The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 05:45 am
Apart from the growing dissatisfaction over Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership, a key strand in the political drama that is playing out in Maharashtra is the years-long friendship cutting across party lines between Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde and BJP’s former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that since 2015, the two have moved from being just Cabinet colleagues to close friends. So much so, the sources said, that “in 2019, had the Shiv Sena and BJP contested the assembly elections separately, Shinde would have been BJP’s candidate from Thane constituency.”Explaining that remark, sources said Shinde was on a BJP list of probable candidates to be tapped from the Sena before the elections. But then, unlike in 2014, the Sena and BJP decided to contest the elections as alliance partners in 2019. “As a result, Shinde remained and contested from the Sena,” sources said.This time, with Shinde set to form a separate political group, one of the options before the BJP is to give him the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, a plum portfolio and share of power. “The party can also hand over the reins of Thane district entirely to Shinde, something which is close to his heart,” sources said.Among the several factors that led to Shinde’s differences with the Sena leadership was the party’s reluctance to give him a “free hand in decision making in Thane”. The BJP, which is on weak turf in Thane, will look to exploit Shinde’s hold to consolidate its position in the civic polls in Mumbai’s neighbouring district, sources said.In the previous government, Fadnavis was ready to give Shinde greater responsibilities in administration while publicly acknowledging his work.When contacted, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said: “Whether in ruling or opposition, the BJP has always respected leaders on merit. We are a political party and will certainly encash the differences within the Sena.”Unlike half-a-dozen Sena, Congress and NCP leaders, who are facing investigations by Central agencies for various corruption charges, Shinde has never faced any such threat. On the contrary, he is known for his “low-profile behaviour” and “friendly nature”.Said a close aide of Shinde: “In 2014, when the Sena was initially in the Opposition, Shinde was made Opposition leader. But when the Sena joined the government, Shinde was made Minister for the Public Works Department. He deserved a better portfolio, which was not considered by Thackeray.”BJP sources said that if Thackeray had bargained hard at the time, the party could have considered making Shinde the Deputy CM. “But Sena did not press, maybe because it did not want to politically empower Shinde fearing it would amount to a parallel power centre,” said sources.Five years later, after Thackeray parted ways with the BJP, a number of MLAs were hoping that Shinde would become the Chief Minister, with several banners carrying that message coming up in Thane. “But Thackeray took charge as CM and gave the important Urban Development portfolio to Shinde as compensation,” said sources.According to sources, the BJP had sensed between 2014 and 2019 that Shinde had higher political aspirations and was feeling stifled in the Sena. In 2015, when Fadnavis announced the Rs 12,000-crore Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway, he chose Shinde to implement his pet project.“The BJP’s role in Shinde’s revolt cannot be quantified,” said a BJP general secretary. “It happened because Shinde wished it and had the support within Sena to strike against Thackeray. We (BJP) can take the credit for our ability to build confidence in Shinde. It is not always power, post or money that work. Mass leaders like Shinde look for dignity and respect, which Fadnavis has always given.”What remains unsaid is Shinde’s hope of securing the political future of his son Shrikant Shinde, the Sena’s Lok Sabha MP from Kalyan. At this phase of the political crisis, sources refused to rule out the possibility of Shrikant getting a berth in the Centre.
A DAY after reporting 2,369 new Covid-19 cases, the state recorded 3,482 cases on Tuesday with a surge of 47 per cent in the last 24 hours. Also, for the third consecutive day, five Covid fatalities were also recorded in Maharashtra.Out of the total numbers, Mumbai reported 1,290 cases. The test positivity rate (TPR) — the number of positive cases out of the total tests conducted — stood at 11.70 per cent in the city with 11,012 tests conducted on Tuesday.With the upward spiral of Covid cases, the total active cases in Maharashtra stood at 25,481 as of June 28. Out of the five deaths reported in the state on the day, two were from Mumbai. A 75-year-old male patient who succumbed to the infection had comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and dementia. The other deceased, a 54-year-old female, also had comorbidities such as liver failure along with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Other than that, one death has been reported each from Vasai-Virar, Satara and Gadchiroli.As per the latest genome sequencing report of National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, nine patients have been diagnosed with BA.5 and BA.4–the new variant of Omicron. Of these, four are from Palghar, three from Raigad, and two from Thane. This takes the total identified cases of BA.4 and BA.5 to 63 in the state.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday made an emotional appeal to rebel MLAs of Shiv Sena, who are camping in Guwahati, to return to the party and have a dialogue with him to sort out issues. He also said that he was “worried” about them. This came on a day when Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde said that the rebel MLAs will soon return to Mumbai and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis visited Delhi to meet party president J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.In his appeal to the rebels, Thackeray said, “You have been stuck in Guwahati for the last few days. Every day, new information is coming forth about you and many of you are in touch with us. You are still in Shiv Sena in your heart. The family members of some of you have also contacted me and conveyed their feelings to me. I respect your feelings as the head of Shiv Sena family. As the head of the family, I tell you from the bottom of my heart, there is still time.”The appeal came a day after the Supreme Court issued an interim order giving relief to the rebel camp after 16 of its MLAs were issued disqualification notices by the deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly.Addressing the rebels, Thackeray asked them to come and sit in front of him. “… Don’t fall prey to anyone’s missteps and false assurances.”After Thackeray’s appeal, Shinde took to Twitter and said, “On one hand, your son and spokesperson are calling Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainiks as pigs, dirt, buffalo, dogs, illiterate and corpses, abusing our fathers, and on the other hand you are calling the same MLAs to save the anti-Hindu MVA government. What is the meaning of this?”Thackeray’s appeal did not seem to have any impact on the rebel MLAs. Deepak Kesarkar, a rebel MLA told The Indian Express that the appeal does not make any sense now. “We have already presented our side to the CM and today also, we are firm on our demand that first they should come out of the MVA… after that we will come for discussion. We respect them (Thackeray) but first they should come out of MVA, then call us for discussion and we will come.”Bharat Gogawale, another MLA and the chief whip appointed by the Shinde camp, added, “It is very late now… nothing can happen.” He further said that Sena MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut’s statements have ruined everything. “He should know what to say in such a situation,” Gogawale said.The rebel MLAs also said that the Thackeray camp has not been consistent in its stand and approach towards them.In fact, contradictions can be seen in the statements issued by various Sena leaders in Mumbai over the last week. On June 24, Thackeray, while addressing party workers, had said that “those who have gone were never his and had betrayed him”.Over the last week, Aaditya and Raut had made several objectionable statements against the rebel MLAs. While Aaditya had referred to them as “dirt” and “traitors” in his address to Yuva Sena cadres on June 25, while addressing a rally on Sunday, Raut had called the rebels “dogs”, “buffaloes”, “thief” and “living corpse”.Also on June 26, Aaditya had said that the door of the party is closed for the rebel MLAs. A day before, hinting that the MLAs will have to face Mumbaikars and the Shiv Sainiks on their arrival.The MLAs in Guwahati, meanwhile, said that the leadership in Mumbai is not clear of what it wants and should take a clear stand. “You cannot have it both ways,” said a senior rebel MLA.
