Maharashtra Politics News

Mohammed Zubair’s arrest is an inversion of justice
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago
The Indian Express
6 hours ago

The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community. The arrest comes just as the PM was singing paeans to Indian democracy in Munich, milking the Emergency way past its political expiry date and signing protocols on free speech. It is a reminder to the world that with this regime, you have to vigilantly watch what it does and not be duped by what it says.Let us look at the larger political and institutional context of this story. The outfit that Mohammed Zubair helped run, Alt News, did sterling service for India’s democracy, holding onto the now elusive idea that facts might matter. His courage has been an inspiration. He brought to our attention the fact that Nupur Sharma, a high office-bearer of the ruling BJP, had engaged in a speech about Prophet Mohammed that could only be considered vile. There were communal riots in the wake of that speech and international condemnation of India. This column had argued that what made Nupur Sharma’s speech dangerous was that it expressed the sentiments of the ruling party (‘Beware of half victories’, IE, June 8). She should have been politically punished. But liberals should have resisted calling for her arrest and using FIRs because, in the long run, such moves only serve to weaken the free speech regime, and it makes the protection of free speech open to competitive communal mobilisation.Zubair’s arrest sends several messages. First, it is pure revenge, through and through. It was a matter of time before the Modi government unleashed a politics of revenge in the wake of its international humiliation. Second, the purpose is to keep the free speech debate hostage to communal politics. That he has been allegedly arrested for a 2018 tweet, which used a trope about a hotel from an old Hindi film, might make this case seem farcical. Surely, you might say, this case cannot be serious? But the purpose is to create a narrative of victimhood that our free speech regime allows Hindu gods to be mocked but not the Prophet. The farcical nature of the charge is designed to play on that card.It might be pointed out that many purveyors of hate speech in the ruling party, even those who have directly incited violence, roam free. The government is selective in who it targets using Section 153 of the IPC. But this selectivity has its political functions. It underscores the point that the majority can act with impunity. Ministers can incite violence without consequence, but how dare a Zubair raise his voice? These arrests give wind to the fantasy of majoritarian impunity and privilege. Finally, it is common knowledge that Zubair’s crime was not mocking Hindu gods. It was to stand steadfast on one thing that makes this government tremble with fear and rage — facts. Perhaps Zubair will be lucky and a judge with an iota of professional competence will see through the farce of his arrest. But the signal is clear.This arrest has to be seen as part of the larger pattern of arbitrariness and repression: ED and CBI raids, whenever political convenient, the use of UAPA charges against innocent students, the communally targeted bulldozing of properties, the control over the media, the use of vigilante violence, and the complete decimation of all independent institutions. PM Modi rightly and vehemently objects to the Emergency. But it almost seems as if his charge is that, as bad as the Emergency was, it was not done right: It did not have the kind of insidiousness, communal charge, slow torture that this regime aspires to.But this repression of liberty is aided by wider complicity. This column had once used the phrase judicial barbarism (‘Lordships and masters,’ IE November 18, 2020) to describe the conduct of India’s highest court. Now, in retrospect, the term judicial was superfluous in that description. It still suggested some deference to judicial form, some procedure, some fig leaf of a rule by law, if not rule of law. But the conduct of the Supreme Court over the last few days has only underscored the fact that in many cases, calling its proceedings judicial is to cut it too much slack. The Court may have had its reasons to decide the Zakia Jafri case the way it did. But to unleash the might of the state on the petitioners who have been fighting an almost lone legal battle to get justice to the victims of the Gujarat riots; to convict them without a trial is a new and chilling precedent. Even if one grants, for argument’s sake, mistakes on the petitioner’s part, what the Court is licensing is nothing but revenge against those seeking justice.Then there is the farce being played out over the Maharashtra Assembly, where the Court has just committed full-blown murder of the Tenth Schedule and the anti-defection law. It has muddied the Speaker’s powers; it has in effect given the BJP what it wanted — more time to horse trade. But what links the cases — Zubair, the Gujarat petitioners, and the Maharashtra Assembly episode – is a complete inversion of justice. Facts are crimes, seeking justice is a sin and democracy is best served by judicial arbitrariness.But these cases are not likely to evoke much public response. Amongst the well-meaning people, there is still a tendency to see these cases as exceptional, the deviations that scar but do not challenge the basic constitutional scheme. We will go through the motions as if our institutions still provide a conduit for constitutional argument and justice. If we are lucky, an occasional brave judge might give a Zubair relief and we can all go through our lives with a clean conscience, even as the system collapses around us.But more ominously, there will be celebrations of this state impunity, there will be cheering for communalism, and triumphal assertions that liberals are worse than tyrants. The Emergency in 1975 was repressive, but it did not dull our intellects, eviscerate our conscience, or extinguish our fighting spirit. The Supreme Court accused activists of keeping the pot boiling. For once, the Court, like the government, knows what it is talking about: boiling. Between them, they have burnt democracy, liberty and secular political values to death. All that remains is the burnt embers, emitting the stench of tyranny. Zubair is the latest victim. There will be countless more.The writer is contributing editor, The Indian Express

Mohammed Zubair’s arrest is an inversion of justice
‘Being part of MVA a difficult journey; political interference in every constituency’
The Indian Express | 14 hours ago
The Indian Express
14 hours ago

Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA from Bhiwandi East and two-time Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Corporator Rais Shaikh elaborates on where his party stands in the present political situation in Maharashtra, his experience working with the Thackerays and the future of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance.Q) The SP is part of the MVA alliance. Can you elaborate a bit on the present political situation in the state and where your party stands at this point of time?Ans) The country has two clear ideological divides. One is Hindutva where the core belief is to create a Hindu Rashtra. The other side is the liberal India which believes in the idea of the Indian constitution. The Samajwadi Party is definitely on the latter side vis a vis the Shiv Sena. Being part of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has been a difficult journey for us. While there was an ideological divide amongst the parties, the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that was drafted was meant to ensure we meet on common ground. While the CMP was well thought out, it was quickly forgotten and that is where the problem started. Every MLA who was not a minister was sidelined. There was political interference in every constituency. In my constituency, the Chief Minister started giving funds on request letters from MLAs who had lost. At the grassroots, almost everyone was complaining. If they say that this present situation has been precipitated by the fear of ED (Enforcement Directorate) or due to Hindutva, they are daydreaming. There was clear discontent amongst MLAs who were not accepting the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray. On top of this, we had Aaditya Thackeray who never met anyone.Q) Do you think the moderate face of Hindutva projected by Uddhav Thackeray became a liability for the Shiv Sena?Ans) That is the core of the problem — the transition from a Hindutva party to designing your own Hindutva within the family. The Shiv Sena has a peculiar DNA. Uddhavji was trying to portray that my Hindutva is different from yours. Then Aaditya was creating a big deviation where he was moving towards more of an AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) kind of ideology, trying to get religion-neutral votes. This conflict within the family was dividing the Sena itself.Q) How do you analyse the functioning of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray?Ans) Uddhavji would think that people will tolerate anything just because he was a Thackeray, which led to him taking others lightly. When I met for Rajya Sabha voting, there was no serious negotiation. When I asked others around him why they didn’t tell him about these issues, they would say you cannot tell critical things to the Thackerays; you can only reply to their questions and you cannot advise them. You can have a conversation with Sharad Pawar, you can fight with Ajit Pawar but you cannot tell the Thackerays anything. With them, it is just one-way communication. With Aaditya, you can talk to him about nice things like what is happening in Davos. But if you tell him that there is garbage strewn around in BDD chawl and something needs to be done, he would get uncomfortable. I had a conversation with him where I told him that his politics was 10 years ahead of time and that these issues will not get votes. He told me somebody should think beyond only votes. I, however, told him that this is not the time. But then he starts ignoring you and stops talking to you.Q) What future do you see of the MVA?Ans) The Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the SP who are committed to secularism will stay together. I am not saying that the state of Maharashtra has accepted Hindutva; it is the MLAs who have accepted it. Maharashtra is a progressive and socialist state and there is place for secular politics. As far as the Sena is concerned, it is not as if the whole Shiv Sena has gone with Shinde. Only the powerful people have left and we must remember that powerful people keep changing. Even today, Shiv Sena has a large grassroot support.Q) Amid complaints over how the CM was not accessible and development funds were not allocated appropriately, as an ally of the MVA, how receptive was the CM toward smaller parties like you? Were your demands from when you joined the alliance fulfilled? What was his approach to issues like Muslim reservation?Ans) He was consciously ignoring us. He always felt that any discussion or statement on minorities will alienate his Hindutva votes. There were, however, two very distinct phases in his style of functioning. Soon after he took over, he was very receptive. After CAA-NRC was brought in, we had a debate over it. He comforted me. There was communication and we had the satisfaction that we had a CM who was willing to listen and felt he was a person you can work with. During Covid, however, we lost him completely. We would meet in assembly, he would ignore everybody. He was just making guest appearances.Q) You have seen the functioning of MMRDA and BMC very closely. Did you feel at any point that Eknath Shinde was continuously being sidelined and if yes, in what ways?Ans) It was happening every time. If Eknath Shinde is the minister for Urban Development and MMRDA is functioning under him, why should Aaditya go and chair its meetings? He was behaving like a prince passing instructions “isko itna fund dena hai, usko utna”. Either your father should make you the party chief or you wait for your opportunity. So, every bureaucrat was really confused with each day.Q) The Maharashtra unit of the SP is identified by many as a Muslim party. There is this perception that many so-called Muslim parties eventually end up being consciously or unconsciously the B team of the BJP by splitting the secular vote. How do you respond to that?Ans) I compromised and became part of the MVA, and contested only three seats. On one of these seats, we had a sitting MLA, in the other two, we were the number two party. I have curtailed my party for the larger secular interest. I did not say I want to fight on several seats like AIMIM did last time in Maharashtra. Second point is my track record, I win seats consistently. I am not like AIMIM, which wins once in Byculla and next time from Dhule. There is a huge difference between AIMIM and us. For the last 25 years, we have been doing stable consistent politics. Our public representatives have consistently won. We have compromised for the larger interest to ensure the Congress or the NCP do not lose because of us.Q) You know how the BMC functions and how the contractor lobbies operate. So, do you see any hope for Mumbai’s roads which develop potholes and get flooded every year?Ans) The BMC is a 125-year-old organisation and we are still depending on a certain handful of contractors to do most of the works. Aaditya (Thackeray) who is a minister could have intervened and changed it. I remember as a child, BMC’s own employees would be used for road construction and surfacing work. This work was cheap and durable. The Shiv Sena has complicated this process by giving out contracts. The rate of road contract is Rs 14,000 per sq metre in our city while the same work was once done by us for as low as Rs 2,800. The Sena has created a cruel financial model in the city. We have to take the focus off contractors. We have a force of 1.25 lakh people working for BMC, which needs to be used effectively.Q) Are you in favour of the BMC being split for better administration?Ans) BMC has a beautiful way of decentralising — we already have administrative wards, we have departments, additional municipal commissioners. I am not in favour of breaking up the BMC. The administrative wards need to be reorganised, I would say. It needs to be made more efficient.

‘Being part of MVA a difficult journey; political interference in every constituency’
BJP responsible for saffron alliance break up: Chandrakant Khaire
Times of India | 1 day ago
Times of India
1 day ago

AURANGABAD: Chandrakant Khaire, four-time former MP from Aurangabad, on Sunday blamed BJP for the breaking up in the decades-old saffron alliance. He went on to blame former CM and incumbent Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis for compelling the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Khaire made the statement while addressing a news conference in the presence of over a dozen Aurangabad district Shiv Sena office-bearers, and current and former MLCs Ambadas Danve and Kishanchand Tanwani. “The MLAs who have switched over to the Eknath Shinde camp are rebels. If they do not return to the party fold in another two days, they will be tagged as traitors,” he said. He added that Sena has faced many rebellions before, and like on previous occasions, the party will bounce back much stronger. Khaire claimed many MLAs, who are currently in the rebel group, were not aware of the Shinde-camp’s game plan and they have ended up in the trap. He expressed confidence that once the MLAs come back to Maharashtra for the floor test, many will return to Sena. He said people in Maharashtra will not forgive any backstabber, and added that the rebels have harmed their political careers by ditching the party and the chief minister who gave them everything. He even questioned rebel MLA Sanjay Shirsat and Cabinet minister Sandeepan Bhumare about their legitimate sources of income. “Both of them were autorickshaw drivers and made a fortune in the name of the party that gave them tickets and got them elected,” said Khaire. He also came down heavily on MoS Abdul Sattar for harming the party. Khaire said he does not feel bad for Sattar. “Abdul Sattar came from another party, so I am least bothered about him and his politics. However, I feel bad about Shiv Sena MLAs switching sides by either succumbing to bribe or pressure,” said Khaire.

BJP responsible for saffron alliance break up: Chandrakant Khaire
  • BJP responsible for saffron alliance break up: Khaire
  • Times of India

    Aurangabad: Chandrakant Khaire, four-time former MP from Aurangabad, on Sunday blamed BJP for the breaking up in the decades-old saffron alliance. He went on to blame former CM and incumbent Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis for compelling the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Khaire made the statement while addressing a news conference in the presence of over a dozen Aurangabad district Shiv Sena office-bearers, and current and former MLCs Ambadas Danve and Kishanchand Tanwani. “The MLAs who have switched over to the Eknath Shinde camp are rebels. If they do not return to the party fold in another two days, they will be tagged as traitors,” he said. He added that Sena has faced many rebellions before, and like on previous occasions, the party will bounce back much stronger. Khaire claimed many MLAs, who are currently in the rebel group, were not aware of the Shinde-camp’s game plan and they have ended up in the trap. He expressed confidence that once the MLAs come back to Maharashtra for the floor test, many will return to Sena. He said people in Maharashtra will not forgive any backstabber, and added that the rebels have harmed their political careers by ditching the party and the chief minister who gave them everything. He even questioned rebel MLA Sanjay Shirsat and Cabinet minister Sandeepan Bhumare about their legitimate sources of income. “Both of them were autorickshaw drivers and made a fortune in the name of the party that gave them tickets and got them elected,” said Khaire. He also came down heavily on MoS Abdul Sattar for harming the party. Khaire said he does not feel bad for Sattar. “Abdul Sattar came from another party, so I am least bothered about him and his politics. However, I feel bad about Shiv Sena MLAs switching sides by either succumbing to bribe or pressure,” said Khaire.

