges and it is now sub-judice, so the courts will decide and all these factors will then be considered.Q. You showcased your governance model in Delhi in education and health, but Delhi is not a full-fledged state. Now, you have got a shot in Punjab. It has been 5 months and everything will be tested there. Finances are in disarray, law and order is not in great condition. What is going wrong there? You have also not fulfilled a few manifesto promises, such as Rs 1,000 allowance for women. Do you think you need to prove your governance model in Punjab to be able to send out a signal to the country that you have something to offer?Shah: Let me disagree with your assessment. It is your assessment that things haven’t been off to a good start. We believe that the last few months have actually laid the perfect foundation for what we hope to achieve in Punjab. A little bit of context here is important. You know, it has taken 50 years of misrule. Punjab is a state in deep debt— Rs 3 lakh crore of debt. That has not happened over the last 5-10 years, it has happened over decades together. We can’t expect that to be erased in 3-5 months.The issue of drugs—again it has not happened overnight. It happened over decades and we are seeing almost one or two generations have been lost because of that. You don’t see youth in the villages of Punjab. They have all moved out. There are a lot of other issues that have been festering for a long time. I think today for the first time if you ask the people of Punjab—the perception from Delhi may be different—but if you talk to the people of Punjab there is real hope, there is genuine hope that people do have from the AAP and that’s because they know that these people are not typical politicians, they are not here to make empty promises.I’ll tell you about some of our important wins. Within the first month of coming to power, we announced an anti-corruption action line. A few thousand calls are received every day. Tell me about any state’s anti-corruption helpline, where a few thousand calls are received. The fact that people are calling, giving evidence shows that they have faith that the government would act on it. There are a lot of anecdotes, in taluk offices, for example, the ‘retail bribes or retail corruption’ has really gone down. Corruption is endemic in Indian governance systems, but a big start has been made on that front.On the matter of drugs, in July 2,500 people were arrested on drug-related charges. The police for the first time know that there will be no political interference if we are going to catch somebody red handed and that is the faith with which we are making sure that the Punjab Police, which is one of the most capable police forces, can actually act on issues that have been festering for decades. We have announced the promise of free electricity. It is not a small promise. While we have made our promises, manifestos are for 5 years, not three months. We call these guarantees and stand by everything we have said. We’ll make sure that each of these guarantees is fulfilled. Some could happen in the first year, some in the second year.How it will happen is decided by a host of factors, one of them being the fiscal window available. This is the first year. If you look at the trend of tax collection, the last three months actually have been very good. We have some fiscal space to start introducing new schemes and policies. We have announced Mohalla clinics and are launching them on August 15. A huge revamp is planned for schools. We have announced MSP on Moong and the cultivation under Moong dal has gone up by 75per cent because of that announcement. We announced to move ahead on progressive farming practices.One of the big things that threaten Punjab’s ecology is the water table because of the paddy crop. We have incentivised the direct seeding of rice technology which consumes around 30 per cent to 40 per cent less water. Rather than just evangelising about this technology, we said that every farmer will get Rs 1,500 per acre. These are very long-term, well-meaning reforms. It is good that people are expecting things to happen; it keeps us on our toes.But if you talk to the people of Punjab and from what we hear, people are very optimistic about what the next five years hold. I feel with the kind of politics that Punjab was in the grip of the last many decades, this kind of politics where we’re not beholden to any interests, things are bound to happen in the coming few years.Q. AAP says that BJP has police control in Delhi, which they use to show their power. You have police under you in Punjab and there have been instances where the Punjab police have come to question or arrest leaders like Kumar Vishwas, Tajinder Bagga and Alka Lamba. Are you going in the same direction as the BJP?Shah: If somebody has violated a law in India, the treatment can’t be different depending on which party you are from. We have seen all kinds of corruption scams happening and BJP leaders being at the centre of them. How many of them have ED or CBI paid a visit to? Kumar Vishwas said that the CM of Delhi is out to divide this nation. Under the law, this is libel and invites prosecution.The action has to be as per the law of the land. In the cases you have mentioned, there have been severe violations of law. So far, they have been protected because one government is trying to back this. But the laws of the country should apply equally to everyone.Q. Yours is a party that originated from a movement. The Delhi CM has made several statements, which he later apologised for. In cases where someone may have gone overboard, in a democracy is there a need for immediate police action?Shah: The idea that there is some central war room where it is decided that the police need to be sent somewhere (is wrong). Punjab police and government decide on the cases. There are many other cases as well. These are political so they tend to be discussed more. The laws of the country should apply equally to everyone. If it is incumbent on me as a public figure not to make slanderous statements without any evidence, it should not be that someone from BJP has that right just because the agencies are under their control. It should be known to the people of the country that laws apply equally.Q. A new L-G has come in recently and several issues have arisen between the government and his office. Do you think he is interfering in governance? What is the relationship like?Shah: I think the people of Delhi are seeing what is unfolding. We are very clear that we are out here to deliver on the mandate that the people of Delhi have given us. If allegations are made against us, we are going to defend ourselves and we’re going to put the facts out. We have faith in the judiciary of this country. So far, 150 cases have been registered against AAP MLAs and ministers. There have been CBI raids, ED raids. Not one of them has stood the scrutiny of courts. The L-G of Delhi is a constitutional authority. Everybody needs to see what role they play in the larger governance system. At the end of the day, it’s the people of Delhi who need to realise what is happening with the mandate that they have given to the Aam Aadmi Party.Q. Why is it taking so long for the revised excise policy to come through? The revised policy was passed in the Cabinet in May but it was not sent to the L-G. Shah: I’m not privy to the timelines. We are going back to the previous regime because an environment was created for private players to pull out. As of date, we have only 468 operational liquor shops and many others said they want to pull out because the environment is not right. With every exit, the government loses revenue. We are very committed to the principles of the new excise policy but we cannot have a situation where we have scarcity for any interim duration.So with all these things, CBI enquiry etc, it may take a longer time to draft a new policy that still retains the principles of what we are trying to achieve. As a lesser evil, we decided to go back to the older regime where the government runs shops in a time-bound manner. This is only for 6 months and hopefully, all the stakeholders can come around with maturity and agree to what the new excise regime looks like.Q. Why did the government come out with the option to opt out of the power subsidy in Delhi? Shah: Many BJP leaders said that the subsidy is not needed and this will destroy the state. So we decided to give the option to all those who are against the subsidy to opt out. We created this option for bus rides for women also. It is not like you can’t go and buy a ticket. Please go and buy it if you want to. In our country targeting mechanisms are very difficult. Identifying who is poor, who is not is tough and therefore we use proxies. We said 200 units of power, why? We could have gone to the socio-economic survey that would itself have led to corruption on the basis of who was categorised as what. If your conscience does not permit you to take a subsidy, don’t take it. This option should have been there earlier.Q. You have formed a government in two states and you are fairly strong in Goa as well. How long will it take for AAP to become a strong opposition in the Lok Sabha? Shah: We believe that as a political party, we cannot decide this. We can show people a ray of hope. We can build an organisation in states and be prepared. We can make people believe that we mean well and we make good on our promises. At the end of the day, the people of this country will have to decide. Will the Aam Aadmi Party emerge as a sizeable party in the Lok Sabha in 2024 or 2029 or whenever? Probably in 2014 or even in 2019, we were not in a position to say that we are there as a viable option across the length and breadth of the country.Today, it is not so. As you yourself mentioned apart from Punjab and Delhi, we have been recognised as a state party in Goa. We have a strong organisation in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. We will perhaps contest in Karnataka and we will be there in Assam. The AAP today exists as a viable option for a large part of the country. People have to decide if they are happy with politics as usual or do they want to try this particular option? And this is what democracy is all about. We trust the people. We know what we have achieved in places like Delhi and Punjab and hopefully, people will support the AAP model.Q. Let us talk about your most recent initiative—the Rozgaar budget. Employment is something that everyone at some point grapples with. What did you have in mind when you tweaked the budget with this in focus? What are the aspirations you have?Shah: Emerging out of the Covid pandemic, the priority that the CM put out was very clear that unemployment and the distress created because of unemployment is the single largest issue facing the nation today. It’s the same in Delhi. We have seen a large number of livelihoods go out because of Covid. Some industries have been shaped permanently because of that. There have been efforts in the past, but I think it was time to fundamentally think about the economic trajectory of Delhi. We asked ourselves, where are the next 1 million to 2 million jobs in Delhi going to come from. It was a huge exercise under the leadership of the deputy CM and the CM, where we spoke to almost all sectors of the economy. It was a four to six-month exercise. Markets of Delhi, the manufacturing sector of Delhi, and the rural outskirts of Delhi.Out of all these conversations is where the plan for the Rozgaar budget, which was announced in this year’s budget, was laid out and it was a very precise plan. There are around 13-14 initiatives. Each has been mapped out as per its potential to create jobs in a five-year horizon. Some of the highlights are the revival of the markets of Delhi. Delhi is a service-based economy and we know that people come to Delhi to visit some of the traditional markets like Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar Market, Chandni Chowk. Because of physical development challenges or many other issues, they say the crowds have been going down. Chandni Chowk was a good template, but we said that probably all the major markets of Delhi need to be redeveloped to a level that can sustain the growth for the next 20-30 years.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxThere is a very ambitious redevelopment that the government has initiated. We will be having a national design competition bringing the best ideas to revive the markets of Delhi. Delhi will also have a shopping festival of a scale that has not been seen in the country before. It is a very ambitious idea. People talk about the shopping festivals in Singapore and Dubai. It’ll take a few years to get there. But Delhi has all the ingredients to pull off an international shopping festival.We are talking to some new economies of Delhi like cloud kitchens and food trucks. These are things that have been happening but in a very ad hoc manner. When we called 30-40 of the major cloud kitchen operators of Delhi for a consultation at DDC, they said they had never met a government official who wanted to understand how the industry works. They listed a litany of issues on licenses. You will see a very forward-looking, progressive cloud kitchen industry. We want Delhi to be a hub for the entire NCR. Come here and set up industrial-scale cloud kitchens and create jobs. In the electronics manufacturing space, we thought over time that maybe manufacturing has no role to play in a city like Delhi but if you look at Taiwan and Singapore, electronics is the largest industry in the world and is actually a clean industry. You don’t pollute a lot and therefore we have identified an 81-acre parcel of land in Baprola as the electronics hub. We are very gung-ho and optimistic.Q. Do you have a target in terms of the number of jobs you want to create? Shah: The entire planning was around 20 lakh jobs in the next five years. We are in the first three or four months of having announced the initiative. A lot of it is preparation for putting these plans out. I would say as soon as by the end of this year, you will start seeing results.

Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: ‘We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea, of course, fiscal management has to happen’
Maharashtra Cabinet ministers allotted portfolios
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:45 am

MAHARASHTRA CHIEF Minister Eknath Shinde allocated portfolios to his 18 Cabinet ministers on Sunday, a week after they were sworn in.Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari approved the portfolio distribution in the evening.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ensured that the majority of important portfolios were allocated to it with deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis managing to keep both Home and Finance departments. CM Shinde kept the Urban Development Department (UDD), which he handled in the previous MVA government. He will handle Information and Technology, Public Works (Public undertakings), Transport, Marketing, Social Justice, Relief and Rehabilitation, Disaster management, Soil and water conservation, Environment and Minority Affairs.Apart from Home, and Finance, Fadnavis has Law and Judiciary, Irrigation, Housing, Power and Protocol.The portfolio distribution shows that despite nine ministers each from both sides, the BJP has managed to hold on to the majority of important departments.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxShinde has restarted the tradition of CM holding the UDD portfolio, which was stopped by then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray had appointed Shinde as the UDD minister, unlike his predecessors. He has also kept Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is involved in some of the biggest projects in the state, including the  multi-thousand crore Nagpur-Mumbai super communication highway.Among the 18 Cabinet ministers, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil will handle Revenue, Animal Husbandry and Dairy development. Maharashtra BJP’s former president Chandrakant Patil will be Higher and Technical Education, Textile and Parliamentary Affairs minister while former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will be Forest, Cultural Affairs and Fisheries minister.Dr Vijaykumar Gavit will be Tribal Development minister while Girish Mahajan will handle Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Medical Education and Sports & youth welfare portfolios. Suresh Khade will be the new Labour minister and Ravindra Chavan will handle Public Works department (PWD); Food, civil supplies and consumer protection. New entrant Atul Save will handle Cooperation and OBC department portfolios and former BJP Mumbai chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha will be the new Tourism, Skill Development and Woman and child welfare minister of Maharashtra.Meanwhile Fadnavis, who was seen as on the backfoot after the party asked him to accept the Deputy CM’s post, has managed to emerge stronger. Not only did he secure important departments, he also successfully upstaged senior BJP leaders such as Patil and Mungantiwar who were given comparatively less important departments. On the other hand, Revenue portfolio to Congress-turned-BJP leader Vikhe-Patil puts him on a bigger rank than others within the BJP.In a shocking demotion in Shinde camp, former agriculture minister Dadaji Bhuse was given the charge of Ports and mining portfolios only. Gulabrao Patil has kept his earlier Water supply and sanitation department. Controversial minister and former forest minister Sanjay Rathod will be the new Food and Drug Administration minister. Shinde loyalist Sandipan Bhumare has got the Employment guarantee scheme and horticulture. Uday Samant will be the new Industries minister of Maharashtra while Tanaji Sawant is being given the responsibility of the Public Health department. Abdul Sattar is the new Agriculture minister while Deepak Kesarkar will be the new School Education and Marathi Language minister. Shambhuraj Desai will handle the State Excise department.

