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Maharashtra

BJP livid as Shiv Sena men ‘purify’ Thackeray Memorial post-Narayan Rane visit

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Hours after Union Minister Narayan Rane made a high-profile visit to pay respects at the small memorial of Shiv Sena founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray at Shivaji Park on Wednesday, a group of Shiv Sainiks trooped there and “purified” the edifice.

Rane, accompanied by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Assembly) and Pravin Darekar (Council) and other senior office-bearers, paid homage to Thackeray at the memorial before launching his ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ in Mumbai.

Hours later, a band of Shiv Sainiks, armed with ‘gomutra’, incense and other stuff visited the spot to clean and purify it, even as BJP leaders like Ashish Shelar, Ram Kadam, and others slammed the move.

The Sainiks reached the venue, cleaned the area of fallen leaves and fallen flowers, sprinkled ‘gomutra’ and wiped the memorial stone clean and then ceremonially burnt incense and dhoop sticks as a purification measure.

Both Shelar and Kadam attacked the Sena for the “drama” and said that the Shiv Sena needed “purification” from its alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, which was against the principles propounded by the late Balasaheb Thackeray.

However, Sena Spokesperson Manisha Kayande launched a counter-attack on the BJP accusing it of “betrayal” after the 2019 Assembly elections, abusing and maligning the same Balasaheb Thackeray’s son Uddhav Thackeray and his family, labeling the Sena as “a party of goons”, so they had no right to criticise the party now.

The BJP, however, accused the Sena of making a “purification drama”.

“They (Sena) have thrown Balasaheb Thackeray’s vision and ideals of never aligning with the Congress-NCP to the winds in their greed for power They have no problems with those who criticised the late Sena founder like the Congress, but have objections with Rane, who was made the CM by the same party,” said Shelar.

“Balasaheb Thackeray is a national institution, revered by all… He is nobody’s private property. The Sainiks’ action is an insult to his memory… They went to ‘purify’ as per their convenience,” Kadam said.

The incident is being viewed as an attempt to get brownie points as the city prepares for the crucial BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in the first quarter of 2022.

Rane on Thursday declared that “nothing can prevent” the BJP from capturing the civic body, while the Sena, which has been ruling the BMC since over two decades, has proclaimed it will return to power again.

Maharashtra

Omicron enters Maharashtra via Delhi as Thane man tests positive

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Confirming the state’s worst fears, the first case of the Covid-19 variant Omicron has been detected in Maharashtra after a 33-year-old man — who flew down from South Africa to Mumbai via Dubai and New Delhi — tested positive, an official said here on Saturday.

The passenger who is exhibiting mild symptoms, is currently under treatment at a Covid centre in Kalyan-Dombivali.

The infectee reached here from Cape Town on November 24 and then complained of low fever but has not exhibited any other symptoms, said the official.

Moving swiftly, the Thane health authorities launched a drive and traced 12 of his high-risk contacts and 23 low-risk contacts, but all have tested negative.

Another 25 passengers who arrived by the same New Delhi-Mumbai flight on November 24 have also tested negative and more of their contacts are currently being traced, according to the official.

As the state went into a high-alert mode, a 60-year-old male passenger who arrived here from Zambia recently, has been detected positive for a sub-lineage of the Covid-19 Delta variant as per a report of the NIV, Pune.

With this, Maharashtra becomes the third state – after Karnataka and Gujarat – to come on the country’s ‘Omicron map’, during this week.

Till Saturday morning, the state health authorities said they have tested 3,839 passengers arriving from the ‘high-risk’ or ‘at risk’ Omicron afflicted nations, landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).

Besides, another 344 out of 17,107 passengers arriving to Mumbai from other countries have also been subjected to random testing.

In the past four days (since December 1), 8 passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 and their samples sent for genomic sequencing as a precaution.

Simultaneously, an intensive field surveillance of all international passengers who landed at CSMIA Mumbai since November 1 is currently underway.

The state has appealed to all people that all those who have had international travel history in the past one month, or those who have completed their vaccination must get their doses on priority.

Allaying apprehensions, the health department said that genetic changes/mutations in viruses is a natural phenomenon and they should not panic, but strictly follow all Covid appropriate behaviour and adhere to all protocols.

