No impact on working of govt due to delay in Cabinet expansion: Shinde

The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 07-08-2022 | 12:45 am

No impact on working of govt due to delay in Cabinet expansion: Shinde

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday said the functioning of the Maharashtra government has not been affected in any way due to the delay in Cabinet expansion and that more ministers will be inducted soon.Shinde made the remarks in response to questions about the delay in Cabinet expansion since the change of guard in the state on June 30. He was speaking to mediapersons after he arrived in Delhi along with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on a two-day visit.Shinde and Fadnavis are in Delhi to attend a meeting of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav National Committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening and the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting on Sunday. Sources said during their visit, they are likely to discuss the list of probable ministers with the central BJP leadership.Speaking to mediapersons in Delhi, Shinde said, “The work of the government has not been affected in any way. The decision making process has not been affected. I and the deputy chief minister have been taking decisions and there is no impact on the working of the government.”“This visit to Delhi is not at all connected with the expansion of the council of ministers,” he added. “The Cabinet expansion will happen at the earliest” was Shinde’s refrain to questions about the delay.Earlier this week, Fadnavis was in Delhi to hold meetings with the BJP leadership to discuss the political situation in the state even as the Supreme Court continued to hear a bunch of petitions in connection with the change of government in Maharashtra. Shinde, who was indisposed and advised rest by doctors, had stayed back in Mumbai.Shinde and Fadnavis have been holding fort as a two-member Cabinet, apparently awaiting the decision of the SC before adding new members to the council of ministers. The SC is likely to hear the petitions related to Maharashtra government formation on Monday. A source in the BJP said, “Since the matter is before the SC, the BJP top leadership believes it should wait for clarity.”On Friday, Shinde had visited Fadnavis’ residence at Sagar Bungalow in Mumbai. A source said, “They may have finalised their list of Cabinet ministers.”Another source added, “The BJP and the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena have worked out a reasonable formula… It is expected that BJP will get 25 ministers while 15 will be from the Shinde faction. A couple of ministers representing smaller parties/Independents could also be considered.”

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Nitish’s break-up with BJP: Bihar is set for Mandal 2.0 politics
The Indian Express | 2 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
2 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

The latest turn of events in Bihar politics reaffirms two things. First, there are no permanent friends and foes in politics. The JD(U) and RJD fought a fierce electoral battle in the 2020 assembly elections. They will now be sharing power in the state. The BJP and JD(U) contested the 2015 assembly election against each other, became friends in 2017 and formed a coalition government. Second, Tuesday’s developments underline that ideology has very little role in Indian politics today. Ordinary voters are confused if Nitish Kumar was doing justice to his ideology when he was in alliance with the BJP earlier or if he is being true to his leanings now while forming a government in alliance with the RJD and others.These are larger questions. The more immediate question is: Will the new coalition government survive? Other questions arise as well: Can Nitish Kumar run a JD(U)-RJD coalition government when he received a mandate to run a BJP-JD(U) government? What will be the impact of this change in Bihar politics and how will the development impact national politics?The latest turn of events will certainly mean a realignment of social and political forces in Bihar. The state seems to be all set for Mandal 2.0 politics with the JD(U) and RJD aiming to mobilise OBCs and other marginalised sections of voters while the BJP would try to maximise on upper castes votes while also making inroads amongst the Dalits and OBC voters, especially the “lower” sections of the latter, with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha election. In the last few years, the BJP – riding on the popularity of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Narendra Modi at the Centre — has been able to attract lower OBC voters and a section of the Dalits. The Bihar realignment could pose a challenge to the party in retaining this support base. The prime minister has recently appealed to the marginalised sections amongst Muslims, the Pasmanda community. However, his call is unlikely to resonate with this community in Bihar.Though the Congress is a junior partner in the alliance, being part of the ruling coalition will give it a new lease of life, not only in Bihar but in other states as well. This could boost the morale of party workers. Smaller parties like the LJP and LJNSP will have no choice but to be a part of one or the other alliance. The politics of Bihar could turn completely bipolar, at least in 2024.The BJP could lose some seats in 2024 if it contests against a united opposition. However, in the long run, this turn of events could pave the way for the expansion of the BJP’s support base in Bihar. The party could build a new leadership helping it to emerge from the shadow of Nitish Kumar.The realignment could also give a new lease of life to the JD(U), but it remains to be seen what the development means for Nitish Kumar in the long run. There were clear signs of the party being on the wane in the last few years. Its vote share has undergone a steady decline since 2019. Lokniti-CSDS surveys gave clear evidence of Nitish Kumar’s popularity during the initial years of his chief ministership. But there has been a steady decline in his appeal in the past five to seven years. The latest change may dent Kumar’s image further.The coming together of the JD(U)-RJD and Congress also sends a message to regional parties in other states. They must come together to halt the Shah-Modi duo’s victory march (Ashwamedh yajna). The recent toppling of the Maharashtra government and BJP President J P Nadda’s assertion that regional parties are on their way out has alarmed the leaders of these parties. The selective use of central forces against Opposition leaders is another cause for concern. The experiment in Bihar may, therefore. motivate the regional parties to come together before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. But the big question is: Can these parties sink their differences?Despite his political somersaults and declining credibility, Nitish Kumar may still be acceptable to leaders of some regional parties as the possible face of the Opposition for 2024. But the task is cut out for him. It is difficult to assume that leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and some others will accept Kumar as the leader of a united Opposition. In any case, there is a big “if” about opposition parties coming together in their fight against Modi.But all this does not mean that this re-alignment will have no impact on the BJP. The coming together of the JD(U) and RJD could make the Opposition more vocal and critical of the Centre’s policies. It would be better placed to mount an attack on the BJP over rising prices and growing unemployment. These critical voices may get subdued in the euphoria over nationalism – likely the BJP’s most important plank for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections given that the construction of the Ram Mandir is likely to be completed by then. In recent times, Opposition parties have raised questions on matters related to price rise and unemployment but they have failed to find resonance with the common voters on the ground.(The writer is professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and a political analyst. Views expressed are personal)