Maharashtra Cabinet ministers allotted portfolios
  • Maharashtra: Government needs to act fast on distribution of portfolios to ministers, say Ajit Pawar
  • Times of India

    PUNE: Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajit Pawar on Saturday said portfolios should be allotted fast to the ministers sworn in recently by the Eknath Shinde government, considering that the monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature would commence from August 17. He iterated his concern over the districts still not having guardian ministers while talking to reporters at the Pune District Central Cooperative Bank, where he was attending a meeting. "Only the chief minister and the deputy chief minister know why there is a delay in all these matters," he said. Ajit Pawar said there was discontent among people over the way the Shinde group parted ways with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and people in Maharashtra never supported such politics. "People have not liked the Shinde group's decision to give ministership to tainted leaders either. Even the leaders within the government are unhappy over the move," the senior NCP leader said. "When leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal and Narayan Rane had stepped out of the party earlier, they failed to win elections owing to lack of support from people. We feel that same could happen with the Shinde group in future. Shinde has claimed that with their alliance with BJP, they will win more than 200 seats. We shall have to see if people will support them," he said. He said that Maha Vikas Aghadi (comprising NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress) was working as an opposition unit in the Assembly. "NCP head Sharad Pawar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take decision about it. MVA together headed for two-and-a-half years and tackled the pandemic challenge effectively," he said. Ajit Pawar refuted claims that NCP's state unit chief Jayant Patil was unhappy over not being given the post of leader of Opposition. "Our party works on the principle of consensus. All the decisions are taken unanimously with the involvement of all senior leaders," he said. He said that it looks like the government does not want the elections to happen now as they feel that the situation is not in its favour. The previous government had decided to increase the representation in the self-governing bodies, considering the increased population. A cabinet note was tabled by Shinde, who was then heading the urban development ministry. The decision was changed after he became the CM. We shall raise this issue in the House.

  • Portfolios to be allocated to Maharashtra ministers soon: Devendra Fadnavis
  • The Economic Times

    Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said portfolios would be allocated to the newly-appointed ministers in the state soon. He also assured that the government would soon release the compensation for crop losses suffered by the state farmers due to heavy rains. Talking to reporters at the airport here, Fadnavis congratulated Chandrashekhar Bawankule on his appointment as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Maharashtra unit president. "Portfolios will be allocated to the new ministers soon," he said in response to a query. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expanded his two-member ministry on Tuesday, 41 days after taking oath as the CM. He inducted 18 ministers - nine each from his rebel Shiv Sena group and the BJP. With this, the strength of Maharashtra ministry has now gone up to 20, less than half the maximum allowed strength of 43. Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, when Fadnavis took oath as deputy CM. The deputy chief minister said the crop loss compensation announced by the government for farmers will be distributed soon and added that the area of crop damages is still increasing. "The compensation will soon be released after calculating losses from all these affected areas," he said. The Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to double the amount of compensation which the farmers affected by the excessive rains in July are entitled to get. "As per the current NDRF (National Disaster Response Fund) norms, a farmer receives Rs 6,800 per hectare as compensation. We have decided to double the amount," CM Shinde had told reporters after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.Talking about Bawankule, Fadnavis said he has been a very staunch worker of the BJP, who rose from the lower rungs and went on to hold various important positions in the organisation. "Bawankule performed very well in all the responsibilities given to him by the party," the deputy CM said.

  • Maharashtra: Tussle over home & other portfolios delays allocation
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The delay in allotment of portfolios and appointment of guardian ministers after expansion of the state cabinet stems from a tussle for portfolios in the 45-day-old government led by CM Eknath Shinde. If a senior politician is to be believed, both CM Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have staked claim on the home portfolio, and in addition, there is dispute on certain other portfolios, resulting in inordinate delay in allocation. "Our information is that within BJP, Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil are keen on the home department, while Shinde feels that it should be allotted to the Shiv Sena," he said. Fadnavis expects the exercise of allocation of portfolios to be completed before August 15. "There is no dispute. Internally, we have completed the exercise. It has been decided which departments will be allotted to BJP and Shiv Sena cabinet members. I am sure the final notification on portfolios will be promulgated before August 15. Even the appointments of guardian ministers will be approved shortly," Fadnavis told TOI. According to reports, while BJP has completed the exercise of allocation of portfolios to its cabinet members, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena is yet to take a decision on several departments. Since there are only 20 cabinet members, including the CM and Dy CM, every minister will get at least two or three departments. "A combination of a prime department and a less significant portfolio has been planned by both BJP and Sena, so every cabinet member will have at least one important department," he said. Stating that the home department is the bone of contention, the politician said that as Fadnavis had held the home portfolio when he was CM, he expects to lead it again. "As home minister, his performance was impressive, so most of BJP's cabinet members felt he should be allotted the home department. However, now unexpectedly Chandrakant Patil has stepped in and staked claim," he said. Apparently, Shinde has taken the view that for better administration, the home department should be with the CM. Congress legislature party leader Balasaheb Thorat said it took 40 days to expand the cabinet and now it has taken another week for allocation of portfolios.

Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis keeps home, finance, leaves imprint on new cabinet
Times of India | 14 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:35 am
Times of India
14 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:35 am

