Latest Maharashtra Breaking News & Headlines

Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

Amid protests from the NCP and the Swarayja Sanghatana, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari arrived in the city to attend the Pune International Literary Festival on Friday. The event at YASHADA went off peacefully with police making unprecedented security arrangements.The 10th edition of the PILF was open only to those who were invited. Except for five newspapers, media outlets were kept away. Inside the auditorium, video recording was barred. Guests were frisked several times as police took no chance to ensure full-protection to the governor. Even inside the hall, police made their presence felt. They were also deployed on all roads leading to the venue.“Yes, no video recording or audio recording was allowed inside the hall,” said Sonia Prabhu, one of the organisers.As the governor’s cavalcade neared the venue, members of the Swarajya Sanghatana shouted slogans and waved black flags to protest against the controversial remarks he had made about Chhatrapati Shivaji at an Aurangabad function.“We protested against the governor who had insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As the governor’s convoy was approaching the YASHADA gates, we raised loud slogans and waved black flags to register our protest,” said Chhatrapati Sambhajiraj, who is a descendant of Shivaji and heads the Sanghatana.Dhananjay Jadhav, the Pune unit head of the Sanghatana, said. “Even Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has complimented us through social media. We were released around 3.30pm,” he said.Jadhav said the Sanghatana would not allow the governor to hold any event in the state. “We will protest wherever he goes and try to stop him from attending events,” he said.Koshyari and Sudha Murthy, president of the Infosys Foundation, inaugurated the event. Author Manjiri Prabhu, the main organiser, thanked the chief guests and all those who had supported PILF over the years and made it a grand success.Koshyari, whose one-liners have been triggering protests of late, looked at ease with himself as he elicited laughter from the audience with his anecdotes.The governor did not let the opportunity to allude to the controversies slip. “I often read that there are literary events taking place in different cities in the country…But there are always some controversies at these events…Isn’t it?” he asked.The governor said when Prabhu had met him and requested him to be the chief guest at the event, he had told her that he was not the right person to inaugurate the event. “I am a student of literature, but please invite someone who deserves to be the chief guest. But when I saw Sudha Murthy here, I thought I got an opportunity to interact with a litterateur,…” he said.The governor confessed that he did not get time to read books. “I meet scores of writers and authors daily. They present me with books. I have collected thousands of books over the years. But I have to meet people, attend events and festivals….I don’t get time to read books,” he said.He said the spirit of such literary events should be kept alive as they gave even unknown writers a chance to showcase their skills. “Such events give people with different ideologies an opportunity to come on a platform and express themselves. It is a good idea to have such events regularly,” he said.Explaining the difference between journalism and literature, the governor said, “A journalist is unread while literature is not read…” This again drew laughter from the audience.Police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said nothing untoward happened at the literary festival. “The event went off peacefully. We had made tight security arrangements,” he said.Journalists such as Vinita Deshmukh, Abhay Vaidya and Alifiya Khan were felicitated by the chief guests.

Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

A ‘controversial’ real estate developer, Ajay Ashar, known to be one of the closest aides of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and works for him behind the curtains, was appointed as the vice-president of the state planning body MITRA (Maharashtra Institution for Transformation).Ashar has been working with Shinde for more than a decade now. Known in the inner circles of Maharashtra’s power corridors for working alongside Shinde, Ashar was never in the public eye until his appointment in a government body.In October 2022, the Maharashtra state cabinet cleared the decision to form MITRA on the lines of NITI Aayog with the aim to achieve rapid and comprehensive development of the state through the participation of private sector and non-governmental organisations.During the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Ashar was reportedly on the radar of the central probe agencies but he was neither named in any scam nor was he called for any probe by any agencies. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya in 2020 had even tweeted Ashar’s name terming him as a partner of then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Somaiya did not answer the phone call when contacted for a comment.The state government also appointed former Shiv Sena MLA from Kolhapur Rajesh Kshirsagar, who has switched sides to join hands with Shinde after the split in the party, as the second vice-president of MITRA.Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant questioned the appointment of Ashar reminding how the BJP, when in Opposition, had targeted certain builders, including Ashar. “When in Opposition, MVA was accused of waiving off premium on certain real estate projects for benefitting a few builders. Now, those builders are being given responsibilities of planning for Maharashtra. Moreover, how fair it is to hand over planning of the state into the hands of a builder?” he said.Meanwhile, Ashar was unavailable for a comment.

Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
Mumbai autorickshaw driver stuns passenger by naming all countries in Europe and more. Watch
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

One should never judge a person by their profession or milieu. One often equates knowledge with people in high-paying jobs. However, a man driving an autorickshaw left his passenger stunned by his vast knowledge about a lot of things.A man named Rajiv Krishna shared how he was stuck in Mumbai’s infamous traffic when his driver initiated a conversation with him. Sensing that he was getting restless as he was close to his destination, the auto-driver started asking him which countries he has been to. To his utter surprise, he told him that he knows all the 44 countries in Europe. He then started rattling the names of all 44 countries in near alphabetical order. He then followed it up by naming the presidents and prime ministers of the prominent countries in Europe.“Being a native of Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, he went on to name all 35 districts of his home state. Not just that, he went on to name all 33 districts of Gujarat and all 75 districts of UP,” the caption explained. The driver then proceeded to educate him on the highlights of demonetisation, the 2G scandal and the Panama papers.“The man is named Ramdev and he is 61 years of age. He drives his rickshaw around for 8-9 hours a day just to keep himself active,” says the caption. The most surprising element of the conversation was when he got to know that he never received formal education as his family could only afford two meals a day.“All the knowledge that he had gained was through self study. He taught himself the alphabet, numbers and was blessed with the uncanny ability to retain vast amounts of information. In a parallel universe he could have been a professor with a doctorate at a top tier University,” Krishna wrote.Watch the video below:  A post shared by Rajiv Krishna (@krish_rajiv)Posted on November 7, the clip has received more than 3.82 lakh views.“I loved the way you worded the story. This video and your caption both warmed my heart,” commented a user. “Call him for your upsc exam centre ride for a quick revision,” said another. “Moments like these really humble us, the education we take for granted is a privilege that most others can only dream of,” another netizen wrote.

Mumbai autorickshaw driver stuns passenger by naming all countries in Europe and more. Watch
Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

The Bombay High Court was informed on Friday that closure reports had been filed on two FIRs lodged against Maharashtra BJP MLA Ganesh Naik for allegedly threatening and raping a woman, who claimed that he was her son’s biological father. The court then directed the magistrate to dispose of the proceedings within three months.The prosecution submitted that it could not find substance in the allegations against the Airoli MLA. Additional public prosecutor Prajakta P Shinde told the court that in both the matters, A-summary reports were filed by the Navi Mumbai police in July and September, after the Shinde Sena-BJP government replaced the MVA government in the state.An A-summary report on a case is submitted to a magistrate when there is no clue about culprits, or when the accused is known but there is no evidence to justify his being sent to the magistrate for trial.A bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and R N Laddha was hearing Naik’s plea seeking the quashing of the FIRs registered against him at the CBD Belapur police station. He was booked in April after the woman lodged a complaint that she was in a live-in relationship with Naik and that in 2021, he had threatened her with a firearm if she disclosed their relationship to anyone.The woman said she became pregnant with Naik’s child in 2006 and went to New Jersey in the US to give birth. However, despite assuring her that he would accept the child and stay with them, Naik did not do so, she alleged.According to the woman, Naik called her to his office for lunch. When she asked if he would give his name to the child, Naik allegedly pulled out his revolver and told her not to “harass” him or else, he would kill them and end his life. She said she did not file a police complaint back then as Naik was a minister and an influential politician.Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Naik, submitted that the “two cases have a political angle to them and there is a general tendency that cases connected to political personalities are deliberately kept pending”.In such cases, Mundargi argued, despite A-summary reports being filed before the magistrate and the complainant being issued a notice, nothing further happens. He therefore urged the court to direct the magistrate to expeditiously dispose of the matters.A single- judge bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai, which granted anticipatory bail to Naik on May 4, had noted that the woman’s statement had indicated that she and Naik were in a relationship from 1995 to 2017. She said that as her family did not approve of their relationship, she got married to someone else. According to her, she divorced him in 2001 and continued the relationship with Naik.Justice Prabhudessai observed that the relationship between Naik and the woman was consensual and that prima facie essential ingredients of rape were not made out and therefore his custodial interrogation was not required.

Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
Weekend getaway: Five forts to visit around Pune this winter
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

Pune, the seat of power for many dynasties in the Deccan, is also the centre of forts built during different reigns to protect the city from invaders. As winter sets, all trekkers in the city are preparing to take a hike to their favourite fort in the lush Sahyadris. Let’s have a look at the top five forts you can visit this weekend:1) Sinhagad: With a steaming cup of tea in one hand and some hot ‘Kanda bhajji’ on the side, you can admire the lush green valleys of the Sahyadris as the veil of fog slowly gets lifted. This is the ideal weekend any person in Pune can spend at the Sinhagad. Sinhagad, earlier known as ‘Kondhana’ is the most popular fort in Pune. It is named after the valorous Tanaji Malusare, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s trusted and brave general who led a battle here against the Mughal army. In his resolve to win the fort, Tanaji had to unfortunately lose his life, thus giving the fort its name ‘Sinhagad’ (‘Sinha’ means lion in Marathi).Distance: 32 km from Swargate bus stop2) Rajgad: Rajgad literally translates to the ‘Fort of the King’ (‘Gad’ means fort and ‘Raj’ king). It is divided in two parts: the lower fort and the upper fort. Established by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, it was the seat of Maratha power for 24 years. It has 3 ‘machis’ (the slope adjacent to defence walls of any fort) – Padmavati, Suvela, Sanjeevani – and a citadel called ‘Balekilla’. It has a reservoir named after goddess Padmavati and the remains today can still help one imagine the original outline of the fort when built ages ago.Distance: 54 km from Swargate bus stop3) Torna: A mere 12 kilometres away from Rajgad, Torna fort is also known as Prachandagad because of its huge proportions according to some historians. This fort laid the foundation of the Maratha empire and exchanged multiple hands from Malik Ahmed, a Bahmani ruler, to Adilshah to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and finally to Aurangzeb until it was conquered again by Nagoji Kokate, a Maratha general. The temples of Mengai, Toranjai, Budhla Machi and Zunjar Machi are the points of attraction of this fort.Distance: 64 km from Swargate bus stop4) Lohagad Visapur: Believed to be built around 600 years ago, it was under the control of Malik Nizam Shah who founded Nizamshahi dynasty before getting annexed by the Bahmani Sultanate and ultimately transferred in the hands of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Peshwas controlled it for a brief period of time till it was taken over by the British in 1818. The fort has multiple gateways which remain to be in a good condition, offering some clues on the layout of the fort when it was built. The main attraction continues to be the ‘Bawantaki’, a water reservoir atop the fort.Distance: 67 km from Swargate bus stop5) Purandar: The history of this fort can take one back to the Yadava period. It has a twin fort called Varajagad, which is smaller in size and serves the purpose of protection. It also houses a complex called ‘Balekilla’ believed to be the residence of the nobles. This fort has stood the test of time as it was under the control of the Baridshahi, Nizamshahi, Marathas, Mughals and British. Purandareshwar temple is a tourist attraction on the fort premises and it also has a statue remembering the bravery of Murarbaji Deshpande, a general in the Maratha empire during the reign of Shivaji.Distance: 50 km from Swargate bus stop

Weekend getaway: Five forts to visit around Pune this winter
Nanded villages demand merger with Telangana
Times of India | 2 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 04:45 pm
Times of India
2 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 04:45 pm

AURANGABAD: Residents of 25 villages in the Nanded district, which are close to the Telangana border, have renewed their demand seeking the merger of their villages with the neighbouring state. Explaining their position, the residents pointed to the alleged neglect by the MLAs, MPs and the administration in Maharashtra, and, at the same time, cited better facilities and schemes for the farmers and common public in Telangana. They have also made a written submission to the state and the district administration. The demand has caught the attention of the state and the district administration. Collector Abhijit Raut told TOI, "We do agree that there are some genuine demands from the local residents, and we are working to fulfil them." Claiming that Maharashtra is the most preferred destination in the country in terms of investments, job opportunities and able administration, Raut said the administration is holding talks with the village residents to address their problems on priority. However, the residents are not willing to give up their demands. Baburao Kadam, a former sarpanch of the Babdi Bandhara village (barely 7km from Telangana), had led a drive of 40 villages during his term in 2018. They had passed a resolution to merge with Telangana. He even led a delegation that met Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. Talking to TOI, Kadam said: "Despite 75 years of Independence, 20 villages in the Dharmabad tehsil are yet to get state transport connectivity. The roads are all in terrible condition." "The Telangana CM has been paying attention to our demands," Kadam said and pointed out that Telangana provides its farmers with free seeds, round-the-clock power supply and compulsory MSP implementation. Moreover, if a farmer in Telangana ends his life or dies in an accident, the family gets Rs 5 lakh within 8 days, he said. The Bannadi village in Dharmabad tehsil is the last village of Nanded and is a kilometre from the Telangana border. Village sarpanch Surekha Nidhankar said, "Our village has deep nullahs on three sides. Every monsoon, these nullahs overflow and the water enters the village." In response, the administration relocated the families during monsoon. "This year too they shifted the 200 families. After the rain stopped, everyone returned. Of these 200 families, 153 families have been paid Rs 5,000 each as compensation. But the others have been denied the compensation," she said. Her husband Laxmanrao, a key member of the front formed to demand a merger with Telangana, said, "Our village has been demanding rehabilitation since 1980. In 1996, 100% rehabilitation was announced, but it is yet to be implemented." Mashti village sarpanch Bhati Patil also talked of the challenges the village faces due to the state's neglect. Patil said that last week, they made a written submission to the state and the district administration and they are firm on their demand for a merger.

