Kolhapur News

Unsung Heroes | B C Ravindra, forensic expert who provided invaluable leads in cases such as Kalburgi murder
The Indian Express | 1 day ago
The Indian Express
1 day ago

With no concrete leads in hand on the killing of well-known writer M M Kalburgi, 77, outside his home at Dharwad on the morning of August 30, 2015 by an unidentified gunman, officers at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Karnataka police decided a new course of action a month later.Going by the modus operandi in the murder including the use of a 7.65mm countrymade gun, the CID decided to take a closer look at evidence found in two similar murders that occurred in 2013 and 2015 in Maharashtra – where rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune, and Leftist thinker Govind Pansare, 81, on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur.Investigations in Maharashtra had made some headway but the perpetrators of the murders were not found.On September 22, 2015 a judicial magistrate’s court in Karnataka approved a CID request to collect cartridges and bullets found at the crime scenes of the two murders in Maharashtra.Over the next few weeks ballistic evidence from the Maharashtra murders arrived at the Karnataka State Forensic Science Laboratory in Bengaluru and a deputy director in the ballistics unit of the lab, B C Ravindra, began comparing evidence from the Kalburgi murder with that from the Maharashtra murders.Ravindra, a veteran of crime-scene and ballistic investigations who retired in 2017, burnt the midnight oil poring over the markings on the bullets and cartridges from the three crimes under stereo and comparison microscopes at the forensic science unit.The comparisons were being done to see if there were similarities in the characteristic marks of gun firing pins on the cartridge cases recovered from the different crime scenes and the pattern of micro-striation lines on the bullets recovered from the bodies of the victims and crime scene in the murders.Guns are known to leave unique markings on cartridges and bullets – when the cartridge is struck by the firing pin and the bullet travels through the barrel of the gun – on the lines of human fingerprints.Ballistic fingerprinting has helped solve many a case around the world, and as deputy director at the ballistics unit of the lab, Ravindra had already cracked a few himself for the Karnataka police before the evidence from the Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare murders landed at the lab.Around 45 days after the Kalburgi murder, the CID received its first major lead in the case – a ballistics report from the forensic lab that said three cartridges found at the Pansare shooting scene in Kolhapur and two cartridges found at the Kalburgi shooting site were fired from the same gun.It also said that one bullet in the Pansare case and two in the Kalburgi case were fired from one gun.Around two months after the Kalburgi murder, the CID got another big lead in the case – comparison of ballistic evidence from the Dabholkar murder with that from the Kalburgi murder cartridges and bullets had not thrown up a match, but a similar comparison of evidence between the Dabholkar and Pansare murder cases revealed that two cartridge cases found in the Pune murder had the same markings as two cartridge cases in the Kolhapur murder.The findings from Ravindra’s analysis had revealed that the three murders were inter-linked – the Kalburgi and Pansare murders were linked by one gun and the Pansare and Dabholkar murders were linked by a second gun – suggesting that one gang using two 7.65mm countrymade guns was behind all the three murders. Despite the big leads, the three murder investigations remained inconclusive and open-ended for nearly two years.In September 2017, shortly after Ravindra retired from the forensic lab, the leads he had provided in 2015 came into play again when journalist Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru. A special investigation team (SIT) of the Bengaluru police sought opinion on the ballistic evidence from the crime scene and its comparison with the unsolved murders involving similar modus operandi and 7.65 mm countrymade guns. The ballistic evidence once again provided a breakthrough – Gauri was killed with the same gun that was used on Kalburgi.A massive investigation carried out by the SIT with the help of the CBI and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad eventually led to arrests in 2018 of over 20 members of a secretive, organised right-wing crime syndicate linked to fringe Hindutva groups such as the Sanatan Sanstha which were identifying and killing progressive thinkers and rationalists after labeling them “anti-Hindu”.One of the unsung heroes of the investigations that cracked the four murder across two states, B C Ravindra, is a B Sc degree holder from a Bengaluru college and has a diploma in forensic ballistics from Delhi. He was the go-to man for the Karnataka police for several years until his retirement. His opinion is still sought in tricky criminal cases and he is a teacher for police trainees.At the end of March this year, a sessions court in Belagavi convicted gangster Bannanje Raja for the murder of a businessman R N Nayak in the coastal town of Karwar in December 2013. Among the key evidence in the case was a ballistic report showing the bullets fired to kill the businessman had been  fired from a gun that was seized near the scene of crime. A hand swab collected by the ballistic expert of the main shooter who was shot dead near the crime scene by Nayak’s bodyguard also revealed that the dead man had been firing a gun during the crime.In 2003, soon after H Nagappa, whom forest brigand Veerappan had kidnapped, was found shot dead in the forests bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka police turned to Ravindra to ascertain who killed the Janata Dal politician.The forensic expert analysed 164 guns that were being used by the Karnataka special task force (STF) to find out if the bullet that killed the politician was fired by the police in a failed attempt to rescue Nagappa from Veerappan’s custody. The exercise remained inconclusive after the Tamil Nadu STF, which was also patrolling the forests, did not provide their weapons for forensic analysis.While ballistics is his area of expertise, Ravindra is also considered an expert crime-scene investigator, having spent hundreds of hours analysing crime scenes across Karnataka over the years – including bomb blast sites. “While I have a diploma in forensic ballistics, there have been hours and hours spent reading scientific reports on crime scenes to learn to analyse them. A lot of learning has also come from the experience of analysing crime scenes and bodies of victims,” Ravindra said.In several controversial deaths – such as the suicides of D K Ravi and M K Ganapathy – the police turned to Ravindra for early leads on the nature of the deaths.“I traveled around the state 24×7. I went anywhere I was called to carry out analysis, at any hour of the day. Many forensic doctors who conducted postmortems were wary of my opinions because I would find contradictions,” said the forensic expert who served the Karnataka police for over 30 years.The high point of Ravindra’s service was a chief minister’s medal for meritorious service that he received many years ago. “The satisfaction I have is that I helped solve cases all over Karnataka,” he said.