The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive
The Indian Express | 2 days ago
The Indian Express
2 days ago

The political crisis in Maharashtra has brought focus back on the anti-defection law. By all accounts, the law has failed to shore up the stability of elected governments. Not only have many governments fallen due to defections in recent times, but the defectors have not suffered any cautionary consequences. There are many ways to thwart provisions of the law: the Speaker can sit on the defection pleas for the term of the assembly; the beneficiary party can facilitate accretion of defectors through money and investigative agencies to hit the magic two-thirds threshold. The voters don’t seem to care about punishing the defectors either – 11 out of the 14 defectors who stood for re-election in the 2019 Karnataka bypolls won on the BJP ticket. Some have thus argued that the way forward is to amend the anti-defection law to fill these lacunae by mandating time-bound decisions by the Speaker and disqualifying defectors from standing for the next election as well. These proposed amendments like the original law want to consolidate power without necessarily putting in the requisite politics. They may thus help consolidate the leadership’s intra-party power but the underlying aversion to ongoing politics leaves them vulnerable to bigger external powers.First, it should be obvious that the practice of politics is too wide for any institutional process to fully capture. Politicians are adept at subverting institutional processes for their own ends and there are many possibilities for payoff for defectors outside of elected office alone. Moreover, politics has a rich history of exercise of power by proxy and the disqualified representative may simply choose to have a family member stand in their stead. It thus seems unlikely that these amendments can plug the gap in any substantive manner, especially if the defections have been engineered by the threat of investigative agencies. The anti-defection law and proposed amendments approach the issue of defections from the prism of denying power to the defector, a framing which repeatedly comes up short in the face of a bigger and/or more punitive power. Beleaguered parties may denounce the BJP but in the absence of mobilization of public opinion, these condemnations have at best rhetorical value, moving neither the BJP nor the defectors.Within this framework, if political parties want to resist defections, they must be able to project (imminent) power themselves. At the same time, political parties must address organizational and ideological infirmities which have made them susceptible to mass defections in the first place. There are only about 4000 MLAs in a country with a population of almost 1.4 billion people. However, political parties tasked with representing the aspirations of crores of people are unable to find candidates who take themselves seriously enough to not cross over to political opponents. In fact the bar is so low that the MLAs have to be physically corralled and phones confiscated to ensure alignment with the Party stand. This is not apolitical outrage but has pragmatic organizational value. It is one thing for a few individuals to be susceptible to threats and inducement, another for the organization to be vulnerable to mass defections. Individuals can be faulted in the former but the latter calls for urgent introspective and corrective measures at the level of the leadership.Two measures with both short-term and long-term implications come to mind. First, political parties need ideological clarity and the ability to attract individuals with a sense of purpose and not love for power alone. This ideological depth if reflected in the party organization and its political programs will give members the ability to withstand lean periods of power. Every party has committed individuals; internal party processes must be geared to identify and promote them into leadership positions. This ties into the second issue. Multiple analyses have attributed the political crisis in Maharashtra in part to Shiv Sena’s inability to accommodate the aspirations of its dissident MLAs. The rebel MLAs on their part have spoken of the Chief Minister’s inaccessibility. The MLAs may be opportunistic but there is no question that political parties are failing to create intra-party forums where grievances can be expressed and resolved on an ongoing basis. Internal mechanisms for inner-party democracy – from elections to deliberative forums – are ultimately at the discretion of the party leadership. Scrapping the anti-defection law would provide some institutional leverage to express intra-party dissidence and while it may be more chaotic in the short-term would lead to greater stability and political strength in the long-term.Finally, two fundamental questions. In trying to legislate political affiliation – a key freedom in democracy – political parties are repeatedly giving primacy to legal instead of political battles since these issues inevitably end up in court. This repeated ceding of political power to the judiciary is a serious deviation from the democratic paradigm and must be checked. Second, the anti-defection law has undermined not just the very principle of representation but has also contributed to polarization in our country by making it impossible to construct a majority on any issue outside of party affiliation. Instead of providing stability, the law has undermined our democracy. It is time to scrap the anti-defection law.The writer executive director of the Future of India Foundation

The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive
Opinion: Uddhav Thackeray Can Claim 'Marathi Identity' Was Betrayed
Ndtv | 3 days ago
Ndtv
3 days ago

"Shiv Sena is a lion's den, you can only go in, you can't come out."This is what Manohar Joshi, who rose to Chief  Minister of Maharashtra, and later, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, said in response to a question on why he did not leave the Shiv Sena.But that myth about the lion's den stands shattered to pieces with Shiv Sena leaving the party in such numbers that even the not-so-die-hard Sena supporters are aghast. Eknath Shinde did what former stalwarts Chagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray could not do. When they left the Sena, it created ripples but it did not turn into a tsunami; the Sena flourished. Today, the Sena is in such deep crisis that the very existence of the party is uncertain. This depends on whether Shinde is able to prove that more than two-thirds of MLAs stand with him against Uddhav Thackeray.The Shiv Sena was never a traditional political party. It was more of a cult around one man, Balasaheb Thackeray. His word was law and he virtually ran Mumbai because Shiv Sainiks would follow his instructions blindingly. Despite not holding any post ever in the government, he was a law unto himself; he was 'Sarkar' for millions of Maharashtrians.Uddhav Thackeray has been reduced to a minority in the party founded by his father, Balasaheb Thackeray.Balasaheb Thackeray was originally a cartoonist and had worked with the legendary R K Laxman. He was the son of Keshav Sitaram Prabodhankar Thackeray who was a reformer in his own right, and a very accomplished writer who had once "called for boycott of a temple which had refused to allow Dalits to offer worship." Sujata Anandan writes, "Bal Thackeray's father, at a public meeting, gave up his claim to his son and proclaimed that henceforth Balasaheb's life would be dedicated to uplifting Maharashtrians in Maharashtra."'Secure Maharashtra for Maharashtrians' was the call of senior Thackeray which he wanted his son to carry forward. Before the inception of the Shiv Sena in 1966, 'Maharashtra for Maharashtrians' was a thought which needed to be consolidated; Balasaheb accomplished that task by forming a political party which was originally used by the Congress governments in Maharashtra to counter the communist trade union movement which was very powerful in the 1960s. It is said that the Congress then supported the Shiv Sena with 'money bags'. It is no wonder that Thackeray supported the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in the mid-1970s. The Sena then was not a Hindutva party. It stood for the 'Marathi Manush' who felt threatened by the migrants coming to Mumbai from other states to earn their living. Preservation of the Marathi Identity is even now significant in the tension between Delhi and Mumbai.The Sena was comfortable with the BJP as long as it had an edge over the BJP in electoral politics. No BJP leader could afford to ignore 'Matoshree', the Thackaray residence, and survive in Maharashtra politics, but with the emergence of Narendra Modi as the supreme commander of the BJP at the centre, the equation changed. In 2014, the Sena and the BJP contested elections separately, with the Shiv Sena originally not supporting the BJP government in Maharashtra, but doing so later. But through it all, despite being an alliance partner in the government, the Shiv Sena was more critical of Modi and the BJP than any Opposition party.In 2019, the Shiv Sena, despite contesting the assembly elections with the BJP, decided to part with it and aligned with Sharad Pawar's NCP and the Congress, which are ideologically the diametrically opposite of what the Sena supposedly stands for. The Shiv Sena by then had been dislodged from the position of big brother. The Congress at the centre had been replaced by the BJP, and it is the BJP that is now viewed by the Sena as the 'New' Delhi that wants to dominate the Marathi Asmita. The NCP and the Congress are in no position to dictate terms to the Shiv Sena, but the BJP can do that.Senior Sena leader Eknath Shinde is leading revolt against Uddhav Thackeray.Those who view the conflict between Sena and the BJP merely as a conflict between two parties are missing the core issue. The Shiv Sena in Maharashtra politics does not want to play second fiddle to any all - India Party which potentially could subsume its Marathi regional identity. Historically, the Marathas never surrendered to Delhi. Both were constantly at war. Chhatrapati Shivaji is the biggest icon of this struggle. Those who felt that with the demise of the Balasaheb Thackeray, the Shiv Sena could be manipulated missed the basic reason for the existence of the Sena. Sena has given voice to voiceless Maharashtrians who felt pushed to the margins by the more educated migrants. About the Sena supporters, Sujata Anandan writes in her biography of Balasaheb, "The bulk of that crowd was drawn from the working classes and from the rank of the unemployed and even uneducated people with idle minds."Eknath Shinde, the architect for the revolt against Uddhav Thackeray's leadership, was once an auto driver. Many top Sena leaders had very humble beginnings. Can people like Shinde, who is already being viewed as playing Delhi's game, become the symbol of Marathi Asmita? At the outset, it seems very remote that Shinde and his group have a long-term future. For the time being, he may look victorious, but in the long run, his group will always be seen as traitors who backstabbed the Marathi cause.There is no doubt that Uddhav Thackeray is more soft-spoken and more accommodative than his father. But to assume that this episode will annihilate the Thackeray's legacy would be reckless. Thackeray and 'Matoshree, are not just a name or a house, they symbolise an idea which has always resisted the might of the centre and never surrendered. The lion's den will recover.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com(Ashutosh is author of 'Hindu Rashtra' and Editor, satyahindi.com.)Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

Opinion: Uddhav Thackeray Can Claim 'Marathi Identity' Was Betrayed
Manoeuvres in politics will go on but governance shouldn’t stop: CM Uddhav Thackeray to bureaucrats
The Indian Express | 3 days ago
The Indian Express
3 days ago

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday told the state administration that development works shouldn’t be held up due to the ongoing political crisis in the state. Thackeray on Friday held a virtual review meeting attended by divisional commissioners, district collectors, municipal commissioners and secretaries of government departments at the state secretariat.Speaking to the bureaucrats, he said that when took over as the chief minister two-and-a-half years ago, he had no experience of administration and the bureaucrats guided him. He added that while he did not know how long this political deadlock would continue, but the bureaucrats were always welcome at either Matoshree or Varsha bungalows.“Don’t hold up important development works related to welfare of people. Get in touch with me directly,” Thackeray said. He added, “There is always uncertainty in politics… Political manoeuvres will go on but governance shouldn’t stop. The administration should ensure that people’s day-to-day issues are resolved immediately.”A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said that at the meeting, Thackeray reviewed the current Covid-19 situation in the state, sowing operations for kharif crops, availability of urea, disaster management preparedness and facilities for warkaris (devotees) at Pandharpur temple town for the upcoming ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’ festival.WITH inputs from PTI

Manoeuvres in politics will go on but governance shouldn’t stop: CM Uddhav Thackeray to bureaucrats
In Sena rebel Eknath Shinde village in Satara: School, hospital absent; two helipads present
The Indian Express | 4 days ago
The Indian Express
4 days ago

The Maharashtra urban development and public works minister and senior Shiv Sena leader, Eknath Shinde, has continued to be in the spotlight for raising a banner of revolt against the Chief Minister and Sena president, Uddhav Thackeray, and engineering a stunning split in the party by getting more than two-thirds of its total 55 MLAs to rally behind his leadership, which has pushed the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to the brink of collapse.Having staked his claim to the post of the Sena Legislature Party leader from his luxury hotel in Guwahati in the BJP-ruled Assam, Shinde, 58, and his supporters might have incurred the wrath of another section of Sena leaders and workers affiliated to the Thackeray camp in their constituencies, but the rebel leader’s moves have got ringing support from the residents of his native village Dare in Satara district, who hope fervently that he is going to take over as the CM.Dare, which has only about 30 houses, is situated on the banks of the Koyna river in a remote, backward belt, about 70 km from the hill town Mahableshwar, on the foothills of the Sahyadri hills. The village is skirted by the forest reserve on one side and Koyna on the other. Most of its houses are locked as their inhabitants are migrant labourers who have to work in Mumbai and Pune in the absence of any regular source of income in the village.For the past few years Shinde has started paying attention to Dare, which his father had left to shift to Thane when he was a child. “He (Shinde) and his family never missed the annual religious fair of the village earlier, but it was only for the past few years that he really started taking interest in the village,” said Laxman Shinde, Dare sarpanch, as he along with other villagers, both men and women, cutting across all ages watch Shinde operating from the centre-stage of Maharashtra politics on their television sets.Dare falls in the Wai-Mahableshwar Assembly segment of the Satara Lok Sabha consituency, both of which are currently represented by the Shara Pawar-led NCP, an ally of the MVA coalition. “The area has been an NCP stronghold and Shinde has never tried to influence the village to follow his party. He has never engaged in any political activity locally, although he has initiated some development works in the village. We villagers stand by whatever decision he takes but we have been praying that he becomes the chief minister one day and make the village proud,” the sarpanch said, adding that when in village Shinde “urges the villagers to live together in peace without getting into any kind of disputes”.Significantly, there is neither a school nor a hospital in Dare, with the nearest place for the villagers to access any educational or health facilities being Tapola at a distance of 50 kms by road or 10 kms by boat, which is situated on the other side of the Koyna river.Dare has however seen the setting up of two helipads as Shinde always arrives in the village by a chopper. “There was one helipad developed by the minister in the village which is alongside Koyna river. However, the second helipad is also ready on a hill few metres away from his house in the village and would soon be in use,” said Ashok Shinde, Eknath Shinde’s cousin, who supervises the development work in the minister’s private property there.According to his affidavit that Shinde, a four-time MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, filed with the Election Commission (EC) for contesting the 2019 Assembly poll, he bought 12.45 acres of agricultural land in Dare in December 2018 at a cost of Rs 21.21 lakh while his son and Sena MP Shrikant Shinde bought 22.68 acre of land at Rs 26.51 lakh in November 2017 in the village.The family is building a palatial farmhouse on their land that will see Dera’s first concrete road linking it to the village road. Dozens of labourers have been managing the farmhouse that has cattles and ducks. “We are here all the time, our sahib (Shinde) visits the farmhouse once in a month and stays here up to two days,” said a labourer. Shinde’s longest stay in his farmhouse was for eight days last year, when he had tested positive for Covid and had come to the village to recover.A class eight student from the village, Sunny Shinde, who may not be much interested in politics but is excited to see his famous village resident being continuously in the limelight for days, said that everyone there was closely following the news as it might change their lives. “The schools have reopened but I am unable to attend it as the river is dry. It is too wide and cannot be crossed without a boat, so all children going from this part of river have been exempted, like always, from attending school (located in Tapola) as by road it is at a distance of 50 kms and the state public transport bus passes only once in a day,” he said, adding that only class ten students go to school by bus while remaining ones have been given homework and allowed absence till August 15.An elderly villager Kisan Shinde, who is a distant relative of Eknath Shinde, points to a house to say that the latter was born there but shifted to Thane along with his father, where he studied and joined politics under the influence of late Sena leader Anand Dighe. However, some of the villagers said that Shinde was born in Thane and not in the village.Anand Nalwade of Walne village near Dare said Shinde was “the only hope for the 105 villages alongside Koyna river” that have come under submergence since the construction of the Koyna dam. He said, “We have been suffering for long due to Koyna dam. There is no agriculture income nor any other source of income or facility in the area. Youths have left the villages for earning their living in cities and we manage to survive on their financial assistance. Our problems should be solved by Shinde by ensuring a decent living for us,” he said.

