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Thursday,24-September-2020

Maharashtra

Sushant case: Shiv Sena slams BJP for ‘maligning’ Thackerays

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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “politicising” the Sushant Singh Rajput case by linking a state minister for alleged political gains.

In a strongly worded column in party newspaper ‘Saamana’, Raut claimed that this was a conspiracy of the BJP with the help of a section of the media to malign the Maharashtra government under Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

“One TV channel uses derogatory, defamatory, and threatening language against the CM. This has distressed many, including Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar. A section of the media has the support of the opposition party which seeks to destablise the government. Pawar asked me what action the government has initiated over the disrespect meted to Thackeray who holds a Constitutional post,” Raut said.

He suspected that the entire matter was scripted in advance, with the opposition linking Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray to the case only because he shared cordial relations with several Bollywood personalities, and dubbed it a “conspiracy against the Maharashtra government”.

Targetting the Bihar Police, Raut said it has unnecessarily jumped into this case, especially since nobody stood behind Sushant Singh Rajput during his struggling days, and whatever the actor achieved was due to Mumbai.

“Sushant and his father Krishna Kishore Singh did not enjoy cordial relations, as he was upset by the latter’s (father’s) decision to remarry. He was instigated to lodge the FIR with Bihar Police, which came to Mumbai to investigate an incident which occurred here. Bihar Police is not some ‘Interpol’. This is not acceptable,” Raut declared.

Slamming Bihar Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey, the Sena leader said that he has been breaking service rules by taking part in TV debates, commenting on Mumbai Police, and other objectionable actions.

“Who is this Pandey? In 2009, he had quit the police service to contest as a BJP candidate from Buxar, but after the then party candidate threatened rebellion, Pandey withdrew — his situation became ‘na ghar ka, na ghat ka’, with his political mission failing,” said Raut.

Later, he pointed out, Pandey pleaded to rejoin service, with his wife reportedly appealing that when he quit the police force, he was not mentally stable.

“If such a ‘mentally unstable’ person is still taken back on duty, that’s Bihar government’s problem. But today, he is among the closest to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and now media reports suggest he will contest the Assembly elections on a JD-U ticket,” Raut alleged.

Raut said given the high-profile matter, the Mumbai Police should have briefed the media on the probe’s progress every alternate day and made it clear it would investigate if any minister’s or politician’s name cropped up.

“They dragged the investigations. Calling film personalities regularly fuelled gossip and it must be ascertained if this was an attempt to terrorise Bollywood,” said Raut.

Maharashtra

They love some people: Sharad Pawar on I-T notices

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Taking a swipe at the Centre, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said the Income Tax Department has sent notices to certain leaders as “they love some people”.

Pawar, along with his daughter Supriya Sule, MP, besides Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray have been served notices by the I-T Department seeking clarifications on their polls affidavits filed in the previous elections.

“Yes, I have also received it (the notice). They love some people,” the 79-year old Maratha strongman said with a grin, speaking with media persons in Mumbai.

“I have got the I-T Department notice about my election affidavits. On the directions of the Election Commission of India, the I-T Department has sent the notice on the poll affidavits for 2009, 2014, and 2020,” Pawar said.

Incidentally, the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, and two top leaders each of the two parties in the alliance have been served with the IT notices.

Announcing a day’s token fast in support of the suspended Opposition MPs, Pawar on Tuesday wondered why the government was in such a hurry to pass the Farm Bills.

“I have decided to abstain from food and fast today in solidarity with the protesting MPs agitation,” said Pawar, a Member of the Rajya Sabha, which witnessed a massive ruckus in the past two days followed by a boycott by the Opposition parties.

Though well-intentioned, Pawar said he had never seen Bills being passed in such a manner and questioned the haste, especially when the MPs had questions on the Farm Bills.

“Members wanted to ask more questions on the Bills. But, it appears they (the government) did not want any discussion. When the MPs did not get the response, they came to the well of the House,” Pawar pointed out.

He said the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House had not adhered to the rules and “the Rajya Sabha members were expelled for expressing their opinion,” said the NCP chief.

The Opposition has alleged that the Deputy Chairman Harivansh — who was in the chair on Sunday — helped the government rush the Bills through the Upper House despite lacking the numbers and rejecting the Opposition parties’ demands for detailed discussions on the Farm Bills.

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Maharashtra’s plan to ‘ration’ oxygen attracts flak from doctors

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 In a bizarre move, the Maharashtra government has abruptly decided to ‘ration’ medical oxygen for patients in Covid-19 public and private hospital wards/ICUs, kicking up a row between the state and the medical fraternity.