Nanded villages demand merger with Telangana
  • 25 Nanded villages seek merger with Telangana
  • Times of India

    HYDERABAD: Residents of 25 villages in Nanded district, close to the Telangana border, have renewed their demand seeking merger of their villages with Telangana. Residents pointed to the alleged neglect by MLAs, MPs and the administration in Maharashtra. At the same time, they cited better facilities and schemes for farmers and public in Telangana. Baburao Kadam, a former sarpanch of the Babdi Bandhara village (7km from Telangana), had led a drive of 40 villages during his term in 2018. They had passed a resolution to merge with Telangana. He even led a delegation that met Telangana CM KCR. "The Telangana CM has been paying attention to our demands," Kadam said. Defending Maharashtra, collector Abhijit Raut said, "We do agree there are some genuine demands from locals. We are working to fulfil them."

Foresters face elephantine task over wandering jumbos
Times of India | 2 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 04:45 pm
Times of India
2 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 04:45 pm

NAGPUR: Forest officials are in a dilemma over whether to drive the herd of 23 elephants in Mohghata-Rengepaar near national highway 6 toward Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary or Navegaon National Park. Sources on Thursday evening said, the herd has moved towards Navegaon National Park. The NH6 divides the Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR). For the last four days, the herd has crossed over a dozen villages near Navegaon National Park to reach Rengepaar in Lakhni range of Bhandara district. To move towards Nagzira, the herd will have to cross the busy national highway 6, which it seems the jumbos are finding difficult due to heavy traffic. Officials have been a harried lot as there is also political pressure to drive away the elephants. Farmers are a worried lot as the herd has been raiding paddy and sugar cane crops while moving. Sources said on Wednesday night, villagers from Rengepaar had detained an eight-member monitoring team from West Bengal demanding to drive away the tuskers or else they won’t allow it to go. The elephants consuming harvested paddy on the farms had irked the villagers. On driving the herd toward Nagzira, Jayarame Gowda, field director of NNTR, said, “We are not averse to the plan, but the animals are moving parallel to the highway...not crossing it. Our efforts are to drive the elephants toward Navegaon again. We are also planning to call more men from West Bengal for monitoring the herd.” However, Dr S Swaminathan, working on elephant conservation for three decades and who had monitored the particular herd in Chhattisgarh, said, “The herd depicts amusing behaviour. It was ousted in 2014 from Odisha, followed by Jharkhand and later Chhattisgarh, and is still wandering.” “This particular herd wants to settle down in a suitable habitat, but is being driven away continuously. It has become a habitual crop raider and its preference is easy food. Hence, it is moving to forest areas encompassing farmlands. We have monitored this herd in Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh for 3-4 years. It moved to Balod and then Maharashtra,” said Swaminathan. The expert added, “These elephants won’t enter tiger reserves as they are not familiar with big cats. This was one of the reasons why the elephants shied away from entering Navegaon National Park last month. The Barnawapara wildlife sanctuary in Mahasamund is the primary habitat for them, but the jumbos preferred secondary habitat.” Swaminathan called for a national-level plan and inter-state and even inter-district coordination to conserve elephants. “Today’s approach of the forest departments and people is such that no one wants them. We need strong regulations and monitoring protocols and shun ‘it’s not my baby’ attitude.” Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) advisor Prafulla Bhamburkar says, “This is not a natural movement but artificial. Monitoring doesn’t mean chasing. What is being done now is just ‘haka’ (shouting) to drive them away forcefully because no one wants them in the area.” Says Sagnik Sengupta of Stripes And & Green Earth (SAGE) Foundation, West Bengal, “The behaviour of the elephants is unpredictable. It seems they are in no mood to cross over the NH6 to move toward Nagzira and possibly the herd may return to Navegaon again.” Sengupta called for special funds under ‘Project Elephant’. “Relocating tiny villages falling in the elephant corridor, awareness programmes, faster disbursal of crop damage compensation, and plantation of fruit-bearing trees, and making proper ID of each individual elephant are some of the steps that need to be taken,” said Sengupta. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE Install early warning devices to alert movement of elephants Create a WhatsApp group of villagers and forest staff Take up bamboo plantations to create fodder preferred by the tuskers Capacity building of staff and awareness programmes Formation of quick response teams (QRTs) Setting up of solar borewells to resolve water scarcity Building bio-fence mainly of chilli plants, cactus, or thorny plants around farms

Foresters face elephantine task over wandering jumbos

Maharashtra Political News

‘Shiv Shakti, Bhim Shakti tie-up’: New worry for BJP in Maharashtra as Thackeray, Ambedkar join hands
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 11:45 am

In a significant political development, the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) headed by Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar, has decided to forge a pre-poll alliance with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Their tie-up being dubbed an “alliance of Shiv Shakti and Bhim Shakti” in a section of state political circles is likely to have an impact on state politics in coming days.Apart from having a bearing on various coming elections, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls in 2023 and the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly polls in 2024, the Thackeray-Ambedkar alliance, if sustained, may go beyond electoral politics to revive the social reforms agenda which has been at the core of progressive Maharashtra politics.“Uddhav Thackeray raised the subject of alliance a few days back,” Prakash Ambedkar said. “After careful deliberations within our VBA we have decided to strike a partnership with Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).”Ambedkar however said the nitty-gritty of their alliance will have to be hammered out by Thackeray. “Thackeray will have to work out whether it will continue alliance with Congress and NCP. And then take VBA as fourth alliance partner. Or whether Shiv Sena (UBT) and VBA will be alliance partners,” he said, indicating that complex alliance matters like seat-sharing arrangements will be thrashed out later.Sena (UBT) sources revealed that Thackeray has decided to get new partners on board without affecting its Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance involving the Congress and the NCP.The Sena(UBT)-VBA tie-up may come as a fresh cause of worry for the ruling BJP, whose existing alliance includes the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the Republican Party of India (A) led by Union minister Ramdas Athavale.The consolidation of secular votes from the OBC, Marathas and Dalits in favour of the MVA would pose a formidable challenge for the BJP-led alliance in Maharashtra. In the past the BJP has exploited the Maratha versus OBC polarisation to its advantage. While a majority of Marathas have always gravitated towards the established Congress-NCP leaders, the BJP has had gone all out to woo the OBCs in the state. In 2014, the Narendra Modi factor gave the BJP a new plank to maximise its appeal to the masses. The BJP, which was in alliance with the united Sena, could then still win 23 out of the total 48 seats in the Lok Sabha polls and 133 of 288 seats in the state Assembly elections.After the 2019 Assembly polls, the Sena joined hands with the Congress and the NCP to form the Thackeray-led MVA government, with the BJP forced to sit in the Opposition benches despite having emerged as the single largest party with 105 MLAs.In June this year, however, the BJP engineered a split in the Thackeray-led Sena and succeeded in forming a government with the breakaway Sena rebel faction led by Shinde. As both Senas slug it out while claiming their respective factions as the “real Sena”, the big question remains whether the Thackeray-led Sena’s support base among people or Shiv Sainiks on the ground remains intact or it has shrunk.Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Subash Desai claims, “The people have become more sympathetic to Shiv Sena (UBT) after the rebellion. They have not liked the politics of defection,” indicating that there has been a growing sense among people that Thackeray has been “wronged” by his own party members such as Shinde and that such an operation was the BJP’s handiwork.Although the VBA currently does not have any MPs or even MLAs, the party is considered to have some base among the OBCs. Although its candidates could not win any seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, they affected the Congress-NCP’s prospects in 8-10 seats by splitting the Opposition votes as they polled more than one lakh votes in each of these constituencies. The BJP and the Sena, then alliance partners, won 23 and 18 seats, respectively. Similarly, in the 2019 Assembly polls too, the BJP is considered to have won in at least 32 Assembly seats due to a division of the “secular votes” between Congress-NCP and VBA.Ambedkar says, “My party is a voice for all oppressed and backwards amongst all castes, communities and religions. We represent poor.” While stating that whenever it has an alliance the VBA manages to get its votes transferred to its ally, he indicates it would be tested in the upcoming BMC polls.Recently, at the relaunch of a website on Prabodhankar Thackeray, Uddhav’s grandfather, both Ambedkar and Uddhav had come together, where the latter urged the VBA chief to form an alliance with his Sena to take on the saffron party. Their bonhomie was also a throwback to the 1950s, when the Maharashtra stalwarts, B R Ambedkar and Prabodhankar Thackeray, had joined hands to fight against social evils such as untouchability, dowry and casteism. Prakash and Uddhav declared that their common goal was to fight the BJP as it allegedly posed a threat to the ideals of Constitution – framed by Bhimrao Ambedkar — and democracy.

‘Shiv Shakti, Bhim Shakti tie-up’: New worry for BJP in Maharashtra as Thackeray, Ambedkar join hands
‘Why are they using our name?’: Medha Patkar counters PM Modi, BJP leaders over Bharat Jodo Yatra participation
The Indian Express | 4 days ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 days ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 pm

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar Monday called out Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders for dragging her name during their campaign speeches for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. Senior BJP leaders, including Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, have been criticising Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for marching with Patkar on his Bharat Jodo Yatra.While addressing the media in Mumbai, Patkar said it has become a matter of urgency that the truth must come out, and to clarify “we are being used, and to counter the false campaigning using our name.” “Why are they appealing [for votes] with our name? Why are they, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, talking about us? From North to South, from Kutch to Saurashtra? Why are they using our name when they say don’t vote for Congress or Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),” she added.On Sunday, while addressing an election rally in the Dhoraji town of the Rajkot district prime minister had lashed out at the Congress party over Patkar joining Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. He had said this was an indication of how much damage the party intends to cause to Gujarat in the coming days.Patkar said, “We are not in politics, and not in electoral politics. A false narrative is being created for the vote bank. Some media is also involved in this. There is now a conspiracy to fool not only voters but the entire country.” “This is a fight between them and they are dragging us into it for the only reason that in the name of the Narmada, promises that were made to the people of Gujarat and they have not been fulfilled. They are scared the public will not vote for them. Now, they are asking for votes in my name.”“We are those people who will have agitations even between two elections. Meanwhile, our work continues. For 38 years, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Enron in Maharashtra, in Odisha, for farmers, for Adivasis, for Dalits, for women, we have been standing up for them. We take our positions after studying and understanding the issue,” Patkar said.However, Congress’s Gujarat unit countered Modi’s criticism of the party and Rahul Gandhi for being seen with activist Medha Patkar and claimed the prime minister’s comments were part of the BJP’s “diversionary tactic”. The Opposition party’s leaders said Modi’s comments would have “no impact” on the outcome of the election.The Gujarat Assembly elections will be held on December 1 and December 5. Votes will be counted on December 8.

