Maharashtra political crisis: Meet Fadnavis team of backroom boys

Times of India | 2 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 09:56 am

Maharashtra political crisis: Meet Fadnavis team of backroom boys

Amid ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, state BJP leaders are treading cautiously. While news channels have aired footage showing opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis’s associates Sanjay Kute and Mohit Kambhoj accompanying the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs in Surat and Guwahati, the state leadership has chosen to deny all involvement in providing support to the dissidents. BJP state president Chandrakant Patil said his party has "nothing to do" with what’s transpiring in the Sena. Observers said the wariness stems from past experience when overenthusiasm to form a government landed BJP in an embarrassing situation. However, the BJP leaders involved in the crisis are not wellknown faces one sees on TV or reads about in the newspapers. But the state BJP’s backroom team, working under leader of the opposition in the assembly Devendra Fadnavis, is crucial to the party’s attempts at maneuvering its way back to power in Maharashtra. Below are the team members of Fadnavis team. Girish Mahajan, 62, five-time MLA from Jamner consituency, Jalgaon districtHas emerged as Fadnavis’s closest ally. He aided the former CM in rival Eknath Khadse’s exit from BJP. Was involved in the planning and execution of Fadnavis’s early-morning swearing-in as CM, with NCP leader Ajit Pawar as deputy CM, in 2019. Right now, he is involved in negotiating with smaller parties and independents. Ashish Shelar, 49, 2-time MLA from Bandra (West)Known for his organisational skills. He was responsible for BJP’s success in the 2017 BMC elections. He is relied upon for inputs on political strategies, for conveying the party stand through press conferences, and for legal counsel. He was responsible for parleys with the Centre on the bail issue for NCP minister Nawab Malik and former minister Anil Deshmukh -- both were denied bail to cast votes for the recent Rajya Sabha and legislative council polls. Dr Sanjay Kute, 53, 2-time MLA from Jalgaon (Jamod)He is a backroom soldier and known Fadnavis loyalist, who diligently carries out tasks assigned to him. He is part of Fadnavis’s closed circle, but is not known to be among the strategists Ashish Kulkarni, 60, Vice-president, BJP's sate unitKulkarni is credited with devising the state BJP’s strategy in pulling off a win for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat. He began his career with Shiv Sena and was a known Narayan Rane loyalist. Following Rane, he switched to Congress in 2003, before ending up in BJP in 2017, which he joined before Rane. A number cruncher, he is relied upon for data-based analysis Prasad Lad, 51, 2-time MLC, MaharashtraHe’s an entrepreneur and money bag, with great contacts across the political spectrum. Is believed to have played a pivotal role in the short-lived Fadnavis-Pawar 2019 power pact. Was nominated as BJP’s fifth candidate for the legislative council elections, and Fadnavis ensured his win by splitting Sena wide open

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Maharashtra political crisis: Rebel MLAs cannot be disqualified for absence at party meetings as that’s outside assembly, say experts
Times of India | 5 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 08:31 am
Times of India
5 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 08:31 am

MUMBAI: The political drama unfolding in Maharashtra now has legal experts divided too on whether disqualification can be sought for the ‘rebels’ in the Shiv Sena. However, most are in agreement that the MLAs cannot be disqualified on grounds of not attending recent party meetings as that is outside the ambit of legislative affairs. The party’s petition to the deputy speaker seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs including rebel leader Eknath Shinde has sought to invoke para 2 (1) (a) of the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which governs ‘disqualification on grounds of defection’. A senior counsel from Delhi said the party may be relying on a 2019 Supreme Court judgment in a Karnataka case to argue that the actions of the MLAs would “portray defection.” The Sena plea is that at a “crucial time” during “political uncertainty” when the party needed to consolidate, meetings were called on June 21-22 and despite issuing notices, these MLAs did not attend and instead left for Surat and Guwahati which are in BJP-ruled States. The plea said the BJP, in a conspiracy with these MLAs, is trying to topple the govt and in these circumstances, their not attending the meetings amounted to voluntarily giving up membership of the party; remaining incommunicado and not responding to the call of the leadership also shows that they have given up membership and hence they should be disqualified, it said. However, former attorney general S G Aney said the disqualification process would be “void” legally as not attending the meetings would not amount to quitting the party. Lack of attendance at meetings “cannot be taken into the realm of legislature’s action and the Speaker has no authority over the matter. At best it would be a matter for the party’s internal consideration for consequences on such unbecoming behavior,” said Aney. Anil Sakhare, a senior counsel, also agreed that at this juncture it may not attract disqualification. Senior counsel Prasad Dhakephalkar said the situation is “very fluid’’ but if by their conduct it can be shown that they have left the party, then it may attract disqualification. “But rebels can claim merger,” he added. To overcome any threat of disqualification they have to show 2/3rd members of a party have merged with another party. Under the 10th Schedule paragraph 4, disqualification on grounds of defection would not apply in case of a merger with another party. “It will eventually depend on the facts which at the moment are not all clear,’’ said another senior counsel from Delhi. He added, “At this stage prima facie, there can be no disqualifications since not attending the meeting does not amount to voluntarily giving up the membership of the party. It would depend on the explanation that the member may give. A party cannot single out a few members if there is support of two-third members in the rebel faction. The Karnataka case was different on facts.”

