Times of India | 6 days ago | 06-08-2022 | 04:54 am
MUMBAI: The BJP and the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena claimed success in elections to 271 of 28,813 gram panchayats in the state as results came in on Friday. These elections had taken place without the OBC reservation. This was the first election after the change of government in the state and the results were declared on Friday. "We faced polls to the gram panchayats without any preparation. We got good success along with the BJP. It shows our party activists worked hard," said CM Eknath Shinde. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted: "Even in the gram panchayat elections, BJP is the number 1 party. Shiv Sena under the leadership of chief minister Eknath Shinde and with BJP also performed very well, thank you very much!" State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said it was the first election after the change of government in the state and the public had shown its preference for the alliance of the BJP and Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena. According to reports, the BJP won in 82 gram panchayats, the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena in 40, the Uddhav Thackeray camp in the Shiv Sena in 27 gram panchayats, the NCP in 53 and the Congress in 22. "It will be difficult to comment on the outcome of the polls since the elections are not contested on the party symbol and, as such, all the candidates are independents," NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.
MUMBAI: The delay in allotment of portfolios and appointment of guardian ministers after expansion of the state cabinet stems from a tussle for portfolios in the 45-day-old government led by CM Eknath Shinde. If a senior politician is to be believed, both CM Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have staked claim on the home portfolio, and in addition, there is dispute on certain other portfolios, resulting in inordinate delay in allocation. "Our information is that within BJP, Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil are keen on the home department, while Shinde feels that it should be allotted to the Shiv Sena," he said. Fadnavis expects the exercise of allocation of portfolios to be completed before August 15. "There is no dispute. Internally, we have completed the exercise. It has been decided which departments will be allotted to BJP and Shiv Sena cabinet members. I am sure the final notification on portfolios will be promulgated before August 15. Even the appointments of guardian ministers will be approved shortly," Fadnavis told TOI. According to reports, while BJP has completed the exercise of allocation of portfolios to its cabinet members, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena is yet to take a decision on several departments. Since there are only 20 cabinet members, including the CM and Dy CM, every minister will get at least two or three departments. "A combination of a prime department and a less significant portfolio has been planned by both BJP and Sena, so every cabinet member will have at least one important department," he said. Stating that the home department is the bone of contention, the politician said that as Fadnavis had held the home portfolio when he was CM, he expects to lead it again. "As home minister, his performance was impressive, so most of BJP's cabinet members felt he should be allotted the home department. However, now unexpectedly Chandrakant Patil has stepped in and staked claim," he said. Apparently, Shinde has taken the view that for better administration, the home department should be with the CM. Congress legislature party leader Balasaheb Thorat said it took 40 days to expand the cabinet and now it has taken another week for allocation of portfolios.
The board abutting the concrete lane leading up to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ancestral home at Kalyan Bigaha village, in Nalanda district, gives a taste of the sense of pride among residents over the ‘local boy’. It reads: “Kalyan Bigaha ke laal, aapne kar diya kamaal! Aap hi vikas purush, aap hi Nitish Kumar (Oh, son of Kalyan Bigaha, you have pulled off a wonder! You are the development man, you are Nitish Kumar).”The JD(U) leader’s frequent political flip-flops, however, seem to be beginning to make people here somewhat restless.“We trust whatever Nitish-ji does. The same thing happened in Maharashtra, too. What’s wrong here?” said Suvender Singh, 60, a farmer from Kurmi community, which Nitish belongs to.Suvender was talking about the BJP walking away with most Shiv Sena MLAs, and the government, in Maharashtra.Brajesh Kumar, 50, another Kurmi farmer, however, was dismissive: “Nitish-ji has become a thali ka baigan (fickle-minded). It is increasingly becoming difficult to trust him. Aisa lagta hai baraati koi bhi ho, dulha ek hi rahega (it appears the groom will remain the same in every wedding). I don’t think this alliance will last long.”Raja Malik, 27, who comes from Dom community, a SC sub-caste, pitched in: “Everyone in this village, and even in this region, supports Nitish Kumar. But in their heart, people feel he should not have broken the alliance with BJP.”Almost everyone around him nodded in agreement.Part of the discomfort with Nitish’s alliance with RJD stems from the fear that Yadavs, a dominant OBC caste, may begin to assert themselves more aggressively now.