‘Why are they using our name?’: Medha Patkar counters PM Modi, BJP leaders over Bharat Jodo Yatra participation
Rahul’s Bharat Jodo yatra pushes Pappu behind, strikes a chord — but hard work awaits off-camera
The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
6 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 07:45 pm

After 19 years of being an unsuccessful politician, Rahul Gandhi, dubbed as the “Pappu” of Indian politics, is beginning to be viewed differently as he walks the dusty bylanes from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on his Bharat Jodo Yatra.I went to see the yatra in Maharashtra and most of the people I talked to, driving 250 km from Aurangabad to Akola, and later following the yatra in Buldhana district, had, to my surprise, a positive word to say about the yatra. These were the aam aadmi and the aam aurat: a retired teacher, a fruit seller, a housewife, a cobbler, most of them in small towns and wayside villages. They all expressed a similar sentiment: “Paidal chalkar abhi tak humare paas koi nahin aaya hai. Humaen pasand aa raha hai.”(Nobody has come to us on foot like this and we like it.)A polio-hit retired government servant, 74, came from Nagpur with his son and daughter-in-law—old Congressis — to be part of the yatra for a few hours “to encourage Rahul”. An assistant professor from Amravati joined the yatra in Shegaon and said the time had now come “to work at the ground level because the opposition is blanked out.”Rahul talked about “berozgari, mehngai and nafrat,” (unemployment, inflation, hate) as he has done in the past, but it is resonating with many more today. With growing economic distress, some say they identify more with what Rahul “had been saying all along”.It is not so much Rahul Gandhi who has changed — as his comments on Savarkar illustrated; he had criticised in Maharashtra someone who is seen as an icon in the state.Nor do Rahul’s speeches set the house on fire. In a way, they are reminiscent of Rajiv Gandhi in the early years. In his campaign speeches in the 1983 state elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — which the Congress lost — Rajiv used to painstakingly explain the value of hard work and abstract concepts of political freedom to puzzled audiences. In his speech at Shegaon, Rahul, too, dwelt philosophically, and at length, on the need to shed fear, and the linkages it had with hatred and violence.Significantly, it is the people’s perception of Rahul that is undergoing a change. There is only one reason for it, and person after person mentioned it. Rahul Gandhi had come to them on foot, walking 25 km a day. He need not have undertaken the yatra; after all, he is from a “shahi gharana”, they said. And having embarked on a mammoth journey of 3500 km, he had not run away — but stayed the course. It is this which has caught the imagination of a section of the people.Senior Congress leaders say he is like a “man possessed”, determined to complete the yatra. Given his interest in martial arts over the years, and the daily fitness regimen he reportedly follows, Rahul walks so fast that if you blink, he is gone.As he walks, he is cordoned off by a rope held by a string of policemen to prevent people from entering the walking enclosure. He has two planned “sitting interactions” with individuals or groups and three daily walking “interactions”, all cleared by the party (and they do not allow media persons near him). It is not as if those waiting by the wayside get a chance to exchange a word with him — or he with them.The day I saw him, he walked with Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, signifying the coming together, once again, of the Gandhi and Nehru-Gandhi families for uniting India.And yet the yatra is rebranding Rahul Gandhi. It is also bestowing on him a legitimacy that was earlier missing. Two years ago, the dissenting group of G-23 in the Congress had questioned his leadership — and his behind-the-scenes decision-making without accountability. Today, without being the president of the party, he is emerging as the unquestioned leader of the Congress.Yet, without a revival of the Congress organisation, Rahul’s yatra will only be a flash in the pan. The elephant in the room, then, is the Congress organisation, admit senior Congress leaders.The curiosity about the yatra, and the visible response to it, has perked up the Congress cadre. It was after 10 years that the Congress organised a meeting in Maharashtra as large as the one in Shegaon, with 150 Congress leaders on the dais, and people pouring in from neighbouring districts and local police putting the estimates at 2-3 lakh jampacked in the 22-acre ground.These meetings will be no more than an exercise in event management unless followed up with an action plan — and painstaking, hard work behind the lights, which the Congress has shown little appetite for. The BJP’s winning streak combines Narendra Modi’s appeal with Amit Shah’s organisational prowess.It goes without saying that the acid test of Rahul’s yatra will lie in winning elections. But, curiously, he has tried to delink the yatra from electoral gains, not to appear power hungry —but this makes little sense. A political party is nothing if it cannot win elections and deliver on its promises.And this is not only about winning 2024 two years away. Nor about the elections due in Maharashtra the same year. All eyes will now be on the imminent 26 municipal corporation polls, including the BMC, that are due in Maharashtra. How will the Congress fare, for instance, in the local polls in Nanded, where Rahul walked for many days and is supposed to have made an impact? Or, in the four other districts of Maharashtra the yatra touched? How does the Congress encash the interest the yatra has rekindled in the party?If the Congress loses the Gujarat elections, which it seems to have given up on, and does not manage to get Himachal Pradesh in its bag, Rahul’s yatra can also lose steam. If the party wins Himachal – which even if it has little to do with Rahul or Bharat Jodo — it will give a further impetus to the yatra.Now that the yatra has strengthened his position, Rahul Gandhi will be watched for how he handles the latest crisis in Rajasthan, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot going ballistic against his younger colleague Sachin Pilot, calling him a “gaddar” (traitor). It is a pre-emptive strike by Gehlot to prevent Pilot from becoming the CM. By vehemently declaring that Pilot will not become CM, the normally measured CM has virtually threatened a split if the party high command replaces him with Pilot.Rahul Gandhi has to figure out how he redeems his word to Pilot, signals to younger leaders they will be rewarded if they work hard and deliver, weakens the anti-incumbency of four years by projecting a new face in the state like Pilot — and ensure that the Congress government does not fall in Rajasthan.Whatever be the outcome of the Bharat Jodo yatra, Rahul Gandhi has certainly set a new benchmark for political action — that leaders must go back to the people and listen to them. And even in a 24 X 7 image-rich politics, powered by the videoclip, the challenge is the effort they put in when the camera is off.Neerja Chowdhury, Contributing Editor, The Indian Express, has covered the last 10 Lok Sabha elections

Rahul’s Bharat Jodo yatra pushes Pappu behind, strikes a chord — but hard work awaits off-camera
Bambai se aaya mera ‘naya’ dost: Why Aaditya and Tejashwi have hit ‘like’
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 07:45 pm

Politics is the art of the possible, and Maharashtra has been learning it every day. Wednesday was one such learning when Thackeray scion Aaditya travelled all the way to Patna to meet Lalu legatee Tejashwi. The purpose of the meeting was to secure the RJD leader’s support for the coming Mumbai civic polls, to get the Uddhav Sena the Bihari immigrant vote.This is the same Shiv Sena that built its politics and vote base in Mumbai with its strident “Marathi Manoos” campaign, directed specifically against migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. But, then, it is not the same Shiv Sena — split vertically down the middle, with one half dependent on the BJP and the other led by Uddhav desperate to hold on to the BMC to establish itself as the real Sena.As the Bihar BJP attacked the RJD and partner JD(U) for hobnobbing with a party that had bad mouthed people from the state, both Aaditya and Tejashwi insisted that all that was a thing of the past and that, for them, the future lay in “Opposition unity”.In Patna, Aaditya met both Tejashwi, the Bihar Deputy Chief Minister, and JD(U) chief and CM Nitish Kumar, who is pretty choosy about whom he grants an audience to.In the last BMC polls, held in 2017, the BJP had given the then united Sena a scare, winning 82 seats to its 84 in the 227-member corporation. The wards recently saw delimitation, which the Opposition claims favours the BJP, while the Uddhav Sena is bound to lose some of its vote bank to the Shinde faction. That makes any additional vote valuable, which is where the migrants come in. Migrants from the North, mostly UP and Bihar, are believed to add up to 20% of Mumbai’s population.The Shiv Sena has controlled the BMC for more than two decades, and a win here is a must for Uddhav to hold on to his cadre at a time when the Shinde faction has more MLAs, MPs and holds power.Questioning Tejashwi and Nitish’s meeting with Aaditya, BJP Rajya Sabha MP and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said: “How can Nitish Kumar or any Mahagathbandhan leader seek votes for the Uddhav-led Shiv Sena, which has consistently insulted people from Bihar, even attacked them? While Nitish Kumar or Tejashwi would have little impact in the BMC polls, even thinking of campaigning for the Uddhav Sena is unpalatable for the people of Bihar,” Modi said.With the BJP in government with the Shinde Sena in Mumbai, Modi added that the “original” Sena that is following the ideals of Balasaheb Thackeray is with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde. “The Uddhav-led Sena is with the Congress, which has insulted Veer Savarkar. Nitish Kumar should clarify where he stands now. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should also remember that as PM, Indira Gandhi had issued a postal ticket in the name of Savarkar,” said Modi.The BJP leader dismissed the claims of “much-hyped” Opposition unity, saying it was headed nowhere, and that the Aaditya-Tejashwi talks were only a meeting of “two dynasts”.Asked about the Sena’s campaign against Bihar migrants in Mumbai in the past, Aaditya claimed: “Those who ill-treated people from Bihar are now with the BJP.”Tejashwi said: “There is no reason to invoke the past. What is important today is Opposition unity.” With father Lalu Prasad to all purposes out of the picture, Tejashwi, who is hoping to find his feet, got a resounding endorsement from Aaditya as being a “long-distance horse”.A senior JD(U) leader added: “Equations change in politics from time to time… Our party supports any party that is against the BJP.”If Shinde split the Sena to fell the MVA coalition government in Maharashtra earlier this year, Nitish had parted ways with the BJP to dislodge the NDA government in Bihar, and formed a ruling coalition with the RJD and Congress.Even granted this topsy-turvy, the Sena’s new-found Bihar outlook is quite a departure from its past. In March 2008, an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna had carried the headline Ek Bihar, Sau Bimar (One Bihar behind so many problems), in a vitriolic attack on migrants. The editorial said migrants from Bihar “antagonised” local populations wherever they went. The Sena had also justified the spate of attacks against UP and Bihar migrants in Mumbai by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of Raj Thackeray.Warning politicians from the two states to show “restraint” in their reaction, the Sena had said migrants might see even more violence otherwise.Founded by the late Bal Thackeray on June 19, 1966, the Sena’s central plank from the start was “sons of the soil”, with South Indians based in Mumbai its first target of attack. The Sena supremo accused them of grabbing most of the government jobs. In the 1980s, the Sena turned its attention to North Indians, with attacks on lowly job holders such as migrant hawkers, rickshaw pullers, who were mostly from UP and Bihar.Then, in the 1990s, the Sena stepped up its campaign over the “high” recruitment of candidates from Bihar in the Indian Railway sector. It alleged that central North Indian leaders were prejudiced against Maharashtra.In the party’s annual Dussehra rallies too, Bal Thackeray often attacked North Indians, a refrain later picked up by Uddhav to consolidate the Sena’s Marathi vote bank. In 2012, Uddhav talked of issuing “mandatory permits” to check the influx from Bihar and UP.It was only in the early 2020s, as it felt threatened by the BJP (with its stronger hold on the North Indian vote), and moved towards the NCP and Congress, that the Sena softened its anti-migrant stand.During the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, the Sena had been full of praise for Tejashwi, who spearheaded the RJD campaign, with a Saamna editorial claiming the party would defeat the NDA.When the Covid-19 pandemic broke, and migrants started heading home, Uddhav, the CM at the time, made special appeals for them to stay, promising to look after them.

Bambai se aaya mera ‘naya’ dost: Why Aaditya and Tejashwi have hit ‘like’
After Shraddha Walkar's 2020 Letter, BJP's "Appeasement" Charge In Maharashtra
Ndtv | 1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:46 pm
Ndtv
1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:46 pm

Shraddha Walkar had shared a picture of her bruised face with friends in 2020.Mumbai: The shocking murder of Shraddha Walkar allegedly by her boyfriend Aaftab Poonawala in Delhi has triggered politics of blame in their home state Maharashtra, with the ruling BJP pressing on the charge that the previous government led by Uddhav Thackeray "could have saved her, if it acted on her letter of 2020"."The government was busy appeasing a community for politics and in vasooli (bribe or extortion)," BJP MLA Ram Kadam said today, alluding to an alleged communal angle.#उद्धवठाकरे तथा महा विकास आघाडी #श्रद्धा के परिवार की माफ़ी मांगे.श्रद्धा के चिठ्ठी की यदी उस समय के मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव ठाकरे ठीक से जाँच करते तो उसकी जान बच सकती थी.. धर्म तुष्टिकरण और उद्धव सरकार के लापरवाही की शिकार हुई श्रद्धा— Ram Kadam (@ramkadam) November 24, 2022Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already said, "I have seen the letter... We will thoroughly investigate the matter. We have to ascertain why no action was taken after the police received the letter.”Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar has demanded a probe specifically into whether the complaint was "deliberately suppressed". He, too, targeted the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress — a government that was unseated after Eknath Shinde divided the Shiv Sena in June this year."Did the police not take any action because Shraddha's last name was ''Walkar' or because he is 'Aaftab'?" Ashish Shelar said, also alleging a communal angle.In the letter of November 23, 2020, which came to light yesterday, Shraddha Walkar had told police in their hometown Vasai in Maharashtra that Aaftab had been threatening to "kill me, cut me up in pieces and throw me away" — exactly what he allegedly did this May and was arrested for earlier this month.Police in Vasai, however, have said they did not act as she gave another written statement three weeks later that "we no longer have any quarrel", and asked for no action to be taken. Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena faction has been demanding that Aaftab be hanged in public. "Our girls should be alert while trusting any person. People might call it 'love jihad'. The fact is: our girls are dying," Sanjay Raut, a top leader of the party, said last week. Shraddha's father, who had not been in touch with her since last year over her inter-faith live-in relationship, has also spoken of "love jihad", a term used by right-wing groups to allege a concerted effort by Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam through marriage.Police so far have not spoken of any such angle.In her November 2020 complaint, Shraddha had told the cops that Aaftab beat her up over petty quarrels at a flat they shared, and said that his family knew about his violent behaviour, sources in the Delhi police said.On December 12, she gave a follow-up written statement that she wanted no action, police in Vasai said. For investigation, the complaint of November 23, 2020, ties to what she had told her co-worker Karan over WhatsApp around the same time, when she had also shared a photo of her bruised face with him. She had also been admitted to a hospital a week later with "internal injuries".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comBut the relationship apparently continued. Both call centre employees, they moved to Delhi's Mehrauli in May this year, and Aaftab is alleged to have killed her after another fight, over household expenses.On the evidence list, police so far have an alleged confession, which is not admissible on its own, hence are looking for material clues, such as a forensic test to confirm that some body parts found in the Mehrauli jungle are hers.

