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Tuesday,09-August-2022

Maharashtra

Maharashtra: For 2nd year, austere Ganeshotsav, sans crowds amid Covid fears

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For the second consecutive year, millions of people in Mumbai, the coastal Konkan region and other parts of the state on Friday cheerfully welcomed Lord Ganesha amid stringent restrictions to ward off the lurking threats of the Covid-19 ‘third wave’.

The state’s biggest public festival’s lowkey celebrations were further hit by an abrupt change in the rules — banning all physical ‘darshan’ at the 2,400-odd public associations which have erected marquees (pandals) for devotees — disappointing the organisers.

“We were all geared to conduct the festival with full Covid-19 protocols but at the last-minute, the new rule with Sec. 144 has been clamped. This has come as a shock to all, but we shall strictly adhere to the government norms for public safety,” the BrihanMumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanway Samiti (BSGSS) President Naresh Dahibhavkar told IANS.

The missing crowds could entail huge losses of over Rs
100-crore for the public associations which had hoped to collect devotees offerings in their coffers besides sponsors and advertisers, for carrying out various charitable services round-the-year, rued Dahibhavkar.

Undaunted, the ordinary folks lustily chanting ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’, started bringing the idols of their beloved lord since last night to their homes, housing societies, public or private complexes and associations, and virtually every household in villages, for the low-key but highly devotional celebrations over the next 10 days.

This morning, lakhs of families performed the ‘sthapna poojas’ followed by traditional ‘aartis’ to mark the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

On Saturday, a majority of the households would give the first send-off and perform the immersions of the Ganpati idols marking the one-and-half-day celebrations of the fest ending on September 19.

Considered the God of wisdom, the pot-bellied-elephant-headed Lord Ganesha brings in prosperity and good fortune and drives away obstacles (‘vigna’) and ill-luck.

This year also, the idol height is restricted to 4 feet for marquees and 2 feet for home worship — a significant drop from the pre-pandemic era when some of the majestic Lord Ganesha idols benignly stared down at devotees from 20-feet plus pinnacles.

Hoping to make the best of the austere celebrations, the BSGSS have decided to enhance their Covid-19 volunteer forces by at least 20 per cent to grapple the potential ‘third wave’, said Dahibhavkar.

“From tomorrow, we shall launch health campaigns, organise blood donations and other social activities in a planned manner to avoid crowds,” he added.

Celebrated across the country, the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik-Konkan quadrangle is the main epicentre of the festival with some of the biggest celebrations witnessed here annually.

Not willing to take any chances with the ‘third wave’ apparently round-the-corner, the government has permitted only ‘online’ darshans since even temples and other places of worship are shut as per the Centre’s directives.

“We have made all necessary arrangements for online darshans,” said actor Aadesh Bandekar, the Chairman of Shri SiddhiVinayak Mandir Trust, Mumbai, who is accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status.

The curbs notwithstanding, lakhs of idols of Lord Ganesha came to the homes of people, ranging from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, ministers, Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar, NCP President Sharad Pawar, state Congress President Nana Patole, city unit chief Bhai Jagtap, leaders of various parties, lawmakers and activists.

Lord Ganesha is also visiting top industrialists, film stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, the Kapoor clan, the Dutt family, and many more.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra: Finally, Shinde expands team with 18 ministers

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 The team of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was expanded with the induction of 18 new ministers here on Tuesday.

Attempting a balancing act, Shinde has inducted nine ministers from his group and 9 from the ally Bharatiya Janata Party, over 40 days after the duo took over on June 30 after the collapse of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government headed by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The ministers inducted from the Shinde group are Gulabrao Patil, Dadaji Bhuse, Sanjay Rathod, Sandipan Bhumre, Uday Samant, Tanaji Sawant, Abdul Sattar, Deepak Kesarkar and Shambhuraj Desai.

The BJP MLAs sworn-in as ministers are Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. Chandrakant Patil. Sudhir Mungantiwar. Girish Mahajan. Vijaykumar Gavit. Suresh Khade, Atul Save, Ravindra Chavan and Mangal Prabhat Lodha.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a function in Raj Bhavan in the presence of Shinde, Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, other legislators from various political parties and officials.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra cabinet expansion likely on Tuesday, hints CM Shinde

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The much-delayed cabinet expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is likely to take place on Tuesday morning.

Shinde gave indications to the effect in Nanded where he is on a tour on Monday, saying that “you will come to know soon” and the names of the ministers shall be finalised by latter this night or Tuesday.

More ministers may be inducted Tuesday – a day ahead of the Monsoon Session of Maharashtra Legislature which is expected to start from Wednesday.

Shinde and Fadnavis took oath on June 30 – a day after the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi regime headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray crashed – and they have been running a two-man government for the past 40 days.

The duo had a meeting on the issue on Monday – a couple of days after they had gone to New Delhi to meet the Bharatiya Janata Party top leaders – to finalise the thorny cabinet expansion issue.

The Shinde-Fadnavis government has been under severe attack from the Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress and Shiv Sena leaders for the delay in forming the cabinet due to which the state administration has been paralysed.

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Maharashtra

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut gets 14 days’ judicial remand

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A Special PMLA Court here on Monday sent Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to a 14-day judicial custody till August 22, eight days after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money-laundering case.

PMLA Court Special Judge M.G. Deshpande granted Raut judicial remand after the ED informed that it did not require his additional custody for the probe into the Rs 1,034-crore scam.

On July 31, the ED had raided Raut’s residence in Bhandup, detained him and arrested him in the wee hours of August 1 in connection with the alleged money-laundering case emanating from the redevelopment project of the Patra Chawl, Goregaon, by Guru Ashish Construction Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of the HDIL.

On August 6, the ED interrogated the MP’s wife, Varsha Raut for around 10 hours in the same case in which it had earlier arrested his close associate, Pravin Raut, a former director of the Guru Ashish Construction Pvt. Ltd.

Sanjay Raut, 61, was earlier sent to a four-day ED remand which was extended by three more days till August 8, followed by the two-week long judicial custody granted on Monday.

While ordering judicial custody, Special Judge Deshpande took cognisance of the MP’s medical records pertaining to his heart ailments and permitted him home-cooked food along with his medicines as prescribed by the doctor.

In April the ED had attached properties belonging to Varsha Raut and Pravin Raut and two others, worth around Rs 11.15 crore as part of its probe.

They included plots belonging to Pravin Raut in Palghar, Raigad, and a flat belonging to Sanjay Raut’s wife in Mumbai, and properties she held jointly with another associate, Swapna Patkar.

On July 1, Sanjay Raut was grilled for over 10 hours by the ED and then summoned again on at least two occasions, but he skipped the same citing the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

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