Unsung Heroes | B C Ravindra, forensic expert who provided invaluable leads in cases such as Kalburgi murder
Petition filed in HC against SUK’s plan of descriptive offline exams
Times of India | 5 days ago
Times of India
5 days ago

Kolhapur: A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court against the Shivaji University, Kolhapur’s (SUK) decision to conduct the semester exams offline in a descriptive format.The petitioner has complained that in other universities the exams are being conducted offline and the format will be multiple choice questions (MCQ). But in SUK, the students are expected to write descriptive answers which is injustice to the students. Abhijeet Khot, petitioner and student of the SUK said, “For the past several days, students have been demanding that the university level exams should be conducted online. Students had also staged agitations for pressing for their demand. However, during the vice-chancellor’s meeting held on April 25, it was unanimously decided that all the universities in Maharashtra should conduct their examinations in offline mode.” He added, “Earlier, a petition was filed in the Bombay High Court and on May 30, the Bombay High Court had stated that the examinations should be conducted in a uniform manner across the state. But still a circular has been issued for offline descriptive examinations by the SUK. In few other universities the exams are going to be conducted online in the MCQ format. Hence, on June 14, I filed a petition in the high court against the SUK against this inequality.”Khot added that colleges have already started late due to which syllabus of many colleges is still incomplete. “Considering all the scenarios, we want the SUK examination to be conducted offline with MCQ format. Five representational question sets should be given to the students from each subject and additional 30 minutes should be given for writing the exam,” he said.

Petition filed in HC against SUK’s plan of descriptive offline exams
Arts removed from CAP for Class XI admission in Kolhapur
Times of India | 5 days ago
Times of India
5 days ago

Kolhapur: The arts stream has been removed from the Centralised Admission Process (CAP) for admissions to Class XI in colleges across Kolhapur city.The first step — registration through the online portal launched by the education department has been initiated. The student who have passed the Std X from across Maharashtra are eligible for the admission to first year junior college (FYJC) in commerce and science streams.For this students will have to provide their photographs, mobile number, Aadhar number and other details. The second stage of CAP will begin after the students receive their marksheet and leaving certificate from their schools. This is when the students have to choose the colleges and stream.Under the CAP, the admission process will be held for 31 colleges in Kolhapur city having a total of 10,960 seats in commerce and science streams.Subhash Chougule, in-charge of the CAP for FYJC, said, “Last year, large number of seats had remained vacant in these colleges. We found that the number of applicants for arts stream are much lesser than the total number of seats available. Therefore, we thought that their is no need to conduct CAP rounds for the arts stream as every applicant is bound to get admission. The colleges can now start their own admission process for the arts stream.”He added, “For commerce and science, two rounds of admissions will be held as there is more demand for these streams. Last year, out of around 14,000 seats for all the three streams, 8,000 had remained vacant. Last year, the students had turned their back to colleges in Kolhapur city mainly due to pandemic. Now, as Covid cases are rising again, the colleges will have to try hard to get the seats filled.”Also, apart from CAP, the colleges can fill 5% of the totals seats available through management quota.

Arts removed from CAP for Class XI admission in Kolhapur
Dabholkar murder: Activist who gave statement against Sanatan Sanstha men deposes as witness
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

Kolhapur-based artisan Sanjay Arun Sadvilkar (54) deposed as a witness before the special court in Pune during the trial in the Dr Narendra Dabholkar murder case on Saturday. Sadvilkar is also an important witness in the Govind Pansare murder case in Kolhapur.Dr Dabholkar was shot dead on the V R Shinde bridge in Pune by two persons on the morning of August 20, 2013. Similarly, communist leader Govind Pansare was shot dead in Kolhapur, while he was on a morning walk with his wife Uma, on February 16, 2015.Based on a statement given by Sadvilkar, CBI had arrested a Sanatan Sanstha seeker and ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade in Dabholkar murder case on June 10, 2016. In September 2016, CBI filed a chargesheet against Tawade, in which absconding Sanatan Sanstha members Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar were named as the assailants who shot Dabholkar.But questions were raised about the CBI probe and Sadvilkar as the agency contradicted its earlier claim and named Hindutva activists Sachin Prakashrao Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, arrested in August 2018, as two shooters who had opened fire at Dabholkar.In the chargesheet against Tawade, CBI had claimed that he and Akolkar had a meeting with Sanjay Sadvilkar in 2013. It is stated that Tawade allegedly wanted to manufacture weapons with Sadvilkar’s help and “Akolkar had for this purpose brought samples of one country-made pistol and one country-made revolver of high quality.” In his statement to the CBI, Sadvilkar has mentioned about his Hindutva ideology, association with Tawade since 2002, details of his meeting withAkolkar regarding firearms. Sadvilkar stated how Tawade allegedly demanded “chocolates”, referring to bullets to be used for the pistol and revolver shown by Akolkar.In his statement, Sadvilkar has also given information about Tawade’s verbal altercations with Dabholkar during a programme organised in Kolhapur to mark the death anniversary of Saint Gadge Maharaj some years before.

Dabholkar murder: Activist who gave statement against Sanatan Sanstha men deposes as witness
Maharashtra: Additional MSRTC buses to ply to Pandharpur for Ashadi-Ekadashi
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

KOLHAPUR: More than 300 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses will be plying from Kolhapur to Pandharpur for the Ashadi 'wari' celebrations set to take place in Pandharpur on a large scale after a gap of two years. Almost 4,700 buses will be kept on reserved to connect Pandharpur from places across the state between July 6 to 14. The MSRTC administration is expecting a high count of devotees this time at Pandharpur for Ashadi-Ekadashi to be held on July 10. MSRTC divisional traffic controller Shivraj Jadhav said, "The depot-level planning to decide on the number of buses to leave the depot is ongoing. From Kolhapur division, earlier 250-275 buses used to ply to Pandharpur. But this time, the count of devotees is expected to rise. Therefore, we have decided to run around 300 buses." For the yatra period, display boards giving information about computerised ticket booking, inquiry counters, information centre, bus timings etc. will be installed at every bus depot in the district. Extra buses will also be provided for the devotees who need entire buses from their villages or regions. To avoid the rush at the Pandharpur bus stand, five temporary bus stands will be set up in Pandharpur city. Devotees going to Pandharpur from Kolhapur can use the Pandurang bus stand," added Jadhav.

Maharashtra: Additional MSRTC buses to ply to Pandharpur for Ashadi-Ekadashi
  • Maharashtra: NMPML deploys 12 more buses
  • Times of India

    NASHIK: Nashik Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (NMPML) - a transport utility of Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) - has deployed 12 more buses on various seven new routes where footfall of students is more. So far, NMC has deployed 200 buses on various 48 routes in the city. NMPML officials said that they are increasing the number of buses as the footfall of passengers has increased from Monday due to reopening of the majority of schools after summer vacation. NMPML, which started city bus service in July last year, had given passes to over 8,000 students at concessional rates after the schools reopened following Covid pandemic a few months back. NMC has deployed two private firms to procure, operate, manage and maintain city buses. Both the agencies have altogether procured 250 buses, including 200 CNG and remaining 50 diesel buses. NMPML has plans to deploy all 240 buses on city roads by June end, while 10 buses will be kept standby in case of emergency or breakdown of the buses.