In Sena rebel Eknath Shinde village in Satara: School, hospital absent; two helipads present
Explained: Governor powers, floor test law under spotlight
The Indian Express | 5 days ago
The Indian Express
5 days ago

As the Maharashtra political crisis continues to play out, with the Shiv Sena headed for a split and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray possibly losing majority, the Governor’s powers under the Constitution to call for a floor test takes centrestage.Article 174(2)(b) of the Constitution gives powers to the Governor to dissolve the Assembly on the aid and advice of the cabinet. However, the Governor can apply his mind when the advice comes from a Chief Minister whose majority could be in doubt.In 2020, the Supreme Court, in Shivraj Singh Chouhan & Ors versus Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Ors, upheld the powers of the Speaker to call for a floor test if there is a prima facie view that the government has lost its majority.“The Governor is not denuded of the power to order a floor test where on the basis of the material available to the Governor it becomes evident that the issue as to whether the government commands the confidence of the House requires to be assessed on the basis of a floor test,” a two-judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said.Under Article 175(2), the Governor can summon the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the government has the numbers. In a detailed judgment, the Court also explained the scope of the power of the Governor and the law revolving around floor tests.The Madhya Pradesh Governor was faced with a similar situation when MLAs in the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp had defected to the BJP and the then Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath had asked the Governor to dissolve the Assembly.The Governor instead called for a floor test.When the House is in session, it is the Speaker who can call for a floor test. But when the Assembly is not in session, the Governor’s residuary powers under Article 163 allow him to call for a floor test.In its 2020 ruling, the Supreme Court had also discussed the right of a political party to access “captive” MLAs who were whisked away to a resort. While the Court did not allow such a right, it underlined that the MLAs are entitled to “decide for themselves as to whether they should continue to be Members of the House when they lack faith in the incumbent government in the state.” But that, the Court said, has to be done on the floor of the House.“The spectacle of rival political parties whisking away their political flock to safe destinations does little credit to the state of our democratic politics. It is an unfortunate reflection on the confidence which political parties hold in their own constituents and a reflection of what happens in the real world of politics. Political bargaining, or horse-trading, as we noticed, is now an oft repeated usage in legal precedents,” the Court had said.

Explained: Governor powers, floor test law under spotlight
Sudheendra Kulkarni writes: A suitable President
The Indian Express | 6 days ago
The Indian Express
6 days ago

Yashwant Sinha concludes his autobiography, appropriately titled Relentless, with a line that has proved to be very pertinent after he was chosen on Tuesday as the common candidate of Opposition parties to contest the presidential election next month. He writes: “For me, my journey’s end has no end till I finally go to sleep.”Though fighting fit at 84, his long and distinguished public life appeared to have entered the last lap. He was a prominent member of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet in which he served as the finance and external affairs minister. After he quit the BJP, he became vice president of the Trinamool Congress. With a boldness rare among political leaders, he frequently visited Kashmir as the head of the Concerned Citizens’ Group and criticised the attacks on the identity, dignity and democratic rights of the Kashmiri people under the Narendra Modi government. In 2020, he undertook a gruelling 3,000-km Gandhi Shanti Yatra from Mumbai to Delhi to create mass awareness about divisive politics and “state-sponsored violence”, as was evident in the attacks on anti-CAA protesters. His prolific and powerful pen continues to produce widely admired newspaper articles.Yet, it seemed that the most active phase of his public life had ended. But it hasn’t. He is now all set to fight the most challenging election of his life. He may not win. But not all battles are to be fought only for victory in the conventional sense of the term. There is also triumph of a different kind in fighting for one’s principles and convictions that are in alignment with the nation’s pressing needs. This is why Sinha’s candidature as the representative of the united Opposition is significant for two reasons. First, by coming together for the presidential election, the anti-BJP parties have answered a question millions of Indians have been asking, with disappointment and frustration, since Narendra Modi’s ascension to power in 2014: “Where is Opposition unity?” The process of forging unity of all Opposition parties has begun.Second, this process is bound to gain momentum in the run-up to the bigger battle for 2024. The joint statement issued after the meeting of the Opposition parties articulates this resolve clearly: “The BJP government at the Centre has failed totally in fulfilling its promises… It is misusing ED, CBI, Election Commission, Governor’s office and other institutions as weapons against Opposition Parties and state governments run by them… We assure the people of India that the unity of the Opposition parties, which has been forged for the presidential election… will be further consolidated in the months ahead.”Three leaders deserve special credit for this effort — Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi. Banerjee and Pawar initiated the two crucial meetings of the Opposition in New Delhi last week, which culminated in Sinha’s candidature. Pawar has already shown his extraordinary political acumen in Maharashtra by achieving what had seemed impossible a few years ago — a coalition government comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress. When these three leaders — along with Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD and others, including, possibly, Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) — begin to work together, there will be a big change in the country’s political atmosphere.Sinha’s words, “my journey’s end has no end,” also ring true in the case of Draupadi Murmu, the BJP’s candidate for the presidential election. Hers has been a life of unending struggle and multiple tragedies, from which she sought solace by associating herself with Brahma Kumaris, a women-led spiritual movement. Depression due to the deaths of her husband and two sons prompted her to think of quitting public life. Yet, destiny opened up new beginnings, first as the Governor of Jharkhand and now, in all likelihood, as India’s next President. The prospect of a woman from the Adivasi community becoming the head of the Republic should certainly be welcomed and rejoiced. Our Republic belongs to all equally, and all, especially those belonging to marginalised communities, must have opportunities to serve the nation.However, considerations of identity politics, which have influenced the BJP’s decision, cannot be sufficient to determine the suitability of becoming Rashtrapati. Regardless of gender, caste, creed or tribe, the incumbent of that august office must be committed to, and capable of, serving as the custodian of the Constitution. In this context, sadly, we cannot overlook the prime minister’s self-serving calculations. The BJP’s choice of making “a Dalit President” five years ago turned out to be deeply disappointing. Ram Nath Kovind did not even once show the courage to express displeasure over the government’s repeated assaults on democracy, secularism, and independence of the institutions of governance. In 2019, he even acquiesced in Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s egregious midnight “coup” of revoking the President’s rule and swearing in BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister. Contrast this with the many instances when Kovind’s predecessor, Pranab Mukherjee, publicly voiced his concern over the infringement of the Constitution’s basic values.A rubber stamp Rashtrapati may suit the needs of an all-powerful prime minister. Getting an Adivasi, who is moreover a woman, elected as the President may well bring electoral benefits to the ruling party. But these are not the purposes for which the makers of the Constitution created the office of the head of state. The majesty of Rashtrapati Bhavan lies less in its grand architecture and more in the extent to which its occupant conscientiously ensures, without fear or favour, the supremacy of constitutional governance in India. Sinha or Murmu, this is what the nation expects from them.(The writer, formerly an aide to late Prime Minister Vajpayee, was actively involved in the meetings of opposition parties that chose Sinha as their common candidate)

Sudheendra Kulkarni writes: A suitable President
As rebel Shiv Sena leaders land in Guwahati, opposition hits out at Assam govt for ‘ignoring floods’
The Indian Express | 6 days ago
The Indian Express
6 days ago

The Opposition in Assam hit out at the BJP government for indulging in “petty politics” at a time when the state has been hit by devastating floods.Several opposition leaders talked about Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde’s arrival at Guwahati’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport early Wednesday. The dissident leader accompanied by a group of MLAs and independent legislators was received by BJP MP from Assam Pallab Lochan Das and MLA Sushanta Borgohain.Sushmita Dev, the TMC MP from Silchar — which has been submerged in water for the last 72 hours — said that the BJP government had its priorities wrong. “There is a crisis in Silchar right now — there is no drinking water, there is no electricity, no boats for rescue …people are living on their roofs,” she said. “In the middle of all this, the chief minister of Assam is busy poaching MLAs, and putting them up in five-star hotels. This is really bad.”On Wednesday, even as the rain abated in Assam, the state continued to reel under floodwaters. According to a release from the disaster management authority, 55 lakh in 32 districts are currently affected. On Tuesday, seven more people died, taking the death toll this year to 88.“At a time when lakhs are affected, thousands are battling for their lives, the BJP government has made the state the epicentre of its petty politics,” said regional party Assam Jatiya Parishad’s Jagadish Bhuyan. Congress Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia said the chief minister was elected to “serve the people of Assam.” “But while the state is convulsed in floods, he is wasting time in petty politics,” he said.Earlier, Borgohain, who is the Thowra MLA, told reporters that he was at the airport to “receive friends”. “Two-three of my friends called me up so I came to receive them…They have not disclosed what program they have. I came to the airport as a courtesy visit,” he said.Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that he was not privy to much information on the developments. “I am busy with flood relief work. Right now I’m heading to Kampur (Nagaon)… Tomorrow I will head to Silchar,” he said, adding that there were some “legislator friends” and he may meet them for “five to ten minutes.”When asked about the developments, Sarma quipped that it was “positive” that people were visiting the state despite the floods. “Since we are inundated, all hotel rooms are empty and the state is facing financial difficulties. Now if tourists from across the country come and stay in a hotel, it will only benefit us,” he said.BJP Rajya Sabha MP Pabitra Margherita added that all people were “welcome” in Assam — whether they are politicians or pilgrims to attend the ongoing Ambubachi at the Kamakhya temple. “For us, the flood relief is the priority – not just chief minister, cabinet ministers and legislators, each and every BJP party worker is involved in rescue operations 24X7,” he said.At the airport, while speaking to reporters, Shinde said that they were “committed” to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of ‘Hindutva’. “We want to take it forward,” he said adding: “We all arrived in Guwahati…I have 40 Shiv Sena MLAs with me. I cannot comment on anybody.”Shinde said that they were “committed” to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of ‘Hindutva’. “We want to take it forward,” he said adding: “We all arrived in Guwahati…I have 40 Shiv Sena MLAs with me. I cannot comment on anybody.”The Shiv Sena MLAs were ferried to a luxury hotel in Guwahati in three buses, amid heavy police protection. As of Wednesday afternoon, the MLAs are said to be at a meeting in the hotel, which is also surrounded by tight security.

As rebel Shiv Sena leaders land in Guwahati, opposition hits out at Assam govt for ‘ignoring floods’
Eknath Shinde: Auto driver, diehard Sainik, neta with a grudge
Times of India | 6 days ago
Times of India
6 days ago

THANE: Eknath Shinde, who has engineered the biggest revolt to hit Shiv Sena in over 15 years, has been a die-hard Sainik since the 1980s. Even as he raised the banner of revolt, he signalled his commitment to the Hindutva cause and paid tribute to his mentors with a tweet, "We are Balasaheb's staunch Shiv Sainiks... Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva...We will not compromise on the thoughts of Balasaheb and the teachings of Anand Dighe Saheb for power..." The four-time legislator and strongman represents the Sena heartland of Thane. Groomed by the late party firebrand Anand Dighe, he has had a steady rise in the party. Beginning as a shakha activist from the Kisan Nagar area, he was elected a corporator before becoming a MLA and cabinet member. The 58-year-old native of Satara had a humble origin in a neighbourhood in Wagle Estate, the area he now represents. He started off in a private firm and worked as an auto driver before he caught the attention of his mentor in the 1980s. Shinde's ability to mobilise participation for Sena's protests and welfare programs earned him Dighe's trust. Be it participating in an agitation on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue or against black-marketing of essentials, Shinde was at the forefront even as a shakha pramukh in Kisan Nagar. Old timers in the party recall that Shinde had decided to quit active politics following a personal tragedy, but Dighe who had seen the spark in him, encouraged him to stay on. "Since then there has been no looking back for Shinde, he never allowed personal issues to affect his work to grow the party," said a long time acolyte. His first tryst with electoral politics was in 1997 when Dighe spurred him on to contest the Thane corporation polls. He won by a decent margin. His work in the Thane corporation prompted Dighe to elevate him as Leader of the House, a post he served diligently for four years until he was given an opportunity to contest the assembly elections in 2004 from Thane city. His strong connection with grassroots ensured he won three subsequent terms consecutively from Kopri Panchpakhadi in the city. People close to Shinde say he has a feel for the pulse of the common man. His strategies have enabled the party to win various civic body polls over the last two decades not just in Thane but even in north Maharashtra. Observers recall how he weaned away 30 BJP corporators in the Jalgaon Municipal Corporation to help Sena win the mayoral polls last March despite BJP being in a majority there. Shinde is also known as one of the few Sena leaders who reaches out to leaders as well as common citizens across the spectrum. "Shinde often calls up leaders across parties to enquire about their wellbeing," said a Sena functionary from north Maharashtra. A party colleague said Shinde shared a rapport with BJP leaders despite the strained ties between the erstwhile alllies. "BJP has never made allegations against Shinde or his departments. He has also remained out of the ED, CBI and IT radar till now indicating his rapport with BJP." At the same time, Shinde was at the forefront in staunching dissidence within his own party until now. "There have been innumerable cases wherein he has stepped in in time and averted defections such as that of a prominent functionary who was wooed away by BJP in recent years," said a party colleague. The fact that many seniors in the Thane Sena unit are standing by for his orders before they make their next move is a testimony to his popularity, said a colleague. A senior leader said Shinde had lost patience now as he was being sidelined by certain elements within the party who felt insecure because of his popularity. "It was evident that he was not happy with the direction the party was headed in," said the party functionary. Shinde's misgivings about the Sena's alliance with Congress and NCP and what he perceived as a steady erosion in the party's traditional vote banks as a consequence are also the cause of the present rebellion.

