MVA crisis: We will fight revolt collectively, Sharad Pawar tells ministers

The Indian Express | 1 month ago | 26-06-2022 | 05:45 pm

MVA crisis: We will fight revolt collectively, Sharad Pawar tells ministers

With the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra facing a political crisis following a rebellion in the Shiv Sena ranks, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Sunday convened a meeting of all three coalition partners at his Silver Oak residence in Mumbai and reassured senior leaders that they could collectively weather the storm.“Pawar stressed on collective efforts to fight the political battle against the rebel Eknath Shinde group,” a Congress minister, requesting anonymity, said.With the Shiv Sena likely to get embroiled in legal and legislative challenges as the Shinde-led rebel faction digs its heels in, Pawar reportedly also assured his allies that whatever was required to legally contest (the rebel camp’s claims), would be done.Senior Congress ministers Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, Shiv Sena minister Anil Parab and senior Sena leader Anil Desai were present at the meeting. Later, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and home minister Dilip Walse Patil also met Pawar.Sharad Pawar reportedly also told the ministers to return to work at Mantralaya. With political uncertainty, ministers have stayed away from their offices, adopting a wait and watch attitude. Sensing that the administration has come to a halt, Pawar reportedly “urged all ministers across Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena to get back to work”.Congress ministers at the meeting brought up the issue of farmers in the state. With the onset of monsoon, farmers are preparing to start sowing seeds. An effective administration at this crucial time is a must, they pointed out.Another concern was farmers’ unrest following a price rise in fertilizers and quality seeds. Congress ministers also raised the issue of farmers failing to access fresh crop loans from various financial institutions. Though kharif sowing should end by July 15, till date, less than 20 per cent sowing has been completed, they pointed out. Moreover, agriculture minister Dadaji Bhuse, who is part of the Shinde-led rebel camp, is himself in Guwahati.Meanwhile, on Saturday, Shinde was appointed as leader by his faction and given rights to take any decision on behalf of the rebels, who are currently staying at a Guwahati hotel. Apart from Shinde and Bhuse, other rebel ministers at Guwahati include Gulabrao Patil, Shambhu Desai, Sandipan Bhumre and Abdul Sattar.The Shinde faction, which has claimed support from 38 Sena MLAs out of total 55, is all set to take its battle to the Supreme Court. The rebel MLAs are planning to challenge the disqualification notices served on 16 MLAs by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal. “The disqualification is applicable had they violated the whip on the floor of the House. Not attending a meeting convened by Uddhav Thackeray outside Vidhan Bhawan cannot justify disqualification,” the camp has argued, pointing out that though it is mandatory to give members seven days’ notice to explain their side, they have been given just two days to do so.The rebels have also questioned the rights of the deputy speaker to initiate action against them at a time when a no-confidence resolution seeking Zirwal’s removal is pending before the state legislative assembly.

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15 of 20 ministers in Maharashtra face criminal cases, shows analysis
The Indian Express | 4 minutes ago | 12-08-2022 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
4 minutes ago | 12-08-2022 | 11:45 am

Seventy-five per cent of the Maharashtra ministers have declared criminal cases against themselves, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).Maharashtra now has 20 ministers, including the chief minister, after the council of ministers was expanded on August 9 with the induction of 18 members.After the cabinet expansion, the Association for Democratic Reforms and the Maharashtra Election Watch analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all ministers submitted during the assembly polls in 2019. According to the analysis, 15 (75 per cent) ministers have declared criminal cases against themselves and 13 (65 per cent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.All the ministers are ‘crorepatis’ and the average value of their assets is Rs 47.45 crore. “The minister with the highest declared total assets is Mangal Prabhat Lodha from Malabar Hill constituency with assets worth Rs 441.65 crore. The minister with the lowest declared total assets is Bhumare Sandipanrao Asaram from Paithan constituency with assets worth Rs 2.92 crore,” the ADR said.There is no woman in the council of ministers. Eight (40 per cent) ministers have declared their educational qualification to be between 10th and 12th standard, while 11 (55 per cent) have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above.One minister holds a diploma. Four ministers are aged between 41-50 years and the remaining between 51-70 years.Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expanded his two-member ministry by inducting 18 ministers on Tuesday, 41 days after he took oath of the office along with his deputy and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.Of the 18 new ministers, nine each were from Shinde’s rebel Shiv Sena group and the BJP. Shinde and 39 other Shiv Sena legislators had revolted against the party leadership in June this year, which led to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

15 of 20 ministers in Maharashtra face criminal cases, shows analysis
Uddhav camp excluded from BAC, Speaker says accepted Shinde’s letter as he’s group leader
The Indian Express | 8 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:45 am
The Indian Express
8 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:45 am