Reduce Almatti water level to 512m by end of July, say Maharashtra activists
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

KOLHAPUR: Activists from Kolhapur and Sangli districts have demanded that the Karnataka’s water resources authorities bring down the the Almatti dam water level to 512m by the end of July to ensure that the villages, towns and cities along the Krishna river banks in Maharashtra are not flooded. Activists from both the districts have formed a forum to suggest measures to avoid the flooding of the Krishna river. These activists believe that the Almatti dam, on the Krishna river in the Bijapur district of Karnataka, plays a crucial role in the management of the floods upstream. If the discharge from the dam is controlled properly, heavy rainfall and discharge from upstream dams will not cause backwater pressure. Sarjerao Patil, an activist associated with the forum, said, “We recently visited the Almatti dam. The dam is currently filled in excess of what is needed. We have demanded that the water level be brought down to 512m by the end of July.” Patil said the dam authorities raised fears that if there is no rainfall in August, there will be unrest among farmers as they will not get water for irrigation — since the dam will not have adequate stock. “The Met department has predicted ample rainfall in August. If there are floods due to backwater pressure, crops on lakhs of hectares in Kolhapur and Sangli districts will get damaged. Due to repeated floods, we are fearing loss of cultivable land in our region,” said Patil. Interestingly, while on one hand, the activists claim that the Almatti’s backwater pressure caused floods in Kolhapur and Sangli, on the other hand, the Vadnere Committee — set up after the 2019 floods — has made no such claims. “After the 2019 floods, we studied the Almatti issue. The panel set up by the Maharashtra government has not made an Almatti-specific study,” said Patil.

Reduce Almatti water level to 512m by end of July, say Maharashtra activists
Sena’s Pawar upset with Sambhajiraje
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

Kolhapur: Sanjay Pawar, Kolhapur’s district president of Shiv Sena, who lost the recent Rajya Sabha election, said that the celebrations were unwarranted and would be “dealt with accordingly.”Pawar lost the RS election and BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik won the sixth seat. Sena nominated Pawar after turning down the offer put by Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati to support him as an independent candidate. The elections for the Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra were held after over two decades. The results for the sixth seat came as a surprise as the BJP managed to snatch a win when the MVA looked comfortably set up for the win.After Pawar’s defeat, the supporters of Sambhajiraje were in a celebratory mode. Sambhajiraje had posted a tweet with verses of Sant Tukaram Maharaj, which conveyed that those who wear a tiger’s outfit do not become the tiger in reality. Pawar, after arriving in Kolhapur, said that the attempt to insult Shiv Sena was unwarranted. “I have respect for the Chhatrapati family. The elders in the family had wished me luck and even made public statement that the CM or Shiv Sena had not insulted anyone in the royal family. After the results, the celebrations were unwarranted.”Pawar also criticised Sambhajiraje stating that Maratha Kranti Morcha’s marches taken out for the Maratha demands had no leadership and those who claim that they are leaders of the Maratha community are “ignorant.” “The Maratha rallies were faceless. No one should claim the leadership for the Maratha community. I had participated in many of the marches as a Maratha,” said Pawar.Pawar said that after the RS poll defeat, Uddhav Thackeray comforted him and his family members. Pawar said that the CM was unhappy as the Thackerays care for the common party workers and try to help them grow in their political careers.

Sena’s Pawar upset with Sambhajiraje
Half of Kolhapur district has received less than 25% rainfall
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

KOLHAPUR: Around 50% of the Kolhapur district has received less than 25% of the actual rainfall in the first two weeks of June. With monsoon yet to tighten its grip in the region, the district, which reports excess rainfall every year, is witnessing rainfall deficiency for the first time in recent years. Places in the rest of the district are also rain deficient as they have received rainfall between 25% and 50% in comparison to the actual rainfall. The severely rain deficient tehsils are from the ghat sections aligning with the Konkan region of Maharashtra. Same is the case for Satara district where the two hilly tehsils of Patan and Mahabaleshwar have so far received less than 25% showers. The tehsils in Kolhapur district that have received less than 25% rainfall are Panhala, Gaganbawda, Radhanagari, Bhudargad, Ajara and Chandgad. According to the data obtained, Panhala teshil has received 26 mm rainfall since June 1. During the same period last year, it had received 134 mm rainfall. Similarly, Gaganbawda, the tehsil which receives record rainfall every monsoon, has so far received only 33 mm rainfall. Last year, during the same period the figure stood at 463 mm. Radhanagari has received 11 mm rainfall in comparison to 288 mm showers last year, while Bhudargad has received 27 mm rains in comparison to last year’s 148 mm. Last year, Ajara had received 169 mm rainfall, but now it has got only 2.5 mm rain. For Chandgad, this year’s figure is at 37 mm as compared to previous year’s 246 mm. Weather expert Shantanu Patil said, “The sea surface is not heating up and other factors are also not coming to force to bring an adequate situation for the downpour. As per IMD, the monsoon will tighten its grip after June 17, till then a dry spell in on the cards.”

Half of Kolhapur district has received less than 25% rainfall
Mahadik will lead BJP in Western Maha: State BJP prez
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

Kolhapur: BJP state president Chandrakant Patil on Monday said newly elected Rajya Sabha MP Dhananjay Mahadik will lead the party in western Maharashtra.Speaking in Kolhapur, Patil said the Mahadiks have their own support base in Kolhapur, Sangli, Solapur, Satara and Pune rural. “He (Mahadik) should not limit himself to just Kolhapur city or district, but should ensure that the party’s base is expanded across the region,” Patil said.Patil also took at dig at the MVA-led state government stating that all the development work started by the BJP government between 2014 and 2019 have been stalled. “Since the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government came to power, the projects we initiated have been stalled. The MVA ministers from Kolhapur are arrogant. They trouble our party workers and stall development works. I hope Mahadik will pose a challenge to them and ensure no party worker is troubled by them,” he said.Basket bridge will be constructed: MahadikMeanwhile, Mahadik had proposed an idea of constructing a basket bridge at the entry to Kolhapur city to avoid congestion of vehicles when he was an NCP MP. In 2019, the opposition had campaigned against him stating he made a false promise and this led to him losing the Lok Sabha elections. “A basket bridge will definitely be constructed. Funds were approved for it and tender was floated. The opposition led false narratives against me, but what have they done for the district. I was the one who managed to connect Kolhapur airport to five destinations. I used to take monthly meeting with railway authorities. Now, the Kolhapur railway station has also been degraded,” Mahadik said.