After Shraddha Walkar's 2020 Letter, BJP's "Appeasement" Charge In Maharashtra
  • ‘Steps will be stronger when we walk together’: Priyanka joins Rahul Gandhi for Bharat Jodo Yatra
  • The Indian Express

    Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was joined by his sister and the party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Thursday for the Madhya Pradesh leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra and their son Raihan were also part of the walk.Priyanka, who is the general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Congress, arrived in Indore on Wednesday and joined Rahul early on Thursday. Clad in a white salwar kameez and a brown puffer coat, this is the first time that she was seen being part of the yatra.Posting a picture of the two, the Congress said on Twitter: “The steps will be strong, when we walk together.”मजबूत होंगे कदम, जब मिलकर चलेंगे हम।#BharatJodoYatra में @RahulGandhi जी के कंधे से कंधा मिलाने पहुंची @priyankagandhi जी। pic.twitter.com/KrexLPRdfM— Congress (@INCIndia) November 24, 2022“With their joining, the Connect India campaign and our resolution will get a new energy,” added MP Congress Seva Dal.The Bharat Jodo Yatra kicked off from Kanyakumari on Sept. 7. It entered Madhya Pradesh from neighbouring Maharashtra on Wednesday, where Rahul was welcomed by several Congress persons holding the tricolour flag. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole handed over the tricolour to his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Kamal Nath to formally launch the 12-day-long yatra in the central state, where it will cover a distance of 380 km before entering Rajasthan, as per a PTI report.LIVE: Bharat Jodo Yatra | Borgaon to Chegaon Makhan | Khandwa | Madhya Pradesh https://t.co/I4fJLalJGH— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 24, 2022Besides Kamal Nath, senior Congress leaders like former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly Govind Singh, former union ministers Suresh Pachouri and Arun Yadav were present on the occasion.Madhya Pradesh is set to go to polls next year and the Congress party is hoping that this yatra would provide a fillip to their preparations.The yatra, a mass contact initiative of the Congress, will pass through western Madhya Pradesh’s Malwa-Nimar region, where the party had gained a convincing lead over the BJP in the 2018 Assembly polls and subsequently formed a government under Nath. Gandhi’s Yatra is scheduled to enter Rajasthan on December 4 after covering 380-kms in Malwa-Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh during next 12-days.(With inputs from PTI)

  • Bharat Jodo Yatra enters Madhya Pradesh; Rahul says their campaign is against hatred, violence in society
  • The Economic Times

    The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi entered Bodarli village in Madhya Pradesh's Burhanpur district from neighbouring Maharashtra on Wednesday morning. On the occasion, Gandhi said their campaign was against hatred, violence and fear being spread in society. A large number of Congressmen carrying the tricolour in their hands reached Bodarli to join the foot march. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole handed over the tricolour to Madhya Pradesh party chief Kamal Nath to formally launch the 12-day-long yatra in the central state, where it will cover a distance of 380 km before entering Rajasthan. Bodarli, a village with a population of nearly 6,000, was decorated with banana leaves as the region is known for the cultivation of the fruit. Folk artists welcomed the yatra on its arrival in Madhya Pradesh. On the occasion, Gandhi said, "This yatra is against hatred, violence and fear being spread in the country. We have started the Bharat Jodo Yatra by taking the tricolour in our hands from Kanyakumari. Nobody can stop this tricolour from reaching Srinanagar." Targeting the central government on the issues of unemployment and inflation, Gandhi alleged, "The BJP first spreads fear in the minds of youth, farmers and labourers and when it sets in, they convert it into violence." He called five-year-old boy Rudra, who was among the crowd present in the village, on the stage and asked him about his ambition, to which the child said he wanted to become a doctor. "In the present India, it will be difficult for Rudra to fulfil his dreams as his parents have to spend crores of rupees to get education in private medical colleges. He will have to work as a labourer as he won't be able to pay the fees," Gandhi said targeting the growing trend of privatisation of education in the country. He also claimed that industries, airports and seaports were in the hands of only three-four industrialists in the country. Even the Railways is also going into their hands, he added. "This is an India of injustice and we don't want such an India," Gandhi said. "The money going out of the pockets of the common man for purchasing costly petrol and cooking gas is going into the pockets of these three-four industrialists," he claimed. Welcoming the yatra in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath claimed it will be most successful in the state. Senior Congress leaders including former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly Govind Singh, former union ministers Suresh Pachouri and Arun Yadav among others were present on the occasion. On Tuesday, Nath said Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with her family would take part in the foot march for the first time. Vadra, the sister of Rahul Gandhi, will join the yatra between Burhanpur and Indore on November 24-25, Nath had said. The Congress has made an elaborate arrangements for the yatra in MP, where the Assembly polls are due next year. It had lost power in the state in 2020 after a section of its MLAs quit the party. The yatra, a mass contact initiative of the Congress, will pass through western Madhya Pradesh's Malwa-Nimar region, where the party had gained a convincing lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2018 Assembly polls and subsequently formed government under Nath. But, 22 MLAs later quit the party following which the Nath government fell and later the BJP came back to power in the state under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan in March 2020. The Congress's Bharat Jodo Yatra started on September 7 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.

  • Anything can happen in Maharashtra politics in next two months: Raosaheb Danve
  • The Indian Express

    EVEN as Union minister and BJP leader Raosaheb Danve on Tuesday said anything can happen in Maharashtra politics in the next two months, creating a stir in political circles, the NCP, one of the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), said the Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP and Congress will very soon form the government again. The Shiv Sena (UBT) also said collapse of the state government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was a certainty after November 29.While the BJP and Shinde-led Sena leaders have been maintaining that their government will last the next two and half years term, Danve’s comment is the first made by a leader from the ruling party.Stating that “no one knows what will happen in the next two months,” Danve, speaking at a gathering in Kannad town of Aurangabad district late Monday evening, said, “No one had predicted the fall of the MVA government after being in the saddle for two and half years. But such a ‘magic’ happened that the government fell overnight. If this is the kind of politics that is going on in Maharashtra, then no one can predict what will happen in next two months.”Reacting to Danve’s remarks, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “Danve sometimes speaks the truth… He has not said anything new. It is clear that he also knows the truth that we have been repeatedly saying. The case of the disqualification of 16 MLAs who defected along with Shinde is in the Supreme Court. By month-end, the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the MLAs and we are sure after that the Shinde-Fadnavis government will fall. We have been saying that this government is illegal and unconstitutional.”The NCP went a step further and claimed that not only the government will fall, but the MVA will be back in power. “On November 29, the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the government. In all likelihood, the government will fall after the 16 MLAs including the chief minister are disqualified… After the incumbent government falls, the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) will form the government with rest of the 32 MLAs coming back to the Shiv Sena,” NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapasi said.Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “Danve’s statement shows how the BJP-Shinde Sena has made fun of the people of Maharashtra. This government only took oath and never worked for the people. It’s fall is certain and Danve is speaking nothing new.”The BJP, however, downplayed Danve’s statement. “We currently have a strength of 164 MLAs. We are in touch with 20-25 more MLAs from the Opposition. Soon our number will go up to at least 184…,” said state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

  • Can not compromise on ideological issues like Savarkar and Hindutva: Sanjay Raut
  • The Indian Express

    Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena can not compromise on key ideological issues like respect for V D Savarkar and Hindutva even as it is a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).He, however, also said that his party was in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party for long despite their differences, and it worked smoothly.“There are some issues where the Shiv Sena can not compromise. This includes (the issue of) Veer Savarkar and Hindutva. Our party is built on an ideology and we are not surrendering that,” Raut said in an interview with the news channel NDTV.Last week, the Shiv Sena was on the defensive after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s critical comments on Savarkar caused a controversy Raut had warned that such comments about Savarkar could cause cracks in the MVA alliance of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.Asked whether the alliance will survive in the long term, Raut said it will if the country needed it.“If democracy, freedom and the Constitution are to be safeguarded, then we have to forget our differences and come together,” he said.Raut, who was in New Delhi on Tuesday, said talks do take place with Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra and other Congress leaders.On Monday, Raut had tweeted that Rahul had called him to enquire about his health and said he was touched by the gesture.On the controversy over Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s remarks about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Sena leader said there was a demand from across the state that Koshyari be removed from his post.“When the BJP asks us how we tolerate such things about Savarkar and we ask how does your governor speak like this against Chhatrapati Shivaji, they do not have any answer,” he said.Most governors appointed during the BJP rule have been pracharaks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but when they occupy the post of governor, they should act neutral instead of turning Raj Bhavan into a party office, Raut said.

  • Road to 2024 | Rahul may have stuck to his guns on Savarkar, but will the party too?
  • The Indian Express

    Nearly two-and-a-half decades ago, at its Pachmarhi Chintan Shivir, which was known more for the stand the party took on alliances, the Congress had emphatically reaffirmed its commitment to secularism and declared that it will “unflinchingly” meet the challenge posed by “communal forces” — among them the Shiv Sena.In 2019, over two decades later, the party diluted its position when it allied with the Sena to keep the BJP out of power in Maharashtra. It was an a la E M S Namboodiripad moment for the Congress. The legendary Communist leader had in the 1980s declared that he would even ally with the devil to defeat the Congress, then the main pole in Indian politics.The Congress’s decision to shed its opposition to the Sena had stunned many in the party.Some of them had remembered the 1998 Pachmarhi resolve which had said the party will “unflinchingly meet the challenge of the communal forces as represented by the BJP and its associates in the Sangh Parivar, such as the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, and those outside, such as the Shiv Sena, with no compromise or dilution of the well-established principles and practice of secularism, defined and evolved by the party as crucial to our nationhood”.Sonia Gandhi, who had just taken over as the Congress president, had said in Pachmarhi: “The question we must ask ourselves is whether we have in any way diluted our commitment to the fight against communal forces. It would perhaps be tempting to say we have not. However, there is a general perception that we have at times compromised with our basic commitment to the secular ideal that forms the bedrock of our society”.Rahul Gandhi’s unabashed criticism of right-wing hero V D Savarkar in Maharashtra is hence interesting and significant. The timing of his comments may have been unfortunate since they came in the middle of campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly elections. Moreover, they came in Maharashtra, where Savarkar is revered more for his cultural contributions, and despite Congress leaders of the state cautioning him against them.The Shiv Sena, of course, was upset.But Rahul has always been trenchant in his criticism of the Sangh. Attacking Savarkar was not new for him either. The merit of Rahul’s remarks on Savarkar can be debated and hotly contested from historic and political points of view, but despite the timing and the setting, Rahul has perhaps shown that he is consistent and his party should not fret. In fact, it was a welcome reassertion of what has been his party’s principled position.But will the Congress show the courage to come out of the embrace of the Sena if it really does believe strongly in adhering to the secular ideology? Can it afford to do that given that the 2024 Lok Sabha battle is a kind of do-or-die moment for it? The Sena still wears its hardline Hindutva ideology on its sleeves. It has never been sheepish about the role of its workers in the demolition of the Babri Masjid or its admiration for Savarkar.So is Rahul’s oft-repeated assertions on secularism half-hearted?After all, the Congress has always tried to position itself as a centrist party and its sway to the Left and Right for electoral and political considerations has dented its credibility over the years. If the party allied with the Sena in Maharashtra in 2019, it entered into a disastrous tactical understanding with the Indian Secular Front (ISF), a party formed in January by Abbas Siddiqui of the Furfura Sharif shrine in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, for the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021.If the Sena was upset, the DMK, another ally of the Congress, too may not have been pleased this month when the Congress severely criticised the Supreme Court for ordering the premature release of all six remaining convicts who were serving life sentences in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, calling the judgment “highly problematic”, “completely erroneous” and “totally unacceptable”. But the Congress did not baulk.But if this is the Congress’s position, be it the Sena or the DMK, it should ensure that there are no inconsistencies in its approach — both political and economic – with dilutions in the past having dented its political credibility. Especially since the party often attacks Prime Minister Narendra Modi on dilution of his positions on GST, Aadhar and MNREGS.The Congress’s reversal of its position on the New Pension System is one such dilution of its economic principles. For a party which proudly proclaims itself as the architect of India’s economic reforms, the move seemed nothing but pandering to the hustings. It was more or less a sway to the Left.It was the UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that took the New Pension System to its logical conclusion in 2013 by passing the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill despite stiff opposition from the Left parties and the Trinamool Congress. On the contrary, the party’s opposition to the GST was in the way it was rushed through and implemented. It never went back on its commitment to the GST.