MUMBAI POLICE Commissioner Sanjay Pandey on Tuesday called legislators from the Shiv Sena and BJP to his office in order to discuss the law and order situation in the city in light of the current political turmoil in the state. Those who attended the meeting included BJP MLAs Mihir Kotecha, Parag Alavani and party corporator Atul Shah, among others. The Shiv Sena was represented by some of the party’s corporators.“We had been called by the Mumbai police commissioner to discuss the law andorder situation in the city keeping in mind the political turmoil. We all want peace in the city. What is happening within the Shiv Sena is their personal matter and we have nothing to do with it,” said Alavani.The Supreme Court, while hearing the pleas filed by the rebel Sena candidates earlier, had instructed the state government to ensure that there are no law and order problems in the city and the residences of rebel candidates are not attacked. Police have also conducted several meetings with Shiv Sena shakha pramukhs, asking them to maintain peace. Earlier, on Monday, a two-hour meeting was conducted by Mumbai Police, during which the top brass interacted with senior inspectors of local police stations, asking them to ensure that law and order was maintained in their jurisdictions.Soon after the rebellion in the Shiv Sena, offices of rebel MLAs such as Mangesh Kudalkar and Sada Sarvankar had been attacked and their posters had been blackened. Later, CRPF protection was provided to four Sena MLAs in the city.
The KC and HR College, which are now part of HSNC University, declared their first merit list on Tuesday, becoming the first Mumbai colleges to do so. The cut-off score in almost all courses has seen a considerable drop from that of last year. According to the colleges, this is a result of the beginning of admission process though CBSE and ISC results haven’t been declared. Most city colleges will declare their first merit list on Wednesday.For traditional commerce (B Com), which is the most sought-after course in HR College, the first merit list cut-off has dropped to 93.5 per cent from last year’s 97per cent. At KC college, the commerce cut-off has dropped from 96.2 per cent to 93 per cent. Similarly, in case of professional courses too, the cut-off has dropped by a few percentages.“This year, we have begun admissions without students from CBSE and ICSE boards, who generally have higher scores. As per regular trends, these scores would have been in our third merit list,” said HR College principal Dr Pooja Ramchandani, adding that this is phase I of the admissions and there will be a separate merit list once the remaining two boards declare their class 12 results.At HR as well as KC college, 30-40 per cent seats are kept reserved for students coming from these two boards.“We have taken the decision based on statistical record of admissions from the past few years,” said Dr Hemlata Bagla, Vice Chancellor, HSNC University, Mumbai, and principal, KC College. Dr Bagla also shared how there is no B Sc course merit list this year as most seats are filled with in-house admissions and for the remaining seats, admissions will be done after all the results are out.
Surat: Shiv Sena’s city unit president Arun Kalal, who was conspicuous by his absence during the hectic political activity when the rebels led by Eknath Shinde camped in Surat, surfaced on Monday and cited health issues for going incommunicado.“I was under treatment for a couple of surgeries. I had some major health issues for which surgeries were long pending. Hence, I was hospitalized for the past few days,” Kalal told TOI. Sources in the political circles claimed that attempts were made by Shiv Sena leadership in Mumbai and local leaders of other political parties to contact Kalal but he was unreachable since June 21. Some political groups were ready to help Shiv Sena in staging a protest against the rebel MLAs camping at a luxury hotel in the city. “We had tried to reach Kalal but he was not reachable. We tried to contact his other family members but they too were out of reach,” said a Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader. Ultimately, Shiv Sena had to contact their former party workers, who had recently joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to help MLA Nitin Deshmukh, who wanted to return to Mumbai. Though he could not help his party during the crisis Kalal claimed that he is loyal to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. “I have been working with Shiv Sena for the past 30 years and have organised a huge event in the city in the honour of Uddhavji. I will never go against the party,” said Kalal. Not only Kalal, the entire city unit of Shiv Sena was missing from the scene during the movement of rebel leaders.