Mahadik will lead BJP in Western Maha: State BJP prez
In southern Maharashtra, delayed monsoon sowing seeds of worry
Times of India | 2 weeks ago
Times of India
2 weeks ago

Kolhapur: Farmers in south Maharashtra have almost completed sowing and other pre-monsoon activities and are now eagerly awaiting the monsoon rain. Those who have facilities to water their fields are not worried, but a large number of farmers who depend on the rain to irrigate their farmlands are worried about the late arrival of the monsoon. They fear they might have to redo all sowing and premonsoon works.India receives 75% of its rain from the southwest monsoon between June and September. Most farming activities adhere to the monsoon timetable.Rangrao Salvi, a farmer from Gargoti said, “People have lost faith in the India Meteorological Department (IMD) as its forecasts have often failed in the past. This year, the IMD had predicted that the monsoon will arrive one week early. Accordingly, the monsoon was expected to reach Kolhapur by June 2 or 3. It is June 9 now, but still, there are no showers. Only the IMD’s yellow alerts.”Sheetal Patil, another farmer in Sangli, said, “Over the past few years, the showers have been inconsistent. Sometimes there is a sudden downpour and heavy flooding. Even the strong standing crops cannot tolerate such heavy downpour. It causes farm losses. There were a few good pre-monsoon spells in early May. That is why we carried out all the pre-monsoon farming activities to keep our farms ready.”Paddy is the second largest farm produce in the region after sugar cane, and consistent rainfall is a must for the cultivation of paddy. Milind Karanjkar, a farmer from Shenoli village in Gaganbawda, said, “Following early monsoon predictions, we had carried sowing of paddy and groundnuts. Paddy shoots require a good amount of rain for about one month to grow. After that, the saplings are transplanted. If the monsoon doesn’t arrive on time, then our all efforts will go in vain.”Meanwhile, the agricultural meteorological department, Kolhapur, has issued an alert to the farmers stating heavy rain along with lightning and gusty winds of up to 40-50kmph will lash the districts of Kolhapur and Satara on June 10. There will be heavy rain on June 11 and 12 in the ghat sections of Kolhapur and Satara. The farmers have been advised to protect the ready produce from rain and not stand under trees during lightning.

In southern Maharashtra, delayed monsoon sowing seeds of worry
Kolhapur teen all set to make Wimbledon debut
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago

FOR THE parents of any tennis player, seeing their child play on one of the Grand Slam courts is nothing short of a dream come true. Kolhapur’s Anjali Dayanand Jadhav is one such parent whose daughter, Aishwarya Jadhav, is part of the Asian team in the U-14 Wimbledon Tennis tournament scheduled to begin on July 1.“To have her play on the Wimbledon grass courts… is a dream that I have had for her. I could not be happier about her success. It still feels unbelievable and it is gratifying to see the tennis player she is becoming,” said the proud mother.Jadhav, who is India’s number one in the U-14 girls category, has been achieving one feat after the other through her skill and passion for the sport since the start of the calendar year. After her stellar stint at the Asia/Oceania World Junior Tennis Competition (U14 Girls’) Final Qualifying 2022 held in Delhi in April, she recently added the doubles title at the Under-16 Junior Tennis Nationals to her kitty, held at her home turf of Kolhapur last week.Trained under brothers Arshad and Manal Desai at the Arshad Desai Tennis Academy in Kolhapur, Jadhav, through her achievements, has put her city on the map in the tennis community. “It is a big thing to have a player from a small place such as Kolhapur selected to play at the prestigious grass courts of Wimbledon. She has proved time and again what a deserving tennis player she is and it is a moment of pride for a coach,” said Arshad.He said that while his ward has received support from the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) and the people of Kolhapur, there is still a lot of work to be done backstage.

Kolhapur teen all set to make Wimbledon debut
MVA allies hold show of strength, also present legislators of smaller parties, Independents
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago

Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls on Friday, top leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), including Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, met MVA legislators for a show of strength at Trident Hotel in south Mumbai on Tuesday evening.A contest for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat is heating up between the MVA government and the BJP ahead of the June 10 elections. With seven candidates in the fray for six Rajya Sabha seats, the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress, constituents of the MVA, and the Opposition BJP, are moving their MLAs to the resorts.Apart from the Sena, NCP and Congress MLAs, sources said the 12 legislators from smaller parties and Independents also attended the meeting at Trident. The MVA had held a similar show of strength in 2019 during the formation of the coalition government at a Mumbai suburban hotel.Besides Thackeray, Pawar and Kharge, AICC Maharashtra in charge H K Patil and senior leaders of all three parties attended the meeting.While the Sena MLAs had initially checked into The Retreat Hotel and Convention Centre Hotel Retreat in Malad, following a meeting of the top leadership of MVA, including Thackeray, Sharad Pawar and Kharge, they were moved to Trident Hotel on Tuesday.Following the show of strength at Trident, sources said NCP and Congress MLAs were moved to Renaissance hotel in Powai.Thackeray exuded confidence that all the four MVA candidates will get elected to the Rajya Sabha. After the meeting at Trident, he told mediapersons that MVA has adequate numbers. “No matter how much one tries, all MVA candidates will go to Delhi as MP in the Rajya Sabha.”He added, “We were following a certain tradition of having unopposed elections to the Rajya Sabha… there is no problem in having some decency in politics… The tradition of electing candidates unopposed to the Rajya Sabha should have been maintained this time as well but it didn’t happen.”Sources said that during the meeting with legislators, Thackeray said that BJP has forced the Rajya Sabha election and a conspiracy is being hatched. “Thackeray said ‘don’t fall prey to any conspiracy… Like West Bengal, we must also bury the BJP in Maharashtra’. He further said that MVA has the required numbers to win the polls and the victory of four candidates is certain… He added that we must show unity in the Rajya Sabha and the MLC elections and will celebrate after the victory in these elections,” said a source.Sources further said that Sharad Pawar, during the meeting. said that MVA has absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly and the three allies have decided to contest the Rajya Sabha elections together. “So, the victory of MVA candidates is certain,” Pawar was quoted as saying in the meeting.“We have the support of Independents. Therefore, there is no problem in getting all the four candidates of MVA elected,” Jayant Patil, NCP state president and Irrigation Minister, told mediapersons.The contest for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat has become fierce after the Sena fielded Sanjay Pawar, party’s district chief from Kolhapur, and BJP fielded Dhananjay Mahadik, also from Kolhapur. Sena’s Pawar and Sanjay Raut, NCP’s Praful Patel, Congress’ Imran Pratapgadi and BJP’s Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik are in the fray for the election of the six Rajya Sabha seats.The BJP MLAs, meanwhile, are likely to check into the Taj Vivanta in Cuffe Parade on Wednesday.