Maharashtra political crisis: Rebel MLAs cannot be disqualified for absence at party meetings as that’s outside assembly, say experts
Maharashtra: Eknath Shinde supporters in Ahmednagar, Jalgaon civic bodies sit on the fence
Times of India | 9 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 05:09 am
Times of India
9 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 05:09 am

NASHIK/AURANGABAD: Members of Shiv Sena in Ahmednagar and Jalgaon municipal corporations are in 'tight spot' following the rebellion by Eknath Shinde. Ahmednagar civic body has 25 Sena corporators and shares power with NCP. Sena got its mayor in Jalgaon Municipal Corporation last year after a defection of 30 BJP corporators engineered by Shinde. Sena sources in Ahmednagar city unit told TOI that at least 10-12 Sena corporators have endorsed the stand taken by Shinde about toeing the Hindutva line. Adav told TOI that although he has huge respect for Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, he fully endorses and supports Shinde. He also said Uddhav is still the chief of Sena. "The party is moving away from its core principle by aligning with parties that are not natural allies of Sena," he said, adding the leaders deputed by central leadership to oversee party affairs in Ahmednagar are ruining Sena in the district. Sena leaders from Jalgaon claimed there is no threat to the ruling party in the civic body, one of the defectors admitted he is watching the political developments keenly. "If the Shinde faction joins hands with BJP to form the government, there is a possibility of a political turmoil in the Jalgaon civic body," added Sena sources. Jalgaon city president Suresh Bhole mocked the defectors saying that they have 'dug their own grave' by deserting BJP. In Aurangabad, which had Shiv Sena and BJP in alliance for the municipal corporation, party workers were confident of bagging more than expected number of seats. The term for the previous body elected ended in April 2020 and since then, the AMC is being headed and run by administrator Astik Kumar Pandey. Former Shiv Sena mayor Nandkumar Ghodele said, "For the first two days, we felt that the rebellion would dent the party. But with the passing of time, we sense a growing sympathy and love for Sena and Thackeray family." He said that in the upcoming civic body elections, Sena will definitely get more seats as people are criticising the rebel camp. During the previous term, Shiv Sena won 28 seats and post election, seven independents joined the fold.

Maharashtra: Eknath Shinde supporters in Ahmednagar, Jalgaon civic bodies sit on the fence
Why Sena’s rebel MLAs chose Surat to reach Assam?
Times of India | 11 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 03:23 am
Times of India
11 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 03:23 am

Surat: In the wake of the political crisis in Maharashtra, a total of 107 people, including 46 elected representatives, have flown to Guwahati from Surat in five chartered flights. But the mystery continues as to why the Diamond City was chosen as the pick-up point for the Maharashtra MLAs, especially when the chartered planes reached the city airport from the neighbouring state. Politicians who are closely monitoring the situation claimed that the Shiv Sena rebels were in search of a location from where it was easy to take a flight to Guwahati. Though there are no direct commercial flight services for Assam from Surat, the city has luxury hotels.After the arrival of MLAs in small batches on Tuesday, a total of 37 MLAs departed by a chartered flight at night. But the arrival of MLAs by air and road continued till Friday. The last batch of elected representative reached the city on Friday morning and was sent to Guwahati by air. “Now, no other elected representatives are expected to come to Surat. However, the hotel officials were informed to keep a few rooms reserved in case of emergency,” said a BJP leader.A political party worker who helped the MLAs reach the city from Palghar said, “I was told that the nearest fully functional airport outside Maharashtra and at the shortest distance from Mumbai, is Surat. Due to a six-hour journey by road and rail, Surat was the nearest.” Meanwhile, a political leader from the city claimed that the security of the MLAs was the prime concern expressed by the leaders of the rebel camp, so they chose Gujarat. “It was declared openly by Eknath Shinde that BJP had not approached them for any political deal but extended help. BJP leaders were present at the hotel and the airport,” said the politician.

