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Sharad Pawar says charges against Munde ‘serious’, backs Malik




NCP President Sharad Pawar on Thursday termed allegations against Minister Dhananjay Munde as “serious”, but gave a clean chit to Minister Nawab Malik by saying there are “no personal charges against him”.

Pawar’s reactions to the media came after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was mired in controversy as Munde was accused of rape by a woman and Malik’s son-in-law arrested in a drugs case by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

“Munde came and presented his version of the incident. The charges appear to be of a serious nature. I will apprise the party’s senior leaders about it. A decision will soon be taken in the matter,” Pawar said without revealing his cards.

“There are no personal charges against Malik. He is a senior leader with a clean image. We are confident that the central agency will do proper investigation in the matter. We will wait for its report before taking further steps,” the former Union Minister added.

Emerging from a meeting with senior leaders, NCP state President Jayant Patil said that the woman had allegedly threatened and blackmailed Munde, who has complained to the Mumbai Police and also the Bombay High Court.

“Though the allegations are of a serious nature, the facts of the case also need to be considered. He has informed the party about it a year ago… the police will do its job. There was no discussion on Munde’s resignation,” Patil said.

On his part, Munde said that he would abide by any decision by the party and its President (Pawar).

Shortly after his comments, Pawar went into a huddle with top NCP leaders like Praful Patel and state President Jayant Patil and others to discuss the situation that has embarrassed the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The NCP supremo’s comments came barely hours after Patil categorically declared that the party would “keep off” the ‘family matters’ of Munde even as speculation was rife that the Minister would either quit or be asked to resign from the state Cabinet.

In guarded comments, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut it was not proper to interfere or politicise the personal matters of any leaders, though the Congress has not voiced any stand.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders like Pravin Darekar, Kirit Somaiya, Atul Bhatkalkar and others clamoured for Munde’s scalp “in the interest of justice to the complainant”.

It is not the first political crisis confronting the 14-month-old MVA government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that has given anxious moments to the Sena-NCP-Congress combine.

In mid-2020, the BJP had levelled allegations against CM’s son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray following the deaths of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his manager Disha Salian, but the matter quietly died down later.


ED quizzes Maharashtra Minister Vishwajeet Kadam’s wife




The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is questioning Swapnali Bhosale, wife of Maharashtra Minister Vishwajeet Kadam in connection with its probe in a Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) case, officials said.

According to senior ED officials, Swapnali joined the financial probe agency investigation on Monday afternoon at its office here.

The ED had summoned Bhosale in the last week of January.

The ED had earlier questioned her mother Gauri Bhosale and brother Amit Bhosale in February this year.

ED sources claimed that her father, a noted businessman of Pune and her family members had sent over Rs 50 crore to London and Dubai to buy some properties there.

Avinash Bhosale was questioned by the ED on November 27 last year for several hours in connection with an old case under the FEMA. The ED had registered a case against Avinash Bhosale under Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA).

Avinash Bhosale is also facing a probe by the Income Tax Department. Last year, the I-T Department had carried out searches at 23 locations in Mumbai and Pune.

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Maharashtra Congress ministers protest high fuel prices on bicycles




Adopting a unique approach to highlight the spiralling fuel prices, all Congress Ministers and legislators on Monday took to the roads on bicycles and furiously pedalled to the Maharashtra Legislature on the opening day of the Budget Session, here.

Leading the bicycle rally, state Congress President Nana Patole and city party chief Bhai Jagtap attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre of “looting” the hard-earned money of the people by hiking taxes on fuel which have resulted in zooming prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made life difficult for the people. Though the prices of crude oil in the international markets is at a record low, the Centre is fleecing the masses by the taxes on fuel,” Patole said.

He said that excluding taxes, petrol costs around Rs 32.72 per litre and diesel Rs 33.46 per litre, but the Centre has imposed excise duties of 820 and 258 per cent respectively which has shot the prices of the two essential fuels to the current exorbitant levels.

Similarly, Jagtap said that the Modi government has “crossed all limits of shamelessness” by another hike of Rs 25 in the price of cooking gas (LPG) to now Rs 825 per cylinder which has created huge distress to the ordinary masses.

Besides, Patole and Jagtap said that Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan rubbed salt on the wounds of the people by claiming that the fuel price hike was due to the winter season.

Demanding that the Central taxes on fuel be rolled back, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that the BJP leaders screaming hoarse over the fuel prices hike before 2014, “but today, these same leaders are looting the people blatantly with daily price hikes”.

“The Modi government is deaf and blind to the pain and sufferings of the people. Through this bicycle rally, we are conveying the people’s distress to the Centre and demand that the fuel taxes be removed forthwith,” Thorat said.

After paying homage to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in south Mumbai, majority of the Congress ministers in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and almost all MLAs and MLCs joined the bicycle rally to the Vidhan Bhavan.

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Maharashtra: MPCC expanded, Sanjay Nirupam bounces back




Three weeks after Congress President Sonia Gandhi reshuffled the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), four new vice-presidents and 3 additional Parliamentary Board members were appointed, here on Friday.

They are: Nana Gavande, Sachin Naik, Sanjay Rathod and Charulatha Tokas (MPCC Vice-Presidents), while Eknath Gaikwad, Sanjay Nirupam and Janardhan Chandurkar — all three ex-Mumbai Regional Congress Committee presidents – are named new Members of MPCC Parliamentary Board.

Sulking for nearly two years after he was removed as MRCC President in March 2019, the formidable Nirupam has apparently bounced back into favour with the party.

He had not campaigned for the party in the 2019 parliament and Assembly elections and had lost the Lok Sabha elections to Mumbai North-West constituency to Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar.

The expansion comes three weeks after the party appointed Nana F. Patole, 57, as the new MPCC President, replacing Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.

Besides Patole, the Congress named 6 Working Presidents, 10 Vice-Presidents and a jumbo 37-member Parliamentary Board in a widespread rejig of the party apparatus ahead of the crucial elections to various major civic bodies early next year, including BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.

The 6 Working Presidents include leaders like Shivajirao Moghe, Basavaraj Patil, M. Arif Naseem Khan, Kunal Rohidas Patil, Chandrakant Handore and Pranati Sushilkumar Shinde.

The 10 Vice-Presidents are: Shirish Madhukarrao Chaudhari, Ramesh A. Bagwe, Hussain Dalwai, Mohan Joshi, Ranjit P. Kamble, Kailash K. Gorantyal, B. I. Nagrale, Sharad Aher, M. M. Shaikh, Manik M. Jagtap, and with 3 more – Nana Gavande, Sachin Naik, Sanjay Rathod and Charulatha Tokas – joining them, the strength has gone up to 14.

With the 3 latest additions – all senior leaders who have been former MPs or legislators – the strength of the 37-member Parliamentary Board has now gone up from 37 to 40.

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