MVA allies hold show of strength, also present legislators of smaller parties, Independents
Rajya Sabha polls: AIMIM drops hint on supporting MVA candidate, NCP to discuss
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago

Even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra claimed on Tuesday that it has secured all its MLAs, the AIMIM hinted that it was ready to support the Shiv Sena candidate who was contesting for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat from the state. The MVA said the offer of support will be discussed during a meeting of top leaders later in the day.“We have not received any request for support from the MVA. Neither has any leader nor any MLA contacted our MLAs. If no request comes in, then we will decide what to do,” Asaduddin Owaisi, who heads the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), said in Nanded on Tuesday. Owaisi is on a two-day tour of Maharashtra.Reacting to the offer of support, NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said, “MVA leaders are meeting this evening. From the NCP side, we will present the offer of support from the AIMIM received through the media… The meeting will take the final decision.”There are seven candidates in the fray for the six seats to Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. The election is slated for June 10. While MVA constituent Shiv Sena has fielded the party’s Kolhapur district chief Sanjay Pawar for the sixth seat, the BJP has fielded Dhanajay Mahadik, also from Kolhapur.MVA leaders said they were confident of winning the seat as support was pouring in from Independent MLAs as well as smaller parties. “The MVA government came to power in 2019 and since then we have won every election jointly. Our Rajya Sabha candidates will be victorious despite the BJP’s attempt of horse-trading,” said Tapase.He added that the BJP has been trying to destabilise the MVA dispensation for long, but has miserably fallen on its face every time. “Every now and then a new date is fixed by the BJP announcing the fall of the MVA, which is hilarious,” he said.Regarding the Rajya Sabha elections, Tapase said, “We have secured our MLAs and we will counter every move of the BJP… The state administration is closely watching all such moves.”

Rajya Sabha polls: AIMIM drops hint on supporting MVA candidate, NCP to discuss
COVID Fourth Wave in Mumbai? City Witnesses 50% Jump in Coronavirus Cases in Just 5 Days
India | 2 weeks ago
India
2 weeks ago

Mumbai: After reporting fewer COVID cases for months, Maharashtra is witnessing a sudden surge in coronavirus cases for the past few days, with Mumbai logging the most number of cases. The state reported 1,036 new cases on Monday and had crossed the 1,000-cases mark in the weekly average of new cases on Sunday. Out of the 1,036 fresh COVID cases, Mumbai city witnessed the highest 676 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, 285 less than the day before.Also Read - Covid Cases Surge In Tamil Nadu; 12 Test Positive For Omicron Sub-VariantsEven though the state’s health department said the case ‘severity is low and therefore it is not a major cause of concern’, the caseload in the state rose to 78,94,233, while the death toll remained unchanged at 1,47,866. There are 7,429 active COVID-19 cases in the state now, including 5,238 in Mumbai and 1,172 in neighbouring Thane. Out of 35 districts, six districts, namely, Kolhapur, Dhule, Nandurbar, Buldhana, Gondia and Jalna have zero active cases. Also Read - Shah Rukh Khan Tests Covid Positive: From Mamata Banerjee To Harbhajan Singh, Celebrities Wish SRK Speedy RecoveryThe highest 933 new cases were reported from Mumbai circle that includes the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region, followed by Pune (72), Nashik (12), Latur (6), Nagpur (5), Kolhapur (3), Akola (3) and Aurangabad (2). Also Read - COVID Fourth Wave Scare: India Records Biggest Jump in Coronavirus Cases in Three MonthsMaharashtra’s positivity rate is at 0.064 per cent. Presently, recovery rate in the state is 98.03 per cent and case fatality rate is 1.87 per cent. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra: Positive cases 78,94,233; fresh cases 1,036; death toll 1,47,866; total recoveries 77,38,938; active cases 7,429; total tests 8,10,77,258.Earlier on Monday, the Maharashtra government held high-level a meeting on Monday to review what is now a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in the state. Following a meeting of the state cabinet with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “Most of the infections [in the state] are from the BA.4 and BA.5 strains [of the Omicron variant], which are highly transmissible.”“Hospital admissions are very low. As per the data, only 1% of the positive cases are admitted to hospitals in the state. So, severity is low and therefore it is not a major cause of concern,” Tope said.In view of the rising graph of infections, Tope has also appealed to people to wear masks, though using them is not mandatory. “The government has not taken any decision on making the use of masks mandatory but we are urging people to wear masks. Instead of falling ill, citizens should observe hygiene, wear the mask and follow social distancing,” Tope had tweeted.Schools in Maharashtra will reopen on June 15 with all possible precautions, state Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Monday. Gaikwad said students in grades 1 and 2 have never been to schools due to the coronavirus pandemic for the last two years. Schools will open with all necessary precautions on June 15 which has been the date for reopening of schools (after summer vacation), the minister said. School-going students have been impacted due to the COVID-19 curbs in the last two years.

COVID Fourth Wave in Mumbai? City Witnesses 50% Jump in Coronavirus Cases in Just 5 Days
  • 7,429 active Covid cases in Mumbai: Mask up, health minister tells residents
  • The Indian Express

    As the active Covid-19 count in Maharashtra stood at 7,429 on Monday, state health minister advised the citizens to wear masks to avoid any possible contraction of infection. A day after recording 1,494 cases on Sunday, the daily caseload dropped to 1,036 on Monday. This has been attributed to the plunge in testing in the weekend from 25,994 to 15,988 in the last 48 hours.Following a cabinet meeting, Tope said that testing will be increased, which currently stands at 25,000. He also clarified that as the rate of hospitalisation is below 1 per cent, the state has no plans to impose restrictions.“We have discussed masking implementations but it will not be made mandatory so people will not be penalised like before. But it is advised to wear masks in crowded places and while travelling for their own safety and their loved ones,” he said.When asked about the five-fold surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Tope claimed that the BA.4 and BA.5–the new variants of Omicron, which are considered more transmissible as the reason behind the surge.He also emphasised on getting the precautionary dosage also as called third dose. “Many of the beneficiaries have taken the vaccines nine months prior so, it is advisable to get the third dose. As it is choice-based, people can’t be forced but it will be for their own precaution,” he added.The Indian Express had reported on June 3 that out of the 36 districts in the state, 11 haven’t administered a single dose in the age group between 18-59 years in Maharashtra.To address the issue, Soumitra Ghosh from School of Health Systems Studies, TISS voiced to make the precautionary dosages free for patients with severe comorbidities, which would encourage them in getting vaccinated. “If we are heading towards a possible fourth wave, then it is essential that on priority the state administers the third dose to the vulnerable communities. For this, the state should make the dose free of cost for this group,” Ghosh said.