Why Sena’s rebel MLAs chose Surat to reach Assam?
Amid crisis, depts headed by NCP and Cong issue GRs for sanction of funds worth crores
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 12:45 am

Even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is currently facing a survival crisis due to a rebellion by Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde, the state departments – mostly controlled by allies NCP and Congress – have issued government orders for the release of funds worth thousands of crores in the last four days for development works.This has prompted Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council, Pravin Darekar, to write to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The BJP has sought the Governor’s intervention to curb the “rush of GRs (government resolutions)” seen over the past few days, which it termed as “suspicious”.Between June 20 and 23, the departments have issued 182 GRs, while on June 17, 107 such GRs were passed. These orders can be found on the government’s official website. Although Shinde’s rebellion became public on June 21 morning, his growing discomfort had been sensed by the Sena’s allies NCP and Congress. Since the ruling partners had sensed what was coming, the departments controlled by these parties went on a spree to issue the GRs, sources said.The water supply and sanitation department, headed by Sena’s Gulabrao Patil, issued over 84 GRs on June 17. Most of the orders were pertaining to sanction of funds, administrative approvals and for salaries of staff working on various water supply schemes. Patil was among the last Sena legislators who joined the rebel camp headed by Shinde by reaching in Guwahati.June 17 was a Friday – the last working day of the week – and MLC elections took place on Monday. During the June 20 and 23 period, the least number of GRs – 28 – were issued on Monday. On the following day, 66 GRs were issued. In the past two days – on June 22 and 23 – the government has issued 44 and 43 orders, respectively.As per the data, since Monday, the departments controlled by NCP and Congress went on a spree as over 70 per cent of the 182 orders were issued. The departments such as social justice, water resources, skill development, housing development, finance and home, being headed by the NCP, have issued maximum number of GRs.Some GRs were issued by the Congress-controlled departments such as tribal development, revenue, PWD, school education, OBC and fisheries. The soil and conservation department, handled by Independent MLA and Minister Shankarrao Gadakh, passed nearly 20 orders.During the last four days, only a couple of GRs from the departments controlled by Sena were issued. The GRs were issued by the industries department, Marathi language handled by the outgoing minister Subhash Desai and also tourism department helmed by Aaditya Thackeray. But apart from these three, no other departments handled by the Sena issue any GR.A couple of GRs were issued by the tribal development department controlled by Congress, which are cumulatively worth over Rs 1,000 crore. The finance department, controlled by Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar, issued a GR increasing the local area development funds to Rs 319 crore.In a letter to Koshyari, BJP’s Darekar said, “Some 160 government resolutions were issued by the MVA in the last 48 hours, which looks suspicious. I request you to intervene in this matter and put a curb on it.”The BJP leader also alleged that there was a plan to transfer some key officials in the state, including those from the home department.A top bureaucrat said, “Some IAS officers are not coming to the Mantralaya, as they do not want to be a part of such decisions that can attract controversy later.”–With PTI inputs

Amid crisis, depts headed by NCP and Cong issue GRs for sanction of funds worth crores
How MVA govt plunged into a crisis: A timeline
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 25-06-2022 | 12:45 am