MUMBAI: Days before the monsoon session of the assembly, allocation of portfolios in the state cabinet has been finalized with BJP securing key ministries including home and finance for Devendra Fadnavis. CM Eknath Shinde has kept a large number of berths for himself, presumably to distribute some to supporters in the Shiv Sena in the next phase of cabinet expansion. This includes urban development, public enterprises, environment, general administration and transport. Similarly, Fadnavis has been tasked with home, finance, planning, law & judiciary, water resources, housing and energy, some of which may be divested later. TOI had reported on August 10 that Fadnavis was expected to keep home & finance and Shinde urban development. Most high-profile ministries including Revenue (Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil), Higher Education (Chandrakant Patil), Rural Development (Girish Mahajan) have gone to BJP. According to a BJP cabinet member, Fadnavis had a big say in allocations to both parties. The new-look cabinet underscores the BJP leadership's decision to give the deputy CM a prominent role and blunt the opposition's attack on Shinde. And though there is talk of discontentment over portfolios within both BJP and Sena, Fadnavis denied it. "All are happy, no discontentment," he said. BJP takes driver's seat in state adminThe two ministries in the Maharashtra cabinet considered most sought after - home and finance - had aspirants ranging from the chief minister to BJP veteran Chandrakant Patil. The fact that both have stayed with Devendra Fadnavis is believed to be an indication of the clout that the erstwhile CM commands in the Shiv-BJP coalition. "The allocation of portfolios was directly influenced by Fadnavis. Eknath Shinde agreed to the proposals made by Fadnavis and there was no interference by the BJP leadership. Initially, it was expected that Shinde will seek home department, but following intervention of Fadnavis, it was allocated to him,'' a BJP cabinet member said. Fadnavis, however, chose to underplay his own role saying "allocation of portfolios is the prerogative of chief minister Eknath Shinde." He said Shinde had allotted the departments and "I am sure all cabinet members will do full justice to the departments allotted to them...We are working under the leadership of Shinde." Of the 106 BJP MLAs, 10 have been inducted in the cabinet, while of the 40 in the Shinde camp of Shiv Sena, 10 were included. The bulk of the plum portfolios, however, have been secured by BJP members. Former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who joined BJP a few years ago, along with his son Sujay Vikhe, appears to be a major beneficiary among leaders who have switched loyalties to the BJP in recent years. Fadnavis has allocated him the lucrative revenue portfolio. Among other high-profile assignments to Fadnavis's associates, former state BJP president Chandrakant Patil, who was revenue minister in the earlier BJP-Sena regime, has been allocated higher and technical education, textiles and parliamentary affairs though it is said he may have been keen on his earlier portfolio. Girish Mahajan, who is considered a trusted aide of the deputy CM, was expecting water resources and medical education departments, said sources. Now he has been allocated medical education, rural development, and panchayat raj, all of which are sensitive ministries. In the Fadnavis government in 2014-19, he was minister for water resources and medical education; this time water resources has been retained by the deputy CM himself. Fadnavis, who had drafted the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan to boost conservation and groundwater reserves in arid areas, may be keen to manage the program again. "I am not upset. There is scope for work in rural development department too if one works seriously," said Mahajan. Rebel Sena leader Dada Bhuse who may have expected to retain the agriculture department, which he handled in the MVA government, has been allotted ports and mining. The controversial Sanjay Rathod, who was forest minister under Thackeray and then dropped over allegations in a controversial case, has been rehabilitated following the intervention of Shinde. But he has been given a relatively less significant responsibility, the Food and Drug Administration department. BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar who held finance and planning in the previous Fadnavis government, has been allocated forest, cultural affairs and fisheries. Spokesperson of the rebel camp, Deepak Kesarkar, who was vying for tourism and environment on the grounds that he belongs to the coastal Konkan region, was allotted school education and Marathi language. Abdul Sattar who was angling for minority affairs and revenue, has been allotted agriculture. Tribal leader Vijay Kumar Gavit, who defected from NCP and was expecting medical education, has been allotted tribal development. He was medical education minister during the NCP-Congress rule prior to 2014. A few rebel Sena ministers are believed to dissatisfied with their portfolios and are of the view they had a higher profile under Uddhav Thackeray. "We expect that in the second expansion, we will get a better opportunity,'' said one of them. Fadnavis denied any disputes over portfolios. "If there is a need, some of the departments may be exchanged at a later stage, nothing is watertight," he added.

Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis keeps home, finance, leaves imprint on new cabinet
  • Keys to Maharashtra Cabinet with Fadnavis; keeps Home, Finance
  • The Indian Express

    Even as Eknath Shinde is the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, with both the BJP and Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena gets an equal allocation of nine ministerial berths each, Sunday’s portfolio allocation sends out a clear signal: that the keys of this cabinet will be held by BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.Apart from Urban Development, which has been retained by the CM, all other important portfolios — Home, Finance, Energy and Housing — have gone to Fadnavis.For any coalition government, the tussle is usually confined to the top four portfolios — Urban Development, Home, Finance and Revenue. Of these four, Shinde only got Urban Development. The remaining three are with the BJP — two with Fadnavis and the third, Revenue, with senior BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, considered a key Fadnavis hand.Sources said Vikhe Patil, the former Opposition leader from the Congress who joined the BJP in July 2019, has been rewarded with the Revenue portfolio for his “loyalty to Fadnavis”. Revenue is usually the most desired post after CM and Deputy CM. A crucial ministry that monitors developments across 355 talukas covering 40,000-plus villages in Maharashtra, it is considered the backbone of any government as it helps control state administration at the grass roots.Fadnavis, who was forced to settle for the Deputy CM post, has been entrusted with greater responsibilities in the running of the coalition government.The BJP, which is larger party in the coalition with 106 MLAs, has managed to convince the Shinde Sena that it has the rightful claim over plum portfolios.Not surprisingly, the party has got Home, Finance, Housing, Energy, Revenue, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Forest, Culture, Fisheries, Higher and Technical Education, Textile, Parliamentary Affairs, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Medical Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, Tribal Welfare, Labour, Public Works Department, Food and Civil supplies, Cooperative, OBC Welfare, Tourism, Skill Development, Women and Child Development, and Protocol.The Shinde Sena, with 50 members — 40 rebel Sena and 10 Independents — have been allotted General Administration, Urban Development, I&T, Social Justice, Relief and Rehabilitation, Disaster Management, Water Conservation, Environment and Climate Change, Minorities Welfare and Wakf, Water Supply and Sanitation, Ports and Mining, Food and Drugs Administration, Industries, Public Health and Family Welfare, Agriculture, Excise, Employment Guarantee Scheme and Horticulture, School Education and Marathi Bhasha.Forty-one days after Shinde and Fadnavis took the oath of office on June 30, the Cabinet was expanded with nine ministers each from the BJP and Shinde Sena.The Maharashtra government can have 43 ministers in all, including the CM. With the current strength of the Cabinet at 20, 23 berths still remain to be filled.Said a BJP insider, “Fadnavis will keep only Home and Finance. In the next Cabinet expansion, the other two portfolios he now has (Housing and Energy) will be given to the new ministers from the BJP.”The portfolios allocated to senior BJP ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil have raised eyebrows. Mungantiwar, who held the key Finance ministry along with Forest in the previous Fadnavis Cabinet (2014-2019), has now got Forest, Fisheries and Culture.Former state party president and former minister Chandrakant Patil has got the portfolios of Higher and Technical Education, Textile, and Parliamentary Affairs. In the previous BJP government, Patil had PWD, Cooperation and Marketing.Senior BJP MLA Vijaykumar Gavit from Nandurbar is the Tribal Welfare Minister. Gavit, who hails from the tribal community, had joined the BJP from the NCP ahead of the 2014 Assembly polls.Girish Mahajan, seen as a close associate of Fadnavis, has got Rural Development, Medical Education and Sports and Youth Welfare. In the earlier Fadnavis government, he held the Water Resources ministry.The key departments of PWD and Food and Civil Supplies have gone to BJP’s Ravindra Chavan.A senior BJP functionary said, “The portfolio allocation should not come as a surprise. The BJP conceded the most coveted post of CM to Eknath Shinde. So we were bound to extract important portfolios.”