Doctors in the state have condemned the move as “unprecedented in the world”, “terrible, horrible, abominable”, something that could lead to “a sharp spike in Covid fatalities”, with a veiled warning that they may be forced to abdicate the responsibility of treating Corona patients and “it will be better if the government runs all the private hospitals on its own”.

As per a September 18 circular issued by Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas, the order was triggered by a very high consumption of Oxygen — more than thrice the national average — in comparison to the number of patients in Covid oxygen wards or intensive care units.

Vyas said that the present consumption of medical Oxygen is above 600 tonne per day and at the rapid rate of growth, there are fears that this may outstrip the manufacturing capacity in the state after a few days.

“The Government of India has expressed serious concern about the quantum of Oxygen being used in Maharashtra per day considering the number of patients who are on Oxygen,” Vyas said grimly.

Adding to the woes is the fact that a figure of around 1,08,000 patients — who have been discharged — has not been updated on the government records owing to a discrepancy in manual tabulation.

This implies that a lesser number of discharges and lower recovery rate is shown for Maharashtra, but if this figure was accounted for, then it would point to nearly 15 per cent of all patients getting Oxygen treatment in the state – much higher than the national average of 5-6 per cent, he pointed out.

“So, it is clear that there is no judicious use of Oxygen,” said Vyas’ unexpected rap, adding there was a tendency in private hospitals to put patients on Oxygen for duration more than necessary for ‘commercial reasons’ and such activities need to be scrupulously monitored.

Clamping down on hospitals, the government has now ordered that Oxygen consumption in wards must be limited to 7 litres per minutes and 12 litres per minute in ICUs.

All hospitals have been directed to comply with these restrictions by conducting a consumption to prevent wastage of medical Oxygen due to leaks, etc.

Maharashtra Indian Medical Association (IMA) President Avinash Bhondwe minced no words by terming the order as “the biggest and most cruel assault” by the administration at the expense of a patient’s life.

“This is another direct battering on the professional autonomy of clinicians, an unwarranted questioning on the clinical acumen of doctors. It’s an attempt to cover up bad governance of supply of Oxygen by such an unprofessional and unethical notification,” Bhondve told IANS.

He said that there are some patients who would need 20 litres/minute and some even upto 80 litres/minute, known as high flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) and keeping such limits of 7-12 litres was “absolutely absurd”, and the move was taken without even consulting the Covid Special Task Force set up by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

IMA State Secretary Pankaj Bandarkar said: “There can’t be anything more ridiculous, insulting and derogatory to the entire medical profession which is fighting the deadly Covid pandemic and have dedicated their service to humanity.”

An ex-office bearer and IMA Member Parthiv Sanghvi said all medicos are up in arms against this order since it could have a bearing on whether a patient survives or dies.

Bhondve said that merely setting up jumbo Covid hospitals is not enough as it’s the other medical infrastructure and doctors which ultimately help cure the patient, but “if anything happens to the patients, doctors get beaten up”.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Vyas were not available for their comments on the matter.

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Export ban protest: Maharashtra NCP sends onions as gift to PM, Governor

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Even as the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress continued to protest against the Centre’s ban on onion exports, the NCP’s Women’s Wing on Friday sent onions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

Women workers from all 36 districts in Maharashtra collected onions and sent them to Modi and Koshyari, said NCP Women’s Wing President Rupali Chakankar.

“Our women collected onions despite financial constraints and sent parcels of 5 kg each to the PM and the Governor. From Pune, we have dispatched the onion consignments by India Post. In other districts, our members handed these to Collectors or other officials to be forwarded to the two leaders,” Chakankar told IANS.

She said the onion parcels would convey the sentiments of onion farmers who were crying because the export ban had hit their livelihood badly, besides causing huge market fluctuations.

“The PM celebrated his birthday on September 17. Today, we sent him a belated birthday gift to make him understand the tears our poor farmers are shedding,” Chakankar added.

Asked why the onion parcels were sent to Raj Bhavan, she said that the Governor had time to meet all and sundry who speak ill of Maharashtra, but had no time to hear out onion farmers to acknowledge their problems in these difficult times.

“After spending so much time with anybody who criticises Maharashtra, its leaders and the Mumbai Police, the Governor should spare some time to meet our poor farmers and convey their plight to the Centre,” the NCP leader said.

Pointing to the gravity of the situation, she said that around 500,000 tonnes of onions were stuck at Mumbai ports due to the ban, causing a loss of Rs 1,250 crore to the farmers and others.

“Who’s responsible for all this? Will the BJP-led government compensate them for their losses?” she asked.

The NCP leader said that after a series of calamities like drought, floods, unseasonal rains and lockdown, the central government has brought another catastrophe on the suffering farmers. She demanded that the export ban be revoked forthwith.

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