The Economic Times | 5 days ago | 05-08-2022 | 12:50 pm
Police detained several Congress leaders outside the Vidhan Bhavan here on Friday to prevent them from staging a protest opposite the Raj Bhavan as part of the party's nationwide stir against the Centre over price rise, the GST hike on essential items and unemployment. State Congress president Nana Patole and former ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Varsha Gaikwad, Naseem Khan, Chandrakant Handore were among some of the leaders who were detained. Videos of the leaders being detained were circulated on social media. The Congress leaders said they had planned to carry out a protest march to the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the governor in south Mumbai, to protest against the Centre's policies. As per the plan announced on Thursday, the march was to begin from Hanging Garden and culminate at the Raj Bhavan around 11 am. A heavy deployment of police was put in place outside the Vidhan Bhavan, the state legislature complex, where Congress leaders held a meeting. However, the police personnel prevented them from proceeding to the Raj Bhavan, located a few kilometres away. Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat told the police that it was their right to stage an agitation over the issues concerning people, including rising inflation. "Even in the British rule, peaceful protests were allowed. But under the 'ED' government, even this is not possible," Thorat told them in an apparent reference to Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government in the state. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan said the Congress planned to hold a peaceful protest. A police officer told the Congress leaders that they can hold a protest at Azad Maidan. But the party leaders argued with the police, following which they were detained and taken to the Azad Maidan police station. Police said that notices had been sent to several Congress leaders in Mumbai, reminding them that prohibitory orders were in place, which prevents gathering of five or more people at one place.
Maharashtra MLA Abdul Sattar on Tuesday became only the second Muslim minister — after Danish Ansari in Uttar Pradesh — to be inducted into a BJP-led state government currently in power.Sattar was inducted into the Maharashtra Cabinet even though a day earlier the names of his two daughters appeared on a list of candidates debarred by the Maharashtra State Council of Exams for their alleged involvement in the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) scam. While many of his detractors felt Sattar might miss a ministerial berth because of the scandal, the Shiv Sena rebel’s presence in the Cabinet, sources said, was a sign of his political utility as the only Muslim face in the rebel Sena-BJP government. Also, his proximity to BJP leaders strengthened his chances.After his daughters’ names emerged, a resilient Sattar is said to have visited Shinde’s residence late in the night to remind him of his promise. Sattar was among the first Sena MLAs to join the incumbent CM’s faction when he rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray. The MLA’s perseverance paid off, with Shinde and Fadnavis deciding that it made far more political sense to face criticism over Sattar’s inclusion than to rub him the wrong way.Hailing from Sillod in Aurangabad district, Sattar cut his teeth in politics in the Congress, winning the gram panchayat elections in 1984. He became the Silllod Municipal Council president in 1994. Sattar first contested the Assembly elections in 1999 as an Independent from Sillod and lost. He later sidled up to senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan and was made a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 2001. Sattar’s political career suffered a setback when he lost the Sillod Assembly seat in 2004 by 301 votes. Three years later, he failed to retain his Legislative Council seat. He, however, made his first successful electoral foray in the Assembly by winning from Sillod in 2009.Though Sattar went on to retain his Assembly seat in the 2014 elections, his relationship with the Congress had started deteriorating. Known to be temperamental, Sattar was caught on tape assaulting a party worker. In 2016, he resigned as the party’s Aurangabad district president, alleging that senior leaders had failed to campaign for the party outside their own turf. He also alleged that Chavan, then the state Congress chief, and Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil were only concerned about their fiefs.In the run-up to the 2019 Assembly polls, Sattar was said to have been in advanced talks with the BJP leadership to join the party. With his allegedly communal and corrupt image coming in the way of his joining the party, Sattar joined the Shiv Sena, which was a BJP ally at the time. He went on to win the 2019 Assembly elections, becoming only the second Muslim leader after Sabir Shaikh to win on a Sena ticket. He then went on to become a minister of state in the Uddhav Thackeray-led administration.