  • Fresh Covid cases at 343 in Delhi, but no death, positivity rate low
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Delhi on Sunday logged 343 fresh Covid-19 cases with a positivity rate of 1. 91%, while no new death was reported due to the viral disease, according to the data shared by the city health department. With this, the national capital’s Covid-19 case tally increased to 19,08,730 while the death toll stood at 26,212. A total of 17,917 Covid-19 tests were conducted in Delhi the previous day, the department said in its latest bulletin. On Saturday, the capital had logged 405 fresh Covid-19 cases with a positivity rate of 2. 07%, while no new death was reported. On Friday, Delhi had logged 345 Covid cases and zero death, while the positivity rate was 1. 88%. On Thursday, it was 373 cases with a positivity rate of 1. 85%, with two new deaths reported. The number of active Covid-19 cases in Delhi dropped to 1,422 from 1,467 on Saturday, the bulletin said. As many as 1,016 patients are under home isolation, up from 994 the previous day, it said, adding that there are 251 containment zones in the national capital. There are 9,639 beds for Covid-19 patients in Delhi hospitals and of those, 71 are occupied, the bulletin said.

  • Covid cases up in Maharashtra, testing a concern
  • Times of India

    PUNE: Nearly 22 districts in the state, where Covid RT-PCR testing was below the mandatory 60% share last week, have been asked to scale up their numbers, senior health officials said on Saturday. Additional chief secretary of health Dr Pradeep Vyas said testing has slipped in the state. "The WHO recommends 140 tests per million people every day, or 980 tests per million each week. Last week, there was a major shortfall in the number of weekly tests in nearly 26 districts. It's a major point of concern," he said. Another worry is the wider use of rapid antigen kits. RT-PCR testing, unlike the unmonitored rapid tests, allows for positive samples to be sent for genome sequencing, a critical surveillance measure considering the state recently detected Omicron subvariants BA.4, BA.5 in samples from Pune. "Districts have to increase testing so that adequate samples can be sent for sequencing. We kept a close watch and that's why the state was able to detect the Omicron subvariants in patient samples," said state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate. Dr Awate said it was necessary to carry out periodic analysis of all positive cases with respect to time, location and person (age, sex, etc) to help authorities form localised action plans. "Geographical distribution of cases is important to find out if there are clusters," he said, adding that the overall clinical spectrum of cases should also be analysed along with numbers of breakthrough and reinfection cases. State task force member Dr Rahul Pandit said adequate testing should be carried out across all districts. "We need better local-level screenings to ensure no cases are left out," he said.

  • Maharashtra govt ramps up testing, asks people to wear masks
  • Deccan Herald

    The Maharashtra government has advised people to use masks in “closed public spaces” in the wake of the sudden surge of Covid-19 cases and will take a call on making it compulsory depending on the situation post a review in the next 15 to 20 days.The Maharashtra government had relaxed the compulsory mask rule on April 2 coinciding with the Gudi Padwa festivities.In a communication to district collectors, municipal commissioners and chief executive officers of zilla parishads, additional chief secretary (health) Dr Pradeep Vyas said: “Masks in closed public places like trains, buses, cinemas, auditoriums, offices, hospitals, colleges and schools are a must.”Talking to reporters in Pune, the state’s public health and family welfare minister Rajesh Tope said that masks have not been made compulsory but all are advised to use masks in closed public places.“Mumbai and neighbouring districts like Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Pune have seen a small surge in numbers. In this regard, the union health ministry had sent a letter asking for action to be taken. The letter had the word ‘must’ which seems to have created confusion,” he said.Dr Vyas' letter came hours after union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan raised an alarm over rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and asked the government to take steps.“The government is keeping a close watch on the situation. We will review the emerging scenario within 15-20 days and would make it compulsory only after the review and if the situation demands,” said Tope.Dr Vyas in the letter stated: “After seeing a sustained decline in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state over the last couple of months, cases have started slowly but steadily increasing and the daily cases have crossed 1,000 for the first time after 3 months on June 1, 2022.”Dr Vyas has also asked the authorities to ramp up testing facilities and speed up vaccination.He said that an appropriate number of samples needs to be referred for genomic sequencing to identify the INSACOG laboratory.Dr Vyas stressed the need to keep track of the overall clinical spectrum of cases and analyse the proportion of breakthrough infections and reinfection cases periodically.

  • Maharashtra Government Asks Officials To Ramp Up Covid Testing As Cases Rise
  • Ndtv

    Maharashtra COVID-19: The number of Covid infections is increasing again in Maharashtra. (File)Mumbai: The Maharashtra health department on Friday asked district and civic authorities to ramp up coronavirus testing as the numbers of samples being examined had fallen while cases were rising.In a letter to collectors, municipal corporations and chief executive officers, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas said all districts should ensure the proportion of RT-PCR tests was at least 60 per cent.In view of rising cases, it said people should be advised to wear masks in closed public spaces like trains, buses, cinemas, auditoriums, offices, hospitals, colleges and schools.The state has seen a sharp spike in cases over the last week, with June 1 reporting 1,081 cases, the highest since February 24."Testing in the state has considerably reduced despite repeated instructions. As per the June 1 data, there has been gross shortfall in the number of weekly tests conducted in 26 districts which is a major cause of concern. Overall testing in all districts should be increased immediately," the letter said.The ACS (Health) said the state had last week reported BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, and while there were no complications associated with these cases, one must not get complacent.Mr Vyas also asked officials to carry out periodic analysis of new cases with respect to time, place and person so that a localised action plan can be carved out.The letter also stated that an appropriate number of samples need to be referred for genomic sequencing to identified INSACOG laboratory. Mr Vyas stressed on the need to keep track of the overall clinical spectrum of cases and analyse the proportion of breakthrough infections and reinfection cases periodically.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe letter said vaccination coverage needed to be increased, adding that precaution dose should be promoted and expedited, while vaccination in the 12-18 age group needs to improve.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Threefold rise in safari cost upsets nature enthusiasts
Times of India | 2 weeks ago
Times of India
2 weeks ago

