Asserting they are still part of the Shiv Sena, one of the rebel MLAs Deepak Kesarkar on Saturday said the dissident legislators would be setting up a separate block of the party.
In a press conference here at Radisson blu hotel where he has been camping along with 40 other rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, Kesarkar, speaking on behalf of the rebels and their leader Eknath Shinde, said they are still part of Shiv Sena, and aiming to take a different direction for which they have the desired majority.
“At this point, we are not merging with any other party as we respect (Maharashtra Chief Minister) Uddhav Thackeray. We will be setting up a separate block,” he told reporters.
“If our faction does not get the recognition, to prove our numbers we will go to the court,” Kesarkar said, adding the rebel MLAs won’t quit the Sena rather will carry on the legacy of “Balasaheb”.
“This is nothing but a constitutional struggle. We are not leaving the ideology that Balasaheb lived on. We didn’t do anything illegal or wrong.”
He also said there can be no Shiv Sena without Uddhav Thackeray.
Referring to the incidents of attacks on residences and offices of the rebel MLAs in Maharashtra, Kesarkar said: ”We also want to tell the Chief Minister to fulfil the constitutional responsibility he has and ensure that the violence is stopped. The MLAs are not feeling safe to return as no stern action is being taken against the perpetrators.”
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday told reporters: “I have nothing to say about Maharashtra politics… Assam will not deal with the matter of Maharashtra.”
“There are many guests staying in all the hotels of Guwahati, like in Taj, Novotel, etc. People are coming to Assam for many reasons. Also, the Assam government is not supposed to pay the bills of any guests coming to Assam. Maharashtra is neither a poor state nor the MLAs are… so why would the Assam government pay their bills?”
Sarma further said: “One can file an RTI to know about the hotel expenditures. This is our job to provide security, the comfort of staying to anyone who has come from outside to the state.”
Meanwhile, the Assam units of Shiv Sena and NCP staged a protest against rebel MLAs outside the Radisson Blu hotel.
They were later removed from the spot.
BJP appoints new bosses for Maharashtra, Mumbai
The Bharatiya Janata Party has appointed former ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ashish Shelar as the chief of the part’s Maharashtra and Mumbai units, respectively, according to an announcement.
Bawankule and Shelar, both sitting legislators, replace Chandrakant Patil and Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who have been appointed as ministers in the government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, earlier this week.
As per a statement by BJP President J. P. Nadda, both appointments are made with immediate effect, and come ahead of the imminent elections to various civic bodies in the state.
CM Eknath Shinde snubs Thackeray again, drops Shiv Sena from BAC meet
In a fresh snub to ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, his Shiv Sena faction in the Maharashtra Assembly was dropped from the crucial Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meet to prepare for the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Legislature.
Thackeray faction leader and chief whip Ajay Chaudhari had written to Speaker Rahul Narvekar seeking representation to the BAC, but it was rejected.
However, now two ministers from the faction headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde have been included in the BAC — Dada Bhuse and Uday Samant.
The BAC presided over by Shinde and attended by group leaders of all parties on Thursday decided to extend the Monsoon Session by two days and now it will be held from August 17-25.
This was because the legislature will not function on August 19 (Dahi Handi celebrations) and the weekend, and the two additional days would enable discussions and decisions on various issues.
The BAC comprises Assembly members like Shinde, BJP’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, NCP’s Jayant Patil, BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil, and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan.
Besides, there are other invitees like Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal (NCP), Ashish Shelar (BJP), Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) and Amin Patel (Congress) in the BAC.
From the Council, besides Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe, the BAC has newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve and Anil Parab, both from Shiv Sena, Pravin Darekar and Vijay Girdhar (BJP), Shashikant Shinde (NCP) and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).
The invitees from the upper house included Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil (BJP), Jayant Patil (PWP), Kapil Patil (Lok Bharati) and Vikas Potnis (Shiv Sena).
After the government headed by Shinde and Fadnavis was sworn-in on June 30, the monsoon session was originally scheduled to start on July 17, but was postponed for various reasons.
Skeletons peep out of Maharashtra CM’s ‘mini-cabinet’, 75% ministers face criminal cases
The 18-member ‘mini-cabinet’ expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have thrown up many facts, including 75 per cent of the total 20 ‘crorepati’ ministers have criminal cases lodged against them.
According to a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a total of 15 ministers have declared criminal cases, including seven from the Shinde Group Shiv Sena and eight from the BJP, in the ‘gents only cabinet’.
Of these, 65 per cent — or 13 ministers — including seven from Shinde Group and six from the BJP have serious criminal cases filed against them.
Of the 20 crorepatis, BJP’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a reputed builder, is the richest among the ministers with assets worth Rs 441.65 crore and liabilities of Rs 283.36 crore.
Though a ‘crorepati’, the poorest in the lot is also BJP’s Sandipanrao A. Bhumre with assets of Rs 2.92 crore in his name.
The average assets of the ministers’ whose poll affidavits were analysed by ADR comes to Rs 47 crore — comprising the BJP’s Rs 58 crore and Shinde Group’s Rs 36 crore.
On the academic front, two ministers (or 10 per cent) have declared their educational track record as SSC pass, six (30 per cent) as HSC pass, 11 ministers (55 per cent) are higher qualified with degrees, and only one Dr. Suresh Khade of the BJP holds a doctorate from a university in Sri Lanka.
As far as the age group is concerned, 16 ministers (80 per cent) fall in the upper echelons aged between 51-70, and four (20 per cent) are between 41-50, said the ADR’s Maharashtra Election Watch, coordinated by Ajit Ranade, Sharad Kumar and Satish Khot.
CM Shinde carried out his much-awaited cabinet expansion on Tuesday, inducting 18 ministers, including three allegedly ‘tainted’. No women MLA could find a place in the cabinet and so could not the Independents and smaller parties.
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