As Nitish Kumar took oath as Bihar Chief Minister for the eighth time on Wednesday, the RJD by its side again, it is a moment for the BJP to ask itself some searching questions. The party’s coalition (mis)management has drawn unflattering attention lately. In Bihar, it is being speculated that Nitish Kumar decided to quit the NDA and resurrect the Mahagathbandhan because of apprehensions that the BJP might replicate the “Eknath Shinde model” that it used to topple the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra in Bihar — that is, lure a section of JD(U) MLAs to its side by offering office and then form a government with the rebels. Nitish’s Mahagathbandhan ally and new Deputy CM of Bihar, RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav, put it bluntly: “In the entire Hindi heartland, the BJP has no ally now. It is all because the BJP tries to finish its ally.”For now, the BJP can shrug off such criticism because the party has the numbers in Lok Sabha. But politics in India is a tricky and unpredictable terrain and the utility of coalitions to spread into newer territories cannot be discounted. In fact, in the past, the BJP had cast away the tag of “political untouchable” in the 1990s by reaching out to regional parties and accommodating their interests in alliances — Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to resign as prime minister in 1996 after he failed to win allies during his 13 days in office and the BJP learnt its lesson from that setback. The Congress, too, took the cue from the BJP-led NDA and formed the UPA in 2004, which stayed in office for a decade. Since 2014, the BJP under Narendra Modi has won simple majorities and consolidated its gains. But its rise has also been facilitated by long-standing allies such as the Akali Dal in Punjab and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, which opened up areas that had limited BJP presence. The NDA, with a large number of influential regional outfits such as Trinamool Congress, Dravidian parties, JD(U) and LJP, helped bolster the BJP’s pitch as it presented itself as the national alternative to a declining Congress. Now, after the realignment in Bihar, the BJP has no major regional party as an ally. The NDA has essentially been reduced to the BJP and a handful of parties in the Northeast — the split in Shiv Sena awaits closure in the Supreme Court and the AIADMK, a pale shadow of the party under J Jayalalithaa, leads the alliance in Tamil Nadu which allows the BJP to contest a few seats during elections.Increasingly, regional outfits seem wary of the BJP’s aggressive and ambitious expansion plans and fear that the latter could ignore the coalition dharma and even break or swallow smaller groups to further its political goals. In the long run, this perception can hurt the BJP. Also, in the foreseeable future, the party will need allies to grow in southern and eastern India, where regional parties still hold sway.
The Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government’s ministerial council expansion on Tuesday — both the inclusions and an exclusion — indicates the BJP and rebel Shiv Sena group’s plans to take on the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in its strongholds Mumbai and Aurangabad in the coming civic elections.A senior BJP functionary said the party’s focus was now on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election and on civic bodies in Sena strongholds such as Aurangabad, Thane, and Kalyan-Dombivli. With this in mind, the ruling coalition appointed leaders to the expanded council of ministers.Though many political observers were left surprised by the non-inclusion of former minister and Bandra (West) MLA Ashish Shelar, party insiders said it was part of the strategy to deploy his services for the coming BMC polls. In 2017, Shelar was the president of the BJP’s Mumbai unit. Under his leadership, the party put in a stellar performance by winning 82 of the 227 wards in the BMC, just two behind the Shiv Sena, its ally at the time. The Shiv Sena has been in power in the civic body since winning it for the first time in 1985. To keep the Sena happy back then, the BJP allowed its ally to keep control of the BMC and instead maintained greater control of the state government.After the Sena severed its ties with the BJP and joined with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Shelar positioned himself as a staunch anti-Thackeray leader and worked to corner the Sena over alleged financial irregularities in the BMC and its poor functioning. BJP functionaries said that the party’s central leadership, along with state leaders, had prepared a blueprint to take on the Sena in the next BMC polls and win more than 134 wards in the country’s richest civic body.The BJP has also eyes on the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation, which has been a Sena stronghold apart from the BMC and the Thane civic body. In the Cabinet, at least three new ministers are from the city. They are Atul Save (BJP), Abdul Sattar (Shinde group) and Sandipan Bhumare (Shinde faction). In Thane, which is the CM’s bastion, the ruling coalition expects to sail through as a majority of incumbent corporators have switched loyalties to the Shinde faction. The BJP, to consolidate its own base in the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation, has given a ministerial berth to Ravindra Chavan from Dombivli.With the induction of leaders such as Girish Mahajan, Gulabrao Patil, and Dadasaheb Bhuse into the ministerial council, the BJP is looking to secure its position in north Maharashtra where the NCP has been trying to make deeper inroads. The BJP expects the appointments to boost its efforts to wrest control of the Jalgaon civic body from the Shiv Sena and retain the Nashik Municipal Corporation.