THE BUSINESS Advisory Committee of the state legislative assembly met on Thursday morning to discuss programme for the coming monsoon session but MLAs of Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction were conspicuous by their absence. Speaker Rahul Narvekar told The Indian Express that since the Chief Minister is the group leader of Shiv Sena, and nobody informed his office about the split in the Sena, he accepted the names given by Eknath Shinde.Following Shinde’s rebellion in June 2022 and the subsequent change of guard in Maharashtra, the Shinde camp has been claiming they are the original Shiv Sena. The legislative secretariat has also accepted names of Chief minister Eknath Shinde as the legislative party leader, and Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip of the legislative party. As a result, none of the 15 MLAs of Sena, who have not extended support to Shinde, are a part of the BAC for assembly.The Thackeray camp has named Ajay Choudhary as group leader and Sunil Prabhu as the chief whip. On Thursday evening, Prabhu submitted a letter to Narvekar’s office, demanding inclusion of these names in the BAC. A delegation of Opposition leaders too held a meeting with Narvekar demanding the same.Narvekar said, “We have accepted the names sent to us by Shiv Sena group leader Eknath Shinde, who is also the Chief Minister. Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs and none of the group has come to us and said they are a different faction. We have only one Shiv Sena in front of us. As per the records in front of us, the group leader has been appointed by the majority of MLAs. We sought names from the group leader (Shinde) and those names were added in the BAC.”When asked about the letter given by Prabhu, the Speaker said he cannot entertain letters written by each MLA and he has to go by the rulebook.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxIn the afternoon, the Opposition held a meeting to discuss the strategy for the monsoon session.

Uddhav camp excluded from BAC, Speaker says accepted Shinde’s letter as he’s group leader
Sena’s call to appoint Danve as LoP in Council: Ajit Pawar meets Uddhav, advises him to consult allies before taking major decisions
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 10:45 pm

Shiv Sena’s unilateral decision to appoint Ambadas Danve as the leader of Opposition of the state Legislative Council has created fissures within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. So much so that a delegation of NCP, led by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ajit Pawar, met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night to advise him to consult allies before taking any such major decision.Congress has openly expressed its displeasure over the action of the Sena leadership, with party state president Nana Patole saying on Thursday that the alliance with the Sena was never “natural” and “permanent”.“The post of Leader of Opposition in state Assembly is with the NCP and deputy chairperson’s post is with Shiv Sena. We were of the opinion that the leader of Opposition post in the Legislative Council should be given to Congress. But Shiv Sena did not even consult us and went ahead without taking us into confidence. We oppose this,” Patole told mediapersons in Aurangabad.“The alliance with the Sena was never natural and it was done because Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar met our leader Sonia Gandhi,” he added.“Maha Vikas Aghadi is a not permanent one. If Congress is not taken into confidence during the decision-making process, then we will also have to think over it,” Patole said.On Wednesday night, the NCP delegation met Thackeray at the latter’s residence Matoshree in Mumbai. “We hadn’t met him (Thackeray) after he stepped down from the CM’s post. Many issues, including some political ones, were discussed,” NCP state president Jayant Patil told mediapersons.Asked about Congress’ position about Danve’s selection as leader of Opposition, Patil said the MVA stands united and a meeting will be held with Patole once he returns to Mumbai.According to sources, Congress and NCP are wary about more defections from the Sena and especially, from the state Council. As per the number strength in the Legislative Council, Opposition Sena has 12 members while NCP and Congress have 10 each.“Though Uddhav Thackeray has announced that he will resign from the Council, his resignation is yet to be submitted. It ensures that Sena remains the biggest Opposition party in the Council,” a source said. However, three Sena MLCs have reportedly shifted their allegiance to the Shinde camp and are likely to join the faction soon, sources added.“In that case, the Congress will get the leader of Opposition’s post. We wanted to discuss all of this and then decide on the name. But Sena went ahead without taking us into confidence,” said a Congress leader.On August 8, Thackeray had sent a letter addressed to the chairman of the Legislative Council, recommending Danve’s name as the leader of Opposition. Since the post is vacant, it was accepted by Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe – a Sena leader and Thackeray loyalist. The next day, Danve’s appointment was confirmed.Incidentally, Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat had written to the chairman of the Legislative Council on August 3 staking claim on the post.The Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, however, tried to downplay Patole’s statement. “We don’t take Nana Patole’s statement seriously but it is unfortunate that he made such a critical juncture,” Sena MP Vinayak Raut told The Indian Express.“Congress should understand that whoever has more numbers, gets the opportunity to have its MLC as the leader of Opposition in the Council. The Shiv Sena has the highest number of MLCs and therefore, it was natural that our MLC would become the leader of Opposition,” he added.Raut said the statement by the Congress chief has come at a wrong time. “At a time when we are going through a difficult phase, we expect our allies to extend support to us and not speak at cross purposes,” he added.Another Sena leader said, “When Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is struggling to stay afloat, the Maharashtra Congress has rubbed salt into its wound… the Congress is trying to weaken it further. This was not expected especially when the BJP has made all out efforts to force Uddhav Thackeray to dump the MVA, which he has refused.”Asked whether the Congress was trying to break the MVA, Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “We are merely objecting to the denial of post to the Congress. The NCP holds the Opposition leader’s post in the Assembly. The Shiv Sena holds the deputy leader’s post in the Council. Therefore, the Congress should have been given one post, as we were equal partners in MVA.”Meanwhile, reacting to Patole’s statement, Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson for Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, said: “This exactly is what we have been saying. Shiv Sena’s alliance with Congress and NCP was not natural. We hope Patole’s statement will help reunite the two groups.”(With inputs from ENS)