  • Maharashtra Cabinet: Fadnavis is Home & Finance Minister; CM Shinde Retains Urban Development
  • News18

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde — who expanded his cabinet on August 9 — retained the urban development department and allocated the crucial home and finance portfolios to his deputy Devendra Fadnavis. Notably, Shinde has also kept the environment portfolio, which Aaditya Thackeray earlier helmed, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.Shinde has also kept with himself 11 other departments including general administration, PWD, information and public relations, transport, marketing, social justice, disaster management, relief and rehabilitation, soil and water conservation, and minority development.BJP seems to have cornered all the plum portfolios with party MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil being made the new revenue minister, who will also handle the animal husbandry and dairy development departments. Senior BJP MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar will be heading forestry, cultural activities, and fisheries, while former state party chief Chandrakant Patil will helm the departments of higher and technical education, textile industry and parliamentary affairs.Shiv Sena MLA Tanaji Sawant is the new state health minister. Other Sena MLAs Abdul Satar and Deepak Kesarkar have been allocated the agriculture, and school education departments, respectively. Gulabrao Patil is the new water supply and sanitation minister, while Sanjay Rathore will head the food and drug administration department.ALSO READ: Shinde Expands Maharashtra Cabinet Over 40 Days After Being Sworn in as CM | Full List of MinistersBJP’s Girish Mahajan is the new sports and youth welfare minister, and will also look after village development and panchayati raj, and medical education departments. BJP MLA Vijayakumar Gavit will handle tribal development and Sena MLA Uday Samant is the new industry minister.Maharashtra cabinet’s maximum allowed strength is 43.Meanwhile, Fadnavis on Sunday said the BJP and the Shiv Sena faction led by Shinde could exchange portfolios, if needed, ahead of the next cabinet expansion. “There is no dispute between the BJP and CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena over the portfolio distribution. If required, we can exchange some portfolios ahead of the next cabinet expansion,” said Fadnavis while responding to a query about himself and Shinde holding several portfolios among themselves. Earlier this week, Shinde expanded his cabinet more than 40 days after being sworn in as the Maharashtra CM. As many as 18 leaders — nine each from the BJP and Shinde-led Shiv Sena camp — were inducted into the Maharashtra cabinet.(With PTI inputs)Read the Latest News and Breaking News here

  • New Maharashtra ministers get portfolios; Shinde retains urban devpt, Fadnavis bags home, finance
  • The Indian Express

    One and half months after the swearing-in of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and a week after 18 Cabinet members were sworn in, the ministers in Maharashtra were allocated Cabinet portfolios on Sunday.The BJP ensured that the majority of important portfolios are allocated to it with Fadnavis trumping over the others by managing to ensure that both Home and Finance departments stay with him. Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari approved the Cabinet portfolio distribution on Sunday evening.Shinde retained the Urban Development Department which he had handled in the previous government led by Uddhav Thackeray. Along with it, he will handle Information and Technology, Public Works (PWD), Transport, Marketing, Social Justice, Relief and Rehabilitation, Disaster Management, Soil and Water Conservation, Environment, and Minority Affairs.Besides Home and Finance, Fadnavis held on to important portfolios such as Law and Judiciary, Irrigation, Housing, Power, and Protocol.Among the 18 Cabinet ministers, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil will handle Revenue as well as Animal Husbandry and Dairy development. Former state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil will oversee Higher and Technical Education, Textiles, and Parliamentary Affairs, while former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will be the Minister for Forest, Cultural Affairs and Fisheries.Dr Vijaykumar Gavit will be the Minister for Tribal Development, while Girish Mahajan will handle Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Medical Education, and Sports & Youth Welfare portfolios. Suresh Khade will be the new Labour Minister and Ravindra Chavan will handle Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation as well as Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection. New entrant Atul Save will handle Cooperation and OBC portfolios, and former BJP Mumbai chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha will be the new Tourism, Skill Development and Woman and Child Welfare Minister of Maharashtra.In a demotion within the Shinde camp, former agriculture minister Dadaji Bhuse was only given Ports and Mining portfolios. Abdul Sattar is the new Agriculture Minister. Gulabrao Patil has retained his earlier portfolio of Water Supply and Sanitation. Controversial leader and former forest minister Sanjay Rathod will oversee Food and Drug Administration. Shinde loyalist Sandipan Bhumare has been given Employment Guarantee Scheme and Horticulture. Uday Samant will be the new Industries Minister, while Tanaji Sawant has been given the responsibility of the Public Health Department. Deepak Kesarkar will handle School Education and Marathi Language, and Shambhuraj Desai will oversee the Excise Department.

  • Eknath Shinde Announces Cabinet Portfolios: Who Gets What
  • Ndtv

    Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde today allocated portfolios in his cabinet, five days after 18 ministers took oath. While the chief minister kept urban development and 11 other ministries with him, the crucial home department was given to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.Mr Fadnavis will also handle Finance and Planning, another key department.Here is the full list of portfolios allocated in the Maharashtra government today:Mr Shinde's cabinet expansion was sealed earlier this week, 41 days after he was sworn in, displacing Uddhav Thackeray.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMr Thackeray was forced to quit as Chief Minister after Mr Shinde, a senior leader from his party, the Shiv Sena, instigated a huge revolt in partnership with the BJP. Eknath Shinde was rewarded by the BJP with the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

  • Maharashtra Cabinet: CM Shinde Keeps Urban Development; Fadnavis Gets Home, Finance
  • India

    Maharashtra Cabinet: Days after Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expanded his cabinet, on Sunday, portfolios were allocated to the minsters. While Shinde retained the urban development department, the crucial home and finance portfolios were allocated to his deputy Devendra Fadnavis.Also Read - Income Tax Alert: Finance Ministry Planning To Review Exemption-Free Tax Regime. Details HereChief Minister Eknath Shinde-led government inducted 18 ministers into his cabinet last week. After toppling Uddhav Thackeray’s government, the rebel Shiv Sena faction formed a new government in Maharashtra on 30 June with Shinde taking oath as the Chief Minister and Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy. Also Read - BJP Takes Swipe At Pandit Nehru In New Video On Partition, Congress Hits BackChief Minister Eknath Shinde expanded his two-member ministry on Tuesday, 41 days after taking oath as the CM. He inducted 18 ministers – nine each from his rebel Shiv Sena group and the BJP. With this, the strength of Maharashtra ministry has now gone up to 20, less than half the maximum allowed strength of 43. Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, when Fadnavis took oath as deputy CM. Also Read - Gautam Adani Given Z Category Security Based On IB Report, More Than 30 Army Personnel Will Be DeployedThe deputy chief minister said the crop loss compensation announced by the government for farmers will be distributed soon and added that the area of crop damages is still increasing.“The compensation will soon be released after calculating losses from all these affected areas,” he said.

