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Tuesday,19-January-2021

Maharashtra

Maha Vikas Aghadi refreshed as Sharad Pawar clan weathers storm in teacup

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The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) heaved a collective sigh of relief as a key ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) weathered what turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

Speaking on behalf of one of the leading political families late on Wednesday, state NCP President Jayant Patil assured that “there are no issues within the Pawar family”.

It came hours after the family patriarch and NCP President Sharad Pawar, 79, had publicly scorned his 30-year-old grandnephew Parth Pawar on a couple of issues.

The son of Sharad Pawar’s nephew and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Parth had recently demanded a CBI probe into the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and heralded the Ram Temple ceremony in Ayodhya on August 5, terming it as a “civilizational awakening for Bharat” in a letter and signing off with “Jai Shree Ram”.

Late on Wednesday evening, the Pawar clan went into a huddle with Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar to hammer out any misgivings arising out of the family patriarch’s comments on Parth.

“Ajit Pawar is not at all unhappy. Pawar Saheb is the head of the NCP and his family, he has every right to suggest, instruct, guide and order on any issue,” Patil declared after the meeting.

Patil also said that everyone has a freedom to express his/her views, but if he (Parth) had said anything, he claimed he was not aware of it, nor will any explanation be sought from Parth.

In an unprecedented outburst, Sharad Pawar on Wednesday openly snubbed Parth when mediapersons queried him on the latter’s statements.

“His statements are not worth even a nickel. He is immature. We do not give much importance to it,” said Sharad Pawar.

“I have 100 pecent faith in the Maharashtra Police. I have known them, and even the Mumbai Police, for 50 years. They are making a detailed probe. Even after that if someone wants a CBI probe then I won’t oppose them,” Pawar Sr. said, fully backing the state police force.

Pawar Sr.’s statement took political circles by shock and awe amid speculation of cracks emerging in the clan, briefly unnerving the other MVA partners, the Shiv Sena-Congress.

The unexpected eruption from Pawar Sr. — who is never known to speak on family issues publicly — was all the more stunning as he had not reacted so harshly even when Ajit Pawar had joined hands with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis to form a two-man, 80-hour long government in November 2019.

Not surprisingly, BJP leader Nitesh Rane prodded Parth with loaded tweets, saying: “I am repeating — You’re a long-race horse. Don’t stop, friend.”

However, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis was more diplomatic by labeling it as a “family issue”, though he welcomed Parth’s demand for a CBI probe in the Sushant matter.

The other two MVA allies — Sena and Congress — did not react and looked the other way as the NCP quickly sorted out the issue.

Maharashtra

After 2-day halt, vaccination drive to resume in Maharashtra from Tuesday

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After a two-day break, the Covid-19 vaccination drive will resume for four days all over Maharashtra starting Tuesday, officials said here on Monday.

Halted owing to glitches in the CoWIN app for January 17-18, the campaign will be taken up simultaneously at 285 centres in the state, besides nine in Mumbai, as per the schedule already announced.

This has been possible with a fully digital registration process for the vaccination programme amid optimism that there will not be any more technical issues, said a BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) health department official.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday reviewed the upcoming phase of vaccination with all Divisional Commissioners, Collectors, Zilla Parishads and other officials, two days after the drive was launched in the state on January 16.

He urged the concerned officials to get any glitches in the app rectified by the Centre at the earliest and speed up the vaccination process for the big phase resuming on Tuesday.

Thackeray also urged health workers and frontline warriors to get vaccinated and help spread a positive message to the masses.

However, in case anyone develops adverse reactions or side-effects, they must be treated on priority and those with serious symptoms must be given extra care, he said.

More than 100 health workers are likely to be vaccinated daily at all the vaccination centres in the state, informed Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas.

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Maharashtra

Uddhav Thackeray flags off ‘V-day’, as Maharashtra ex-minister gets first jab

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Exactly 10 months after a 64-year-old man fell the first victim to Covid-19 (March 17), Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray kicked off the much-anticipated Coronavirus vaccination drive, terming it as “a revolutionary step”, here on Saturday.

While former Shiv Sena Health Minister Deepak Sawant was administered the first Covishield Vaccine jab at R.N. Cooper Hospital, medico Madhura Patil was given the maiden dose at the Bandra Kurla Complex field hospital, both in their capacity as medical frontline workers.

“With this, we have taken a revolutionary step today during the Covid-19 pandemic, the health workers worked cooperated with us in a big way. Even after the vaccination, all Covid-19 precautions must continue to be observed,” Thackeray urged.

An anxious Patil took the first Covishield vaccine dose amid a huge media glare with Thackeray, Mayor Kishori Pednekar, BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal, top ministers, civic and medical officials and other invitees standing and watching the process.

As a nurse injected the vaccine, without grimacing, Patil managed a smile behind her masked fact and even displayed a ‘thumbs up’ sign.

The drive in Maharashtra – the worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with maximum deaths and infections – started enthusiastically shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the national vaccination drive in New Delhi.

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Crime

NCP leader Eknath Khadse grilled by ED in land deal case

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Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)leader Eknath Khadse went to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in a Pune MIDC land deal case, official sources said here on Friday.

Khadse, who has just recovered from Covid-19, arrived at the ED office in south Mumbai, nearly three weeks after he was first summoned in the alleged land-grab case.

Last month, a team of ED had gone to Pune to scrutinize evidences and gather documents pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the deal, which forced Khadse to quit as minister in the erstwhile BJP-led government in 2016.

Subsequently, the ED recorded the statement of the whistle-blower activist Anjali Damania in the matter in which she had moved the court.

Damania had also submitted documents and other evidences concerning the land deal which the State Anti Corruption Bureau had probed, given a clean chit to Khadse and later closed the case.

On his part, Khadse, 68 – who quit the BJP to join the NCP last October – has claimed innocence and said the entire transaction was absolutely transparent, and without any kind of irregularities.

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