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Mamta government wants CM, not Governor, as Chancellor of state varsities

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 A fresh confrontation between West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Mamta Banerejee government loomed after the state cabinet on Thursday decided to have Chief Minister as the Chancellor of all state universities instead of the Governor.

This is for the first time that the state government has taken such an initiative to break the protocol, persisting since Independence, of having the Governor as Chancellor of the state universities.

Following the state cabinet meeting at the state Secretariat, Nabanna, Education Minister Bratya Basu said that the state government will bring a bill in the Assembly proposing that the Chief Minister, not the Governor, will be the Chancellor of the state universities.

“Once the bill is passed in the Assembly, it will be sent to the Governor for his assent. In case the Governor refuses to clear the bill, the state government will bring an ordinance to implement this change of practice,” he said.

The development comes at a time when the state government and the ruling Trinamool Congress is already in a fix over the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe on the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities where two ministers of the state government have already been grilled by the central agency sleuths.

Till this report was filed there was no reaction from the Governor on this matter. However, the opposition parties have criticized the initiative.

BJP’s state spokesman, Shamik Bhattacharya said that this is a direct attempt to have a control over the autonomy of the state universities. “Since the beginning the Chief Minister had been trying to run the state as an independent entity and hence, she has taken such a decision which no state government has done before. This is against tradition and convention,” he said.

CPI-M Central Committee member and former leader of Left in the Assembly, Dr Sujan Chakraborty, contended that this initiative is aimed at having direct administrative and political control over the state universities.

“The decision has been taken at a time when roles of several state ministers and officers are in question because of rampant corruption in the education sector. This is complete politicisation of the functioning of the state agencies. On one hand, the Chief Minister is demanding complete autonomy for the central agencies, and on the other, she is trying to destroy the autonomous nature of the state universities,” he said.

Educationists seemed to be divided over this development.

Educationist, political analyst and former Principal of the then Presidency College, Dr Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay said that the Chief Minister is the administrative head of the state and a political personality.

“So, the event of the Chief Minister being the Chancellor of the university means political interference in the independent functioning of the institutions. Traditionally and conventionally the Governors, by virtue of their chairs, had been the Chancellors of the state university. I do not find any reason to break away from that convention,” he said.

Renowned historian and Sanskrit scholar, Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, however, welcomed the decision.

“Current West Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar had been creating many obstacles for the state government to function properly. The Governor is holding back many files including those relating to appointment Vice Chancellors of universities. So, the state government had no other option but to take this decision. I welcome this move,” he said.

Maharashtra

As MVA wins 3 out of 5 MLC seats, Saamana editorial mounts attack: ‘Educated people rejected Fadnavis-Shinde…’

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Maharashtra: In a scathing attack on Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government for its drubbing in recently held MLC polls in the state, ‘Saamana’, the official newspaper of the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction said that the educated people have rejected the ruling alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena (Shinde faction).

‘MLC results will put brake on the falsity of the Fadnavis-Shinde govt’

Saamana in its latest editorial said, “The result of the election of the five Legislative Council seats of the state is the mandate of people of Maharashtra. BJP got only one seat out of five. The BJP-Shinde alliance was defeated. These results will put a brake on the falsity of the Fadnavis-Shinde government.” The party said that the BJP-Shinde alliance was rejected by educated people of the state as only they exercised their vote in the recently concluded Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) elections o n five seats.

The three teachers’ constituencies of Konkan, Aurangabad and Nagpur, and two graduates constituencies of Nashik and Amravati went to polls on 30 January and the counting of votes began Thursday.

MVA upsets Shinde-Fadnavis alliance by winning 3 MLC seats

The results brought cheers to the tripartite alliance of Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) as they won three of five seats and an upset for the ruling alliance of Bharatiya Janata Party- Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who were facing their first polls after joining hands in June last year.

The results are also seen as a setback for the BJP-Shinde government as they bagged only the Konkan seat.

BJP candidate Dnyaneshwar Mhatre trounced MVA-backed nominee Balaram Patil from the Konkan teachers’ legislative council constituency.

Reacting to this, the Uddhav Thackeray camp in its mouthpiece said that the credit belongs to the winning candidate Mhatre more than BJP as the party got a ‘readymade’ candidate.

