Times of India | 4 days ago | 06-08-2022 | 10:12 pm
MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday clarified that no ministerial-level powers have been given to the secretaries except in quasi-judicial matters. Following an order issued on August 4, the government had faced criticism that all decision-making powers have been given to the bureaucrats as the cabinet currently has only two members, Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis. "All the powers are vested with the Minister, Chief Minister and Council of Ministers as before. It is completely wrong to say that all the decision-making process has been handed over to the secretaries," the CM said in a statement. As per the August 4 order, certain powers of ministers have been conferred on the secretaries, but these are only for the filing and hearing of quasi-judicial cases, he said. These powers were given to the secretaries temporarily due to a Public Interest Litigation pending in the High Court, Shine added. Even when there is a full cabinet, certain quasi-judicial powers are delegated to secretaries or other senior officials, the statement added. Shinde has not expanded his cabinet yet though more than a month has passed after he became chief minister following the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray government.
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.
On May 12, Tarkeshwar Prasad, then Deputy Chief Minister, inaugurated an investors’ summit for Bihar along with state Industries Minister Shahnawaz Hussain. The event, BJP sources said, was to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.But the day before the event, when Sitharaman’s office checked with the CM’s office, it was informed that the Chief Minister had no idea he was supposed to inaugurate the event. With the CM not attending, Sitharaman too pulled out, the sources said.This was one of many strong indications in recent months that all was not well in the JD (U)-BJP alliance and that Nitish was drifting away. Less than a month before this, Nitish attended an Iftar party organised at the house of former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi.“Negotiations between the RJD and JD (U) had been going on for a month,” said a leader of the CPI which is part of the Mahagathbandhan.The BJP, on the other hand, was caught napping, stunned by the developments. On Wednesday, as the BJP protested Nitish’s “treachery”, Shahnawaz Hussain acknowledged, in interviews to the media, that the development of Nitish parting ways was “unexpected”.Another senior BJP leader said, “There were rumblings and Delhi knew it, but it did not expect this to happen. It was caught off guard. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say we were complacent. The state unit kept assuring Delhi this was not going to happen. Eventually, we have ended up doing a Maharashtra to us.”Several leaders said attempts to consistently corner Nitish after the 2020 Assembly polls, without building a strong local leadership in the state, has turned out to be not a very wise decision.“Be it the Chirag Paswan gamble, the RCP Singh saga, taking Sushil Modi out of the state or J P Nadda suggesting that no regional party can survive before the might of the BJP, we constantly made Nitish insecure. But we did not have a leader with mass appeal to replace him yet,” a BJP leader said.For many years it has been argued that the BJP, despite doing very well in Lok Sabha elections in the state, has failed to produce a mass leader in the state.On Wednesday, as state BJP leaders, and even some Union Ministers from the state, staged a dharna at the party office in Patna, there appeared to be more leaders than party workers at the event.“Had there been a strong leader, that would not have been the scene. Even Sushil Modi would have managed more crowds as workers would have come for him. But then it has now become a tradition in the party to not allow regional satraps to emerge,” another party leader said.“Look at the slogan of ‘Paltu Ram’ all our leaders are throwing at Nitish. It was coined by the RJD. We don’t even have our own slogan,” the leader said.Some leaders said it was not possible to do a Maharashtra in Bihar, if at all the leadership in Delhi was thinking of doing so.“Nitish is not Thackeray. He keeps a keen eye on not just the movement of his party leaders, but also others. It is difficult to catch him unawares as we did to Thackeray,” a BJP office bearer said.Sources, however, said the party workers were not too unhappy. “Nitish is saying he was humiliated. But he was no less in humiliating the local leadership of the BJP. Not a single work of party leaders or workers was getting done in his government. This development will only re-energise party workers. We now have nothing to lose,” a BJP legislator said.Sources said the party will now begin ground work with greater energy and make inroads into the Dalit votebank as it has done in UP.“We have to work on getting the combination of forward castes and Dalits in our favour. It may take some time, but it will happen,” a senior party leader said.
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.
MUMBAI: MSEDCL managing director Vijay Singhal on Wednesday announced setting up of ten more special squads for power theft detection across the state. He informed the media that in just three months, from April to June, MSEDCL squads had detected a huge number of power thefts to the tune of Rs 131 crore. "Our existing 63 special squads detected 2,625 cases across Maharashtra, including a significant number in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. We came across 239 million units of power thefts and during the prosecution, we recovered penalties to the tune of Rs 54 crore," he said. He, however, took a review meeting with senior officials recently and directed them to step up vigilance and nab those involved in power pilferage. "It will help us reduce our electricity distribution losses further and this in turn can improve the financial condition of the state power discom," he said. Statistics made available to the media on Wednesday showed that in 2019-20, 9250 cases of power theft worth Rs 98 crore were detected. In comparison, in 2020-21, 7169 cases and Rs 87 crore worth power theft were detected and in 2021-22, 13,370 cases were detected for electricity pilferage worth Rs 264 crore. "We appeal to citizens to get meters installed and replace those which are defective," Singhal added.