“One of my Yadav friends, who has taken a car loan and is now being harassed by recovery agents, was yesterday beaming. He said if agents now approach him, he will run them over with his car. He may not do so, but he wouldn’t have felt this sense of impunity if RJD was not part of the (ruling) alliance,” said Dharmaveer Paswan, a motorbike mechanic at Harnaut bazaar, a few kilometers from Kalyan Bigaha.Laddoo Singh of Kharuara village near Bakhtiyarpur also acknowledged the Yadav factor as a “challenge”. Singh, who belongs to Kurmi caste, said: “If a tree is laden with fruit, it must remain flexible. Otherwise it will snap at the first gust of wind. So the challenge will be to control the Yadavs. I was telling some Yadavs in our village to not start flying high, else this experiment will also fail.”Reminded that the Grand Alliance governed for two years earlier, Paswan said, “Nitish-ji was an equal partner then. He is a junior (partner) now.”Paswan’s neighbour Basant Prasad Yadav, who runs a sweet shop in Harnaut market, was more dismissive. He said, “Nitish Kumar is finished. From ‘Paltu Ram’ (turncoat), he has become ‘Bhatku Ram’ (aimless person). He should have become deputy CM and let Tejashwi Yadav be the CM. You should know your strengths and accordingly demand a post — he should have been deputy CM even in the last alliance (with BJP)…”Amid speculation in some quarters that Nitish could be made the Opposition’s joint PM candidate, while there is excitement, few believe it will become a reality.“Nitish may want to become PM, but he is not PM material. He will never become one,” said Ramsnehi Singh, 75, who claims to have seen Nitish Kumar grow up in Kalyan Bigaha. “Look at Narendra Modi — world leaders come to meet him, hold him in high regard. Does Nitish have that stature? If he was so popular, he would not need alliances.”Laddoo Singh of Kharuara is excited about the Opposition gaining in strength but is not too sure of its prospects. “Everyone has personal ambitions. He has been CM for 15 years, now he wants try something bigger. That is good,” Singh said. “Whether he will win or not, we don’t know. But if he does not even put up a challenge, then obviously Modi will not be defeated.”
The Shiromani Akali Dal Thursday claimed that its acting district presidents have expressed complete faith in the leadership of Sukhbir Singh Badal and claimed that a conspiracy is afoot to destabilise regional parties. The party also asked its leaders to desist from questioning Badal’s authority or face disciplinary action.The development comes at a time when there are reports of a “rebellion” brewing in the party amid rumblings for a change in the party leadership.“Sukhbir Singh Badal was, is, and will remain our president,” the acting district presidents said in a meeting held under Badal’s leadership, the party claimed.It said 39 acting rural and urban presidents expressed faith in the leadership of Badal. Four acting district presidents could not attend the meeting as three are abroad, and one is not well.Senior leaders Iqbal Singh Jhundan, Virsa Singh Valtoha and Mantar Singh Brar said all acting presidents had made it clear that they had “full faith in the farsighted and visionary leadership of Badal and that he will remain the president of the party”.Valtoha, in an apparent reference to party MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, alleged he had meetings with BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa in Delhi. But Ayali refuted the charge and said he had gone to the national capital to bring back his wife who returned from Canada. Ayali said he would leave politics if Valtoha’s charge against him is proved.Last month, the SAD leadership was left red-faced after Ayali went against his own party by boycotting the presidential poll, saying issues related to Punjab remained unresolved and he was not consulted by his party leadership before deciding to back NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu. Ayali had sought the implementation of the recommendations of the Jhundan panel formed after the party’s defeat in the 2022 assembly polls and had even spoken about a change in party leadership.Valtoha, who was a member of the Jhundan committee, claimed that there were talks of reforms within the party in the report “but nowhere it was mentioned to change the party leadership as is being projected”.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxJhundan told the media the party panel headed by him had made 42 suggestions, which would be implemented in due course. “We admit that there have been mistakes in the past but we are committed to correcting them. You will witness a definite change in the SAD in the coming days,” he said.Valtoha and Jhundan asked party leaders questioning Badal’s leadership to discuss their reservations at an appropriate party forum and not to breach discipline. Anyone breaching party discipline is not a well-wisher of the party and such indiscipline will no longer be tolerated, the leaders asserted, as per the SAD statement.They asserted that a conspiracy is afoot to destabilise regional parties and their leaders are being defamed. The intention is to break regional parties to spread the hegemony of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been witnessed in Maharashtra and even Bihar recently, they said in the statement.The leaders expressed confidence that the BJP would not succeed in weakening the SAD in Punjab while adding that the party would never compromise on its principles.