Maharashtra Election News

‘Chunavi Hindu’ says BJP, but Rahul Gandhi is climbing steps one temple at a time in his Yatra
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm

Visit one temple and they may question your religious credentials, visit several, and it might cease being an issue. As part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been making high-visibility halts at shrines, particularly temples, appearing with vermillion on his forehead often, putting out pictures bowing to deities, posting videos of interactions with priests and, in an icing on the cake, sharing a photo that shows him prone in sashtang pranam at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain.The Ujjain temple incidentally is one of the prominent shrines developed, and celebrated, under the BJP rule in the state and Centre. Just over a month ago, a Mahakal Temple Corridor was unveiled with much fanfare in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.आज उज्जैन में, शिप्रा नदी के तट पर बसे ज्योतिर्लिंग, भगवान महाकालेश्वर की आराधना करने का सौभाग्य प्राप्त हुआ।जय महाकाल। pic.twitter.com/DMtKRyjFkS— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 29, 2022The BJP has kept up its attacks on Rahul for the temple run. On Thursday, Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Usha Thakur said: “My humble prayer is that no spiritual activity should be made a medium for political gains. These activities are an integral part of our life. You go to temples, it is welcome, but you should also understand the importance of offering prayers and darshan of the deity.”Campaigning in Ahmedabad’s Vasna for the Gujarat polls, Union Minister Smriti Irani said: “They (the Congress) are now reminded of the Hindu dharma because they are losing elections and understand that if they humiliate dharma and Hindus, they will not get a single vote from (people of) this religion.”Unlike this election, when Rahul has made just one visit so far to campaign for the Gujarat elections – in a break from his Bharat Jodo Yatra – the Congress leader had canvassed extensively in the 2017 polls, including making a series of temple visits in the state. The BJP had mocked Rahul then too, though that election saw the Congress give the ruling party a scare.Accusing Rahul of “putting up a pretence to prove his Hindu lineage”, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted: “Rahul Gandhi is as much a Hindu as Arvind Kejriwal is honest… Make no mistake, this is just a tactical retreat, with electoral compulsions in mind, nothing else.”Sharing a video of Rahul performing aarti at Omkareshwar temple in MP, Malviya said: “If only ‘chunavi Hindu’ Rahul Gandhi knew that aarti is done clockwise and there is a scientific reason for it (earth moves in a clockwise direction and hence environmental frequencies are in sync with movement), he would not be making a spectacle of himself in public like this.”(Viewed from the North Pole, the Earth actually moves in a counterclockwise direction; from the South Pole, it appears to rotate clockwise.)Rahul Gandhi, son of a Catholic mother and a Parsi father, should stop this fancy dress drama in Hindi heartland.When in Kerala or TN, he never bothered to visit a single Hindu temple. Visited minority religious places though.His beliefs change depending on electoral maths… pic.twitter.com/zj0Gh2PZkW— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 2, 2022After his visit to the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain Tuesday, Rahul accused the BJP government of disrespecting “workers, farmers and small businessmen — the real ‘tapasvis’ akin to Hindu gods Shiva, Rama and Krishna”.Vermillion on his forehead, Rahul peppered his speech with references about Hindu gods and the Bhagawad Gita. “The Hindu religion teaches us to worship ‘tapasvis’… so why are they not worshipped?… The government does not give them anything, it gives everything to those who do puja of Narendra Modi,” he said. “Those who worship Modi, they get everything they want, railways, ports, airports, roads, power, water… everything.”The Omkareshwar and Mahakaleshwar temples are among the 12 Jyotirlinga sites in India, associated with Lord Shiva.हिंदुस्तान हमेशा से तपस्वियों का देश रहा है। आज, प्रधानमंत्री करोड़ों हिंदुस्तानियों की तपस्या का अपमान कर रहे हैं। pic.twitter.com/urn3poFciu— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 29, 2022In October, during the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s Karnataka leg, Rahul reached out to members of all three main faiths — Hindu, Muslim and Christian — in Mysuru by visiting the Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills, the Masjid-e-Azam and the St Philomena’s Cathedral on the same day.Sharing pictures of the temple on Twitter, Rahul said: “Religious harmony is the foundation of India’s peaceful and progressive future.” The Bharat Jodo Yatra’s stated aim is to unite the country against “hate” and “discord”.A day later, he visited a prominent mutt of the Lingayat community, the most powerful voting group in Karnataka.Entering Maharashtra on November 9 from Telangana, Rahul paid a visit to the Nanded Sahib gurdwara, one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines, on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti. On its official Twitter page, the Congress shared a video of Rahul praying wearing a headscarf with the Khanda symbol and someone wrapping a Dastar around his head. He prayed for harmony and equality, the party said.In September, soon after he had taken off from Tamil Nadu, Rahul met controversial Tamil pastor George Ponnaiah. After videos of their meeting emerged, the BJP attacked Rahul.

‘Chunavi Hindu’ says BJP, but Rahul Gandhi is climbing steps one temple at a time in his Yatra
‘AAP a one-man party… cannot become BJP alternative,’ says Baijayant Jay Panda
The Indian Express | 7 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
7 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 11:45 am