Eknath Shinde: Auto driver, diehard Sainik, neta with a grudge
  • Eknath Shinde: Former auto driver on collision course with Shiv Sena leadership
  • The Economic Times

    Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who is at the centre of the current political turmoil in Maharashtra, had a humble beginnings and rose to become a top member of the party, in the process acquiring formidable organizational skills and a wide mass base.Once an auto-rickshaw driver in Thane city adjoining Mumbai, Shinde (58) quickly emerged as a key Sena leader in the Thane-Palghar region after joining politics and is known for aggressive approach towards issues of public interest.The Sena leader, a four-time MLA who holds urban development and PWD portfolios in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, never hides his humble origins. On the contrary, he makes it a point to mention it at times to underscore how he has been indebted to the saffron party and its founder late Bal Thakeray for his rise in state politics.Born on February 9, 1964, Shinde left his education before he could complete graduation and soon got associated with the Shiv Sena when it was growing in the state. Originally hailing from Satara district in western Maharashtra, Thane district, a Sena stronghold, is now his political home. Bal Thackeray formed Shiv Sena in 1966 on 'sons-of-the-soil' plank and later the party aggressively championed the cause of Hindutva.The party's aggressive approach towards issues close to its heart and the powerful persona of Bal Thackeray prompted Shinde to join the Sena in Thane. The sitting MLA from Kopri-Pachpakhadi in Thane city is known for taking part in street politics and faces dozens of criminal charges such as voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons and rioting, among others. Growing under the shadows of Shiv Sena stalwart from Thane Anand Dighe, he became his deputy and strengthened the party after the sudden death of his colleague in 2001.He became a corporator in the Thane Municipal Corporation in 1997 and won his maiden Assembly election in 2004 and is currently in his fourth term as an MLA. Shinde, often seen as the No. 2 leader in the party, was made Sena's Thane district head in 2005. His son Dr Shrikant Shinde is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Kalyan in the district.Shinde was appointed the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for a brief period in 2014 when Sena had not finalised its pact with the then-ally BJP for joining the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet. His clout grew when the Shiv Sena joined hands with the BJP to form a government under Fadnavis post-2014 assembly elections. Shinde, a popualr political figure, came closer to then-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (2014-19) and their association became a matter of discussion so much so that except for the Thane Municipal Corporation (the Sena minister's home turf), the BJP contested elections to all civic bodies in Maharashtra in 2016 against the Shiv Sena.When the Shiv Sena snapped ties with the BJP and formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the NCP and the Congress in late 2019, he became a cabinet minister. During the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the NCP handling the health ministry, it was Shinde- controlled MSRDC department that set up healthcare centres in Mumbai and its satellite cities to treat coronavirus patients.His closeness with Fadnavis turned his own party leaders against him. The tension grew so much that after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray became chief minister in 2019, Shinde was made guardian minister of Naxal-hit Gadchiroli district (along with Thane), located faraway in the Vidarbha region which is generally seen as a punishment.However, Shinde remained a key political asset for the Shiv Sena. Shinde is considered a leader with grassroots touch as he is always available to hear the grievances of party workers and colleagues. He is known to start his day early in the morning and continue his visits to party workers till late night. Ironically, Shinde himself went incommunicado on Tuesday morning and later surfaced in a Surat hotel with a bunch of Sena MLAs, plunging the two-and-a-half-year old MVA into a deep political crisis with his act of rebellion against his party's leadership.

Kamal Nath, Cong ace troubleshooter, deputed by Sonia for MVA firefighting
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

Amid the crisis gripping the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra after senior Sena leader and minister Eknath Shinde along with his about 20 party MLAs shifted to a hotel in Gujarat’s Surat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday deputed senior party leader and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer in the state. The Congress is part of the MVA alliance along with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.Shinde’s rebellion has dealt a severe blow to the Sena, posing a grave threat to the MVA government’s survival and continuance.“The Congress president has deputed Kamal Nath as AICC observer in Maharashtra in the wake of recent political developments in the state, with immediate effect,” said a statement issued by K C Venugopal, the AICC general secretary in charge of organisation.A veteran parliamentarian and ex-Union minister, the 75-year-old Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president, Kamal Nath, has been a key party trouble-shooter, emerging as the grand old party’s go-to man for handling various crises especially after the demise of its principal troubleshooter Ahmed Patel in November 2020.Apart from Pawar and Patel, Nath had played a crucial role in forging the MVA coalition in November 2019 in collaboration with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who became the Chief Minister.According to Congress insiders, with the NCP and the Congress then going back and forth over joining hands with the Sena, it was Nath who had cemented their bonds by convincing them with his argument that unlike the BJP the Sena did not have umbilical links with the RSS.Many Congress leaders believe that Nath is the only senior leader in the party who could fill the huge void created by Patel’s departure to some degree.In the context of the raging MVA crisis, Nath is being seen as perhaps the only one among the Congress’s old guard leaders, who has the heft and skills to deal with it in coordination with Pawar and Uddhav.After being appointed as the MPCC chief just seven months before the November 2018 Assembly elections, Nath steered the party to victory after an electoral drought of 15 years in the state. He took over as the CM and remained in office till March 2020, when he was forced to resign following the defection of a group of Congress MLAs affiliated to his then party rival Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP.An astute politician who has worked with the three generations of Gandhis – Indira, Rajiv, Sonia and Rahul – Nath, who was born in Kanpur to an established business family, is at the other end of the spectrum from the MP CM and senior BJP leader, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose roots are in an OBC agrarian family in Vidisha near Bhopal.After being appointed as the MPCC president, Nath had to initially deal with the tag of being an outsider to the state politics. Brought up in Kolkata, Nath had never dabbled in state politics prior to this assignment.Born to a Brahmin family, he has represented the tribal-dominated Chhindwara in the Lok Sabha as well as the state Assembly for over four decades. He is seen as a money-bag politician, who has a close association with several big industrial houses.As the environment minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government, he had earned accolades during the Earth Summit in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro for safeguarding the rights of farmers.Nath’s relationship with Madhya Pradesh could be traced to 1980, when then Congress chief Indira Gandhi had described him as her “third son” in Chhindwara.Besides being among Sanjay Gandhi’s close friends, Nath was also one of Rajiv Gandhi’s trusted lieutenants, tasked with managing allies and the Opposition as he had wide acceptability. He served as a minister with various portfolios in the Cabinets of former PM late Narasimha Rao and ex-PM Manmohan Singh.(With ENS inputs)

Kamal Nath, Cong ace troubleshooter, deputed by Sonia for MVA firefighting
Amit Shah, J P Nadda to discuss Maharashtra development with Fadnavis in Delhi
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda will hold a meeting Tuesday with party’s Maharashtra leader Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the developments in the state after senior Shiv Sena leader and minister Eknath Shinde along with as many as 20 MLAs decamped to Surat in Gujarat.The move by Eknath Shinde and other MLAs to move to a BJP-ruled state is being seen as a threat to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra and BJP leaders said that the top leadership is reflecting on its next move.Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Maharashtra, is also reaching Delhi. Fadnavis left for Delhi earlier in the day.BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil told the media, “If Eknath Shinde-led group makes an offer, we will surely consider. We are a political party. And we will strive to return to power for good governance and serving people.” “Although what happened is an internal matter of Sena, the BJP is concerned as it was its oldest alliance partner and had a long association of more than 25 years,” he added.Patil also hinted at Eknath Shinde’s reported unhappiness with the Shiv Sena. Patil said, “Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut’s over-smartness is going to cost the party. The present crisis is a pointer to that as old loyal leaders feel humiliated.” Moreover, everybody in politics knows whose agenda Raut is implementing.”Meanwhile, Ekanath Shinde was sacked as the Shiv Sena chief whip and MLA Ajay Chaudhary was given that post.

Amit Shah, J P Nadda to discuss Maharashtra development with Fadnavis in Delhi
Agnipath and bulldozer justice to history rewrite to celebrating Kalam and Narang
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

As protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme swept through the country, resulting in violence and mayhem in some states prompting several Opposition parties to seek its rollback, a demand rejected by the ruling BJP, the reporting and analysis of this entire story dominated the news and opinion pages of the country’s leading Urdu newspapers. With national politics heating up over the upcoming Presidential election and Rahul Gandhi being questioned by the ED in a National Herald case amid the Congress’s protests, their coverage was also done extensively by the dailies, which spotlighted the passing away of Gopi Chand Narang, one of the giants of the Urdu literature, at the age of 91.SiasatIn its editorial on June 18, headlined “Agnipath tashaddud, kiya ab bhi bulldozer chalega? (Agnipath violence, will bulldozer roll this time too?)”, the Hyderabad-based Siasat writes that the youths’ countrywide protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme have led to widespread violence, destruction of public properties and torching of trains in several states, which have caused losses running into hundreds of crores. “These protests mark the country’s unemployed youths’ agitation as the Narendra Modi government is playing with their future by offering them a short-term contractual recruitment (in armed forces),” it states. The ensuing violence, it says, has sparked a question: “Will the government recover the damages caused to public properties in the wake of these anti-Agnipath protests?” It writes that in Uttar Pradesh, ruled by Yogi Adityanath-led BJP, Muslims have paid a price for their every protests over crucial issues. “They (Muslims) have been arrested and sent to jails on grave charges, notices have been issued to them to recover damages, bulldozers are being used to raze their houses and shops…and virtually all BJP-ruled states have been targeting the minorities… Now that youths from all sections have hit the streets expressing their anger and frustration over unemployment and resorting to violence, the question is, will similar notices be issued against thousands of such youths and will they also be subjected to recovery proceedings,” it states. Asking whether the government will pay for the Agnipath stir-related damages, the edit says, “If not, then it will have to answer how could the same party have double standards for different sets of protesters,” adding that the government should remember that a protest is every citizen’s democratic right reflective of public concerns, although it has to be held within the legal and constitutional boundaries.The daily on June 14, in an editorial headlined “Tareekh badalne ki baatein (Talks of reversing history)”, writes that the Modi government seems to be making attempts to change the country’s history. It says that in its first term, the government had “targeted” universities, made changes in textbooks and “distorted and bent” history as per its ideological requirements. “In the middle of its second term now, this government instead of focusing on efforts to boost development, strengthen the economy, generate jobs, raise the country’s global standing and preserve its historical and cultural heritage, is again talking about reversing history. Union Home Minister has said the country’s history has been written in a selective manner and so a new history will be written. This is just to impose a particular ideology on the country that must be opposed. The trajectory of India’s history over thousands of years has been periodically marked with glorious milestones acknowledged across the world. The country is dotted with monuments showcasing it on a global stage, and yet the government is talking about changing this history which is incomprehensible,” it states. Evidently, the edit says, the BJP and its affiliates have been in a denial mode vis-a-vis Muslim rulers, who had played a key role, especially the Mughals, in “scripting India’s golden history”. “It is also inscribed in history as to who had been at the forefront of the country’s freedom movement against the colonial British,” it says, asking the government to refrain from taking a bigoted approach towards history and instead “take measures for preservation of the country’s shining historical and cultural heritage”.InquilabIn its editorial tribute to Prof Gopi Chand Narang, headlined “Narang: Ek Charagh aur bujha (Narang: one more light has gone out)”, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab on June 17 writes that his demise has come at a time when the country’s alarming communal situation demanded that the Urdu language and literature as well as our “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (syncretic Hindu-Muslim culture)” should continue to get the guidance of a towering writer and secular personality like Narang. His formidable literary and academic heft could be gauged from the point, it says, that no one dared to point fingers at him for being given Pakistan’s “Sitara-i-Imtiyaz (star of excellence)” award besides being conferred with India’s top civilian honours such as Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. It points out that Narang had been a distinguished ambassador of Urdu across the globe for five decades. It quotes Narang as saying that “One of the names of Urdu is also secularism…Urdu has set purposeful examples in this regard for centuries and kept a remarkable front against all kinds of narrow-mindedness and obscurantism.”The daily says the entire Urdu world is today finding itself an orphan by the passing away of Narang. “This is a tough time for the Urdu language and literature that in a short span of time its leading lights like Gulzar Dehelvi, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Shamim Hanfi, and now Narang have departed,” it notes. Narang established himself as a literary theorist, scholar and critic through four dozen books. He also wrote on complex subjects related to linguistics, structuralism and stylistics, breaking them down for students of the Urdu literature, it says, highlighting that “Notably, Urdu was not Narang’s mother tongue, but the way he engaged with Urdu his entire life gave the impression as if both have chosen each other”.Roznama Rashtriya SaharaThe Kolkata edition of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara on June 15, in an editorial “ED ki karwai Congress ke liye shar mein khair (ED’s action a blessing in disguise for Congress”, writes that the government has now “unleashed” the Enforcement Directorate to proceed on a 10-year-old complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and that the ED has been subjecting Rahul Gandhi to marathon questioning in a National Herald money laundering case. “This cannot be denied that the ED’s move at the behest of the government is an act of political vendetta, but it seems to have given a new lease of life to the Congress as the ED’s action has woken up the sleeping, shrinking party, whose leaders and workers hit the streets across the country in protest along with the members of the party’s frontal organisations,” the daily says, adding that several senior leaders even faced police high-handedness while being detained in Delhi. It points out that in the wake of a spate of debacles in elections, including the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and many Assembly elections, analysts were proclaiming the Congress’s endgame maintaining that the faction-riven party is bereft of its public support base as well as leadership, even as some political pundits were invoking the BJP’s “Congress-free India”. The ED’s action against Rahul has however galvanised the Congress with even G-23 dissident leaders joining the street protests, the edit claims. “The ruling camp was of the view that the appearance of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi before the EC for their questioning will damage the Congress’s image… but it seems to have given an opportunity to the party to set aside its internal differences and press ahead unitedly.”Urdu TimesThe Mumbai-based Urdu Times on June 16, in an editorial on “Sadr bane ga kaun (Who will become the President)”, writes that in the run-up to the 16th Presidential poll scheduled for July 18 the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has taken the lead in the Opposition camp in holding meetings with leaders to decide the name of their Presidential candidate. Echoing the view of a major Opposition section, she also urged her NCP counterpart Sharad Pawar to become their Presidential nominee, which he turned down politely, it says. “Although Pawar is a very suitable candidate for the Presidential position, but his decision is right as Maharashtra and the NCP need his leadership. To keep Maharashtra strong and free from hate politics, keeping it on track of development and progress, and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere are his top priorities now,” it writes, adding that as an ace practitioner of politics “Pawar may agree to become the Prime Ministerial candidate but not a Presidential nominee”. “There has not been any President since A P J Abdul Kalam who stepped out of Rashtrapati Bhavan with just a few clothes and piles of books after demitting the highest office… The Muslim community should recall his contributions to the country. Rolling out a bulldozer is easy, but the development of missiles was done by a Muslim scientist who went on to become the President of India. Will there be a President like him?” the daily asks.