Kolhapur: The tax amount for forest safari charges at the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, Chandoli National park, Sagareshwar wildlife sanctuary and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary has been increased by three times. Earlier, the tourist charges were around Rs 30 for single entry. The charges have now increased to Rs 100 per person. For children below 12 years, the entry free is fixed at Rs 50. Earlier, the entry fee for children was Rs 15. The fees for tour guides is fixed at Rs 250 from the earlier Rs 200. Moreover, vehicle fee has been increased from Rs 150 rupees to Rs 200.Nandkumar Nalawde, range forest officer for Chandoli, said, “At the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, tourists from Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri and other districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka arrive in large numbers. On weekends, the safari bookings stay full with people of all age groups enjoying wildlife.” Meanwhile, the increase in tourist charges has disappointed nature enthusiasts. Vaibhav Raut, a wildlife enthusiast said, “Being a wildlife photography enthusiast, I keep visiting the forest sanctuaries to click some stunning shots of wildlife. It’s not that you get good photos or see a wild animal every time you visit a forest sanctuary. You have to keep visiting every now and then to get one sight of wild animal. Now, with the increase in charges, it will be a burden for us to spend so much amount .”

Threefold rise in safari cost upsets nature enthusiasts
Next CM from NCP if were number one in Maharashtra, says Dhananjay Munde
Times of India | 2 weeks ago
Times of India
2 weeks ago

KOLHAPUR: State minister and senior NCP functionary Dhananjay Munde, speaking at Beed on Sunday, clarified that the next Maharashtra chief minister will be from NCP after the party gets the number one spot in the assembly election. A day earlier, in Satara, Munde had said that the next CM would be from NCP. After Munde’s statement, several Sena and Congress leaders had criticised him. MNS and BJP also took the opportunity to attack the tripartite MVA government. Afew days ago, NCP MP Supriya Sule had made a similar statement.

Next CM from NCP if were number one in Maharashtra, says Dhananjay Munde
  • Next chief minister of Maharashtra will be ours, says NCP's Dhananjay Munde
  • Times of India

    AURANGABAD: NCP leader Dhananjay Munde suggested that the next chief minister of Maharashtra will be from the Sharad Pawar-led party. Speaking at a public meeting in Parbhani city on Saturday, Munde said the Social Justice department in the incumbent Shiv Sena-led MVA government became prestigious because of his efforts. "If a question arises tomorrow regarding whom to hand over the social justice portfolio......whoever would be the next chief minister....and the CM will be ours (NCP's) only. The CM will say that let the social justice portfolio remain with us (NCP). This department has earned so much reputation," Munde said. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is the key constituent in the Uddhav Thackeray-led dispensation, which completed two-and-a-half years in power only last month. Munde said he had worked efficiently as the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council in the past. The NCP holds the important portfolios of Finance, led by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, and Home in the state government. "Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had appointed me as the opposition leader (in the Maharashtra Legislative Council). No matter how stable and powerful, I had shaken the then government," he added.

Another yellow alert for Kolhapur, Sangli & Satara
Times of India | 2 weeks ago
Times of India
2 weeks ago

Kolhapur: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a yellow alert again for Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts even though there are no signs of the onset of monsoon yet.The IMD has made a forecast of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning with gusty winds for south Maharashtra starting from Sunday evening to Thursday. The yellow alert suggests that people keep an eye on the weather conditions.Kolhapur district witnessed cloudy weather and the skies were covered with dark clouds on Sunday evening. Some areas, especially south of Kolhapur district, saw lightning but no rain.In the evening, IMD issued a Now Cast alert stating that moderate to heavy rain will hit the three districts by late Sunday evening. As untimely rain is predicted, there was an increase in temperature. The maximum temperature in Kolhapur increased to 33.7 degrees Celsius, while Sangli and Satara districts recorded a maximum temperature of 35.9 degrees Celsius and 38.1 degrees Celsius respectively. The temperatures are higher than they were the day earlier.The coastal areas witnessed a clear sky, and no signs of rain in the coming hours. Meanwhile, the IMD has alerted the farmers to not fall prey to self-declared weather experts. The farmers have mostly prepared their land and are waiting for the monsoon to arrive to carry out sowing activities. Initially, when IMD predicted early rain, the farmers hit the fields and got the pre-monsoon operations done. Now, the monsoon is delayed and another spell of untimely rain is being predicted for the next four days. The IMD has appealed to the farmers to only trust the alerts and guidelines issued from time to time by the state agriculture department and by the agriculture weather department of the IMD.

Another yellow alert for Kolhapur, Sangli & Satara
MVA, BJP woo Independents, smaller parties ahead of Rajya Sabha polls
Deccan Herald | 3 weeks ago
Deccan Herald
3 weeks ago

Amid a cliffhanger situation, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and the opposition BJP are on a mission to garner support from smaller parties and independents ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra.While top MVA leaders held a series of informal meetings, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who is BJP’s in-charge for Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra, dashed to Mumbai and held a meeting with top BJP leaders.State BJP President Chandrakant Patil was among those present while Leader of Opposition in Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, who joined the meeting online after being tested positive for Covid-19.There were reports that Shiv Sena and BJP may be shifting their MLAs to a hotel. However, there is no official confirmation.“We will win the three seats…for which our blueprint is ready,” said BJP leader Ashish Shelar.The BJP has fielded three candidates - Piyush Goyal, who is the Commerce & Industry Minister in the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, Dr Anil Bonde, a party stalwart from Vidarbha region, and Dhananjay Mahadik, a former MP from Kolhapur.While the BJP has the strength to get two MPs elected, it is banking on the Independents supporting them and also a few from the MVA camp for the third candidate.The Shiv Sena has renominated the party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut for a fourth term, and Sanjay Pawar, the party’s Kolhapur district chief.The Sharad Pawar-led NCP has renominated Praful Patel, who was the Civil Aviation Minister in the erstwhile Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.The Congress has sprung a surprise by bringing in Imran Pratapgarhi, a Uttar Pradesh-based Urdu poet - a development that has led to massive resentment in Congress ranks and files in the state.Added Shelar: “BJP's third candidate Dhananjay Mahadik is sure to win while Shiv Sena's Sanjay will definitely lose. BJP has additional votes to get its third candidate elected. Those who keep their MLAs under vigil and speak of democracy are laughable. This is an insult of the MLAs.” However, he did not elaborate whether he was referring to Sanjay Raut or Sanjay Pawar.Minister of State for Home and IT and senior Congressman Satej Patil expressed confidence that all four MVA candidates will win. “You will know on the day of polling who all are with us…they should look after their MLAs.”Shiv Sena leader Dr Neelam Gorhe said that the Shiv Sena will win two seats and MVA four. “We are in touch with all,” she said.