Nitish’s break-up with BJP: Bihar is set for Mandal 2.0 politics
Prophet remarks: Delhi Police to probe all cases against Nupur Sharma as SC clubs FIRs
The Indian Express | 2 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
2 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

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.

Prophet remarks: Delhi Police to probe all cases against Nupur Sharma as SC clubs FIRs
Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis says BJP never betrayed allies, defends Sushil Kumar Modi’s statement
Times of India | 3 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 06:57 pm
Times of India
3 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 06:57 pm

THANE: Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed hope that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would return to power in Bihar soon and denied allegations the party was finishing off its allies. Fadnavis, who was the party in-charge for the Bihar polls, was talking to the media in Thane, Wednesday, following the political turmoil in the state. He denied the allegations made by rivals that the BJP was working towards finishing off regional allies. He defended senior party colleague Sushil Kumar Modi's statement following the JD(U) split where the latter said one can see what happens to those who betray the BJP, while hinting at the political turmoil in Maharashtra. Read AlsoPawar accuses BJP of finishing off regional allies, backs Nitish Kumar for snapping ties with saffron partyPUNE: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of finishing off its regional allies gradually, and supported Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's decision to snap ties with the BJP. Speaking to reporters in Baramati town of Maharashtra's Pune district, Pawar claimed the"Modi’s statements have been misinterpreted. The BJP has never betrayed our allies which can be seen in Bihar and Maharashtra. In Bihar, we won 75 seats while the JD(U) polled 42, but despite this, the BJP allowed Nitish Kumar to become the chief minister. In Maharashtra, after the Shiv Sena backstabbed us, the ‘real Sena’ with 50 MLAs joined us later, following which we wholeheartedly supported Eknath Shinde- a Shiv Sainik- to become the CM despite the BJP having a huge majority at 115,” said Fadnavis. Read AlsoNitish Kumar: Running strong despite twists and turnsThe BJP's aggressive style, seeking to vanquish adversaries and gobble up allies, appears to have got the goat of Kumar, who now seems to have decided that he is better off with his former allies who showed limited ambition.Fadnavis didn’t lose the opportunity to target NCP chief Sharad Pawar who had criticised the scramble by the Shinde faction for getting the Shiv Sena party symbol. Pawar had said that when he left the Congress, he not just gave it a different name but also earned a separate symbol to contest the polls, following which Fadnavis quickly retorted saying the uneasiness of the senior leader was palpable and justified. Read AlsoBihar political key points: Nitish Kumar takes oath as Bihar CM for 8th time in 22 yearsJD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Wednesday took oath as Bihar's chief minister again, the eighth time since he was first sworn-in as the CM of the state in 2000. This came a day after Nitish Kumar snapped ties with the BJP in Bihar alleging that the party "tried weakening the JD(U)"."Pawar saab said that we are finishing off our allies but in Maharashtra, an equal number of ministers were sworn in from both the camps despite us having the majority. Also, when Pawar saab had formed his own party, the situation was different and there were no laws governing defections by the MLAs. The situation is different now and the Shinde group is efficiently fighting the legal battle on the issue," he said.

Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis says BJP never betrayed allies, defends Sushil Kumar Modi’s statement