Agnipath and bulldozer justice to history rewrite to celebrating Kalam and Narang
Sena MLAs misled, MP-Rajasthan model can’t be replicated in Maharashtra: Sanjay Raut
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

After Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde and a few MLAs went incommunicado a day after the BJP won five of the 10 seats in the Legislative Council polls in Maharashtra despite not having enough numbers, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the Sena MLAs have been misled and taken to Gujarat. He added that the attempt to replicate the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan scenario in the state will not succeed.“It is true that some of the MLAs are not in Mumbai and some of them were not reachable since night. But contact has been established with a few MLAs who went out of the city due to a misunderstanding. Eknath Shinde is also out of the city and he has also been contacted,” Raut said.“I or the Shiv Sena do not find any merit in the kind of picture which is being created right now that there will be an earthquake (in Maharashtra politics),” the Sena MP said, adding that the current “suspicious atmosphere will be cleared soon. Now we are going to Varsha (the chief minister’s official residence) for a meeting with CM Uddhav Thackeray.” All MVA leaders are in touch with each other, he revealed.“An attempt is being made to implement a pattern like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in Maharashtra hoping that the Uddhav Thackeray government will collapse. But the attempts which are being made will not be successful. There is a conspiracy and attempt to weaken the Shiv Sena by the BJP, but that will not happen,” he said.On Eknath Shinde, Raut said that till Monday he was with the MLAs in Hotel Westin and taking all efforts for the victory of both the Sena candidates. “He is a loyal shiv sainik and a colleague. Whatever is being said about him… I cannot say anything about it unless we speak to him,” he said.Recalling the government formation by BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis in 2019, Raut said, “In politics, we have to go through such situations. Two and a half years ago, the BJP did a similar experiment but it was not successful and hence they are trying to do the same now. This is also an attack on the back and from the front….”When asked whether there was a similar conspiracy to topple the government through Ekanath Shinde, he said, “There is a conspiracy but it won’t be successful. Shinde is a loyal shiv sainik.”Further, on the names of Sena MLAs who are unreachable, Raut said that the names cited by the media were not completely right. Some of the MLAs or ministers are already at Varsha Bungalow, including Gulabrao Patil, Sanjay Rathod and Pratap Sarnaik, he pointed out. “There is an attempt to destabilise and weaken the state, however it will not happen till Shiv Sena is there,” Raut added.The remaining MLAs, a few of whom are ministers, are saying that they have not understood what has happened, but they have been taken, he said, adding that they are in Surat, Gujarat, and arrangements were being made by BJP Gujarat chief R C Patil.“The MLAs are being taken by misleading them and we know why they are in Gujarat, who RC Patil is, and whose close confidante he is. The moment we contact them, they will come back immediately and hence those who are thinking of an earthquake or something of that sort should know that they will have to fight with the Shiv Sena first and only then can they think of weakening Maharashtra. Until we are there, they cannot destabilise the state,” the Sena spokesperson asserted.He said contact has been established with most of the MLAs. “Some of them wish to return but they are not being allowed. They have been surrounded (with police security and barricading). Such things can happen only in Gujarat because the government there works like this and the central government gets their work done there.”Raut also said that pressure tactics were being used. “Today also, in this situation, our co-leader Anil Parab has been summoned by the ED to ensure that he won’t be with us. These are all the tactics and plans which need to be understood and are being done to destabilise the state.” 

Sena MLAs misled, MP-Rajasthan model can’t be replicated in Maharashtra: Sanjay Raut
Maharashtra Government Not In Trouble, Says Congress Amid Crisis
Ndtv | 1 week ago
Ndtv
1 week ago

Maharashtra crisis: Congress claimed this was a part of BJP's politics going on in the country. (File)Nagpur: Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole on Tuesday said there was no threat to the state Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and his party leaders would discuss the current political developments in the state during a meeting in Mumbai.Mr Patole's comments came in the wake of Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde along with some Sena MLAs apparently camping in Gujarat's Surat city, a day after the Sena-led MVA, which also comprises the NCP and Congress, suffered a setback in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls by losing one out of the six seats it contested.The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress had nominated two candidates each for 10 seats up for grabs, but Congress's Dalit leader Chandrakant Handore lost the poll. The BJP won all the five seats it contested.Talking to reporters in Nagpur on Tuesday on the political 'crisis' in Maharashtra, Mr Patole claimed this was a part of BJP's politics going on in the country."The BJP is misusing power it has at the Centre, which is now not hidden from anyone. A money-power circle is going on. They are pursuing the path of lies, but truth will win. This phase shall pass," the Congress leader said.Mr Patole also said state Congress leaders will meet in Mumbai later in the day wherein "we will be taking a stand on what is happening."He also asserted that there was no threat to the MVA government and claimed that getting the majority figure (in the 288-member state Assembly) was a distant dream for the BJP.To a query on Congress MLAs cross-voting in the MLC elections on Monday, Mr Patole said, "Cross-voting has been done, we will examine it and convey to the high command about it."Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan declined to comment on state minister Eknath Shinde going incommunicado and camping at a hotel in Gujarat with some Sena MLAs. He, however, said the Congress candidate's defeat in the Legislative Council polls on Monday was a cause of concern.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"I will not speak on the developments in the Shiv Sena. The Congress is meeting to discuss the Council poll results in which a Dalit face of the party lost. This has sent a very wrong message. We have to discuss what went wrong, how many MLAs cross-voted and where did the votes go," Mr Chavan told reporters in Mumbai before the Congress Legislature Party meeting.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Maharashtra Government Not In Trouble, Says Congress Amid Crisis
Maha MLC polls: Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh not allowed to vote akin to 'trampling' on their rights, claims Shiv Sena
The Economic Times | 1 week ago
The Economic Times
1 week ago

The Shiv Sena on Monday claimed that jailed NCP MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh not being allowed to vote in the state Legislative Council polls was like "trampling" on the rights of the two elected representatives. However, two BJP MLAs, battling serious illnesses, were brought in ambulances to vote during the Rajya Sabha polls from Maharashtra held earlier this month, an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' noted, and slammed the BJP over its "politics of discrimination". Maharashtra minister Malik and former state home minister Deshmukh, both arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in separate money laundering cases, are currently lodged in jail. The Bombay High Court had on Friday rejected their pleas seeking temporary release from prison for casting ballot in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. Voting is underway on Monday for elections to 10 seats in the Legislative Council. The ruling allies - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress - have fielded two candidates each, while the BJP has nominated five candidates. In the Rajya Sabha polls to six seats from the state held on June 10, the Shiv Sena's second candidate had lost to the BJP. The editorial in 'Saamana' said the Assembly membership of Deshmukh and Malik is still intact and they could have been brought for an hour to vote with all the necessary security arrangements. "Not allowing them to vote is akin to trampling on the rights of the two elected representatives," the Marathi publication claimed, adding that this is "politics of discrimination".Noting that the Enforcement Directorate had opposed their pleas in the court, the Sena said the "central agency is not the Supreme Court". "But Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap (both from the BJP) are brought for voting (in the Rajya Sabha polls) when they are in a critical state...when it comes to political selfishness, humanity is trampled upon and they (Tilak and Japtap) are wheeled-in on a stretcher for voting. The BJP can stoop to any level for achieving its political goal," the editorial said. "The central agencies are being misused, but how will things be if the court loses its consciousness?" it wondered. On the other hand, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim, serving a jail sentence, had been granted a month-long parole. He had earlier been given a similar concession ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, the Sena pointed out.

Maha MLC polls: Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh not allowed to vote akin to 'trampling' on their rights, claims Shiv Sena
  • Maha MLC polls: Malik, Deshmukh not allowed to vote akin to ‘trampling’ on their rights, claims Sena
  • The Indian Express

    The Shiv Sena on Monday claimed that jailed NCP MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh not being allowed to vote in the state Legislative Council polls was like “trampling” on the rights of the two elected representatives.However, two BJP MLAs, battling serious illnesses, were brought in ambulances to vote during the Rajya Sabha polls from Maharashtra held earlier this month, an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ noted, and slammed the BJP over its “politics of discrimination”.Maharashtra minister Malik and former state home minister Deshmukh, both arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in separate money laundering cases, are currently lodged in jail.The Bombay High Court had on Friday rejected their pleas seeking temporary release from prison for casting a ballot in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections.Voting is underway on Monday for elections to 10 seats in the Legislative Council. The ruling allies – Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress – have fielded two candidates each, while the BJP has nominated five candidates.In the Rajya Sabha polls for six seats from the state held on June 10, the Shiv Sena’s second candidate had lost to the BJP.The editorial in ‘Saamana’ said the Assembly membership of Deshmukh and Malik is still intact and they could have been brought for an hour to vote with all the necessary security arrangements.“Not allowing them to vote is akin to trampling on the rights of the two elected representatives,” the Marathi publication claimed, adding that this is “politics of discrimination”.Noting that the Enforcement Directorate had opposed their pleas in the court, the Sena said the “central agency is not the Supreme Court”.“But Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap (both from the BJP) are brought for voting (in the Rajya Sabha polls) when they are in a critical state…when it comes to political selfishness, humanity is trampled upon and they (Tilak and Japtap) are wheeled-in on a stretcher for voting. The BJP can stoop to any level for achieving its political goal,” the editorial said.“The central agencies are being misused, but how will things be if the court loses its consciousness?” it wondered.On the other hand, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim, serving a jail sentence, had been granted a month-long parole. He had earlier been given a similar concession ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, the Sena pointed out.

  • Not accepting plea that allowing persons, otherwise not qualified, to vote strengthens democracy: Bombay HC
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Holding that the law seeks to arrest the criminalisation of politics, the Bombay high court on Friday did not accept a legal contention that allowing persons otherwise not qualified, to vote would strengthen democracy and rejected the pleas of two MLAs Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik who wanted to be released or escorted from jail to vote in the forthcoming Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) polls. The HC held that there is an express bar under law on people in prison from voting. It said it cannot exercise its discretion to permit the two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders to exercise the franchise “which is otherwise prohibited by law.’’ Justice N J Jamadar rejected pleas by Deshmukh, 73 and Malik, 62, to be permitted out of prison confines—in Malik’s case out of a Kurla hospital—to cast their votes as Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the June 20 Member of Legislative Council (MLC) elections. The “inescapable’’ inference of section 62(5) of Representation of People act is that “a person in custody, either post conviction or during the course of investigation or trial, is prohibited from casting vote in any election,’’ held the HC. Malik’s counsel Amit Desai had said HC has the discretion to let them out to go and vote as the larger issue of upholding democratic principles come to the fore. The Judge however found his submission that HC can remove the embargo created by section 62(5) of RP Act on voting by prisoners, was “fraught with infirmities’’, intended to override the law’s interdict. The ASG Anil Singh for Enforcement Directorate had argued that the court has no discretion when law clearly prohibits an act—here voting in an election when behind bars. “Discretion has to be exercised within the bounds of law. Conversely, there is no unfettered discretion, even in the Courts, to validate a course of action, which the law proscribes,’’ said the 23-page judgment. It agreed with the ASG that the law prohibits imprisoned people from voting in Rajya Sabha and certain seats in Legislative council too. “Concept of ‘democracy’ transcends ‘electoral democracy’. Purity of electoral process and probity of the participants therein, are also of equal significance in strengthening the democratic principles,’’ said Justice Jamadar. One of the objects of the RP Act was to arrest the “criminalization of politics.’’ “ I am, therefore, not inclined to accede to the broad proposition that permitting the persons (who are otherwise not qualified to vote in the election) strengthens democracy,’’ the judge reasoned. The HC Judge however said its inherent powers may be required to be invoked to “remedy a malady’’ and uphold the constitutional norms and democratic values and the HC cannot be said to be completely denuded of its jurisdiction then. An illustration, said the Judge could be if on the eve of elections a number of the members of electoral college are imprisoned to deprive them the opportunity to vote in the election, then though the ‘section’ under the Act would be unassailable, the ‘action’ would be open to correction in such “exceptional situation’’ to prevent their ‘custody’ from turning into a “subterfuge for divesting them of their right to vote’’. But in Malik’s and Desmukh’s case it noted both were behind bars “since long’’—Deshmukh since last November and Malik since this March.” No such motive of putting the Applicants behind the bar so as to prevent them from participating in the election process can be attributed, at least, at this length of time,’’ the HC reasoned and also found no merit in Desai’s and Deshmukh’s counsel Vikram Chaudhri’s plea to use its discretion to lift the legal embargo. The HC, interpreting the RP Act section 62(5) said, “The Parliament has, in its wisdom, not carved out any exception for election to constitutional bodies, which are to be elected by indirect method of election.’’

