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Maharashtra War of words: Shiv Sena fires missile at Nitin Gadkari’s ‘letter-bomb’




A couple of days after Union Minister for Highways Nitin Gadkari dropped a ‘letter-bomb’ in Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s lap, the Shiv Sena has hit back in full force.

Accusing Sena leaders and activists in some places like Washim of giving “threats, making irrational demands” from contractors or officials, Gadkari said the works on the national highway projects in the state are being affected.

The Bharatiya Janata Party central minister, hailing from Nagpur, virtually threatened to stop the ongoing works in the Washim district and even yank off all future highway projects from Maharashtra if such acts are not reined in.

Taken aback by the harsh tone of the soft-spoken Gadkari’s letter, Thackeray promptly asked Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil to direct the Director-General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey to probe the issue.

Simultaneously, senior Sena leader Kishore Tiwari – accorded a MoS status – launched a missile asking why Gadkari did not publicise his earlier letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he had named BJP political and elected leaders from all over India making ‘extortion demands’ from road contractors.

Gadkari’s grouse pertains mainly to the Washim-Akola section of the ongoing highway projects, where he said Sena activists burnt road building machines and warned that if the Sena leaders and elected representatives repeat such behaviour it will be difficult to continue with the projects.

Responding, Sena MP from Washim-Yavatmal, Bhavana Gawali-Patil said Gadkari was “misled” and pointed out that around 90 per cent of the work in her constituency was completed, although there were local hurdles in some areas which she would find out.

Claiming that most political parties are engaged in such activities in lucrative road contracts, Tiwari alleged that even the minister and his family’s companies “have a finger” in all road and toll contracts.

He said that right from 2014, contractors owing allegiance to certain BJP politicians grab the roads-tolls contracts and for a hefty commission, give a sub-contract even to bankrupt companies or blacklisted entities, but after complaints of inferior quality, several projects were stopped many times.

“I have a list of your supporters, even your past and present companies besides other BJP political or elected leaders engaged in nefarious deals for roads-tolls projects, and looting thousands of crores of rupees of public money through banks� Will you make your letter to PM public, just as you did with the letter to Maharashtra CM,” said Tiwari throwing the gauntlet at Gadkari.

The Sena leader further pointed out that though Thackeray has always held Gadkari in high esteem, through his letter, the latter is now trying to edge close to “the small group of state BJP leaders” who are continuously targeting the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

As tempers continued, Nationalist Congress Party’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar stressed that if the quality of road works is not good, then action should be taken against the contractors.

Since Gadkari has written to the CM, the government will enquire the situation at the ground level especially since Thackeray has always stated that “work quality would never be compromised”, said Pawar.


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.

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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.

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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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