The many lives of Shah Faesal: the doctor-bureaucrat who took to politics, now back where he began
The Indian Express | 23 hours ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
23 hours ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

With his appointment as Deputy Secretary in the Union Ministry of Tourism on Saturday, Shah Faesal had come full circle — the young Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official who gave up his career in a flush of idealism and took to politics “to change the political dynamics” of Kashmir, before finally returning to government service.In the summer of 2010, amid anger in Kashmir against the government over civilian killings that had led to violent street protests, the region basked in the glory of a 26-year-old doctor from Lolab Valley in Kupwara — Faesal had become the first person from Jammu & Kashmir to top the UPSC exams and make it to the IAS.Despite the massive public uprising against the government, the success of Faesal, the son of a school teacher who had been killed by militants, had inspired a number of youngsters who saw education and the civil services as a way out of their conflict-ridden lives. Around that time, Kashmir saw a surge in the number of youth cracking the prestigious civil services exams.The young bureaucrat was appointed to some of the most prestigious posts in his home state, including as Deputy Commissioner, Director of School Education and Managing Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation.Eight years after joining the IAS, Faesal went to Harvard University as a Fulbright fellow. He was supposed to return to his duties in June 2019, but in January that year, while home on vacation, Faesal surprised everyone when he announced his resignation from the IAS citing “unabated killings” in Kashmir.In March 2019, four months before the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Faesal founded the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM), a party that promised a new political alternative to Kashmir with its “hawa badlegi (winds of change)” slogan.Then came August 5, 2019, when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’ special status and downgraded the state into two Union Territories. A day before the abrogation, the mainstream political leadership and key separatist leaders were put behind bars. Faesal, who was in Delhi, escaped that round-up, but on August 14, he was detained at the Delhi airport, while on his way to the US.A day before his detention, Faesal had said in an interview to BBC’s Hard Talk that there were “only two types of people in Kashmir now — stooges and separatists, and I am not a stooge”.By the time he was released from detention 10 months later, Faesal appeared a changed man. On August 9, 2020, he announced that he was quitting both politics and the party he founded.While Faesal resigned from the IAS in January 2019, his resignation was not accepted. The government cited a pending inquiry into some of his social media posts for not accepting his resignation, thus leaving the door open for his return. In May, he returned to the bureaucracy, before being finally appointed in the Union Home Ministry on Saturday.Earlier this year, he had said in a series of tweets, “8 months of my life (Jan 2019-Aug 2019) created so much baggage that I was almost finished. While chasing a chimera, I lost almost everything that I had built over the years. Job. Friends. Reputation. Public goodwill. But I never lost hope. My idealism had let me down.”

The many lives of Shah Faesal: the doctor-bureaucrat who took to politics, now back where he began
Devendra Fadnavis Scores Big In Eknath Shinde Cabinet Allocation
Ndtv | 1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:00 pm
Ndtv
1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:00 pm

Eknath Shinde took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister with the help of the BJP.Mumbai: Seven weeks after he took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister with the help of the BJP, Eknath Shinde returned the favour by handing out the big ministries of Home and Finance to his Deputy Devendra Fadnavis.Mr Shinde, who expanded his two-member cabinet on Tuesday by inducting 18 ministers, has kept the Urban Development portfolio with himself.A statement from the Chief Minister's Office said Mr Fadnavis will also handle the Planning Ministry, and BJP minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil will be the new Revenue Minister.BJP minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has been made the Forest Minister, a portfolio he handled earlier.Former state BJP president Chandrakant Patil is the new minister for higher and technical education, He will also look after parliamentary affairs.From the Eknath Shinde camp of Shiv Sena rebels, Deepak Kesarkar is the new minister for school education, while Abdul Sattar has been given the Agriculture portfolio.Mr Shinde's cabinet expansion was sealed earlier this week, 41 days after he was sworn in, displacing Uddhav Thackeray.Mr Thackeray was forced to quit as Chief Minister after Mr Shinde, a senior leader from his party, the Shiv Sena, instigated a huge revolt in partnership with the BJP. Eknath Shinde was rewarded by the BJP with the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comDevendra Fadnavis had taken the Deputy's job hours after announcing he would not be part of the government. Having served as Chief Minister earlier, he had been concerned about a diminished role but was persuaded to take the job by his party.

Devendra Fadnavis Scores Big In Eknath Shinde Cabinet Allocation



Maharashtra Covid News

Maharashtra: 164 new Covid cases, 247 recoveries in Vidarbha
Times of India | 2 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:45 pm
Times of India
2 hours ago | 15-08-2022 | 04:45 pm

NAGPUR: The 11 districts in the Vidarbha region together reported 164 new cases while 247 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. No death was reported due to Covid in the last 24 hours. More than 6,000 tests were conducted in the region during the last 24 hours. With 164 of them positive, the test positivity is less than 3.5% in the region. Now, less than 1,300 patients are under treatment. Out of them, 600-odd are in Nagpur district alone. Out of the 1,300 under treatment patients, less than 100 are hospitalized. In Nagpur, 43 patients are hospitalized. Only 12 are hospitalized in Akola. Total 1,773 tests were conducted in Nagpur district. Out of them, 1277 were conducted in the city and 496 in rural part. Out of them, 41 tested positive in the city and 40 in rural. Total 164 patients recovered in a day. Now, 609 patients are under treatment in the district. Out of them, 43 are in the hospitals. City now has 365 patients under treatment and rural has more than 250. The change in statistics indicate that cases are coming down in city and increasing slowly in district.

Maharashtra: 164 new Covid cases, 247 recoveries in Vidarbha
  • 51 Covid deaths in Delhi this week, highest in 6 months
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Delhi recorded 51 deaths from Covid-19 in the week ending Sunday, the highest weekly toll from the pandemic in the capital in six months, even as nationwide cases fell for the third week running. Deaths from the virus registered a slight rise in the country as 307 fatalities were recorded during the week (August 8-14), with several states yet to report their numbers for Sunday. The total may cross 310, which would be the highest weekly Covid toll in the country since the first week of March, when 626 deaths were reported, as per TOI’s Covid database. Last week, 295 deaths were recorded. Delhi weekly cases rise by 18%, highest in IndiaThe last time Delhi had reported higher Covid fatalities was in February 7-13, when the toll was 89. All figures are of fresh deaths, excluding fatalities from earlier months reconciled with the data during this period. India was likely to log around 1.05 lakh fresh Covid cases in the week (August 8-14), down nearly 16% from the previous week’s total of over 1.25 lakh. While new cases were declining in most states, Delhi, Haryana, UP, and Rajasthan, along with Mizoram, continued to record a rise. Cases rose by over 18% in Delhi, which registered 15,068 new infections during the week, the highest in the country. In Haryana, cases surged by 12% during the week while UP’s rise could not be quantified because the state’s data for Sunday wasn't immediately available. Rajasthan posted the highest rise in cases this week, with numbers up 43% to 4,260. The rise was a modest 7% in Mizoram. Meanwhile, Maharashtra showed signs of another possible increase in cases, with numbers rising towards the end of the week. The state reported 12,608 cases during August 8-14, up 1% from the previous week’s tally. In Goa, too, weekly numbers were up 3%. Apart from Delhi, deaths rose in Karnataka, Punjab and Gujarat.