The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising of Shiv Sena, Congress, and Nationalist Congress Party, appears to be on the verge of collapse, as Sena’s senior minister Eknath Shinde has revolted against his party and claims to have the support of more than  40 Sena MLAs.Shinde is currently in BJP-ruled Assam and staying with rebels in a luxury hotel and termed the MVA alliance as “unnatural”. He said Sena must come of the alliance for the party’s survival.On the other hand, the party has appealed to Shinde and his supporters to return to Maharashtra with CM Uddhav Thackeray stating that he is willing to step down if that is what his party wants.Here is a timeline of the ongoing political crisis that began from the wee hours of Tuesday morning. (Descending order)–BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil asserted that his party did not play any role in the ongoing political crisis but admits that Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis visited Delhi on Thursday “for some work”, without divulging any details.–Shiv Sena minister and MP Sanjay Raut admitted that the party’s numbers in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly have dwindled, but expressed confidence that the rebel MLAs will support the MVA combine during the floor test.–All 37 rebel Sena MLAs who are camping in Guwahati sent a letter to Maharashtra Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, stating that Shinde will remain their group leader in the legislature.–Raut said his party is open to considering quitting the ruling alliance if the rebel MLAs camping in Assam return and discuss their grievances with CM Uddhav Thackeray.–NCP president Sharad Pawar said the fate of the MVA government will be decided on the floor of the Assembly, and the MVA will prove its majority in a trust vote.–Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab appears before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai for the third day in a row in connection with a money laundering case.–Six MLAs and an MLC from Gujarat arrived in neighbouring Gujarat’s Surat city, later flew to Guwahati.–Shinde says a “national party” has termed their revolt “historic” and assured to provide all help to them.–The NCP asserted it will do all it can to save ruling alliance MVA and was firmly with Uddhav.–Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the BJP and the Centre of attempting to destabilise the MVA government to form its own government and get the numbers for the upcoming presidential election.–The opposition Trinamool Congress in Assam held a massive protest outside the luxury hotel in Guwahati where dissident Shiv Sena MLAs from Maharashtra are camping.–Shiv Sena MLA Kailas Patil, who had escaped from a car carrying rebel legislators to Surat, claimed some of those taken to the camp led by Shinde might be wanting to return.–Congress said it does not want to interfere in Sena’s “internal matter” but asserted confidence in Uddhav.–Uddhav on Wednesday night vacated his official residence in south Mumbai and moved to a family home in suburban Bandra.–A BJP leader from Delhi filed a complaint against Uddhav for allegedly violating COVID-19 related protocols by meeting his supporters while heading to his personal residence from his official house.–Raut says Uddhav will remain the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the ruling coalition MVA will prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly if needed.–Shinde said ruling MVA  was an “unnatural alliance” and it was imperative for his party to walk out of the coalition for its own sake and that of party workers.–Shiv Sena MLA Nitin Deshmukh claimed that some people had forcibly admitted him to a hospital  and he was administered injections.–Shinde claimed that he has the support of 34 MLAs of his party and passes a resolution reinstating himself as the leader of the Shiv Sena legislative party.–Sena hinted at dissolution of the Assembly.–AICC observer Kamal Nath met Pawar in Mumbai.–Sena asked all its MLAs in Maharashtra, including the rebels accompanying Shinde, to attend a legislature party meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday evening or face action under the anti-defection law.–Shiv Sena MLA Nitin Deshmukh returned to his home state of Maharashtra with five other partymen.–Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said Uddhav has made it clear that there was no proposal to recommend dissolution of the state Assembly.–Shinde asserted that 40 MLAs have accompanied him to Guwahati.–Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was admitted to a private hospital in south Mumbai after testing Coronavirus positive.–A group of 40 Maharashtra MLAs, led by Shinde, arrived in Guwahati and were taken to a luxury hotel on the outskirts of the city.–Sena housed its MLAs in different hotels in Mumbai–Hundreds of Shiv Sena workers gathered outside the Shiv Sena headquarters in Mumbai to express solidarity with party president Uddhav.–Two leaders of Shiv Sena dispatched by Uddhav met and held a detailed discussion with Shinde and other MLAs at a hotel in Surat to defuse the crisis.–Chandrakant Patil said some MLAs of the BJP will meet Shinde camping in a Surat hotel in their “personal capacity”.–Pawar alleged that a third attempt is being made to pull down the MVA government.–Shinde and some MLAs of his party went incommunicado and found camping in Surat.–Party legislator Nitin Deshmukh’s wife filed a police complaint of her husband going ‘missing’–Congress deputed Kamal Nath as AICC observer in the state.–Shinde and some other Shiv Sena MLAs from the state found camping at a hotel in Gujarat’s Surat city.(With inputs from Press Trust of India)

How MVA govt plunged into a crisis: A timeline