How is the BJP placed ahead of MCD elections, especially considering that you have been in power for 15 years? How big of a challenge is anti-incumbency?We are winning very comfortably and this argument about anti-incumbency is something that the Aam Aadmi Party is desperately trying to claim about us. The fact is that we benefit at multiple levels. First of all, we benefit from the Prime Minister’s immense popularity and that’s not just what he’s done for the nation or the international acclaim. 73 lakh people in Delhi got the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.We also benefit from the party led by Nadda ji all the way down to the last worker. During the pandemic throughout the country, party workers helped well over a quarter of a billion people with community kitchens, oxygen help with hospitalisations etc.And then there’s a lot of work that has happened. For example, several large biodiversity eco parks have come up.AAP itself has immense anti-incumbency. They’ve been in government eight years and there’s an old saying that you can fool some of the people all the time, all the people, some of the time, but not all the people all the time. So, in recent months, especially in the last one year, a lot of their fakery has been exposed. Their claims about being a different kind of party are completely in shambles with the many corruption scandals. Their two most prominent promises were to clean up the Yamuna and to reduce pollution and every Delhiite will tell you that just the reverse has happened. Despite thousands of crores of funding from the Modi government, the Yamuna has got even more polluted and Delhi’s pollution is such that every family, irrespective of economic status, has one or more members suffering from various ailments. The evidence for what I’m saying is two-fold. You saw the immense enthusiasm and rush for tickets for BJP.On the other hand, you’ve had huge scandals in AAP where tickets have been sold. Their own workers are coming out with sting videos. People of Delhi are convinced that AAP is a party willing to swindle its own workers and certainly, it has no compunction swindling the people of Delhi. I don’t go into numbers.AAP itself has immense anti-incumbency. They’ve been in government for 8 years and there’s an old saying that you can fool some of the people all the time, but not all the people all the timeAAP and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have shared some numbers, like 225 seats…I will comment on some of Mr. Kejriwal’s numbers like the fact that with just a couple of exceptions, his party lost its deposits in Uttarakhand, despite his party making huge claims about how they are going to sweep. Now they’re making claims about winning a huge number of seats in Gujarat. They are in a desperate shape in Gujarat. AAP’s seat projections are about as credible as the promises of cleaning the Yamuna.Talking about Gujarat, how do you see AAP’s attempts to replace the Congress in some states?AAP’s claims and promises and attempts at inspiring their workers are based on falsehoods. As long as it was limited to Delhi, they were able to fool some of the people all the time, but now within just a few months, Punjab has exposed them. Yesterday, you saw riots in Punjab by the same farmers activists with whom they were supposedly collaborating just a year ago. Till last year, they used to blame Punjab for the stubble burning for the Delhi pollution. Now, there’s no excuse. They’re trying to obfuscate by saying that other states burn stubble but well over 90% of the stubble burning in North India happens in Punjab. Stubble burning in other states, like Haryana, has dropped dramatically in the last few years. And also because of their fiscal irresponsibility today, Punjab government employees are not getting paid. They took a bad situation and made it much worse. So, what’s happening is they have to keep seeking new pastures, to try to fool a new set of people.But Punjab’s fiscal situation is not their making…They’ve taken a bad situation and made it far worse because of their fiscal profligacy. Punjab is heading the Sri Lankan way. Just look at what they have done in the last few months. You see front page advertisements all over the country. You see the Punjab dummy CM and the AAP leader all over the country based on the money from Punjab and Delhi. That is fiscal profligacy. That is worsening the situation. In Gujarat you’ve talked about their hard-working workers. I gave you the example of how their workers in Delhi are turning against them.You are aware that in Himachal and Delhi, senior people are quitting and joining us. You’ll see the same situation in Gujarat soon when many of the people and their workers who had been working in the false belief that AAP represents something new and better, are going to get equally disappointed.Evidence from studies shows that the contribution of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution has dipped this year for a variety of reasons. AAP says it has done a lot to curb fires. How do you counter that?AAP, just a couple of weeks ago, apologised in public for not being able to curb pollution emanating from Punjab. You’ve cited one study, I can cite to you a couple of other properly, authenticated studies. A central government compilation of studies has been released by the Delhi L-G’s office which shows that Punjab accounts for, by far, the lion’s share of stubble burning. And they had promised that they would immediately curtail it. Now, the other states have curtailed. Not only Haryana, but other bordering states have had very dramatic reductions, but AAP which had committed to curtailing it this season itself has publicly apologised.A large number of MPs, union ministers and CMs have been campaigning in Delhi for BJP, and AAP has cited this to imply it’s because the BJP-led MCD doesn’t have much to show for its work.This is the same old argument and obfuscation that they try on many fronts. If you look at the BJP’s elections, in every election we roll out all the available armoury. And we have a lot of armoury to roll out. Since the last time, we have more Chief Ministers, we have more prominent faces in the union cabinet, and we have more regional leaders that are attracting attention. There is a demand because in Delhi today, demographics have transformed in the last 10 years. You have lots of people living in Delhi today, who come from Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha and Bengal. They want to see their own leaders come here and enthuse them because they have a connect with them because of language and culture. Let me reiterate, BJP does not take any election lightly. First of all, we don’t just turn up at elections. Every week of the year, virtually every day of the year, we have some or other public activity interfacing with the public, either in social work, helping them during crises, or in political rallies and outreach. And at election time, we always take every election seriously and we turn out all our big guns. The reality is that AAP, like almost all other parties, is a one-man party. They don’t allow any leadership to come up. It’s a personality cult. Whatever leadership they have tried to build up are mostly in jail or about to go to jail. So, they have serious problems. We are a party that nurtures talent. The Prime Minister himself came from a humble background and is today repeatedly acknowledged as the world’s most popular leader.AAP, obviously, feels the pressure of not being able to counter our campaign with similar personalities. So, this is a way of trying to obfuscate.Allegations of BJP being a one-man party have also been made in the past…In the first question, you asked how come we are rolling out so many big guns. How come Himanta Biswa Sarma, Pushkar Dhami, Jairam Thakur and other leaders like Nadda ji, Sambit Patra are doing so many roadshows and meetings. Then you are asking about BJP being a one-man party. The reality is that the BJP is not only the world’s largest party, it is also the world’s most democratic party. I know, because as the in-charge for Delhi, I’ve been involved very intricately. Let me tell you how the candidate selection process has worked. We were working virtually 24/7 for several weeks. We had extensive exercises at the mandal level, where our mandal workers gave their opinions. Then we had an exercise at the district level. Then we had an exercise at the state level. We took feedback from everybody from the lowest level at the karyakarta level, the mandal level, and the district. And then at the MLA level and the MP level. And we also did extensive surveys in deciding who are the popular leaders. We have done a very extensive survey which shows us that there is immense satisfaction among the workers about the candidate selection. On the other hand, you have seen no such process in AAP. You have seen sting videos by their own workers… There is absolutely nothing wrong with the party benefiting from the Prime Minister’s popularity. The Prime Minister himself, let me repeat, came from a very humble background. The same allegation was made when Atal ji was at the peak of his popularity, that we take advantage of his popularity, what about others? Modi ji came up from the ranks and he has this global popularity today. Why should we not take advantage of it? And yes, of course, at the local level issues are being discussed and debated. Yesterday, in my campaign, I talked about the Delhi Jal Board scandal. The Delhi Jal Board finances were not audited for many years run by AAP. And there is a huge scandal of many thousands of crores. A large number of homes in Delhi get very polluted water and people are reacting very severely against that. I’ve also mentioned several other local issues, which our candidates and district leaders are taking up. But to say that somehow, we should shield the people of Delhi from Modi ji’s popularity is not rational. Every election has a mix of national, regional and local issues. The people of Delhi are very cognisant that when it comes to national interest, even when it comes to Delhi’s own interest, the central government has done a lot.When a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party is in jail for 5 months, the courts are not giving him bail because of, prima facie, evidence of money laundering. And he’s getting five-star treatment and he’s getting a massage from a child rapist. And they’re trying to fob it off as some kind of physiotherapy until it is caught that the guy’s not a physiotherapist but a child rapist and they’re not dropping him from the party. This is a local issue. This is a self goal which they have created in a very big way. Modi ji is not talking about this. We are talking about this. We are talking about this, the Delhi leadership is talking about it. Delhi candidates are talking about it. AAP says that the guy should be given a Bharat Ratna.How much traction are these issues gaining on the ground?There is enormous traction. AAP candidates and workers are quitting and joining us. Who do you think is giving us these sting operation videos? They are sourcing it because of their bitterness with their party. When the Satyendar Jain massage video came out, AAP stopped doing press conferences. They didn’t have a response to it. The liquor scam which has been going on where the personal assistants of very senior leaders have turned approver have been caught with hundreds of crores. They’re not able to respond, they’ve not given a single answer. They’re trying to obfuscate, but they’re not giving a single answer, why they gave liquor contracts to blacklisted companies. Why they allowed the contravention of rules to allow liquor vends near schools and temples and in prohibited zones.How do you see AAP as an opposition party?My view is that their gig is up. They have been trying to portray themselves exactly like this for the last three or four years, they’ve been badly battered. In Uttarakhand you saw. In Himachal their top leadership has quit and joined us, in Gujarat, despite what they are saying, you will see the results very shortly. They represent something very different.BJP is nationalistic. It is fiscally responsible. It has brought immense development to India. In the global perspective, India is the shining light among all economies which have been battered by the pandemic, everybody’s talking about it. The IMF is talking about it. The world is looking to India and to Modi ji’s leadership as a sign of hope. We have transformed from a country that always sought help from others to a country that has been giving help to others. During the pandemic, we have given 200 million vaccines to other countries. We have helped them with many other things, like medicines and ventilators.AAP is like the 1970s version of Congress. Congress spent many decades talking about garibi hatao and only increased garibi. It is under BJP that hundreds of millions of people are getting out of poverty. People have seen what has happened to Sri Lanka. People have seen how India has had to step in and help neighbouring countries. Not just Sri Lanka, but others. In the last eight years, they have not added a single hospital. In eight years, they did not add a single bus to Delhi’s fleet until under severe pressure they tried to add some electric buses, and that too has been caught up in a scandal of corruption. Old buses are breaking down. So, a 1970s version of Congress cannot become the BJP’s alternative or opposition. Their gig is up because of what has happened in the other states where they have tried to take the same message. Punjab’s voters were because of the mismanagement of Congress rule and they grabbed at whatever they thought was a different alternative. But it’s turning out to be a much worse version of that.If Punjab voters were desperate for change, why did they not vote for BJP?The BJP had alliances with people that themselves got unpopular and the BJP has a track record of never having dumped an ally and perhaps we should have been more pragmatic about that earlier. Now the BJP is building on its own. Wherever we have been betrayed by allies, whether it is Maharashtra, whether it is Punjab, or Bihar, we are building up on our own and you will see the results. Punjab is already seeing the chaos. People regret going for AAP.Some people try to portray that it is the middle classes who are weary of AAP’s profligacy and fiscal irresponsibility. I can tell you that even people of weaker economic category are also getting very wary because today, even if you go to the remotest corner of the country or you go to economically weaker sections of society here in Delhi, they know what’s happening around the world. They may have been initially excited about some free water but today you can see the water that they’re getting is grossly polluted. The BJP works on addressing the economic needs of people. We do understand that there are people of the weaker economic sections that need housing and support. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Prime Minister released about 3,500 flats under the Jahan Jhuggi, Wahin Makaan scheme. In the last few days, many hundreds of buses of people who reside in jhuggis have gone to see these flats and the enthusiasm is enormous. A lot of people have the misperception that people from the weaker economic strata have a preference for AAP. You are going to see a very big difference this time.You have not spoken about AAP’s Hindutva, the way they are trying to take up the cause of the majority.I think the public understands the difference between genuine conviction and fakery. AAP tries to be different things to different people at different times. When you have JNU students who openly shout anti-national slogans, who openly support convicted terrorists, AAP is with them. When you have riots in Delhi, where people are getting convicted for killing government officers, of organising riots, of arson, AAP’s own representatives are among them. They realised this is costing them very badly and in the last few months, they have been going around claiming to be nationalists and holding the Tricolour. People are not fooled. Today if you go around the temples in Delhi, you’ll see immense anger against AAP because they have been facilitating funding for one group of religious institutions but not temples. It is very much like Rahul Gandhi. As I said, they are trying to be the B team of the Congress.Rahul Gandhi has done the same thing. He goes around berating any nationalistic stand that Modi ji takes and goes around questioning the Indian Army about surgical strikes. He goes around having meetings with the Chinese Embassy when there is a border conflict and then at election time he wears the tilapia, he becomes a Shiv Bhakt, he starts taking a pretend nationalistic stand. People have punished that repeatedly and reduced the Congress to nothing and the Aam Aadmi Party is basically following in that same path of trying to be a chameleon and changing colours at election time and they’re getting caught very badly with their pants down.Till. A few months ago, there was a debate about AAP promoting the revdi culture but it now seems to have completely disappeared from the discourse. BJP doesn’t mention it in its MCD rallies even. AAP too has stopped defending itself over it.It is there in our pamphlets and in some of our literature and you are right. It is because the people of Delhi have started accepting that the revdi culture is going to lead them towards becoming like Sri Lanka. The people of Delhi have understood that revdi equals free water, equals really dirty polluted water equals making children sick. Yes, we took it up and it has had immense impact and it has been accepted by the people of Delhi. Now, since this is a goal we have already scored, it is time for us to score more goals. That is why we are now emphasising on other aspects. AAP has stopped countering that because we have registered a goal. You can’t keep protesting a goal after the goal has been registered by the referee. You can protest as long as we are dribbling that you are offside or something like that. Once the goal has been scored, and the referee adjudicates it as a valid goal, there’s no point protesting it. They should be highlighting it.They are. CM Kejriwal listed out free water and power schemes in his speech yesterday. AAP doesn’t seem to have backed down on that front.The BJP has taken a very strong stand on this. That the free water, free electricity etc has led to people getting very very upset. They are very clear that their children are having to breathe polluted air. Their children are having to drink extremely polluted water. We have highlighted the fact that when AAP does some events allegedly tacking pollution, the vast majority of the expense has gone to advertising. The actual expense on whatever they have tried to do is just a very miniscule part of it. So it is just a show. They showcase their schools but it’s just one or two schools which they have prettied up and painted and are trying to show now. They managed to get some international media like The New York Times to give them some credit for this. The same New York Times has now criticised them very severely for the pollution, where they have failed. People are realising this. If you go around, you’ll see two things about schools, and this is relating to the revdi culture. You will see that the Delhi state government schools have reduced in number in the last eight years. The municipal schools have increased in number. If you look at the schools that AAP is highlighting, it is the same one or two schools. I can take you around various parts and show dozens of MCD schools that are of a very high standard and are getting a great deal of praise. MCD schools are the ones that a majority of Delhi’s population go to. The revdi politics has reached a level of diminishing returns for them. But we are focusing on pollution, we are focusing on corruption. This is something we have known for a while but the people of Delhi have just begun to understand this in the last one year.For MCD elections, the main issues for people are that of garbage, sewer lines etc and not larger issues like corruption. In the BJP manifesto, most promises are old.I dispute your comment that people don’t care about corruption. We have highlighted the issue of corruption regarding Satyendar Jain and Manish Sisodia. They are not answering questions about that. Because of corruption, there is no cleaning up of the pollution or the Yamuna. I’ll reiterate that local issues matter and of course we are addressing them. One issue is that the AAP government sat on Rs 42 thousand crores of Central funding and deliberately refused to disburse despite court proceedings.Talking about Delhi BJP, you have been out of power in the state government since 1998 and infighting has been a big issue within the party. Do you think there is a lack of a credible face in the state unit that is hurting you?At the Lok Sabha level, we have a clean sweep, all seven out of seven seats. At the local election level, we have won three times in a row and by every indication, we are comfortably coming to a fourth victory. About the state government situation, I won’t go into the distant past, but just the last eight years, which has seen the current dispensation. I think the Aam Aadmi Party got a huge boost from many people who thought he represented something different and he got a lot of free publicity about alleged good work, which positioned him as some kind of an alternative.But like I said, you can’t fool all the people all the time. And that one-trick pony has served its purpose of making fake promises, moving on to new sets of promises without delivering and thinking that people won’t notice. In terms of not having a face, that is exactly what used to be said when Atal ji was Prime Minister. How did Modi ji come? Because we have 18 crore members and we encourage talent to rise to the top. In Delhi, we have the luxury of several prominent faces. We have very senior faces. We have young faces, we have popular faces that have come from outside of politics. We have women’s faces, we have very homegrown, earthy faces representing different sections of the demographic. To somehow consider this a weakness is very odd because at the right time, we will choose the right person. We have plenty of options to choose from and this is a strength. It’s not a weakness.

‘AAP a one-man party… cannot become BJP alternative,’ says Baijayant Jay Panda
Gujarat Phase 1 vote today: BJP faces Saurashtra test; AAP, Congress stand in way of bid to regain lost ground
The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 01-12-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
1 day ago | 01-12-2022 | 11:45 am