  • Mumbai: More than 800 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, most in 24 hours in past 44 days
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The state and the city continued to witness a spike in new Covid-19 cases. On Sunday, the city saw its highest single-day detection in 44 days, with 882 fresh cases. It also increased the city's daily positivity rate to nearly 10%. The state registered 2,082 cases, a marginal rise from Saturday's 2,040 cases. About 65% of new cases in the state were reported from Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Besides Mumbai, which is adding to the lion's share of cases daily, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Raigad and Panvel detected fresh cases. Active cases in the state crossed the 12,000-mark on Sunday, while for Mumbai, it breached the 5,000-mark after nearly 40 days. The city saw nearly 60 (57) admissions on Sunday, the second day in a row of registering more than 50 hospitalisations due to Covid. Over 312 people are currently in hospitals due to Covid. The state registered three deaths on Sunday, including one from Mumbai and two from Pune circle. TNN

  • India records 14,092 Covid-19 infections; active cases decline
  • The Indian Express

    India added 14,092 new coronavirus infections taking the virus tally to 4,42,53,464, while the active cases dipped to 1,16,861, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.The death toll climbed to 5,27,037 with 41 fatalities which includes 12 deaths reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated.The active cases comprise 0.26 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.54 per cent, the ministry said.A decrease of 2,403 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 3.69 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 4.57 per cent, according to the ministry.The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,36,09,566, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent.According to the ministry, 207.99 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive.India’s Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19 that year. It crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4, 2021, three crore on June 23, 2021. It crossed the four-crore mark on January 25 this year.The 29 new fatalities include nine from Delhi, five from Karnataka, three each from Gujarat and West Bengal, two from Uttar Pradesh, one each from Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

  • Maharashtra sees 2,040 Covid-19 cases, one death, 2,048 recoveries
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Saturday reported 2,040 Covid-19 cases and one death, which took the tally in the state to 80,70,258 and the toll to 1,48,168, an official said. Maharashtra had reported 1,975 cases and five deaths on Friday, he added. Mumbai Circle led with 1,222 new cases, followed by Pune Circle (312), Nagpur Circle (184), Nashik Circle (138), Kolhapur Circle (72), Latur Circle (61), Akola Circle (32)and Aurangabad Circle (18), he said. The lone fatality occurred in Navi Mumbai, which is part of the Mumbai Circle, the official said. The recovery count increased by 2,048 in the last 24 hours and reached 79,10,243, leaving the state with 11,847 active cases, he said. Mumbai accounted for 4,624 active cases, followed by 2,118 on Pune and 1,401 in Thane, as per state health department data. So far, 8,36,13,679 samples have been examined for coronavirus in Maharashtra, including 34,186 in the last 24 hours, the data revealed. The recovery rate was 98.02 per cent, the fatality rate was 1.83 per cent and the positivity rate stood at 5.96 per cent, as per data. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 8070258; fresh cases 2040; death toll 148168; recoveries 79,10,243; active cases 11847; total tests 8,36,13,679.

  • Mumbai Covid count at 42-day high
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Covid-19 cases hit a 42-day high on Friday as the city saw a second spike this week. Mumbai reported 871 cases of Covid-19, the highest single-day count after July 1 (978 cases). On Wednesday, the city had recorded 852 cases, the highest in weeks. Till then, cases averaged around 380. Active cases of coronavirus infection have increased by 125% since the beginning of August. The rise in cases also pushed up the daily positivity rate to nearly 10% (9.4%) on Friday. Around 40 people were hospitalised across city Covid hospitals, but ICU occupancy continued to be low. As of Friday, a little over 1% (317) of Covid beds were occupied. Currently, 13 patients are on ventilator. Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the Covid task force, said that till hospital admissions are not witnessing a notable rise, there should not be cause for concern. He attributed the rise in cases to the highest testing numbers. "There is a rise in H1N1 influenza. In addition, a lot of people are coming with flu-like symptoms, which has pushed up the number of Covid tests being carried out," he said. A civic official said that of the 871 cases found, up to 95% were asymptomatic. The sole person to die was a 58-year-old with a history of liver disease. On Friday, Maharashtra registered a marginal rise in cases. The state recorded 1,975 fresh cases.

Pune: Focus on hospitalisations, mortality rate, say Dr NK Arora
Times of India | 1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:46 am
Times of India
1 day ago | 14-08-2022 | 07:46 am

PUNE: Amid the increase in Covid-19 cases nationwide, Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the Covid Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), said on Saturday that besides positivity, states should also closely track hospitalisation and mortality data. In most states, positivity rates are high due to low testing and high circulation of the virus, Dr Arora told TOI. "The way forward is tracking the actual severity of the infection. There are around 10-12 Omicron sub-lineages circulating and many of the current strains are all 20-30% more infectious than the original Omicron variant. But hospitalisation and deaths are still low. The new variants of Omicron with higher transmission rates are causing a spike in cases and an increase in positivity rates," he added. Omicron subvariants include BA.4, BA.5, BA.2.75 and BA.2.38. Every week, INSACOG - the surveillance network of labs - reviews data on circulating viruses and clinical outcomes, including hospitalisation and deaths. Dr Arora said there has been no increase in hospitalisation rates anywhere in the country. "We have been regularly seeing new Omicron sub-lineages in the country for the last eight months but fortunately, none of these variants have led to an increased severity of cases," he said. He also urged people to follow all precautions, especially if a variant emerges with the potential to cause severe disease. Some regions and states, including West Bengal and Delhi, have kept up the mask rule. "And this needs to be welcomed," Dr Arora said, adding that it will take a few more months of surveillance to know if a virulent variant has emerged or if it's time for more relaxations. Maharashtra's overall weekly positivity rate is at 5% and state officials said hospitalisation rates have been stable, even if 10 districts have positivity rates higher than 10%. Pune, Gondia and Nagpur are some of the districts with positivity rates over 10%. Pune district's positivity rate is currently at 12%, much lower than the 14% it had early in August. But hospitalisation rate in the state is at 6% and only 1.5% of the caseload are serious patients, officials said. On Saturday, the Pune Metropolitan Region recorded 302 Covid cases and one death. Some 403 people were also discharged from care. The region has 139 Covid patients in hospital. Another 1,868 are in home isolation. The state reported 2,040 cases. The overall case tally is now 80,70,258 and toll is at 1,48,168, an official said.