MVA, BJP woo Independents, smaller parties ahead of Rajya Sabha polls
  • Rajya Sabha elections: Vote as per your conscience, BJP tells Maha Vikas Aghadi MLAs
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has urged MLAs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to vote "as per their conscience" for the Rajya Sabha elections to be held on June 10. There are six Rajya Sabha seats for Maharashtra for which elections will be held. The party has nominated three candidates while it has enough votes to easily elect two candidates. While the names of Union minister Piyush Goyal and Dr Anil Bonde were announced early Sunday evening, Dhananjay Mahadik’s name was announced late Sunday night. All three candidates filed their nominations together on Monday morning. To be elected each candidate requires 42 votes. The BJP has 105 legislators in the Maharashtra assembly. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, while addressing a press conference at the party headquarters on Thursday, said the party has 22 surplus votes. “BJP is confident it will win all the three seats. The Shiv Sena has only 13 surplus votes and yet it has put up a candidate. The BJP does not believe in horse trading and will not do so. We urge all to vote as per their conscience,” said Shelar. He added that no action can be taken against an MLA for voting for the third candidate of her/his choice, he said.

  • Unease in Maharashtra Congress over Rajya Sabha polls candidate
  • Deccan Herald

    Unease is brewing in the Maharashtra Congress over the party's decision to field Uttar Pradesh-based Urdu poet Imran Pratapgarhi for the Rajya Sabha elections.Of the six seats, Congress, which has 44 MLAs, can win only one seat.The retiring Congress member from the state is senior leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram.Veteran Congressman Mukul Wasnik has been accommodated from Rajasthan.However, the decision of the Congress high command has put the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) at unease.Read | BJP moves to corner Opposition in Rajya Sabha pollsMPCC general secretary Ashish Deshmukh wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and resigned from his post. He, however, said he will continue to work for the party as a loyal worker.“Due to the imposition of Imran Pratapgarhi from Uttar Pradesh in Maharashtra for Rajya Sabha, I am resigning from the post of general secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee. Imposing an outside candidate will not benefit the party in terms of growth. This is the injustice done to the general Congress workers in Maharashtra,” he said in the letter.Ashish is the son of former state Congress president and minister Ranjeet Deshmukh.Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan too expressed his resentment. “Wasnik got a seat from Rajasthan, while Pratapgarhi, who is a leader from Uttar Pradesh, got a seat from Maharashtra,” he told reporters in Nagpur.The first one to flag the concern was actor-politician Nagma, who addressed her tweet to Gandhi. "Sonia Ji, our Congress president, had personally committed to accommodating me in Rajya Sabha in 2003-04 when I joined the Congress party at her behest. We were not in power then. Since then it has been 18 years, they did not find an opportunity. Mr Imran is accommodated in RS from Maharashtra. I ask, am I less deserving,” she said in a tweet.In fact, Congress has overlooked several aspirants like Sanjay Nirupam, Milind Deora and Naseem Khan.However, state Congress president Nana Patole said Congress is a democratic party and individuals can speak, but what matters is the party's decision. “We agree with the decision of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. There are no disputes within Congress. We respect the decision of the high command,” he said, adding that it does not matter if the candidate is from another state.

  • BJP announces 22 candidates for Rajya Sabha polls; to support two independents
  • The Economic Times

    The BJP has announced 22 candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls and the party has decided to support one Independent candidate each from Rajasthan and Haryana. Though the party's list of Rajya Sabha candidates includes the names of Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman, some other prominent names such as that of minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and senior leaders Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and OP Mathur were missing. Senior BJP leader and former cabinet minister Prakash Javadekar's name was earlier wrongly mentioned among those missing from the list. His current Rajya Sabha tenure is till 2024. The BJP has fielded eight candidates from Uttar Pradesh, three each from Maharashtra and Karnataka, two each from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, and one each from Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Haryana. The saffron party will support two Independent candidates - Subhash Chandra from Rajasthan and Kartikeya Sharma from Haryana. Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje met Chandra in the Assembly lobby earlier in the day. His tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana will end on August 1. On the other hand, BJP's ally Jannayak Janata Party has also announced its support for Sharma's candidature.

Stingless beekeeping training for farmers to ensure sustainable income
Times of India | 3 weeks ago
Times of India
3 weeks ago

PUNE: With honey produced by stingless bees having high nutritional and therapeutic value, farmers in Maharashtra are being encouraged to take up stingless beekeeping to ensure sustainable income. As part of this initiative, the Central Bee Research and Training Institute (CBRTI) recently conducted a programme on ‘stingless bees’ for a group of 32 farmers and students, who were trained in hiving natural colonies, multiplication of colonies, and plants useful for stingless bees. “Kerala, Nagaland, Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh are the leading states for meliponiculture (stingless beekeeping) in India. Beekeepers in Maharashtra do not have sufficient awareness about it. Our objective is to promote stingless beekeeping and create a sustainable income source for beekeepers,” Daisy Thomas, CBRTI’s project investigator, told TOI. The participants had come from Kolhapur, Satara, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Parbhani, Beed, and other districts. They got acquainted with the various practices, techniques, and tactics of beekeeping during the training. Some of the participants are already in the beekeeping business. Avinash Kadam, who is into beekeeping for the last 15 years and runs a firm in Kolhapur, said, “The beekeeping is a very delicate business. One should be aware of its various practices and techniques to get the desired results from it. There is a good demand for stingless honey in the market. Often, it is sold at double the rate of normal honey. The training session has covered several aspects related to it.” The stingless bees do not sting in contrast to the common domesticated bees, such as cerana and mellifera bees. Hence, it is easier to extract honey, pollen and propolis, said Thomas. Cherian Joseph, who runs the Kasaragod beekeeping unit for the last 30 years in Kerala, said, “The demand for stingless honey in domestic and international markets is high. We sell honey at Rs2,000-Rs3,500 a kg. We have dedicated customers who buy this honey regularly for medicinal purpose.” One of the main reasons behind less response to stingless beekeeping is less production of honey, said, Joseph. “One can get honey between 250grams and 1kg from one colony of stingless bees in a year. It mostly depends on climatic conditions and availability of flora and fauna in the area,” said Thomas, who has visited four districts in Kerala to study and analyse stingless beekeeping practices.

Stingless beekeeping training for farmers to ensure sustainable income