A little over a year after it changed the entire Gujarat Cabinet, the BJP will go to polls in the first phase of the Assembly elections on Thursday as it attempts to return to power for the sixth straight term.Around 2.39 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect MLAs in 89 constituencies in Saurashtra, Kutch, and south Gujarat, with the BJP looking to regain the ground it lost in Saurashtra in the 2017 Assembly elections. For the ruling party, the main competition will come from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress. The electoral contest between the BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit will be especially intense in Surat. Both camps aggressively campaigned against each other in an attempt to bag the 12 seats in the city.In 2017, of the 89 constituencies, the BJP won 48 and the Congress bagged 38 seats. Two seats went to the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which was in alliance with the Congress at the time, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won one.In Saurashtra, the agrarian region with 48 seats, the challenge for the BJP is to increase its tally from the 19 constituencies it managed to win last time, while the Congress will look to hold on to the gains it made five years ago and build on their success. The Congress’s seat count of 28 in Saurashtra in 2017 was a gain of 13 seats, while the BJP’s tally came down by 11 seats. It was the ruling party’s worst performance in Saurashtra since 1995 when it formed the government in Gujarat for the first time.But in the last five years, 10 Congress MLAs from Saurashtra defected to the BJP or extended support to the ruling party. They are Kunvarji Bavaliya (Jasdan), Parsottam Sabariya (Dhrangadhra), Jawahar Chavda (Manavadar), Vallabh Dharaviya (Jamnagar Rural), Pravin Maru (Gadhada), JV Kakadiya (Dhari), Soma Ganda Patel (Limbdi), Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Bhagwan Barad (Talala), and Harshad Ribadiya (Visavadar). Save Sabariya, Dharaviya, Maru, Patel, and Merja, the others are BJP candidates this time from their respective seats.The Congress’s Saurashtra performance in 2017 was propelled by support from the Patidar community, which had been traditional BJP supporters since the mid-1980s. But the community drifted towards the Congress five years ago following protests against the BJP-led government over demands for Other Backward Class (OBC) status. The quota agitation stir’s leader Hardik Patel is the BJP candidate from Viramgam in Ahmedabad district this time. Pointing out that the quota agitation has long fizzled out, BJP leaders have claimed that Patidars will back the ruling party this time around.The first phase covers several Patidar and tribal-dominated seats and will be crucial for the ruling party’s stated objective of breaking all Assembly election records. Among the BJP’s objectives is winning most of the 27 constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs). In Phase 1, seven of the constituencies at stake are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) communities and 17 are ST seats.For the BJP, a stumbling block in the run-up to the elections was ticket distribution. In the first phase, seven BJP members filed nominations against the party’s candidates, most of them as Independents and one each as Congress and AAP nominees.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the BJP’s campaign and has addressed 25 public meetings since November 3, when the Elections Commission notified the poll schedule. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been the second-most prominent face to campaign for the party. The party has also deployed a battery of national leaders such as chief ministers Yogi Adityanath, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Pramod Sawant, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and its national president JP Nadda.The BJP aggressively played up the Hindutva card by raking up issues such as the 2002 riots, terrorism, “love jihad”, and the Shraddha Walkar murder case. In its poll manifesto, the ruling party promised an anti-radicalisation cell and the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code.The AAP ran an aggressive campaign, especially in Saurashtra and south Gujarat. The electoral plank of the Kejriwal-led party is based on its guarantees such as free education, free electricity, employment, and free religious pilgrimages for the elderly.On Wednesday, Kejriwal issued a video message requesting the people of Gujarat to opt for change. Speaking in Gujarati Kejriwal, who began with the common greeting in Gujarat, “Jai Shri Krishna”, said, “Twenty-seven years are a lot, no? This time try to change. Change is the rule of life. Even trees change their leaves every year. Give AAP one chance. I will never break your trust. Now, the atmosphere is also changing, cold is also increasing. Take care of everyone in the family. Jai Shree Krishna!”The Congress too has promised voters things such as free electricity, implementation of the old pension scheme, and jobs. Its campaign, however, was low-key, with some of its top national leaders largely staying away from the campaign.In six assembly constituencies, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has fielded candidates. These seats are Mangrol, Khambhalia, Bhuj, Mandvi, Surat East, and Limbayat.Notable names in the frayThere are a total of 788 candidates in the fray in Phase 1, including 718 men and 70 women. Some of the notable BJP candidates who will be battling it out on Thursday are Kanti Amrutiya (Morbi), Kunvarji Bavaliya (Jasdan), Jayesh Radadiya (Jetpur), Rivaba Jadeja (Jamnagar North), Pabubha Manek (Dwarka), Babu Bokhiriya (Porbandar), Parshottam Solanki, Mukesh Patel (Olpad), Harsh Sanghavi (Majura), Jitu Vaghani (Bhavnagar West), and Raghavji Patel (Jamnagar Rural).The first phase will also see the fate of some top AAP leaders being decided. Among them are its CM face Isudan Gadhvi (Khambhalia), state president Gopal Italia (Katargam), and former Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders Alpesh Kathiriya (Varachha) and Dharmik Malaviya (Olpad).From the Congress, leaders such as Naushad Solanki (Dasada), Lalit Kagathara (Tankara), Indranil Rajyaguru (Rajkot East), Vikram Madam (Khambhalia), Arjun Modhwadiya (Porbandar), Punja Vansh (Una), Paresh Dhanani, Virji Thummar (Lathi), Ambarish Der (Rajula), Kanu Kalsariya (Mahuva), and Anant Patel (Vansda) will be contesting in the first phase.New initiativesThis is the first election where a section of the electorate will have a chance to vote from home. This facility has been made available to 9.87 lakh voters above the age of 80 years and 4.03 lakh voters with disabilities. The Election Commission (EC) distributed around eight lakh forms for voters to avail of this facility but only over two per cent of voters have opted for it.The other initiative is monitoring workers in industries if they have cast their votes or not. The EC has already signed MoUs with various industrial associations for this and asked them to give a holiday or a break to workers on polling day.“We have already conveyed the message to our sister associations for giving workers a break or holiday for polling. Though we cannot force workers to vote, all industrial units have also been asked to monitor the number of workers and share whatever figures possible with us so that we have at least an estimate,” said Pathik Patwari, president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).This is also the first election in the state where details of criminal cases faced by candidates needed to be published in newspapers.With inputs from Avinash Nair and Rashi Mishra in Ahmedabad

Gujarat Phase 1 vote today: BJP faces Saurashtra test; AAP, Congress stand in way of bid to regain lost ground

Maharashtra Education News

Mumbai autorickshaw driver stuns passenger by naming all countries in Europe and more. Watch
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

One should never judge a person by their profession or milieu. One often equates knowledge with people in high-paying jobs. However, a man driving an autorickshaw left his passenger stunned by his vast knowledge about a lot of things.A man named Rajiv Krishna shared how he was stuck in Mumbai’s infamous traffic when his driver initiated a conversation with him. Sensing that he was getting restless as he was close to his destination, the auto-driver started asking him which countries he has been to. To his utter surprise, he told him that he knows all the 44 countries in Europe. He then started rattling the names of all 44 countries in near alphabetical order. He then followed it up by naming the presidents and prime ministers of the prominent countries in Europe.“Being a native of Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, he went on to name all 35 districts of his home state. Not just that, he went on to name all 33 districts of Gujarat and all 75 districts of UP,” the caption explained. The driver then proceeded to educate him on the highlights of demonetisation, the 2G scandal and the Panama papers.“The man is named Ramdev and he is 61 years of age. He drives his rickshaw around for 8-9 hours a day just to keep himself active,” says the caption. The most surprising element of the conversation was when he got to know that he never received formal education as his family could only afford two meals a day.“All the knowledge that he had gained was through self study. He taught himself the alphabet, numbers and was blessed with the uncanny ability to retain vast amounts of information. In a parallel universe he could have been a professor with a doctorate at a top tier University,” Krishna wrote.Watch the video below:  A post shared by Rajiv Krishna (@krish_rajiv)Posted on November 7, the clip has received more than 3.82 lakh views.“I loved the way you worded the story. This video and your caption both warmed my heart,” commented a user. “Call him for your upsc exam centre ride for a quick revision,” said another. “Moments like these really humble us, the education we take for granted is a privilege that most others can only dream of,” another netizen wrote.

Mumbai autorickshaw driver stuns passenger by naming all countries in Europe and more. Watch
Patna Women’s College collaborates with premier institutions
Times of India | 2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 08:48 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 08:48 am

PATNA: Patna Women’s College (PWC), an autonomous college under Patna University, has created a record of sorts by fostering academic collaboration with nearly two dozen institutions across the country this year. No other institution of the state has signed MoUs with such a large number of institutions in such a short period. Giving details of these collaborations, the dean of PWC’s centre for national, international collaboration and consultancy services (NICCS), Alok John, said with a view to expanding its academic horizon the college has initiated establishing linkages with premier institutions of the country and abroad in the field of collaborative studies and research. Primarily, all these collaborations are aimed at facilitating students’ and teachers’ exchange, collaborative research and publications, cultural exchange and sharing of common resources and expertise in the fields of consultancy, accreditation and ranking, institutional benchmarking and best practices, said John. He pointed out that at a programme initiated by the Xavier Board of Higher Education India held some time back in Kerala, PWC signed MoU with as many as 17 institutions at a time. Since then, several advancements have been made among all these institutions in areas of some meaningful academic programmes. John said the collaboration between institutions offers a number of benefits, including opportunities to interact with researchers having expertise in a needed area of the proposed investigation, gain access to needed resources including databases, equipment, staff, and study populations and gain credibility through the name recognition from prominent researchers, departments, or institutions. In addition, many times, resources found lacking at one institution can be shared with a collaborating institution and vice versa, he said. The institutions with which PWC has started collaboration in different fields include Christ College, Irinjalakuda, Kerala; Christ (Deemed to be University) Bangalore; Fatima College (Autonomous), Madurai, Tamil Nadu; Holy Cross College (Autonomous), Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu; Little Flower Degree and PG College, Uppal, Telangana; Loreto College, Kolkata, West Bengal; Loyola Academy, Secunderabad, Telangana; Mount Carmel College (Autonomous), Bengaluru, Karnataka; Providence Women’s College, Kozhikode, Kerala; Salesian College, Sonada-Siliguri, West Bengal; St. Teresa’s (Autonomous) College, Ernakulam, Kerala; St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam, Kerala; St. Ann’s college for women, Mehdipatnam, Telangana; St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, Meghalaya; St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu; St. Joseph’s College, Irinjalakuda, Kerala; St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai, Maharashtra; Sophia Girls’ College, Ajmer; St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) Jabalpur; and St. Ann’s College of Education, Mangalore Vimala College (Autonomous), Thrissur, Kerala. PWC will be signing MoU with some more institutions soon, he added.

Patna Women’s College collaborates with premier institutions
UGC draft norms on fixed term for Chancellor, mandatory corpus amount irk deemed-to-be varsities
The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 29-11-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
3 days ago | 29-11-2022 | 11:45 am

Some of the draft regulations issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for deemed-to-be universities earlier this month have not gone down well with the institutions. The regulations include keeping a tab on fee structures of various courses and prohibiting donation or capitation fee, and making it mandatory for these universities to keep a considerable corpus fund aside, to be used for development purposes.As per the draft regulations, any donation or capitation fee is strictly prohibited, and the fee structure should be in accordance with the guidelines by the relevant statutory body. The fee should be fixed transparently keeping in view non-profiteering. According to the new draft, the deemed-to-be universities are also expected to set aside a corpus fund of Rs 25 crore, or an amount decided by the Commission from time to time.The norm that has attracted the most criticism is about the fixed tenure of the Chancellor, which should be for a maximum period of five years, and no reappointment. “The Chancellor of the institute in case of deemed-to-be universities is the soul of the institute, being the founder. Fixing the tenure will not really serve the purpose,” said Prof Dr G Viswanathan, founder and chancellor of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) and president of the Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI), a national consortium of private institutions imparting education, including deemed-to-be universities. The EPSI has submitted its representation to the UGC with their contentions.“These regulations are discouraging for private educational institutions which are required to meet the ever rising demand in the education sector,” added Prof Viswanathan.According to the EPSI, the condition to set aside a corpus fund of Rs 25 crore is going to result in blocking of the money, which could have been used to provide monetary help for needy meritorious students. As per the current practice, Rs 10 crore is set aside as corpus fund. While fixing fees too, the EPSI has urged the UGC to first form relevant statutory bodies across states to ensure fair practice.“The fee structure has to be fixed based on the services provided by an institute. A generalised norm in this regard will not work,” said Prof Dr Mangesh Karad, executive president and vice chancellor of MIT-ADT University, Pune. He also shared that the Fee Regulatory Authority in Maharashtra has allowed fixing fees in this manner for professional courses.

UGC draft norms on fixed term for Chancellor, mandatory corpus amount irk deemed-to-be varsities
Medical admission fraud: No bail for six accused of laundering
Times of India | 5 days ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:44 am
Times of India
5 days ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:44 am

MUMBAI: Observing that the predicate offence relates to cheating of various innocent students and their parents, many of whom have lost their hard-earned life savings, a special PMLA court has rejected the bail and discharge pleas of six accused in a money laundering case linked to MBBS admission fraud. "The applications are premature, if entertained and allowed will cause horrific consequences," special judge MG Deshpande said. The accused had sought release from jail and discharge on the grounds that since the predicate offence had been withdrawn during a Lok Adalat held earlier this month, the money laundering case could not proceed. They cited a recent Supreme Court ruling that held when there is no predicate or scheduled offence, the PMLA case cannot continue. The predicate or original offence is one based on which, the Enforcement Directorate registers its money laundering cases. However, special judge MG Deshpande said, "If the application is allowed in a hasty manner, as proposed by the accused...it will cause horrific consequences of disposal of special case relating to money laundering. At the cost of repetition, it has to be noted that accused are not prevented from filing any application as such, but at the same time the court is under obligation to wait till the period of limitation for filing appeal against the acquittal in LokAdalat.." Among those who moved the plea were Mahadev Ramchandra Deshmukh (64). In a chargesheet submitted in July this year, the ED had said that Deshmukh, a former president of a Satara-based medical college, in collusion with other accused cheated around "350 gullible students" and collected Rs 65.70 core. The admission was to be given in Institute of Medical Science and Research (IMSR) run by Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society, Satara, But neither admission nor refund was given, the ED said. In Friday's order, the special judge said that it had to be noted that, though the FIR was lodged by one person, there was list of 41 witnesses mentioned in the chargesheet who are basically the affected students or their parents, whose kids could not get admissions and had also lost huge money. "Admittedly none of the 41 witnesses was present at the time of withdrawal or compounding of the complaint in Lok Adalat dated November 12," the judge said. The judge also said that the period to challenge the acquittal has not lapsed till date. "Any victim can prefer appeal against acquittal and the Court has to wait till the period of appeal ends. Judicial discipline warrants the same," the judge said. In a separate order the special judge had allowed Arun Gore, the present director of Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society to intervene and oppose the pleas. Gore told the court the withdrawal or compounding of the case in the Lok Adalat on November 12, was fraudulent as many students who had lost their money on account of MBBS admissions have got affected by the withdrawal.