Unwilling to take any risks, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner I.S. Chahal on Saturday clamped stringent home isolation norms for all international passengers from the afflicted countries.

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Maharashtra

Post-surgery, Maharashtra CM discharged from hospital after 22 days

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After undergoing a spinal surgery 20 days ago, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was discharged from the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, here on Thursday, officials said.

The CM’s condition is described as fit and fine, but he has been advised to continue work from home for a few days.

Thackeray was admitted to the HNRFH on November 10 and was successfully operated upon on November 12 for solving problems pertaining to the cervical spine, besides a minor procedure for removing a blood clot later.

Thereafter, he was assigned for physiotherapy sessions which are expected to continue for some more weeks and he may not attend office till then.

However, the CM has been attending to important files, holding online meetings with cabinet colleagues or officials and chaired a couple of cabinet meetings, including those pertaining to the Covid-19 variant Omicron threats, during his hospitalisation.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: Congress livid as Didi writes UPA’s epitaph

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Relegated to the political pavement as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stormed Mumbai in her 2-day-long high-profile trip which ended on Thursday, the Maharashtra Congress unitedly slammed her for her ‘RIP’-ping comments spelling doom for the UPA.

Banerjee met leaders of two of the 3 ruling allies – Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena’s MP Sanjay Raut and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, met civil society members, some industrialists, film personalities, but obviously she had no love lost for the state Congress.

The visiting leader’s shocker came during her brief media interaction, when she virtually blurted out – “What UPA? There’s no UPA now…” stunning the Congress and momentarily even the NCP supremo Pawar seemed dazed but kept his legendary cool.

An enraged Congress top brass hit back, though diplomatically – to avoid antagonising the Sena-NCP leaders or even remotely appear siding with the BJP – and harked on the grand old party’s contributions, the Gandhis’ leadership while blaming Banerjee’s “personal ambitions and ego” and painting the BJP as the real villain.

“The BJP is a threat to the Constitution and Democracy. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are constantly challenging the dictatorial attitude of the BJP,” said State Congress President Nana Patole.

The Congress Legislature Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat dismissively said, “no individual party can fight the BJP if that party only thinks of its own political gains and personal ambitions” and the Congress remains the sole viable option before the country.

AICC Secretary Sanjay Dutt said, “if there is one party which has been fighting fascist forces and standing up for the people of India, it’s the Congress”, and others are now posturing only to grab the ‘chair’ (power).

“If any other party leader makes any baseless, sarcastic or malafide comments about Rahul Gandhi, we will give a befitting reply and show them the mirror of their past stance and statements,” hissed Dutt.

State PWD Minister Ashok Chavan hit back at Banerjee saying the “Congress and its leadership needs no certification for its commitment to Democracy and Constitution, or its tireless struggle against the BJP’s policies”.

“Since before Independence, Congress has been fighting for the commoners, the rights of the people… The (BJP) central government is using the ‘divide-and-rule’ policy on the opposition parties. In such a scenario, it becomes the responsibility of all non-BJP parties not to indulge in politics that supports this policy of the Centre,” said Chavan sharply.

Patole pointed out how Rahul Gandhi has stood firm against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, on the land acquisition law and the three black agriculture laws, the BJP’s divisive policies, inflation, unemployment, etc.

“The country is more important than personal ambitions or egos… A political party restricted to one state cannot provide an alternative to the BJP. Given the gravity of the situation, all like-minded parties must come together in the national interest,” urge Patole, adding only Congress is the viable option to the BJP.

Thorat cautioned that criticising Rahul Gandhi would only help the BJP which he has fearlessly challenged, plus the Congress and the entire Gandhi family has borne the oppression of the BJP, but they were not cowed down.

Some political commentators have claimed that despite the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) venturing into uncharted territories where it is barely known or has any base, ultimately they will need Congress support to form the government as it happened during the tenures of the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda or I.K. Gujral.

Besides Congress, even the Opposition BJP leaders attacked Didi, questioning her ‘private’ meeting with Shiv Sena leaders and asked whether Maharashtra would go the West Bengal way.

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