"Politics Of Discrimination": Sena After Jailed Maharashtra Leaders' Plea To Vote Rejected
Ndtv | 1 week ago
Ndtv
1 week ago

Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh are in jail in separate money laundering cases. (File photo)Mumbai: The Shiv Sena on Monday claimed that jailed NCP MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh not being allowed to vote in the state Legislative Council polls was like "trampling" on the rights of the two elected representatives.However, two BJP MLAs, battling serious illnesses, were brought in ambulances to vote during the Rajya Sabha polls from Maharashtra held earlier this month, an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' noted, and slammed the BJP over its “politics of discrimination”.Maharashtra minister Malik and former state home minister Deshmukh, both arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in separate money laundering cases, are currently lodged in jail.The Bombay High Court had on Friday rejected their pleas seeking temporary release from prison for casting ballot in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections.Voting is underway on Monday for elections to 10 seats in the Legislative Council. The ruling allies - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress - have fielded two candidates each, while the BJP has nominated five candidates.In the Rajya Sabha polls to six seats from the state held on June 10, the Shiv Sena's second candidate had lost to the BJP.The editorial in 'Saamana' said the Assembly membership of Deshmukh and Malik is still intact and they could have been brought for an hour to vote with all the necessary security arrangements."Not allowing them to vote is akin to trampling on the rights of the two elected representatives," the Marathi publication claimed, adding that this is "politics of discrimination". Noting that the Enforcement Directorate had opposed their pleas in the court, the Sena said the “central agency is not the Supreme Court”.“But Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap (both from the BJP) are brought for voting (in the Rajya Sabha polls) when they are in a critical state...when it comes to political selfishness, humanity is trampled upon and they (Tilak and Japtap) are wheeled-in on a stretcher for voting. The BJP can stoop to any level for achieving its political goal,” the editorial said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com“The central agencies are being misused, but how will things be if the court loses its consciousness?” it wondered.On the other hand, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim, serving a jail sentence, had been granted a month-long parole. He had earlier been given a similar concession ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, the Sena pointed out. PTI PR GK GK

"Politics Of Discrimination": Sena After Jailed Maharashtra Leaders' Plea To Vote Rejected
Out to prove a point to Fadnavis, Eknath Khadse readies for MLC polls
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

He was once considered one of the tallest leaders in Maharashtra BJP. But, on Monday Eknath Khadse will be on the state legislative council poll fray as a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate and will look to complete his political rehabilitation after spending years in the political wilderness.Khadse’s association with the BJP lasted 40 years and he was elected on a BJP ticket for six consecutive terms from 1989 onwards from Muktainagar in north Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district. But, in 2016 he had a fall out with the incumbent Leader of Opposition and then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He was forced to resign as a minister from the BJP government over charges of corruption and irregularities in a land deal. Khadse was sidelined in the party and four years later, failing to make much headway, jumped ship to the NCP. He blamed Fadnavis for his decision to quit the party.Khadse, however, did not immediately get a position of his choice in the NCP. He did not find a Cabinet berth in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance government and his name in the governor’s nominees to the legislative council was rejected in November 2020. The council elections now present him with an opportunity to make a comeback in state politics.Though his nomination was not liked by all in his current party, it indicates that the party wants to use him to counter his bête noire Fadnavis, who last week played a central role in getting all his party’s candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha and left the MVA questioning its strategy.NCP state president Jayant Patil said, “We chose two senior candidates Ramraje Nimbalkar and Eknath Khadse. Their experience and knowledge will help the organisation. The party had to placate several in-house aspirants before giving approval to Khadse’s name.”A senior NCP leader told The Indian Express,  “We can speak on certain issues. It will be like a debate on certain policies or politics. But Khadse is unlimited. He has worked in BJP for four decades. So, he can attack BJP and Fadnavis uninhibited. In politics, after all, perception matters to a great extent.”After his candidature was announced, Khadse hit out at his former party colleague, saying, “Fadnavis was one who systematically worked to undermine my political career in the BJP. Even today, a large number of BJP leaders still sympathise with me. I have decided to move ahead.  I will work wholeheartedly for the NCP’s expansion in north Maharashtra. I am grateful to Sharad Pawar for reposing faith in me and giving me the opportunity to contest for the council seat.”Compared to the Congress, which needs eight additional votes to get its two candidates elected, the NCP needs just one from either its coalition partners or from the small parties and Independents backing the MVA. Sources said Khadse had started contacting certain disgruntled BJP MLAs close to him and was banking on support from the Other Backward Class (OBC) community. “In the Rajya Sabha polls, the Shiv Sena lost one seat because we were careless. We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to remain alert,” he said.According to NCP insiders, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is trying his level best to get Khadse elected. After Congress leaders approached him for help, Pawar is also trying to get the party the additional votes it requires and is holding talks with small parties and Independents who support the MVA.Though the BJP has claimed that it is not targeting any party or individual, with Fadnavis saying that the party was concentrating only on the victory of all five of its candidates, a senior party functionary told The Indian Express,  “We would like to make the election difficult for Khadse.”The BJP is said to be trying to exploit discontent within the Shiv Sena and the NCP in north Maharashtra to turn the tables against Khadse who is trying to reach out to MLAs in his former party with whom he has had a long association.But some in the Opposition party are not worried, pointing out how Khadse had failed to get his daughter Rohini Khadse-Khewalkar elected from his home constituency in the 2019 Assembly polls. They also claimed that he had failed to bring over a large number of his supporters to the NCP. Khadse’s daughter-in-law is two-time Raver MP Raksha Khadse who is still in the BJP.

Out to prove a point to Fadnavis, Eknath Khadse readies for MLC polls
Your Daily Wrap: Centre announces 10% quota for Agniveers, Farooq turns down offer to be Oppn’s presidential candidate; and more
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

◾ Taking yet another step to quell the growing anger among Armed Forces aspirants against the new Agnipath recruitment policy, Home Minister Amit Shah today announced that there will be a ten per cent quota in the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles across the country for the Agniveers. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the three services. There was no official statement about the meeting. However, the Defence Ministry too announced 10 per cent reservation in jobs in the ministry and in the Defence Public Sector Undertakings for Agniveers.◾ As the protests intensified, several Opposition parties as well as the BJP’s biggest ally, the JD(U), has been vocal in its reservations about Agnipath. Congress president Sonia Gandhi termed the scheme “completely directionless”, and appealed to people to engage in peaceful protests. However, the ruling BJP has defended the scheme, urging students not to be “deceived”.  In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP’s national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan denied rollback of the plan, saying it came up after due consultation with all stakeholders.◾ Ahead of the Presidential elections next month, the Opposition parties are trying to zero in on a consensus candidate for the polls, but without success so far. After Sharad Pawar, National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has declined to be the joint Opposition’s presidential candidate, saying that the Union Territory needs him to “help navigate these uncertain times”. Abdullah said he was “very grateful to Mamata didi (Mamata Banerjee) for proposing my name,” but “I have a lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of J&K and the country.”◾ In the world of crypto, Bitcoin dropped below $20,000 on Saturday to its lowest level in 18 months, extending its slide as investors pull back from riskier assets amid rising interest rates. As the cryptocurrency market is plunging to a new low every day and countries are trying different approaches to regulate digital assets, know how crypto tax works in India and countries across the world, in this week’s ‘Crypto Knight’ column.◾ India’s experimentations with fertility control programmes dates back to the period preceding its Independence. In fact, it was one of the first countries to introduce an official programme of birth control intended to reduce the rate of population growth, but to this day the relative population size and fertility rates remain a contentious issue in electoral politics. In July 2019, a Population Regulation Bill, proposing to introduce a two-child policy per couple, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Bill was withdrawn earlier this year following intervention by the Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya. So does India need a population policy? Experts discuss in this week’s #ExpressResearch.◾ Weekend is here and so are the movie reviews! This week we review Shilpa Shetty’s comeback film Nikamma, Chris Evans’ Lightyear, Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, and Sai Pallavi’s Virata Parvam.Political Pulse◾ For the June 23 Rampur Lok Sabha bypoll, the BJP is banking on the Yogi Adityanath government’s policies and development work. But it faces an uphill battle in a constituency that is considered the bastion of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Though a former Congress MLA from Rampur is also backing the BJP candidate in the bypoll, which became necessary after Azam vacated the seat following his election to the UP Assembly in March, it may not be enough. Asad Rehman reports.◾ Days after the setback of the Rajya Sabha polls, when the BJP cocked a snook at the Shiv Sena by winning the crucial sixth seat, and with a couple of days left for the June 20 elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, the lack of coordination within the Maha Vikas Aghadi is all too evident with each party working separately to secure its vote bank. With the Sena and NCP set to get the numbers to see their candidates through, the fight is likely to boil down to the Congress and the BJP. Read Shubhangi Khapre’s report.Express Explained◾ The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Friday recommended that Ukraine be formally granted candidate status in the EU, the first step in the long journey to become a member state of the bloc. The announcement by EU President Ursula von der Leyen came a day after representatives of France, Germany, and Italy, the most powerful member states of the organisation, visited Kyiv for the first time, where they backed Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc. What happens with Ukraine’s application hereon? What is the process of joining the EU? Read here.◾ On many occasions during the trial, it seemed that Amber Heard, who lost the defence case against ex-spouse Johnny Depp’s defamation suit, was expected to be the perfect victim. When survivors open up about sexual assault or domestic violence, one of their biggest fears is that they would not live up to the expectations of “perfect victimhood”. It is a major reason why survivors do not come forward and seek legal help, and one of the biggest myths about sexual violence. What does the term mean? How does perfect victimhood affect survivors? Read here.Weekend Reads◾ Hues of Khurja: The heritage and changing trends of pottery in the ceramic city◾ In Chamor, Sheba Jose looks at the world through a child’s eyes◾ Each poem in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets is history recorded in a language of one’s own◾ Know Your City: How Pune’s Kayani Bakery became a heritage landmark of the city◾ Long Read: ‘I’m like, is my brain stupid? How did it just forget my periods’ICYMI: Here’s a list of best news reports, Opinion, Explained, and features from The Indian Express this week.◾ Express Investigation — Part 1: From Emergency to Gujarat riots, lessons of past deleted from textbooks of future◾ Under fire over Agnipath, BJP’s youth, unemployment headache◾ Explained: What are the ED and IT cases against Rahul and Sonia Gandhi?◾ Explained: Two years after Galwan clash, where India-China relations stand today◾ Prayagraj demolition falls foul of Allahabad HC order, says former CJ◾ Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Why Agnipath is not the reform the armed forces need◾ What the US Fed’s biggest rate hike in 28 years means for India and the global economy

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Express Investigation — Part 1: From Emergency to Gujarat riots, lessons of past deleted from textbooks of future
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

