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Saturday,24-October-2020

Maharashtra

‘Dawood aide’ calls ‘Matoshri’, seeks to speak with Uddhav Thackeray

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A man claiming to be an aide of absconding mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar called up “Matoshri” and demanded to speak to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, officials said here on Sunday.

The caller, whose identity is not clear, reportedly called up at least twice on the landlines of “Matoshri” – the CM’s private residence in Bandra east – on Saturday and said he wanted to speak to Thackeray, said Transport Minister Anil Parab.

“We have immediately informed the Mumbai Police to do whatever is necessary in the matter. The police will verify the antecedents of the caller and take whatever measures necessary for the safety and security of the CM,” he told media persons this evening.

However, Parab categorically refuted reports in some sections that the caller allegedly issued threats to blow up the CM’s residence, saying that there was no such thing.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that the government has taken strong note of the development and the CID has been directed to look into the matter which has come up on the eve of the Monsoon Session of Maharashtra Legislature starting here on Monday.

Meanwhile, leaders of the ruling coalition – the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress – including Eknath Shinde, Parab, Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, besides Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar and others have reacted strongly to the incident and said the government will not be cowed down by any such threats to the CM.

All leaders have expressed full support to Thackeray while Pednekar said Shiv Sainiks will be ready to deploy their own ring of security around “Matoshri” if needed.

Taking serious note of the incident, the Mumbai Police have beefed up security around the Thackeray home as well as the Vidhan Bhavan complex at Nariman Point as a precaution.

Maharashtra

Independent MLA who allied with BJP joins Shiv Sena

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Geeta-Jain

In a fresh jolt to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an independent MLA who supported the party after the Oct. 2019 Assembly elections, joined the ruling Shiv Sena, here on Saturday.

The legislator is Geeta Jain, 56 – who was elected as a BJP rebel candidate from Mira-Bhayander constituency of Thane district – and is regarded as an influential leader among the business community.

She visited ‘Matoshri’ in Bandra to a welcome by Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray and other leaders, as per a tweet by the party.

The matter came as a further setback to the BJP, hours after another stalwart from Jalgaon and former minister Eknath Khadse left the party after 40 years to join NCP on Friday.

A former BJP Mayor of Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC), Jain was associated actively with the party for over a decade.

On the eve of the 2019 assembly polls, peeved at being denied a party ticket, she had contested the elections as independent and emerged a giant-killer- trouncing both, the BJP strongman and realtor Narendra Mehta as well as the Congress heavyweight Muzaffar Hussain.

However, after the polls threw up a fractured mandate, she had thrown her weight with the BJP and Fadnavis, but later the political equations changed dramatically as the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Nov. 2019.

A Sena leader said that Jain had around a dozen meetings with Thackeray and other leaders in the past 10 months before deciding to take the final plunge, and her entry would “help strengthen the Shiv Sena base” in Thane-Palghar industrial belt, adjacent to Mumbai.

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Maharashtra

Devendra Fadnavis tests Covid-19 positive, under treatment

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Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday announced that he has tested Covid-19 positive and gone into isolation.

“I have been working every single day since the lockdown, but now it seems that God wants me to stop for a while and take a break!,” Fadnavis tweeted.

Revealing that he has contracted the coronavirus and gone into isolation, assured that he was taking all mediation and as per the advice of his doctors.

Fadnavis, 50, is the BJP in-charge for the ongoing crucial Assembly elections in Bihar and during his hectic poll schedules, has been regularly shutting between Maharashtra and Bihar in the past few weeks.

The ex-Chief Minister also suggested that all those who had come in contact with him the past few days must take care and get themselves tested for Covid-19 as a precaution.

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Maharashtra

Eknath Khadse joins NCP – with a veiled warning to BJP

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Senior Maharashtra politician Eknath G. Khadse on Friday formally joined the Nationalist Congress Party with a veiled warning to the Bharatiya Janata Party, of whose he was a devoted and diligent member for four decades.

“If you have the ED, I will show you the CD..!” Khadse, 68, said in a lighter vein, but clearly alluding to the oft-repeated charges that the BJP lets loose central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department, and others to hound its political opponents.

In a similar tone, NCP state chief and Minister Jayant Patil, while lauding the former north Maharashtra strongman’s decision, said it will send a signal to the BJP that “Tiger Zinda Hai” and “picture abhi baaki hai”, hinting at more and many to come after Khadse.

NCP President Sharad Pawar warmly welcomed Khadse, saying “this is a happy day for the party” who built the BJP in the state for over 40 years.

“We have to strengthen the party in many areas… I am confident that Khadse’s long political experience will prove invaluable for us,” he said.

The NCP virtually laid out a red carpert welcome for Khadse, his daughter Rohini Khadse-Khevalkar and another 72 prominent supporters who joined the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi ally.

The new entrants were lustily cheered inside the auditorium and hundreds sitting on roads outside, watching the proceedings live on giant TV screens, a day after Khadse took a chopper ride from Jalgaon to Mumbai.

Patil said it was unfortunate that such a senior leader was humiliated by the BJP on trumped-up charges despite his contributions to building the party for four decades.

Replying to the felicitations, Khadse recounted the “humiliation and torture” he faced in the past four years, for which he has repeatedly blamed former BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, currently Leader of Opposition.

“Till the last minute, senior central BJP leaders tried to make me change my mind… Others at the Centre made it clear that given the circumstances, I had no future in BJP and asked me to leave and party and (specifically) join the NCP,” Khadse said amidst applause.

He claimed that he was instrumental in ensuring the victory of 17 MPs from north Maharashtra and surroundings for so many years, but darkly threatened to now reveal “who has grabbed how much land” and other scams.

“Just as I worked hard for the BJP, I will work double-hard for the NCP. I have not made any demands, but only wish to work for the people of the state. 100 percent of Jalgaon is with me. I will show my real strength at a rally there after the pandemic restrictions are lifted,” Khadse promised.

Spiking all speculation in this regard, Pawar said that “there will be no changes in the state cabinet or portfolios”, “nobody is unhappy” and all will get an opportunity to serve the state, adding “Khadse is a man who always keeps his word.”

Launching his political career over four decades in Jalgaon, Khadse was voted as a Sarpanch of Kothali village in 1987, and later elected six times as legislator from his home town Muktainagar (1989 till 2019), till last year when he was denied a ticket by BJP.

In the Shiv Sena-BJP government (1995-1999), he served as a minister, later as Leader of Opposition but was subsequently bypassed for the coveted post of CM when the BJP-Shiv Sena regime took office in 2014, shocking many in political circles.

However, Khadse functioned as the de facto No 2 under Chief Minister Fadnavis, till he was ejected from the cabinet in June 2016 after certain allegations of corruption and other charges.

Nursing his grouses and bruised ego, he remained in the political wilderness for four years, occasionally flirting with various parties, but kept spurning their overtures and offers till he finally took the plunge on October 21 by quitting the BJP and entering the NCP.

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