The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 05:45 am
Braving THE Mumbai rain, hundreds of Shiv Sainiks thronged a 15-km stretch to watch Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray move from his official residence ‘Varsha’ at Malabar Hills to his home ‘Matoshree’ in Bandra — and pledged their support to the party, which is facing a vertical split following a revolt led by Eknath Shinde.The journey takes about 15-20 minutes usually but late on Wednesday evening, after delivering an emotional speech on the political crisis, the Chief Minister and his entourage took one hour and four minutes. Before reaching ‘Matoshree’ at 10.44 pm, Thackeray stepped out of his car five times during the journey to shake hands and greet party workers, and acknowledge their support.Several women party workers on one side of the road sobbed as Thackeray stepped out to greet them. “We will fight and overcome this challenge, too,” said one of them.Thackeray travelled alone in his car, wearing a mask as he had tested positive for Covid, and greeted supporters with raised hands and a clenched fist. His wife Rashmi Thackeray, accompanied by their sons, Aaditya Thackeray and Tejas, travelled together in a separate car. Aaditya, who is a State Minister, also waved to supporters and showed the victory sign.Speaking to The Indian Express, former Mumbai mayor Snehal Ambekar, who was present with other party workers at Worli, said: “The CM shook hands with me. We are all with him in whatever decision he takes. These are tough times for us and we will rebuild the party.”Sena MLC Sunil Shinde, who was at Worli Sea Face, said: “We have seen many challenges in our lives, and this is one more. This was a very emotional moment for us.”Newly elected MLC Sachin Ahir, who escorted the entourage till Worli, said “people gathered spontaneously” after news of the Thackerays vacating ‘Varsha’ spread in the city.Another former mayor, Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, was outside ‘Matoshree’ shouting slogans against Shinde. “We are very upset with the rebel group and we are here to support our leader,” he said.With crowds packing the Kala Nagar Junction, where ‘Matoshree’ is located, Thackeray stepped out of his car to walk with the crowd till the gate of his family home. And as party workers raised slogans of support, Aaditya emerged from the sunroof of his car to wave at them with both hands.Sena supporter Aarti Patil, who had come to ‘Matoshree’, said: “The action of Shinde is unacceptable and he cannot hold the party or (Thackeray) saheb to ransom. Lakhs of Shiv Sainiks are with Thackeray saheb and we will fight back.”Mehmood Shaikh, another supporter, said: “We will always remain with Uddhav saheb. Shinde saheb should not have done what he has done. Whatever the case may be, our support is for Uddhav saheb.”Savita Sanap, a party worker outside ‘Matoshree’, said: “This gathering of workers is the answer to those who are saying that Shiv Sena has become weak. See the number of people here and the love they have for saheb. A few leaders can leave saheb’s party but lakhs of loyal Shiv Sainiks will remain with Thackeray.”
At 23 per cent, the Covid positivity rate in Pune in the week ending June 27 was twice that of Maharashtra, according to a state health department report. The Covid weekly positivity rate for Mumbai and Thane in the period was recorded at 16 per cent each.At present, Maharashtra’s weekly Covid positivity rate stands at 12 per cent.According to data, Mumbai has shown an 11 per cent decline in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 12,479 cases being detected vis a vis 14,089 in the preceding week. In contrast, Pune has shown a 66 per cent rise in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 3,583 cases being detected as compared to 2,157 in the preceding week.Experts say there has to be a sustained decrease in the number of cases in the next three to four weeks to affirm whether cases have peaked and are now showing a decline. “This can be anecdotal but patients who contacted me last week with symptoms like fever, cold and cough have tested positive for Covid. A number of them are using rapid antigen tests to get quick results,” Dr Sanjay Pujari, infectious diseases consultant, said.Tally of BA.3, BA.4 patients reaches 63According to the latest report from the National Institute of Virology, seven patients of BA.5 and two of BA.4 variants of Omicron have been detected in the state. These include four from Palghar, three from Raigad and two from Thane from samples collected from May 31 to June 11. 🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨In all, there are 63 patients of BA.4 and BA.5 of which 15 are from Pune, 33 from Mumbai, four each from Nagpur, Thane and Palghar, and three from Raigad.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has lost majority in house and a floor test is in order, the BJP told the Governor this evening. The party delegation was led by Devendra Fadnavis, who headed for the meet on his return from Delhi. Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:"We have written to the Governor and told him that Shiv Sena's 39 MLAs are repeatedly saying they don't want to be in an alliance with the Congress-NCP. This means they are not with the government," Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting."So we have told the Governor that he should ask the Chief Minister to conduct a floor test and prove majority," he added.Mr Fadnavis -- the predecessor of Uddhav Thackeray on the top post -- headed for the Governor's House straight from the airport. He was accompanied by Girish Mahajan and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.In Delhi, Mr Fadnavis had a 30-minute strategy session with BJP chief JP Nadda this evening amid speculation about the party staking claim to form government.Earlier today, sources had said the Governor may ask Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove majority this week.The Team Thackeray had requested the Supreme Court that no floor test be allowed till the matter of disqualification notices to 17 rebel MLAs be settled. The court has refused to pass orders on it.In a day of fast-paced developments, Mr Thackeray sought a meeting with the rebels on their return to Mumbai, which is likely on Thursday."I want to appeal to you - time is still not lost. Please come, sit with me, remove all doubts from the minds of Shiv Sainiks and the public, then we can find a way out. We can sit together and find a way out," Mr Thackeray wrote.Eknath Shinde, who is leading the coup aganst Uddhav Thackeray, said that he would go to Mumbai "soon" and "take Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy forward", indicating that he is ready for the next move. He claims he has the backing of around 50 MLAs, nearly 40 of them from the Shiv Sena.The Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of masterminding the revolt and hounding its leaders using investigating agencies. Uddhav Thackeray's key spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, was summoned today by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case but he refused to go. Mr Raut terms the summons a conspiracy. Comments
◾ A tailor in Udaipur was hacked to death today by two persons allegedly for posting a social media statement in favour of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad. With the city tense following the murder, internet services have been suspended, and 600 police personnel along with senior officers are being sent to Udaipur. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has appealed for peace. “Strict action will be taken against all the criminals involved in this incident and the police will go to the bottom of the crime. I appeal to all parties to maintain peace,” he said.◾ Meanwhile, in Delhi, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was sent to four-day police custody over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments. On Zubair’s arrest, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community.”◾ In Maharashtra, where the political turmoil refuses to abate, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs to return, saying he is “worried” about them. “Don’t fall prey to anyone’s missteps. The honour given to you by Shiv Sena cannot be found anywhere. If you come forward and speak, we will sort out the issues. As Shiv Sena party chief and family head, I am still worried about you. Come here for a dialogue,” he said. His appeal came hours after Rebel leader Eknath Shinde said he will soon return to Mumbai.◾ In other news from the city, four people were killed after a helicopter operating for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) made an emergency landing off the Mumbai coast. The chopper, with nine people on board, ditched in the sea 60 nautical miles away from Mumbai near Sagar Kiran rig on Tuesday morning.◾ In business news, the GST Council today approved changes in tax rates on some goods and services while allowing states to issue an e-way bill for intra-state movement of gold and precious stones. The Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also cleared a host of compliance procedures for GST-registered businesses along with a GoM report on high-risk taxpayers to check evasion.◾ Mukesh Ambani has resigned from the board of his group’s telecom arm, Reliance Jio and handed over the reins of the company to elder son Akash, a step seen as succession planning by the 65-year old billionaire. In a stock exchange filing, Reliance Jio Infocomm said the company’s board at a meeting on June 27, “approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors of the company.”Political Pulse◾ The BJP is hoping for gains beyond the immediate in its storming of the Samajwadi Party bastions of Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in the recent bypolls. The planning and strategy to secure the constituencies, supervised by senior leader Amit Shah as per sources, have punched holes in the SP’s confidence in its loyal Muslim-Yadav vote bank. The results also fit in with the BJP’s Mission 2024 plans, which it has already set in motion. With the SP having mounted a creditable challenge to it in the recent Assembly elections, the BJP knows the party as the one to beat in the state, and these two seats were its best chance of sending a message to the party. Liz Mathew reports.◾ From the Urdu Press: As a major political turmoil roiled Maharashtra with an intra-Shiv Sena power struggle pushing the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government to the brink, the country’s leading Urdu newspapers provided its saturation coverage in their news and commentary pages. In their reporting and analysis, they also focused on the July 18 Presidential election, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s appeal challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 Gujarat riots, spotlighting the subsequent arrests of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad and ex-DGP RB Sreekumar.Express Explained◾ ‘Hermit’ is the latest sophisticated spyware in the news, and it is believed to have targeted iPhones and Android devices in Italy and Kazakhstan. Hermit’s deployment – the spyware has been developed by an Italian vendor called RCS Lab – was first reported by cyber security researchers at the Lookout, a San-Francisco-based cybersecurity firm. What is Hermit, what exactly does it do on a device, and how can users keep themselves safe? We explain.◾ The G7 countries, who are meeting during the ongoing Leaders’ Summit in Germany, have officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries. The project, launched on June 27, is being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative. What is PGII, where are funds being directed under the plan, and what has been China’s response to the announcement? Read here.