BJP won Konkan seat by bringing in ‘readymade’ candidate

“Dnyaneshwar Mhatre from Kokan constituency (Teacher) defeated sitting MLC Balaram Patil. Balaram Patil was the candidate of the Shetkari Kamgar Party (SKP), but MVA supported him. However, the teacher voters of Konkan gave a different verdict this time. The weak alliance of BJP-Shinde won the only seat of Konkan. In this, Mhatre deserves more praise than BJP as he is not a native BJP man. They got a ‘readymade’ candidate and luckily they won,” it said.

Shiv Sena also refuted the claims of receiving a setback after its loss in the Konkan seat and said that it is ‘totally rubbish’.

“The decision, given by the graduates-teachers is the latest public mandate of Maharashtra. BJP and Shinde government have to digest many shocks now as this is just the beginning,” the editorial read further.

Expelled Congress leader wins Nashik seat

In the MLC elections, MVA won three seats Aurangabad (Teachers), Nagpur (Teachers) and Amravati (Graduates) and BJP won the Konkan (Teachers) seat, while the remaining Nashik (Graduates) seat was bagged by an independent candidate and expelled Congress leader Satyajit Tambe.

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National News

NIA detains 8 PFI members from Bihar’s East Champaran

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 The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted a raid in Bihar’s East Champaran district following which it detained eight operatives of the banned group Popular Front of India (PFI), an official said on Saturday.

The searches were carried out at Kuawan village on Friday night.

Among the detainees, Riyaz Maroof is considered as the main operative of the PFI.

They were facing charges of hatching a conspiracy to carry out an explosion at the under-construction Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.

According to sources, the NIA had intercepted a message wherein an “explosion at the temple” was mentioned. The operatives were also planning to hold a meeting to discuss their plan of action.

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Maharashtra

BMC: For 1st time, civic body’s budget shoots over Rs 50K cr – higher than many states

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For the first time in its 134-year-old history, the country’s richest civic body, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s budget for 2023-2024 has crossed a staggering Rs 50,000-crore mark — higher than many of the smaller states in the country.

The budget estimates, presented on Saturday by BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal came ahead of the civic elections which are likely to be announced soon, and promised sustainable local economic development for the country’s commercial capital.

The budget estimates for the new fiscal is proposed at Rs 52,619.07 crore, an increase of 14.52 per cent over last year’s Rs 45,949.21 crore (2022-2023) and the previous year’s Rs. 39,083 crore (2021-2022).

Targetting a ‘net zero’ on the environment front in the near future, the budget emphasises rapid infrastructure development, cleanliness, health, education, urban greening and making monsoons hassle-free for the citizens.

For the first time in 38 years, the BMC is being run by an Administrator in the absence of an elected civic body and hence there was no Mayor, a General Body or Standing Committee for the budget presentation exercise on Saturday.

Chahal has also proposed a total Budget Provision of Rs 2,650-crore is proposed in the Revised Estimates (RE) for 2022-23 and Rs 3,545-crore in Business Estimates (BE) 2023-24 for the Coastal Road Project, one of the mega-infrastructure projects taken up by the BMC.

Hoping to give relief to Mumbai residents from monsoon floods, of the 386 chronic flooding spots, 306 have been tackled, 34 will be completed before the monsoon season 2023, and the remaining 6 later.

The BMC plans to plant 100,000 trees through ecologically sustainable planting practices, and Rs 1,729-crore shall be spent on various beautification initiatives for Mumbai bridges, footpaths, dividers, trees, etc.

Under the Ashray Yojana, the budget makes a provision of Rs 735.12-crore in the RE 2022-23 and Rs 1,491.50-crore in BE 2023-24.

A sum of Rs 227.07-crore is proposed to enhance the city’s fire-fighting forces in this budget.

There is a provision of Rs 887.88-crore (RE) and Rs 1,376-crore for the Water Supply Project, and Rs 2,021.06-crore (RE) and Rs 3,566.87-crore for the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project department.

The city’s BEST will get an assistance of Rs 800-crore for its various schemes, setting up a dedicated Climate Action Plan Cell (CAPC) and installing Air Purifiers at the most congested areas like Dahisar Toll Post, Mankhurd, Mulund Toll Post, Kalanagar Junction, and Haji Ali Junction, in 2023-2024.

Chahal assured that coming off the Covid-19 pandemic of the past two years, the civic body will make the citizens’ life more comfortable but will be “well-prepared” for a Covid wave or any other pandemic.

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