Tata Power Wednesday announced it will be collaborating with real estate developer JP Infra Mumbai Pvt. Ltd for the installation of over 60 electric vehicle (EV) charging points all over JP Infra’s projects in Mumbai. Backed by the Maharashtra government, the initiative will enable end-to-end EV charging solutions.Providing a 24×7 charging provision, residents owning an EV will be able to monitor remote vehicle charging as well as have access to e-payment options via services laid out on the ‘Tata Power EZ Charge’ mobile app.A Tata Power’s spokesperson said, “We are spearheading the EV charging revolution in the country and making sustainable mobility attainable for lakhs of EV owners. We are scaling up our EV charging infrastructure in the state to contribute to the Maharashtra Govt’s aim of a rapid transition to green mobility. The collaboration with JP infra will provide a seamless charging experience to its residents and accelerate the adoption of EV vehicles.”Tata Power had previously tied-up with the National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) of Maharashtra to install up to 5,000 EV charging stations in the state.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday transferred to Delhi all the FIRs registered against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her remarks on Prophet Muhammed and clubbed them with the one registered in the national capital.They will now be investigated by Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit, which is investigating the Delhi case. The court also gave Sharma protection from arrest till the investigation is completed in the matter.“Since this court has already taken cognisance of a serious threat to the life and liberty of the petitioner, and specific instances in relation thereto have be been cited in our previous order dated July 19, 2022, besides those contained the additional affidavit filed by the petitioner today, we direct that all the FIRs…be transferred and clubbed for the purpose of investigation by Delhi Police,” a bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala ordered.In its order dated July 19, the court had already granted Sharma protection from arrest, but she pointed out in a fresh application that more FIRs were registered against her. Granting the relief, the court added that Delhi Police should ensure that the first FIR, registered in Maharashtra, and the one registered by the IFSO unit are investigated together by clubbing the other FIRs with them.Counsel for the West Bengal government requested the apex court to set up a special investigation team to inquire into the matter, but the court said, “Since IFSO of Delhi Police appears to be a specialised agency, it shall be appreciated if all the FIRs are investigated by the said unit”. “The IFSO as a specialised investigating agency shall be at liberty to collect…any information any if so required for the purpose of reaching to a logical conclusion,” it added.The bench also rejected West Bengal’s request that the investigation be monitored by the court.The court said its directions “shall also extend to any other FIR/complaint which may be registered/entertained against the petitioner…in respect to the same subject matter…and in that event, the investigation of the FIR or complaint to be registered in future shall also stand transferred to the IFSO unit of Delhi Police for the purpose of investigation”.Though Sharma had requested the FIRs to be quashed, the apex court said she could approach the Delhi High Court for the purpose.On July 1, while refusing to entertain her plea to club the FIRs registered against her in different states with the one in Delhi, the same Supreme Court bench came down heavily on the suspended BJP spokesperson, saying she had a “loose tongue” and was “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country”, including the murder of a tailor in Udaipur for allegedly sharing her remarks.