Sena’s call to appoint Danve as LoP in Council: Ajit Pawar meets Uddhav, advises him to consult allies before taking major decisions
Eyeing 2024 polls, BJP looks to pick OBC Maharashtra chief in Patil place
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 10:45 pm

With Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil having been inducted into the Eknath Shinde cabinet now, decks have been cleared for the BJP to appoint a new chief for the state.Keeping its focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the BJP leadership is looking to replace Patil, a Maratha leader, with an OBC leader, at the helm of the crucial party unit. Chief Minister and rebel Sena faction leader Shinde belongs to the dominant Maratha community, while senior BJP leader and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is a Brahmin. So by picking an OBC (Other Backward Classes) leader as the state BJP chief, the party leadership hopes to strike a caste balance in its state dispensation.OBCs account for a substantial chunk of voters in Maharashtra. The OBC population in the state as per the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission is 38-40 per cent as compared to the Maratha community’s 33 per cent.The BJP has always sought to build up its OBC vote bank, given the fact that the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) traditionally have had strong leadership and support bases among Marathas in the state.Over the last several years the BJP has made inroads in the Maratha community, especially in the Marathwada region. It emerged as the largest party in the 2019 Assembly polls, winning 106 of the total 288 seats. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party won 23 of the total 48 seats in the state.Early last year, during the tenure of the then Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, the Supreme Court had scrapped the 27% OBC reservation in state local bodies for not fulfilling its “triple test” criteria. A political row had been raging in the state since then, with the BJP as the then principal Opposition keeping the heat on the MVA government over the issue.Days after the Shinde-BJP government took charge following the collapse of the MVA government, the Banthia Commission – a dedicated panel set up by the state government in March 2022 for collating empirical data on state OBCs — submitted its report to the government, recommending 27 per cent OBC reservation in local bodies. On July 20, the apex court accepted the Banthia panel report and allowed 27 per cent OBC quota in the local bodies polls. With the protracted stalemate now resolved, the BJP is set to capitalise on the issue in various coming elections, including the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.In July 2019, the then Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve, who won from the Jalna constituency, was inducted into the Narendra Modi ministry at the Centre, following which Patil was appointed in his place to complete his remaining term until early 2020. Patil was then a minister in the CM Fadnavis-led BJP-Sena coalition government.In view of the October 2019 Assembly polls, the BJP had allowed Patil to continue in both his positions by waiving the “one leader, one post” rule. In February 2020, Patil’s name as the state BJP chief was formally ratified at a party meet and he got a three-year tenure.As both Danve and Patil belong to the Maratha community, the BJP believes it is time to hand over the state party leadership to an OBC leader. The names of leaders like Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ram Shinde are doing the rounds in party circles in this regard.Bawankule, who hails from the Vidarbha region, was the energy minister in the Fadnavis government. He belongs to the Teli community (OBC).In the 2019 Assembly polls, Bawankule was denied BJP ticket, which reportedly damaged the party’s prospects in several seats in Vidarbha inhabited predominantly by Teli and Kunbhi communities. The party later rehabilitated Bawankule by making him a member of the state Legislative Council (MLC) and general secretary in the state unit.The second front-runner for the state BJP president’s post is Ram Shinde, who was also a minister in the Fadnavis government. Shinde, who belongs to the Dhangar community (OBC), is from Ahmednagar district in western Maharashtra. In the 2019 Assembly polls, he contested from Karjat-Jamkhed but lost to the NCP candidate. Later, the BJP nominated him as an MLC. He has also been made the party in-charge of the Baramati constituency, NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s home turf.BJP insiders said, “The party has always maintained one leader, one post principle,” adding that Patil will have to leave his party position now.With the Shinde-BJP government in place, the saffron party is now gearing up to restructure its organisation and prepare it for the 2024 electoral battles. It might also propose holding the state Assembly polls along with the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2024.

Eyeing 2024 polls, BJP looks to pick OBC Maharashtra chief in Patil place