Medical admission fraud: No bail for six accused of laundering

Maharashtra Covid News

Maharashtra: HIV-TB co-infections fall as Covid disrupts screenings
Times of India | 1 day ago | 01-12-2022 | 06:20 am
Times of India
1 day ago | 01-12-2022 | 06:20 am

PUNE: Covid-19's impact on routine health screenings has led to a drastic drop in the number of reported HIV-TB co-infections and TB deaths in the state. Both diseases share an insidious link. TB is a serious threat to human health, but the disease gets particularly worse in those living with HIV. People living with HIV are also at increased risk of contracting TB. And studies have shown that, worldwide, TB is among the leading causes of deaths among those living with HIV. Experts said the fall in cases is evidence that screenings were severely hit during the two years of Covid waves and it's now likely the state may have missed thousands of HIV-TB patients. According to data, over 8,000 cases of HIV-TB co-infections were reported in 2019. This fell to 5,700 in 2020 and 6,200 the following year. Similarly, reported TB deaths dropped from over 8,700 in 2019 to 5,700 in 2021. Before Covid, through 2017-2019, the state was reporting a steady rise in TB-linked deaths - from 5,339 in 2017 to the 8,739 in 2019. Quoting the global TB report released in October this year, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO's chief scientist, said: "The reported fall in reporting of TB cases and deaths could be attributed to the reduced surveillance in the past two years. We need to aggressively start looking out for TB cases and begin treatment to prevent the spread of the infection. Prior to Covid, TB was the largest killer among infectious diseases. Governments across the world must undertake special drives to identify, treat and medicate patients." It's not all worrying, though. There has been some progress against HIV-TB coinfection, said Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, former chief of the ICMR. "The incidence of HIV-TB co-infection is low due to multiple efforts taken through these years. And due to better treatment, cases of multi-drug resistant TB and HIV have also reduced," he said. State officials said now that Covid has slowed, TB checks are being stepped up. "Special drives that were launched in September this year helped us many detect cases," said Dr Ramji Adkekar, joint director, state health services (TB and Leprosy), Maharashtra.

Maharashtra: HIV-TB co-infections fall as Covid disrupts screenings
India sees 279 new Covid-19 cases, 5 deaths in 24 hours: Govt
Times of India | 2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 10:32 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 30-11-2022 | 10:32 am

NEW DELHI: India reported a single-day rise of 279 new Covid-19 cases, which pushed its tally of the infection to 4,46,72,347, while the count of active cases has declined to 4,855, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The death toll due to the disease has climbed to 5,30,620 with five fatalities being recorded, including two deaths reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated. The three fresh fatalities reported were from Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra. Active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent, according to the ministry. A decrease of 127 cases has been recorded in the active caseload in a span of 24 hours, the data showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has surged to 4,41,36,872, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent, it stated. According to the ministry's website, 219.92 crore doses of vaccines have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. India's COVID-19 infection tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and the one-crore mark on December 19, 2020. The country crossed the grim milestones of two crore cases on May 4, 2021, three crore on June 23, 2021, and four crore on January 25 this year.

India sees 279 new Covid-19 cases, 5 deaths in 24 hours: Govt
  • Maharashtra and Mumbai record lowest Covid cases in 32 months
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: More than 32 months after the Covid pandemic began, the state on Monday registered the lowest single-day tally with detection of only 23 cases. Mumbai, too, registered its lowest tally in as many months, with six detections. The last time the single-day tally in Maharashtra was lower than Monday's tally was on March 13, 2020, when 17 cases were detected. In Mumbai, eight cases were detected on November 19. A state official admitted that the tally is low only because less than 4,000 tests were conducted on Sunday — a far cry from up to two lakh conducted in a day during the height of the pandemic two years back. In Mumbai, 1,226 tests were conducted. There were no fresh hospitalisations in the city in the Sunday-Monday period, with a total of 22 patients in hospitals at the moment.

  • India reports 343 new Covid cases; active cases fall to 5,263
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: India on Sunday reported 343 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 4.46 crore, the Union health ministry data stated. With 4 new deaths, the country's death toll has climbed to 5.3 lakh (5,30,612). Out of the 4 fresh fatalities, three have been reconciled by Kerala, while one was reported from Maharashtra in the last 24 hours. Furthermore, the number of active cases have come down to 5,263, the health ministry data updated at 8 am said. The active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections. A decrease of 132 cases was recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. Meanwhile, the national Covid-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.8 per cent, according to the ministry's website. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 44.1 lakh (4,41,35,687) and the case fatality rate stood at 1.19 per cent. India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 last year, three crore on June 23 and four crore on January 25 this year. (With inputs from agencies)

  • Maharashtra reports 98 new Covid-19 cases, one death; active tally now 504
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Saturday reported 98 Covid-19 cases and one death, which took the state's tally to 81,35,620 and the toll to 1,48,406, a health official said. The state had seen 72 cases and one death on Friday, so the addition to the tally was a sizable rise, he pointed out. Mumbai and Pune circles led with 32 new cases each, followed by 19 in Akola, five in Nagpur, three each in Kolhapur and Aurangabad, and two each in Nashik and Latur circles, he said. The recovery count increased by 124 to touch 79,86,70, leaving the state with an active caseload of 504, he said. Pune accounted for 187 active cases, followed by 94 in Mumbai and 65 in Thane, he added. As per health department data, the recovery rate is 98.17 per cent and the fatality rate stands at 1.82 per cent. So far, 8,56,08,988 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the state, including 12,871 in the last 24 hours, as per official data. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 8135620; fresh cases 98; death toll 148406; recoveries 79,86,710; active cases 504; total tests 8,56,08,988.

  • Maharashtra’s active Covid count at lowest point since start of the pandemic
  • Times of India

    PUNE: Maharashtra currently has the lowest active Covid cases since April 2020, the time the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced the pandemic. WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Around April 4, 2020, the active Covid cases in Maharashtra had risen to 635. State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told TOI, "This number has now fallen to 531, after as long as two-and-a-half years. This is now officially the lowest active cases figure - almost akin to the caseload seen before the start of the first wave. It effectively means that the latest active caseload is the lowest compared to all the lowest points during the previous three major waves in the state." Awate said there has been no impact of the new sub-variants from the Omicron family on the number of cases in Maharashtra or hospitalisations. "While XBB has taken over BA.2.75, these sub-variants are from this same Omicron lineage. Thus, there has been no effect on virus transmission or severity."

Mumbai: As winter sets in, vegetables rates cool
Times of India | 3 days ago | 29-11-2022 | 05:00 am
Times of India
3 days ago | 29-11-2022 | 05:00 am

MUMBAI: Winter's arrival has seen vegetable prices in Mumbai dipping to pre-Covid levels of Rs 60-80/kg. While tomato is selling for up to Rs 20, lady finger, cauliflower, gavar, capsicum, cucumber and beans cost Rs 80. Carrot comes for Rs 60. At Vashi wholesale market, all the veggies cost below Rs 20/kg. Tomato drops to Rs 10-20per kg as winter cools vegetables pricesThe advent of winter has brought the first piece of good news for consumers in terms of vegetable prices in two years. The retail price of vegetables has been restored to pre-Covid levels of Rs 60-80 per kg, down from Rs 100-120 throughout 2021-22. Tomato rates have fallen to Rs 8-10 per kilo in APMC Vashi wholesale market while local vendors are retailing it for Rs 10-20. The "Black Friday" bonanza is expected to last through the winter season-"unless rainfall occurs or temperatures vary beyond comfort level" -say APMC officials, issuing a caveat. Normality was restored last week after two years during which Mumbaikars were forced to pay Rs 100-120 for common garden vegetables during the pandemic in 2020-21. In this time span, prices did not fall during winter either. The seasonal bonanza has been restored with tomato prices falling to Rs 10-20 per kg in Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, Vikhroli and parts of Dadar last week. "We were selling tomato for Rs 10 last week. Today's rate is Rs 20. All common vegetables like lady finger, cauliflower, gavar (cluster beans), capsicum, cucumber, arbi (colocasia) and beans are selling for Rs 80. Carrot is at Rs 60," said an attendant at Society Store, Lokhandwala. Vashi tomato trader Mangal Gupta said, "Retail rate is Rs 15-25 depending on quality and wholesale price is Rs 160-220 per 20 kg. November, December and January are healthy months for vegetable yield unless you have unseasonal rains in the growing belt of Nashik. Prices may rise marginally in December due to a drop in temperature. Tomato depends on the weather and will be stable unless unseasonal rains occur." APMC director Shankar Pingale said, "Rates have indeed fallen. All vegetables are selling for less than Rs 20 per kilo in Vashi wholesale market. Cabbage and cauliflower are Rs 6-8 per kg while tomato, bottle gourd (dudhi) and brinjal are much the same at Rs 8-10 per kg. The only exception is green peas and lady finger which cost Rs 30-40." Pingale attributed the decrease to robust winter arrivals from growing areas not just in Maharashtra but other states too. "Utpaadan achcha hai (production is good)," he said of the winter harvest. "Rates will remain at this level unless temperatures rise." Typically, though, upmarket localities such as Bandra-Khar and vegetarian Gujarati enclaves such as Matunga continue to witness a vast gap between wholesale and retail rates. Prices remain high despite winter arrivals. Greengrocer Shravan Gupta who runs a second generation stall in Khar Market said, "All vegetables that grow after the flowering process like dudhi, tinda (round gourd), toori (ridge gourd) and cucumber stay expensive in winter since the flowers tend to wilt in the farms. So the price is Rs 80-100. The wedding season is underway so demand is also high."

Mumbai: As winter sets in, vegetables rates cool
iNCOVACC first intranasal Covid vax in world to bag nod for primary, heterologous booster: Bharat Biotech
Times of India | 3 days ago | 28-11-2022 | 09:15 pm
Times of India
3 days ago | 28-11-2022 | 09:15 pm

HYDERABAD: Bharat Biotech on Monday said its iNCOVACC has become the world’s first intranasal Covid-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorisation (EUA) as a primary vaccine as well as heterologous booster for those who have received two doses of another vaccine. Both the EUAs have been granted for those aged 18 years and above. iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein derived from the Wuhan strain. Bharat Biotech chairman & managing director Dr Krishna Ella, said the company has also initiated development of variant-specific vaccines for Covid-19 for future preparedness. “Despite the lack of demand for Covid-19 vaccines, we continued product development in intranasal vaccines to ensure that we are well-prepared with platform technologies for future infectious diseases,” he said. The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker said with the approvals from the Indian drug regulator now in place, it will be announcing the launch dates, pricing and availability of the vaccine in due course of time. The vaccine is expected to become available for administration post its integration with the Cowin portal. Bharat Biotech said the intranasal vaccine platform -- iNCOVACC – offers the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant-specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery will enable mass immunisation to protect from emerging variants of concern during pandemics and epidemics. The vaccine, which was evaluated in phase-1,2 and 3 clinical trials, has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops and has been designed and developed to be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries as it can be stored at 2-8°C, the company added. The company said it has established large manufacturing capabilities at multiple sites across India, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana, with operations pan India. After the Indian drug regulator granted EUA for iNCOVACC as a primary two-dose vaccine in September this year, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Friday last granted EUA for the booster. While the phase-3 trials to test the safety and immunogenicity of iNCOVACC as a primary two-dose vaccine were conducted on around 3,100 volunteers at 14 sites across India, that for the heterologous booster were conducted on around 875 volunteers at 9 trial sites across India. Its immunogenicity was evaluated through serum neutralizing antibodies by PRNT assays and serum IgG’s through ELISA’s. To evaluate the vaccine, which is taken through the intranasal route, IgA’s were evaluated by ELISA in serum and saliva. Evaluation was also carried out for the ability of iNCOVACC to elicit long-term memory T and B cell responses against the ancestral and omicron variants. iNCOVACC was also evaluated to determine its impact on safety and the reactogenic events and adverse events that were documented during the trial were highly comparable to published data from other Covid-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech said. “The product development data will be submitted to peer reviewed journals and will be made available in the public domain,” said Bharat Biotech which developed the vaccine in partnership with Washington University, St Louis. While WashU designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vectored construct and evaluated it in preclinical studies for efficacy, the product development related to preclinical safety evaluation, large-scale manufacturing scale up, formulation and delivery device development, including human clinical trials, were conducted by Bharat Biotech. Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Government of India, through the department of biotechnology’s COVID Suraksha Programme.

iNCOVACC first intranasal Covid vax in world to bag nod for primary, heterologous booster: Bharat Biotech