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Monday,27-September-2021

Maharashtra

Pegasus affair: Maharashtra Congress protests outside Raj Bhavan

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Leaders of the Maharashtra Congress along with ministers, legislators, journalists, lawyers, social activists and others held a full-throated protest outside the Raj Bhavan demanding a probe into the Pegasus snooping revelations, here on Thursday.

The protesters, led by state Congress chief Nana Patole, raised slogans slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre for “murdering democracy” by hacking phones and listening to private conversations.

“Using this phone-hacking tactics, the BJP government overthrew our Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka, besides toppling the Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh. During the reign of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the phones of several persons, including mine, were tapped in 2016-2017, and the issue had figured in the legislature,” Patole said.

Congress Legislative Party leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the Pegasus spyware has been used to monitor opposition party leaders, mediapersons and others, and the latest IT raids on Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar groups are “an attempt to silence independent journalism”.

PWD Minister Ashok Chavan termed the situation in the country as “very alarming” with the judiciary, opposition leaders, political parties, journalists and others being spied upon by the BJP government.

Working President of the state Congress, Naseem Khan, said the Narendra Modi government is attempting to impose dictatorship in the country by misusing the official machinery, and reiterated the Congress’ demand for a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe into the matter.

Later, a delegation called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and submitted a memorandum of demands on the issue.

The delegation comprised state ministers Nitin Raut, Aslam Sheikh, Sunil Kedar, senior party leaders Chandrakant Handore, Hussain Dalwai, Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap, legislators and other top office-bearers at the state and city levels.

Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party have also strongly criticised the BJP over the Pegasus snoopgate, with Sena MP Sanjay Raut terming it as even worse than the Emergency.

However, BJP’s Leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, has outrightly rejected the charges levelled by the MVA.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra Congress’ Rajani Patil to be elected unopposed to RS

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Senior Congress leader Rajani Patil is set to be declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha after the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party decided to withdraw its candidate for the by-polls here on Monday, party sources said.

The bypoll was necessitated following the death of Rajiv Satav due to Covid-19 in May, with Patil and Upadhyay filing their nominations for the vacant seat.

The north-Indian Upadhyay’s candidature was considered strategic for the BJP in view of the upcoming civic elections in the state and also the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, both due early 2022.

Last week, the ruling ally Congress’s state President Nana Patole and party leader in the legislature and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat had met Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and urged him to allow the elections unopposed.

An anxious Congress argued that as per traditions, whenever such elections are held to fill up a vacancy due to the death of a sitting member, they are usually unopposed.

On the other hand, the BJP contended that they would have not put up a candidate if the Congress had fielded Satav’s family member, but instead, the party nominated a former MP for the seat.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra to finally reopen cinemas, theatres from Oct 22

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 Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced that all cinemas and theatres in the state will be reopened from October 22 in full compliance with health norms, 18 months after the box-offices were shut in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and series of lockdowns from March 2020.

“The work is underway to prepare a detailed SOP in this regard which will be announced soon,” said the CM as the announcement spread ripples of excitement in the film and theatre worlds now gearing to return to ‘full houses’.

The chief minister held detailed discussions with the Covid Task Force members, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr. Pradeep Vyas and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and others.

From the Bollywood and Marathi film industry, there were Rohit Shetty, Makrand Deshpande, Subodh Bhave, Aadesh Bandekar and other representatives from the stage and silver screen.

The move came a day after the government permitted the reopening of most schools in the state from October 4 and all places of worship from October 7, with restrictions and protocols, as the Covid-19 situation appears to be easing in the state.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra BJP LoP Pravin Darekar is a ‘crorepati labourer’: Sena leader

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 The Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Pravin Y. Darekar, “is a �crore-pati labourer who has allegedly mis-declared his professional credentials in his election affidavits”, claims a criminal complaint lodged with the Ghatkopar Police Station against the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

The complainant, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) Chairman Kishore Tiwari, accorded a MoS status, raises certain uncomfortable questions to Darekar.

A former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA from 2009-2014, Darekar is currently a BJP MLC since 2016, appointed Leader of Opposition of Upper House since 2019, and is also shown as the Chairman of Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (MDCCB) or Mumbai Bank, comprising the categories of representatives of registered cooperative societies.

In the police complaint, Tiwari said Darekar is said to be a member of the �Pratigya Mazur Sahakari Sanstha’ (PMSS) Ghatkopar, a labour cooperative society, on the basis of which he is represented as a director with the Mumbai Bank, and as fulltime Chairman since 2015.

However, in his statutory affidavits in Form 26 for the two elections Darekar has stated on oath his profession and that of his wife Sayli Darekar as �independent business’, Tiwari contended.

“This is blatantly false and a misleading declaration on the basis of which he was elected to the house on both occasions. He is looting the government through full salaries, allowances, honorariums and privileges, and as LoP now even enjoying a Cabinet Minister rank, and at the same time availing the coveted position and perks of Mumbai Bank,” Tiwari said.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, including a brief questionnaire, there was no response from Darekar or his team in the matter.

Elaborating on the recently-emerged revelations, the Shiv Sena’s farmer face accused Darekar of pretending to be a �labourer’, and through the PMSS as a voter at the MDCCB or Mumbai Bank.

Even his wife and one of his brothers are proclaimed �labourers’ and as the PMSS representatives are voters in the same Mumbai Bank, as per the police complaint.

“Can the honourable LoP explain whether he and his family members are �daily wage earners’, or have they misused the �labour’ tag to snatch positions and swindle the government,” Tiwari pointedly asked.

“This is an extremely serious matter as all positions were gained based on fraudulent or fictitious documents and false declarations. I urge the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Union Cooperative Minister Amit Shah, Enforcement Directorate and others to probe and initiate criminal action,” said a grim Tiwari.

He pointed out that as per the Supreme Court, the affidavit of a election candidate or Form 26 filed during the nomination can be used as evidence to prosecute in case of a cognizable criminal offence.

Moreover, the Maharashtra government’s Model Rules for labour cooperative societies define a labourer as a person whose main means of subsistence is manual labour, he pointed out.

“From this it is clear that Darekar is primarily disqualified as a �labourer’ and hence all the pay, perks, facilities, concessions he was given till date amounts to cheating the people and defrauding the government coffers that attracts criminal action,” he said.

Currently, one or more cases are pending pertaining to the alleged scams in the Mumbai Bank since 2014-2015.

Tiwari demanded that Shah and Thackeray order an immediate enquiry through the concerned agencies, book Darekar and conduct the trial in a fast-track court as per the mandate of SC, failing which he would file a PIL int he court.

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