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Monday,01-March-2021

Maharashtra

Warring allies: BJP and Shiv Sena at loggerheads again

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The love-hate relationship between BJP and Shiv Sena is in the open yet again.

The old allies, after winning the Assembly elections together, are fighting over formation of government, with Shiv Sena insisting on rotational Chief Ministership, a condition not acceptable to BJP.

On Tuesday, the tussle took a new turn when Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut threatened to explore “other options”, despite which BJP leader Devendra Fadanvis asserted that he would be the Chief Minister for entire 5-year period.

In a no-filter attack on BJP, Raut said on Tuesday, “There’s no Dushyant Chautala here whose father is in jail. We do politics of truth in Maharashtra. if someone tries to keep us away from power, it is not called politics of truth. We are seeing what’s happening and how low people can stoop.”

It was a clear reference to the way BJP cobbled up a government in Haryana where it fell six short of the magic number but formed the government with the help of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), whose leader Dushyant Chautala was made Deputy Chief Minister.

Dushyant’s father Ajay Chautala, who is serving a sentence in Tihar jail after conviction in a corruption case, was released on a 14-day furlough soon after Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Dushyant announced their tie-up in Delhi on October 26.

Amidst Shiv Sena’s unhappiness, NCP and Congress are wooing the party. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal extended proposals of support to Sena.

Even Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat told mediaperson, “We have not received any communication from the Sena on this yet. However, if it comes, we shall put it up with the party high command for a decision in the matter”.

These are the “other options” Raut threatened the BJP with on Tuesday. Meanwhile, launching a psychological assault, Sena supporters put up posters of Aditya Thackeray across Mumbai, calling him the next Chief Minister.

BJP’s trouble with Sena is age-old, but this time the discourse has been a notch shriller. This public spat dates back to the pre-2019 general election when “Saamna”, the party mouthpiece wrote editorials criticizing the Modi government.

The reason the pre-poll alliance announcement before general election between the two parties got delayed because Sena wanted an assurance on Maharashtra polls as well. Now, the Sena is reminding BJP of its “agreement” and alleging it of “stooping” to a new low.

Sena, which won 56 seats in the Assembly polls, claimed its tally now reached 61 with the support of five more MLAs. This is regardless of the offers from Congress and NCP that will be willing to let go off the Chief Ministers post to the Sena, a first in many years.

Meanwhile, BJP which has 105 seats in the 288-member House isn’t sitting idle either. Meanwhile, two Independent MLAs — Ravi Rana (Badnera in Amravati district) and Kishor Jorgewar (Chandrapur) have pledged their support to the BJP.

But in the face of a Sena that is emboldened with support from Congress, NCP and a fare share of independents, the BJP’s ally trouble with Aditya Thackeray’s party is not letting it sit comfortably.

Crime

ED quizzes Maharashtra Minister Vishwajeet Kadam’s wife

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Enforcement-Directorate

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

Maharashtra Congress ministers protest high fuel prices on bicycles

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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

Maharashtra: MPCC expanded, Sanjay Nirupam bounces back

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Sanjay-Nirupam

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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