Pune: Focus on hospitalisations, mortality rate, say Dr NK Arora
Lucknow: Two wanted by Thane cops held
Times of India | 2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 05:33 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 13-08-2022 | 05:33 am

LUCKNOW: The UP Special Task Force (STF) on Friday arrested Khurshid and Ashraf from Shohratgarh area of Siddharthnagar district. The duo has been named in 12 cases of robbery, dacoity and theft in Thane and one theft case in Madhya Pradesh. The two had fled from the Maharashtra police custody in 2021. They had earlier been arrested for a dacoity at a jewellery store in Thane and were sent to jail where they tested positive for Covid in 2021 following which they were hospitalized. They, however, fled from the hospital and were absconding since then. Additional superintendent of police, STF, Vishal Vikram Singh said that during interrogation Khurshid disclosed that they used to commit docoities along with their aides. Khurshid further stated that in the last week of November when they were shifted from jail to a hospital because of Covid they planned their escape. "Finally one day both Khurshid and Ashraf managed to escape from the 16th floor of the hospital where they were admitted with the help of a downpipe. Thereafter, they drove to Siddhartnagar and started living there," the ASP said. Last month the Thane police tracked the mobile phone of one of the accused in Siddharthnagar and alerted the STF. Bothe the miscreants were planning to escape to Nepal on fake identity when they were arrested by the STF. A car, bearing registration number of Maharashtra and two mobile phones were recovered from them.

Lucknow: Two wanted by Thane cops held
Why are swine flu & seasonal influenza spiralling? How do you know Covid-19 from seasonal flu?
The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 12-08-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
3 days ago | 12-08-2022 | 11:45 am

Dr. Atul Patel is a director and chief consultant for the Department of Infectious Diseases, Sterling Hospital. He is a visiting assistant professor at the Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida, Tampa, US. He has a special interest in HIV/TB co-infections. His group is researching on an effective programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission at the ID Clinic, AhmedabadThe past two years were largely uneventful with respect to swine flu and/or seasonal influenza cases and related mortality. We are again witnessing a surge this year. What is driving it?The term, swine flu, is used for the 2009 H1N1 strain, which was a recombinant of influenza viruses in birds, pigs and humans. The strain evolves every year, which is why these subsequent strains are termed under the broad category of seasonal influenza. The surge in seasonal influenza cases in a specific year depends on the general population’s immunity to the specific strain circulating in a specific year. We are seeing swine flu patients and seasonal influenza patients at present as both the viruses are in circulation. If we look at the epidemiology of seasonal influenza, it circulates in the community in tropical countries throughout the year with two big spikes — first in winter and the second in the monsoon. So this is the time when we expect an increase in the number of seasonal influenza cases. This is a major difference compared to temperate countries such as the US or Europe where only one surge is seen in the year that is winter.Right now we can say we are seeing an equal number of Covid-19 and seasonal influenza patients. In fact, the number of seasonal influenza cases is more compared to the last two years. That may be because we are not strictly wearing masks and sanitising hands, something that we did consistently through the two years during Covid-19. These are two important non-pharmaceutical interventions, which reduce the susceptibility to seasonal influenza as well as Covid-19. Furthermore, routine vaccination for seasonal influenza has gone down. It is not being highly recommended in high-risk groups by the government unlike pre Covid-19 years and has now taken a backseat following Covid-19. We can control the number of seasonal influenza patients in the community through vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis with Oseltamivir (Tamiflu). We should promote an annual shot of the seasonal influenza vaccine in the media also.How does seasonal influenza impact an individual’s morbidity risk?Like Covid-19, those with co-morbidities are at a high risk of disease progression and complication when it comes to seasonal influenza. We are seeing that there is mortality in patients with significant co-morbidities. The sensitivities are almost the same as those for Covid-19 — haemato-oncological problems, malignancy, post-transplant cases, chronic obstructive lung disease, obesity, diabetes and so on.In terms of susceptibility to seasonal influenza, it is more or less equal across all age groups, except in paediatric patients and those aged above 65 years. These two groups are such that even without any co-morbid conditions, they are more prone to disease severity. For a majority of youngsters, most of whom are immuno-competent, seasonal influenza is a self-limiting disease. Symptoms include high grade fever, throat pain, headache, body pain, runny nose, which last for five to seven days or so. Then they report spontaneous and uneventful recovery. Taking fever-reducers such as Paracetamol work for healthy immuno-competent individuals but for paediatric and aged people, and those with comorbidities, we generally prescribe the antiviral drug Tamiflu, a very effective agent for influenza.With fever being the first symptom and the monsoon known for the resurgence of viral infections, seasonal influenza, vector-borne diseases, and now Covid-19, what should one look out for?With most viral infections, including dengue fever, the first episode is usually self-limiting in immuno-competent people. Such individuals report an uneventful recovery without much medical intervention. But those in high risk and co-morbid groups, should not ignore their fever, visit their doctor, get tested and secure a definite diagnosis.They should get a diagnostic evaluation done on the first day of the onset of symptoms rather than waiting for a few days as by then the disease can progress and complications may crop up. For healthy individuals who do not have many symptoms, except for fever and body pain, there is not much cause for worry. Their assessment and evaluation should be symptom-driven.With Covid-19 and seasonal influenza circulating in the population, how do we go about the diagnosis, given that most individuals just opt for a Covid-19 test? Surely a negative Covid-19 test doesn’t rule out an individual’s probability of seasonal influenza instead?We usually recommend the RT-PCR for both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. In clinical practice, we have multiplex PCR. This assay includes a target panel of all the common viruses producing respiratory symptoms. So a single multiplex PCR can confirm whether it’s influenza A, influenza B, parainfluenza, COVID19, swine flu or other respiratory viruses. But it is very expensive, costing around Rs 11,500 or so, as it checks multiple pathogens. The results come within two-and-a-half hours and are highly reliable.How is a confirmed diagnosis of the type of seasonal influenza one is afflicted with significant for health management?Knowing the final and confirmed diagnosis is very important, as for the three viruses — influenza A, B and swine flu — Tamiflu is highly effective. Besides, most of these patients will respond to the antiviral drug within 48 hours of taking it. This is also one of the diagnostic traits that can be an indicator. So basically if someone improves markedly after taking Tamiflu, it can be said that he/she has been affected by one of the three viruses. That apart, a PCR test can tell you which kind it is because symptoms are more or less the same for seasonal influenza, swine flu or influenza B virus. From a clinical examination perspective, one can say that an individual has seasonal influenza but for the specific virus, only a PCR test can give a final and confirmed diagnosis.

Why are swine flu & seasonal influenza spiralling? How do you know Covid-19 from seasonal flu?