DELETING REFERENCES to the 2002 Gujarat riots, dropping passages that dealt with Emergency’s draconian impact on people and institutions, removing chapters on protests and social movements, including those spearheaded by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Dalit Panthers and Bharatiya Kisan Union. These are some of the most sweeping changes in social science school textbooks since the NDA government came to power in 2014.These changes result from a textbook “rationalisation” exercise undertaken by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) six months ago for all subjects. It comes ahead of the proposed revamp of the national school curriculum (National Curriculum Framework or NCF), which will see a further revision in NCERT textbooks.The Indian Express scrutinised 21 current history, political science and sociology textbooks for Classes 6 to 12 and matched their content with tables circulated within NCERT on the proposed changes. While the textbooks will not be reprinted due to shortage of time, the changes will be communicated to schools formally.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨This is the third textbook review since 2014. The first one took place in 2017, in which the NCERT made 1,334 changes, including additions, corrections and data updates, in 182 textbooks. The second review was initiated in 2019 at the then Education Minister Prakash Javadekar’s behest to reduce the burden on students.The official rationale for the latest exercise is to reduce curriculum load further to help students make a “speedy recovery” in learning, which has been hit by Covid disruptions.Consider some of the most glaring changes made to the content related to contemporary India:GUJARAT RIOTS🔴 References to the 2002 Gujarat riots have been dropped from two textbooks. First, two whole pages on the riots in the last chapter of the current Class 12 political science textbook titled ‘Politics in India Since Independence’ have been deleted. The first page carries a detailed paragraph that lays out the chronology of events — the train full of karsevaks set on fire followed by violence against Muslims — and refers to the National Human Rights Commission’s criticism of the Gujarat government for failing to control the violence. The deleted passage states: “Instances, like in Gujarat, alert us to the dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes. This poses a threat to democratic politics.”The second page (now deleted) carries a collage of three newspaper reports on the riots along with an excerpt of NHRC’s observation from its Annual Report of 2001-2002 on the Gujarat government’s handling of the riots. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous “raj dharma” remark in this section has also been removed: “My one message to the Chief Minister (of Gujarat) is that he should follow ‘raj dharma’. A ruler should not make any discrimination between his subjects on the basis of caste, creed and religion.” Vajpayee had said this at a press conference in Ahmedabad in March 2002 with Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat Chief Minister, sitting by his side.🔴 The second reference to the Gujarat riots has been deleted from the Class 12 sociology textbook ‘Indian Society’. NCERT has dropped a paragraph under the section titled ‘Communalism, Secularism and the Nation-State’ in Chapter 6 that describes how communalism drives people to “kill, rape, and loot members of other communities in order to redeem their pride, to protect their home turf”.The dropped passage states: “A commonly cited justification is to avenge the deaths or dishonour suffered by their co-religionists elsewhere or even in the distant past. No region has been wholly exempt from communal violence of one kind or another. Every religious community has faced this violence in greater or lesser degree, although the proportionate impact is far more traumatic for minority communities. To the extent that governments can be held responsible for communal riots, no government or ruling party can claim to be blameless in this regard. In fact, the two most traumatic contemporary instances of communal violence occurred under each of the major political parties. The anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 took place under a Congress regime. The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under the BJP government.”According to the Government’s reply tabled in the Parliament, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 were reported missing and 2,500 injured in the Gujarat riots of 2002.EMERGENCY🔴 The chapter on the Emergency in Class 12 political science textbook ‘Politics in India Since Independence’ has been reduced by five pages. The deleted content in the chapter titled ‘The Crisis of Democratic Order’ pertains to controversies surrounding the decision to impose an internal Emergency and the abuse of power and malpractices committed by the Indira Gandhi government during that time. It lists excesses such as the arrest of political workers, restrictions on the media, torture and custodial deaths, forced sterilisations and large-scale displacement of the poor. This section also mentions the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice J C Shah, set up by the Janata Party government in May 1977 to probe allegations of excesses by the Government during the Emergency.🔴 Reference to the draconian impact of the Emergency has also been deleted from Chapter 6 (‘The Challenges of Cultural Diversity’) of the Class 12 sociology textbook ‘Indian Society’. “The Indian people had a brief experience of authoritarian rule during the ‘Emergency’ enforced between June 1975 and January 1977. Parliament was suspended and new laws were made directly by the government. Civil liberties were revoked and a large number of politically active people were arrested and jailed without trial. Censorship was imposed on the media, and government officials could be dismissed without normal procedures. The government coerced lower level officials to implement its programmes and produce instant results. The most notorious was the forced sterilisation campaign in which large numbers died due to surgical complications. When elections were held unexpectedly in early 1977, the people voted overwhelmingly against the ruling Congress Party,” the now-deleted paragraph states.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox🔴 Another reference to curbs placed on all trade union activities during the Emergency has been deleted from Chapter 8 (‘Social Movements’) of the Class 12 sociology textbook ‘Social Change and Developing in India’. This reference was made in a section titled ‘Workers’ Movement’.PROTESTS & SOCIAL MOVEMENTS🔴 As many as three chapters detailing protests that turned into social movements in contemporary India have been dropped from political science textbooks across Classes 6 to 12. For instance, a chapter on the “rise of popular movements” has been dropped from the Class 12 textbook ‘Politics in India Since Independence’.This chapter traces the journey of the 1970s chipko movement in Uttarakhand, the growth of the Dalit Panthers in Maharashtra during the seventies, the agrarian struggles of the eighties, especially the one spearheaded by the Bharatiya Kisan Union. It also covers the anti-liquor movement of Andhra Pradesh, the famous Narmada Bachao Andolan that opposed the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river and its tributaries in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, and the movement for Right to Information.🔴 NCERT has also removed the chapter ‘Struggles for Equality’ from the Class 7 political science textbook that describes how the Tawa Matsya Sangh fought for the rights of displaced forest dwellers of Satpura forest of Madhya Pradesh.🔴 The third chapter on popular struggles has been deleted from the Class 10 political science textbook ‘Democratic Politics – II’. It looks at indirect ways of influencing politics through pressure groups and movements. Apart from the movement for democracy in Nepal and the protest against privatisation of water in Bolivia, the chapter also talks about the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the non-violent Kittiko-Hachchiko (pluck and plant) protest of Karnataka in 1987, the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation founded by Kanshi Ram and the National Alliance for Peoples’ Movements, which counts Medha Patkar as one of its founders.🔴 The only chapter on social movements in the sociology curriculum for Classes 11 and 12 has been considerably reduced. Among the several changes made in the chapter titled ‘Social Movements’ in the Class 12 textbook ‘Social Change and Development in India’ is the removal of an exercise box that asks students to discuss the recent farmers’ protests against the three farm laws passed by the Parliament.DEMOCRACY🔴 Four chapters about democracy and making of Indian democracy have been deleted on the ground that similar topics have been covered in political science textbooks of other classes. For instance, the chapter titled ‘Key Elements of a Democratic Government’ in the Class 6 political science book has been dropped. This is the first detailed introduction to the concept of democracy in middle school and talks about some of the critical elements that influence the working of a democratic government, including people’s participation, conflict resolution, equality and justice.The chapter ‘India After Independence’, which talks about the framing of the Constitution and making of linguistic states, has been removed from the Class 8 history textbook ‘Our Pasts III’ for the same reason.Also dropped are chapters on ‘Democracy and Diversity’ and ‘Challenges to Democracy’ from the Class 10 political science textbook. While the first introduces students to the concept of social divisions and inequalities along the lines of race and caste across the world, the latter talks about reforming democratic politics. These two chapters were first removed from the CBSE curriculum in April, and now it has been permanently dropped from the NCERT textbook.‘NCERT decision’🔴 Asked about the decision-making process behind these deletions, NCERT director Dinesh Prasad Saklani said: “The entire (textbook rationalisation) exercise was completed before I took charge. So I cannot comment on the nitty gritty of it.”Saklani was appointed in February this year. His predecessor Sridhar Srivastava said: “This is an NCERT decision and it’s now in the public domain. That’s all I have to say.”JAWAHARLAl NEHRU🔴 Former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s quote on Emperor Ashoka deleted from the Chapter ‘Ashoka, The Emperor Who Gave Up War’ in the Class 6 History textbook. The deleted quote states: “His edicts (instructions) still speak to us in a language we can understand and we can still learn much from them.”🔴 Nehru’s remarks on the Bhakra Nangal Dam dropped from the Chapter ‘Structural Change’ in the Class 12 sociology textbook (Social Change and Development in India). “Our engineers tell us that probably nowhere else in the world is there a dam as high as this. The work bristles with difficulties and complications. As I walked around the site I thought that these days the biggest temple and mosques and gurdwara is the place where man works for the good of mankind. Which place can be greater than this, this Bhakra Nangal, where thousands and lakhs of men have worked, have shed their blood and sweat and laid down their lives as well?”SEDITION🔴 A section describing the arbitrariness of colonial law through the example of sedition and how Indian nationalists played a role in developing a legal sphere in India is no longer part of a Chapter ‘Understanding Laws’ in the Class 8 political science book. This deleted section also carries the following exercise for students: “State one reason why you think the Sedition Act of 1870 was arbitrary? In what ways does the Sedition Act of 1870 contradict the rule of law?”NAXALISM🔴 Almost all references to Naxalism and the Naxalite movement have been deleted from social science textbooks. A full page on the peasant uprising of 1967 along with a box on the Naxalite ideologue Charu Majumdar now stands dropped from Chapter 6 titled ‘Crisis of Democratic Order’ of the Class 12 political science textbook ‘Politics in India Since Independence’.🔴 The mention of Naxalite movement has been removed from a section on “Peasants Movement” in Chapter 8 of the Class 12 sociology textbook ‘Social Change and Development in India’.🔴 An imaginary narrative titled ‘A Moral Force in Politics’, inspired by socialist leader Kishan Patnaik, removed from a chapter in the Class 10 political science book. In the narrative, four fictional women, who are members of the people’s movement, debate Kishen ji’s advice to decide whether they should form a political party.Two years ago, this page had drawn flak from the Nagpur-based anti-naxal organisation Bhumkal Sanghatan, mistaking Kishen Patnaik for the Maoist leader Kishenji, who was killed in an encounter in 2011. Bhumkal Sanghatan’s criticism had prompted former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Raman Singh to demand its removal from the textbook forcing NCERT to clarify that the story was referring to Kishan Patnaik and not Kishen ji.The latest review of school textbooks started late last year. On December 15, the then NCERT director Sridhar Srivastava wrote to heads of all concerned departments asking them to initiate a textbook review by involving internal and external experts.Srivastava made a case for the review citing the pandemic: “Though we are in the process of making our National Curriculum Frameworks, the development of new textbooks may take some time to come out. But in view of giving children the opportunity for speedy recovery in their learning continuum, NCERT needs to take a step towards rationalisation of its syllabi and textbooks for the next year across the stages. We have somewhat rationalised the textbooks at the primary stage for the next year. Given its continuity with higher stages, this exercise needs to be done in every subject area and for all the classes from VI to XII also.”The guiding principle for the rationalisation exercise is overlapping content in the same class or other classes, difficulty level, content that can be covered through self-learning and irrelevant or outdated content. Internal subject experts have conducted the rationalisation exercise with the help of external experts, but NCERT hasn’t disclosed names of those involved from outside.

Express Investigation — Part 1: From Emergency to Gujarat riots, lessons of past deleted from textbooks of future
The shadow of dynasty
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

India emerged as a multi-party democracy because the creators of our Constitution wanted to ensure that in a large and diverse country such as ours, every citizen gets an equal chance in governance. The basic tenet of our Constitution and democracy is to empower the poorest of the poor so that they can also reach the highest public office.However, from the very beginning, the foundations of our multi-party system were shaky. There are two main reasons for this aberration. One, the politicisation of the Indian National Congress, primarily formed to steer our freedom movement, led to the total control of one dynasty over the party. Second, the betrayal by the Congress governments of the people in states where it formed its government and its total apathy towards regional aspirations.The latter led to the growth of state-based political outfits, which were primarily offshoots of the Congress or were led by regional satraps. Unfortunately, all these parties were overtaken by political stalwarts who drew lines of succession from within their families. Internal democracy was completely stifled within these political outfits. A trend that the Congress started in Indian politics was ruthlessly adopted by these state-based dynasts.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly warned the nation, which is so diverse socially and culturally, is being weakened due to dynasty politics. The time has come to fight this evil. We must push for more representation and participation of the people in democratic processes. The need of the hour is to bring more youngsters from diverse backgrounds into politics.In the past four-five decades, family-based parties have choked talent and created roadblocks to the development of states. Dynasty-based political parties have neither ideology nor vision. Their only goal has been to grab power and cling to it. This resulted in these parties playing the politics of vote-banks and appeasement. The Congress adopted the same strategy at the Centre. Today, the Congress is no longer a national party. It has been reduced to the party of a brother-sister duo.So engrossed were these parties in serving the interests of their kith and kin that they completely ignored “overall development” and “holistic growth”. They shunned all those sections of our society that needed their attention — villagers and farmers, Dalits and backward classes, women and youth. Under dynastic rule, the dangerous and negative politics of appeasement flourished which led to the poor getting poorer while the oppressed were reduced to second-class citizens.It is due to the political idiosyncrasies of family-based parties that India could not resolve perennial issues like the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, freedom of Muslim women from triple talaq, and the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. The root cause of these nagging problems was the politics of appeasement and vote-banks furthered by dynasty-based parties.These parties opposed the bills to scrap Article 370 and triple talaq. They also played with India’s safety and security, first by weakening India’s response to terrorism when they were in power and later by questioning the valour of our armed forces post the cross-border surgical and air strikes.Dynasts are not concerned with the problems of the country and society. They care only about their vote banks and the “growth” of their “family”. It is for this reason that three-fourths of our population had no bank account even after 70 years of Independence, poor women had no access to LPG cylinders, the poor had no health insurance, farmers were fleeced by moneylenders, crores of households had no water and electricity and the poor had no homes.The common man had deep anger and mistrust over the politics of dynasty, vote-bank and appeasement. His anger started coming out in 2014 when he saw in Narendra Modi a hope for the nation and himself. He has seen the nation and its politics changing fast. He has seen banks going to the doorstep of the poor, the poor getting houses, free medical insurance and free rations during Covid, and farmers getting much-needed financial aid directly into their bank accounts.Post-2014, India has seen two leaders from very humble backgrounds becoming President and PM. This is the New India about which the world is talking today. India has reclaimed its position as a true global leader.There is a disturbing trend today as every decision of the government is being seen through the prisms of regionalism and communalism. People are also wary of the increasing number of family-based parties. The nation needs broad-based political reforms for our democracy to thrive.PM Modi has talked about overhauling our electoral system. We need to think seriously about it. A commission on political reforms suggested a reduction in the number of political parties and their reorganisation based on ideology. But though there has been no movement in this direction, it’s heartening that the electorate has rejected parties dominated by dynasts. The recent election results in five states is the latest indicator of this trend.A healthy and vibrant democracy can grow on the strength of nationalist parties. The BJP has been persistently fighting family-based political outfits. Under the dynamic leadership of PM Modi, we have been able to fight the politics of casteism, dynasty, nepotism and appeasement. The struggle to rid the nation of dynasty politics is long and hard. Its effect must be felt in all parts of the country — from Maharashtra to Telangana, from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand to Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu.The writer is an MP and BJP’s National Media Head

The shadow of dynasty
Aaditya in Ayodhya: ‘Here as a devotee of Ram, not for politics’
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

On his maiden visit to Ayodhya after becoming a minister in the Maharashtra government, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday said his visit should not be linked to politics as he had come to seek Lord Ram’s blessings.Expressing his wish to establish “Ram Rajya in order to serve people better”, the 32-year-old son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said his party has been associated with Ayodhya and Ram Temple movement with Shri Ram being in their hearts. “Ayodhya is the centre of faith in India. In 2018, we gave this slogan — first temple, then government. After Shiv Sena’s slogan, the way for the construction of the temple was cleared. Now, the Ram temple is being built on the orders of the Supreme Court… We are connected to this place, its people here, and Bhagwan Shri Ram is in our hearts… We have to establish Ram Rajya so that we could serve people better,” he said.“Our visit (to Ayodhya) is not related to any election. Also, it is not a political matter. For us, it is a matter of faith,” Thackeray, who was accompanied by party leaders Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde told mediapersons, before heading to Hanumangarhi to offer puja.The Thackeray scion’s visit to the temple town assumes significance as ally-turned-rival BJP has been accusing Shiv Sena of abandoning the Hindutva cause by joining hands with theCongress and NCP to form the government in Maharashtra. Also, Aaditya Thackeray’s visit comes days after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief and his uncle, Raj Thackeray, cancelled his Ayodhya trip, citing health reasons. The MNS chief has also been accusing the Sena of abandoning the Hindutva cause.With the BJP taking credit for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Aaditya said, “We (Shiv Sena) had demanded for a special law to build Ram temple but it did not happen in the Parliament. But after the Supreme Court’s decision, the temple is currently being built. We are happy and will take it ahead.”During his 2018 visit to Ayodhya, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had taken on the Narendra Modi government over the delay in building Ram temple at the disputed site and sought a legislation or ordinance to build the temple.Aaditya Thackeray, meanwhile, said that there was “absolute clarity” in Shiv Sena’s Hindutva. Reciting a chaupai, Thackeray said that whatever promises his party makes in the elections, it meets them.Refusing to comment on Shiv Sena’s stand on the ongoing legal proceedings in Gyanvapi and Mathura temple cases, Aaditya said rejected reports that a section of priests in Ayodhya were opposed to his visit. “All the saints, priests and public of Ayodhya welcomed me. I’m visiting Ayodhya as a devotee and not for politics,” he said.On the Enforcement Directorate questioning Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Aaditya said, “All the central agencies have become prachar sahitya (advertisement literature).”Later, Aaditya Thackeray held a meeting with party functionaries and took part in an ‘aarti’ on the banks of the Sarayu river. He arrived in Lucknow at around 11 am from where he reached Ayodhya by road. According to party officials, over 1,000 Shiv Sainiks reached the temple town during his visit.