With the battle between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde now virtually a tussle over who controls the “real Sena”, one of the outfits rallying support at the Mumbai end is the Yuva Sena.The youth wing of the party founded by Balasaheb Thackeray as the vehicle for grandson Aaditya in October 2010, who was then just 20, the Yuva Sena continues to be his baby. And as Aaditya takes on the Shinde faction from the forefront, so is the Yuva Sena, with rallies of party workers planned in every ward of the state, leading up to a meeting in the district, and campaigns being waged on social media.One such rally was held on June 25 at Birla Matoshri Griha in South Mumbai, with Aaditya addressing the ‘Yuva Sainiks’. In his speech, he called the rebel MLAs “dirt”, and said their leaving was good riddance. There will be two floor tests, he warned, one in the House (Assembly) and the other on the roads.“They (the Sena rebels) will have to land first at the airport, and remember the way to Vidhan Bhavan passes through Bandra, Worli, Parel and Byculla,” he said, hinting that the MLAs will have to face the Shiv Sainiks.Aaditya is now holding rallies almost every day to interact with cadres that the party is trying to hold on to, and as per the party, has been drawing a good response.Since the Yuva Sena was announced, by Thackeray Senior himself at the Sena’s marquee annual Dussehra rally, with the handing over of a sword to Aaditya, the latter has used it to build a profile for himself, while filling a crucial gap in the party’s support base. The Sena till then (and even now) was essentially a party of the working class, tapping into their fears and aspirations, and moulded for itself a rugged, aggressive image its base could identify with.The Yuva Sena made its space instead in colleges and universities, particularly in the metro areas, and raised issues that matter to youths and students. It also has an IT cell. The cadre is projected as tech-savvy, modern and elite, as compared to the common Shiv Sainik who works at the grass-root level.Another reason for the formation of the Yuva Sena was to take on the earlier party youth wing, Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), which was controlled by Raj Thackeray. When Raj left the Sena in 2005, almost all the BVS leaders and cadre switched sides with him, leaving the Sena virtually no presence in that space. The BVS itself had not done much to cultivate support on the campus.With Raj Thackeray’s MNS seeing early success in the corporation and even Assembly elections of 2009, the Sena had moved quickly to anoint Aaditya, who was seen as more aggressive than father Uddhav.Incidentally, one of the accusations levelled at Aaditya, who has headed the Yuva Sena since its formation, by rebels now is his endorsement of “progressive” causes that often go against the Sena’s own core.Apart from Aaditya, cousin Varun Sardesai is active in the Yuva Sena. As are offspring of Sena leaders, MLAs, MPs and others. This has given it a heft and clout which other grass-roots cadres see as disproportionate to its work. The Sena rebels’ list of grievances include the positions cornered by the Yuva Sena in the party.
NEW DELHI: Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met Union minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda here on Tuesday to discuss the party's next course of action amid the spiralling political crisis in the state threatening the three-party Maha Vikas Adhadi government's existence. Fadnavis was joined by BJP MP and senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani in the meeting with the home minister, sources said. They are believed to have explored various options available for the party and deliberated on their legal feasibility as the BJP works to recapture power in Maharashtra with the help of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and several independent lawmakers. After meeting Shah, Fadnavis drove to Nadda's residence and briefed him about the unfolding political developments in the western state. Earlier in the day, he arrived in the national capital from Mumbai to discuss the issue with the party's top brass. Around 39 rebel Sena MLAs and at least 10 independent legislators from the state have lodged themselves at a five star hotel in Assam in their bid to bring down the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led government. The BJP has denied any role in the rebellion but Fadnavis is being seen to be playing a key role in working out a post-MVA dispensation which he may head with support from the Sena rebels. BJP sources have maintained that any concrete outline of the next government has not been worked out but added that Eknath Shinde, the senior Sena leader who has led the rebellion against his party's alliance with traditional adversaries the Congress and the NCP, and other key members of the group will be suitably accommodated in case their party comes to power. Shinde may be made deputy chief minister in such an eventuality. The priority right now is to bring down the MVA government as it has clearly lost majority in the assembly, BJP leaders said. The rebels may approach the state governor, conveying the decision to withdraw their support from the Thackeray government. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari then may ask the ruling alliance to undergo a floor test in the assembly. The next couple of days may see a fresh movement from the rebels against the government, sources said. Though the BJP sources expressed confidence that the Uddhav Thackeray government is on its last leg, the party is treading cautiously to avoid any wrong move like the one in 2019 which had caused it embarrassment when Fadnavis formed a short lived government in alliance with the NCP faction headed by Ajit Pawar without ensuring adequate support of MLAs. Fadnavis had to resign in three days as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar rallied his party MLAs to thwart his nephew's bid to join hands with the BJP to form the government. The Sena then joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to come to power. The BJP has long nursed a grudge against the Sena as both parties had fought the 2019 assembly polls together and had secured a comfortable majority. However, its ally insistence that the post of chief ministership should be rotated between the two parties and not be held by the BJP alone led to a split.