Exactly a month ago (May 21), the Shiv Sena had expressed serious concerns over the badly “leaking” Congress with so many leaders deserting the party, and how the youth of India would lose confidence in the grand old party.
A month later, the Sena has been knocked down and practically washed out, by an unexpected “political cloudburst” that hit the saffron party last Monday (June 20-21) night, with a series of nightmarish developments in quick succession.
The Sena was rudely shaken, when it became clear by early Tuesday morning that a major storm in the form of a “MLAs’ revolt” was raging and threatened to uproot the 30-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress.
Ironically, on May 21, the Sena was distressed over the desertion by leaders like Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel in quick succession, preceded by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada.
“The Congress’ condition is like a cloudburst. The problem is where to put the patch and seal it. The leaks started on the concluding day of the party’s recent Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan,” the sagely Sena had said.
Perhaps unknown to the Sena, it was around that time the group of rebels led by senior party leader and Minister Eknath Shinde were busy hatching their own little political deluge – with a flood of outgoing MLAs – that now threatens to sink the MVA.
Sena’s anxiety for its ally came on a day when the Congress observed the death anniversary of the late ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (May 21), and ironically, the “Hindutva” party’s own countdown to a probable diminution started on the Summer Solstice Day (June 21).
There is seething rage and helplessness at various levels in the Sena, how it failed to catch the signals of a rebellion brewing up right under its noses, why it could not plug the “leaks” in time after they were belatedly detected and finally culminated into a flash flood within barely 48 hours.
There are reports that the State Intelligence Department (SID) and other agencies had sounded out drab warnings around March-April on the developments, but the MVA failed to take them seriously or react.
Some Congress and NCP senior leaders were visibly irked over how such a large chunk of MLAs could “disappear” into the dark night of June 20-21 at a single shot, undetected and unsuspected, and by the time the grim reality dawned on them the next morning, it was already “too late”.
A Congress leader pointed out that the most shocking aspect was the “Sena MLAs’ quietly slipping off”, taking advantage of the fracas witnessed during the MLCs polls results on Monday and the boisterous celebrations that followed.
One leader said that it has now surfaced how the MLAs sneaked out citing bland reasons like “going to the loo,” “getting a headache”, “not well”, “upset tummy” etc, and vanished from the “party scene” altogether.
A Congress leader even questioned how the MLAs’ police escorts got no whiff of the murky goings-on, why they did not alert the police control or other authorities especially while crossing the district or state borders, and perhaps helped nip the rebellion in the bud.
The current status is the Sena is left with around 18 MLAs, the rebel group is claiming the support of around 40-plus MLAs, enough for a vertical split and joining any potential new dispensation that may materialise.
Barely 48 hours after the shock revolt, the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray quietly vacated his official residence and shifted to his private home, amid speculation that he would rather quit – to save the party from a split and the government from a downfall.
Watching the party and government slipping out of the hands like sand, the Sena, along with NCP-Congress are making all-out efforts to salvage the situation or prepare to sit in the Opposition – a classic scenario of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst!
BJP appoints new bosses for Maharashtra, Mumbai
The Bharatiya Janata Party has appointed former ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ashish Shelar as the chief of the part’s Maharashtra and Mumbai units, respectively, according to an announcement.
Bawankule and Shelar, both sitting legislators, replace Chandrakant Patil and Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who have been appointed as ministers in the government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, earlier this week.
As per a statement by BJP President J. P. Nadda, both appointments are made with immediate effect, and come ahead of the imminent elections to various civic bodies in the state.
CM Eknath Shinde snubs Thackeray again, drops Shiv Sena from BAC meet
In a fresh snub to ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, his Shiv Sena faction in the Maharashtra Assembly was dropped from the crucial Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meet to prepare for the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Legislature.
Thackeray faction leader and chief whip Ajay Chaudhari had written to Speaker Rahul Narvekar seeking representation to the BAC, but it was rejected.
However, now two ministers from the faction headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde have been included in the BAC — Dada Bhuse and Uday Samant.
The BAC presided over by Shinde and attended by group leaders of all parties on Thursday decided to extend the Monsoon Session by two days and now it will be held from August 17-25.
This was because the legislature will not function on August 19 (Dahi Handi celebrations) and the weekend, and the two additional days would enable discussions and decisions on various issues.
The BAC comprises Assembly members like Shinde, BJP’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, NCP’s Jayant Patil, BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil, and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan.
Besides, there are other invitees like Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal (NCP), Ashish Shelar (BJP), Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) and Amin Patel (Congress) in the BAC.
From the Council, besides Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe, the BAC has newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve and Anil Parab, both from Shiv Sena, Pravin Darekar and Vijay Girdhar (BJP), Shashikant Shinde (NCP) and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).
The invitees from the upper house included Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil (BJP), Jayant Patil (PWP), Kapil Patil (Lok Bharati) and Vikas Potnis (Shiv Sena).
After the government headed by Shinde and Fadnavis was sworn-in on June 30, the monsoon session was originally scheduled to start on July 17, but was postponed for various reasons.
Skeletons peep out of Maharashtra CM’s ‘mini-cabinet’, 75% ministers face criminal cases
The 18-member ‘mini-cabinet’ expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have thrown up many facts, including 75 per cent of the total 20 ‘crorepati’ ministers have criminal cases lodged against them.
According to a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a total of 15 ministers have declared criminal cases, including seven from the Shinde Group Shiv Sena and eight from the BJP, in the ‘gents only cabinet’.
Of these, 65 per cent — or 13 ministers — including seven from Shinde Group and six from the BJP have serious criminal cases filed against them.
Of the 20 crorepatis, BJP’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a reputed builder, is the richest among the ministers with assets worth Rs 441.65 crore and liabilities of Rs 283.36 crore.
Though a ‘crorepati’, the poorest in the lot is also BJP’s Sandipanrao A. Bhumre with assets of Rs 2.92 crore in his name.
The average assets of the ministers’ whose poll affidavits were analysed by ADR comes to Rs 47 crore — comprising the BJP’s Rs 58 crore and Shinde Group’s Rs 36 crore.
On the academic front, two ministers (or 10 per cent) have declared their educational track record as SSC pass, six (30 per cent) as HSC pass, 11 ministers (55 per cent) are higher qualified with degrees, and only one Dr. Suresh Khade of the BJP holds a doctorate from a university in Sri Lanka.
As far as the age group is concerned, 16 ministers (80 per cent) fall in the upper echelons aged between 51-70, and four (20 per cent) are between 41-50, said the ADR’s Maharashtra Election Watch, coordinated by Ajit Ranade, Sharad Kumar and Satish Khot.
CM Shinde carried out his much-awaited cabinet expansion on Tuesday, inducting 18 ministers, including three allegedly ‘tainted’. No women MLA could find a place in the cabinet and so could not the Independents and smaller parties.
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