Aaditya in Ayodhya: ‘Here as a devotee of Ram, not for politics’
  • "Not Political": Shiv Sena Leader Aaditya Thackeray On Ayodhya Visit
  • Ndtv

    Aaditya Thackeray said: "We will pray to Lord Rama to give us the strength to serve the people better".Ayodhya: Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who on Wednesday paid a visit to Ayodhya, said his arrival at the temple town is not associated with politics but he went there to seek the blessings of Lord Ram.Aaditya Thackeray, who tried to stay clear of politics, however said that central agencies have turned into an advertisement literature. He was responding to a question on the Enforcement Directorate quizzing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.His visit comes at a time when the BJP, Shiv Sena's former ally, has been questioning the party's commitment to Hindutva. Earlier, head of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray had announced his visit to Ayodhya on June 5, but cancelled it later."My visit to Ayodhya is no politics. I have come here to seek the blessings of Lord Ram," Thackeray told the media."Ayodhya is the centre of faith in India. In 2018, we gave this slogan - first temple, then government. After Shiv Sena's slogan, the way for the construction of the temple was cleared. Now, Ram temple is being built on the orders of the Supreme Court," he said."We will pray to Lord Rama to give us the strength to serve the people better," he said.Aaditya Thackeray said talks will be held with the Uttar Pradesh government to seek land in Ayodhya for establishing Maharashtra Sadan.On his first visit to Ayodhya, Aaditya Thackeray will also hold a meeting with party functionaries besides participating in an 'aarti' at the banks of River Sarayu later in the day.Aaditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, arrived in Lucknow at around 11 am from where he reached Ayodhya by road.According to party officials, over 1,000 Shiv Sainiks reached the temple town during Aaditya Thackeray's visit. Senior party leaders Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde had reached here on Tuesday to oversee the arrangements for Aaditya Thackeray's visit.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comHe refrained from making any comment on political developments. However, on persistent queries by the media about the Enforcement Directorate grilling Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Aaditya Thackeray said, "All the central agencies have become prachar sahitya (advertisement literature)."(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

  • Aaditya Thackeray hits Ayodhya trail as Sena revs up BMC poll campaign
  • The Indian Express

    Aaditya Thackeray’s Wednesday visit to Ayodhya to offer prayers at the Ram Temple is principally meant to convey a political message to the Shiv Sena leaders and its rank and file in the run-up to the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls.Aaditya, the 31-year-old son of the Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, is the state environment, tourism and protocol minister as well as the chief of Yuva Sena, the party’s youth wing.There seems to be a two-fold political objective behind Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit. First, it clearly signals that he is going to spearhead the Sena’s campaign in the upcoming BMC polls. The electoral fight for the country’s richest civic body with a budget of over Rs 40,000 crore, BMC, which the Sena has been ruling for many years, will be a litmus test for the ruling party.Secondly, besides seeking to showcase the Sena’s Hindutva credentials, the party leadership has taken a decision to move beyond its “Marathi Manoos” agenda within Maharashtra to reach out to North Indians, who make up about 20 per cent population of Mumbai.Officially, however, the Sena has been trying to downplay the politics behind Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit, maintaining that the “sole objective of his day-long visit to the temple town is religious”.The Sena’s rival, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), headed by Uddhav’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, however asks “if Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit is not political why are Sena leaders hurling barbs and taunts at Raj”. MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said, “Why are they (Sena) saying it requires courage to visit Ayodhya. And they are not backtracking from such remarks. If their purpose was religious it should have ended on a religious note.”The Sena finalised Aaditya’s Ayodhya tour after Raj announced his decision to visit Ayodhya’s Ram Temple on June 5. The Sena scheduled Aaditya’s trip to Ayodhya for June 10, which was later rescheduled for June 15.रामनगर अयोध्या से ढेर सारा आशीर्वाद मिला और कुछ अविस्मरणीय यादें मिली। आशा है कि बांके बिहारी जी मुझे जल्द ही वापस बुलाएँगे। हरे कृष्ण! 🙏 @india_iskcon pic.twitter.com/LZxID29Gpr— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) June 15, 2022Subsequently, Raj, however, cancelled his Ayodhya visit on the ground that he would need a break for his medical treatment. This came days after the BJP’s UP strongman and MP, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, threatened to stop him from entering Ayodhya, demanding that the MNS chief should first tender an unconditional apology for his remarks and his workers’ alleged atrocities against North Indians in the past.Raj’s recent bids to raise his pitch on Hindutva, seeking a ban on the use of loudspeakers for azaan at mosques, followed by announcement of his Ayodhya trip, led to alarm bells ringing in the Sena. Encouraged by the BJP, the MNS has been making attempts to emerge as an alternative to the Sena, as they have attacked the latter for having gone “soft” on Hindutva after joining hands with the NCP and the Congress for formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the sate.The Sena leadership clearly planned Aaditya’s Ayodhya tour to reaffirm the party’s Hindutva credentials and counter Raj’s Hindutva drive. Ahead of the BMC polls, it thereby sought to woo North Indians too, whose vote it considers to be critical in its bid to clinch it again.Going after the MNS, the Sena had recently also put up posters across Maharashtra to point to a “distinction between the Sena’s real Hindutva and MNS’s fake Hindutva”.Senior Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who had led a team of party leaders to Ayodhya earlier to oversee arrangements for Aaditya’s visit, has sought to brush aside the politics behind it, saying “Our faith in Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya is unquestionable. It is a religious tour. Don’t read politics in it.”A senior Sena minister said, “Our core agendas remain unchanged. But when you are in government, priorities change. We are bound by a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) mutually agreed by the three MVA partners,” pointing out that any attempt to deviate from the CMP would cause trouble to their coalition government.The Sena has also been seeking to highlight its role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of a temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. Last month, Uddhav Thackeray had taken potshots at the senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, over the latter’s claims that he was also part of the Ayodhya movement.Fadnavis, however, again projected his role in the Ayodhya movement at a conclave of North Indians in Mumbai later.On its part, the Sena plans to use the images of Aaditya worshipping at the under-construction Ram Temple and taking part in various rituals at the Sarayu river to sharpen its Hindutva pitch and boost its outreach to the people hailing from the Hindi heartland.Seizing on the Aaditya’s tour, the Sena members have been harping on the point that “We showed courage in visiting Ayodhya”.Hitting back, Deshpande asked, “What is so courageous about the Ayodhya visit?” He also alleged that the Sena along with the NCP had plotted to thwart Raj’s Ayodhya trip with the help of Brij Bhusan Sharan Singh.Ayodhya is not a new destination for Aaditya. He had earlier visited the temple town along with his father in November 2018 and March 2020. In November 2018, the Sena chief visited Ayodhya to reiterate the party’s commitment to the Ram Temple. Months after becoming the CM, in March 2020, Uddhav again visited Ayodhya, when he offered prayers and donated Rs one crore for construction of the temple.

  • Aaditya Thackeray's Ayodhya Visit: Message From Sena To Rivals And Ranks
  • Ndtv

    The event is being seen as a passing of the baton to Aaditya ThackerayMumbai: Maharashtra Cabinet Minister and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya will be in Ayodhya today, where he will address a press conference.Aaditya Thackeray will offer prayers at the Ram temple in Ayodhya at 5:30 this evening. Later he will also perform the Saryu Aarti following which he will return to Lucknow and head back to Mumbai. Mr Thackeray will also visit the Hanuman Garhi temple and Laxman Killa in Ayodhya.Aaditya Thackeray's Ayodhya visit assumes significance as it is the first solo visit of the 32-year-old whom the Shiv Sena projects as its future leader.The event is being seen as a passing of the baton to Aaditya Thackeray who was brought into politics by Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. Earlier, Aaditya had visited Ayodhya along with his father Uddhav Thackeray.The Shiv Sena has made this event a show of strength with several top leaders in Ayodhya drumming up support for him. Top Sena leaders like Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde have been in Ayodhya since yesterday.The Sena, which has been accused of moving away from Hindutva by the BJP, has hit back saying the BJP's Hindutva is fake. Mr Thackeray's visit to Ayodhya is being interpreted as the Shiv Sena's commitment to the Hindutva ideology as it accuses the BJP of double standards and using proxies like Raj Thackeray to target it.The announcement for this trip was made around the same time when Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray proclaimed that he would visit Ayodhya amidst the Hanuman Chalisa and Azaan row in Maharashtra. Later, Raj Thackeray's trip was cancelled on 'health grounds' amidst opposition from Brijbhushan Singh, a BJP MP who had demanded an apology from Raj Thackeray for targeting migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, Brijbhushan Singh has welcomed Aaditya Thackeray to Ayodhya.The Shiv Sena has arranged two trains from Mumbai for party members to travel to Ayodhya. About 8,000 Shiv Sainiks are expected to be in Ayodhya from Mumbai and Thane alone.Maharashtra over the past few months has seen a bitter battle over 'Hindutva' politics resulting in several parties announcing trips to Ayodhya.While the BJP has been targeting the Sena for dumping it and stitching together an alliance with ideological oppositesNationalist Congress Party and Congress, Raj Thackeray has also jumped onto the 'Hindutva' bandwagon with an aim to cut into the Sena's votes.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comRaj Thackeray has emulated the style of Bal Thackeray in terms of speech for many years, but recently in his public rallies, he also emulated the Sena patriarch's attire.Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has hit back at Raj Thackeray using a Bollywood reference. "Sanjay Dutt started seeing Gandhi and started doing Gandhigiri, today there is a fellow in Maharashtra who sees Balasaheb and thinks he is Balasaheb by wearing a shawl," said Mr Thackeray.

  • Aaditya Thackeray’s first solo visit to Ayodhya today, show of strength by Sena workers on the cards
  • The Indian Express

    Shiv Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. This will be his first solo visit to Ayodhya.Earlier, Aaditya had visited Ayodhya along with his father, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. This will be the first time he will be leading a visit to Ayodhya and the party is expecting a large mobilisation of its cadre.Sena MP Sanjay Raut reached Ayodhya on Tuesday to prepare for Aaditya’s visit.A senior Sena functionary said, “Sena workers have already gathered in Ayodhya ahead of Thackeray’s visit and there is a lot of enthusiasm among the cadre for the visit. There will be a grand show of strength. Thousands of party workers from all over Maharashtra have reached Ayodhya by buses, trains and fights…”.The visit comes when the Shiv Sena is being targeted by Opposition BJP and MNS, who have accused the party of not following the ideology of Hindutva.Aaditya’s visit was announced days after MNS chief Raj Thackeray announced that he will visit the city on June 5. Raj Thackeray’s visit, however, was cancelled after Brijbhushan Singh, the BJP MP from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, opposed his visit and demanded an apology from him for allegedly humiliating North Indians in 2009.Earlier, Aaditya’s visit was scheduled on June 10, however, it was postponed due to the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra.As per the itinerary of Aaditya’s visit, besides visiting the Ram temple, he will hold a press conference and perform aarti at the banks of Sarayu river. He will also visit the Hanuman Garhi temple and Laxman Killa before culminating his one-day trip.

Welfare Party: ‘Floated for alternative politics’, whose leader Javed is at centre of Prayagraj row
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago

The Welfare Party of India, whose Central Working Committee member Mohammad Javed is at the centre of the demolition proceedings in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj, was launched in 2011 by a group of “like minded people for issue-based, welfare politics”.Since the arrest of its 54-year-old leader Javed last week for his alleged involvement in the Prayagraj violence, which erupted following protests against derogatory references made to the Prophet by ex-BJP spokespersons, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, the Welfare Party has come out in his support and has issued several statement denying allegations being faced by him and calling the police and administration’s action against him “illegal”.The party is headed by Qasim Rasool Ilyas, who is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and is the father of ex-JNU student leader Umar Khalid, who has been in judicial custody as an alleged accused in the 2020 Northeast Delhi riots.The party, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI) website, is listed among the “registered (unrecognised) parties”. As per the EC data, it contested two seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and got 23,035 votes. The party had then contested the Jangipur seat in West Bengal, where Ilyas got 1.32 per cent votes, and the Cooch Behar seat, where its candidate Dhananjoy Barman got 1,733 votes.In the 2014 polls, the party had fielded its candidate Monirul Islam against former President and Congress veteran late Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee, but Islam could just manage to get 9,476 votes.Speaking to The Indian Express, Ilyas, the party’s national president, said it was floated as the need for “alternative politics in the country was felt”. “Before launching the party, a group of civil society members conducted a tour of several states like Maharashtra, Karanataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand. During the visits, we looked for like-minded people, who sought value-based politics, equitable distribution of resources, welfare state, inclusive democracy… We had received a good response and several prominent leaders and activists joined us,” he said.Ilyas said the party was founded on May 18, 2011, in New Delhi and a couple of months later, the party was registered with the ECI. Regarding the party’s role in elections, he claimed, “Since its formation, we have participated in all elections, directly or indirectly. We have fought state, parliamentary, and local body polls. Though, we have not won any state or Lok Sabha seat, our party has done well in them.”The party has, however, won a number of seats in local body polls in several states including Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and West Bengal, he said.Ilyas also said that in the recent UP Assembly polls, Javed was preparing to contest from the Chail constituency in Kaushambi district but did not following talks with the SP, which fielded its own candidate there.“We had a tie-up with the SP and had supported them unilaterally in the Assembly polls. We also met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav several times,” said Ilyas.The Chail constituency is situated around 15 km from Prayagraj’s Kareli area, where Javed’s demolished house is located.A senior SP leader, however, said that there was no alliance between the SP and the Welfare Party. “There may have been meetings with them, but there was no alliance. We had several small allies for the recent polls, but they were all announced officially. If Welfare Party wasn’t, then it means they weren’t our allies. There may have been an understanding, but you can’t call that an alliance,” the leader said.Days after Ilyas met Akhilesh in August 2021, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while addressing the BJP’s Samajik Pratinidhi Sammelan, said, “Opposition parties can go to any extent. You must have seen who recently came to meet a party: Umar Khalid’s father, who says Bharat tere tukde honge.”SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary then said, “He (Adityanath) is raising such issues to polarise the upcoming elections on communal lines. Everybody knows that as elections near, the BJP tries to polarise the society.” Choudhary also said he was not aware of a meeting between Akhilesh and Ilyas. “The SP is a socialist and democratic party. Any person and organisation is free to meet and extend its support,” he said.

Welfare Party: ‘Floated for alternative politics’, whose leader Javed is at centre of Prayagraj row