With no portfolio allocation and appointment of guardian ministers to respective districts yet, the Maharashtra government on Thursday issued orders naming ministers who will be conducting flag hoisting ceremonies on August 15 in 19 districts. In the remaining 16 districts, district collectors will hoist the Tricolour.Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will hoist the flag at the state headquarters in Mantralaya at 9.05 am. According to government orders, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will hoist the flag at Nagpur. On August 9, after a delay of over 39 days, the Maharashtra cabinet was expanded and 18 ministers were sworn in. Of these, nine are from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and nine from rebel Shiv Sena camp led by Shinde.With the delay in portfolio distribution and no official order designating guardian ministers to districts, the state administration had to issue orders appointing ministers to their respective districts. BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil will hoist flag at Chandrapur and Pune district headquarters. Mangal Prabhat Lodha will hoist flag at Mumbai suburban while Ravindra Chavan will preside over the ceremonial flag hoisting on Independence Day in Thane.Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Girish Mahajan will attend Independence Day celebrations at Ahmadnagar and Nasik districts respectively. Atul Save, Suresh Khade and Vijaykumar Gavit will preside over flag hoisting functions at Parbhani, Sangli and Nandurbar districts. From Shinde camp, Dadaji Bhuse, Gulabrao Patil and Deepak Kesarkar will be attend Independence Day functions at Dhule, Jalgaon and Sindhudurg respectively. Uday Samant, Sandipan Bhumre and Tanaji Sawant will hoist the Tricolour at Ratnagiri, Aurangabad and Osmanabad districts. Shambhuraj Desai, Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar will hoist the flag at Satara, Yavatmal and Jalna districts respectively.At Amaravati, the divisional commissioner has been vested with the honour of hoisting the flag while at 15 other districts, the district collectors will unfurl the Tricolour. The Opposition slammed the state government over the orders, terming it as an example of ‘mis-governance’.
THE BUSINESS Advisory Committee of the state legislative assembly met on Thursday morning to discuss programme for the coming monsoon session but MLAs of Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction were conspicuous by their absence. Speaker Rahul Narvekar told The Indian Express that since the Chief Minister is the group leader of Shiv Sena, and nobody informed his office about the split in the Sena, he accepted the names given by Eknath Shinde.Following Shinde’s rebellion in June 2022 and the subsequent change of guard in Maharashtra, the Shinde camp has been claiming they are the original Shiv Sena. The legislative secretariat has also accepted names of Chief minister Eknath Shinde as the legislative party leader, and Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip of the legislative party. As a result, none of the 15 MLAs of Sena, who have not extended support to Shinde, are a part of the BAC for assembly.The Thackeray camp has named Ajay Choudhary as group leader and Sunil Prabhu as the chief whip. On Thursday evening, Prabhu submitted a letter to Narvekar’s office, demanding inclusion of these names in the BAC. A delegation of Opposition leaders too held a meeting with Narvekar demanding the same.Narvekar said, “We have accepted the names sent to us by Shiv Sena group leader Eknath Shinde, who is also the Chief Minister. Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs and none of the group has come to us and said they are a different faction. We have only one Shiv Sena in front of us. As per the records in front of us, the group leader has been appointed by the majority of MLAs. We sought names from the group leader (Shinde) and those names were added in the BAC.”When asked about the letter given by Prabhu, the Speaker said he cannot entertain letters written by each MLA and he has to go by the rulebook.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxIn the afternoon, the Opposition held a meeting to discuss the strategy for the monsoon session.