Prakash Ambdekar of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi

Jolt For Aghadi Alliance In M’rashtra

Prakash Ambdekar of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi announced on Wednesday the names of eight candidates for the upcoming elections, thus indicating that it would sever its ties with Maha Vikas Aghadi, or MVA, in Maharashtra.

The VBA has not yet formally announced its intention to sever its ties with the MVA in Maharashtra.

VBA said the name of one more candidate for Ramtek would be announced later in the afternoon. The VBA has named candidates for seats like Gadhciroli, Gondiua and Chandrapur where the Congress has already named candidates. The UBT Sena had announced a candidate for Sangli seat on Wednesday.

The names of the candidates were announced following a meeting of the Maharashtra State Committee of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi on Tuesday.

“The VBA State Committee has decided not to field a candidate from Nagpur Parliamentary Constituency. VBA will support the candidate of the Indian National Congress from the Nagpur Parliamentary Constituency,” the party said in a press release.

With this announcement it is curtains for the expanded Maha Vikas Aghadi with Ambedkar’s party contesting outside the alliance that comprises the Shiv Sena (UBT), Congress, and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar).

The VBA had been pushing hard to forge an alliance with the MVA to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA in the Lok Sabha elections.

Uddhav faction leader and spokesperson Anand Dubey said, “We had decided to work with the VBA. Everything was okay. Today, by announcing the candidates, has he indicated that he will help the BJP through a backdoor channel. Has he not decided to work as the B Team of the BJP?”

“We are not saying this. The public is asking this question. If our message is to defeat the BJP, then why should we go solo in the elections, ” he asked the VBA leadership.

The state will vote in five phases for 48 constituencies in the upcoming general elections.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 would be held in seven phases, starting on April 19 and ending on June 1. The results will be declared on June 4. (ANI)

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I Have Little Faith in Electoral Politics

‘I’m A First Time Voter but I Have Little Faith in Electoral Politics’

Rajyawardan Singh, 22, an undergraduate student based in Pune (Maharashtra), says Indian politics needs structural reforms. His views:

I have not had the opportunity to vote before, hence, I have never ever voted in an election as yet. I am not too keen on voting in the 2024 parliamentary elections either. This is because I have felt a deep sense of loss of faith in electoral politics over time. However, If I vote, I will be voting solely for the reason that there is a small chance that the caste census would be released, which would significantly change a lot of prevailing perceptions people have about the socio-economic composition of our vast country.

Certainly, there are long-standing issues of access to things like healthcare, education, food, among other crucial issues. Of course, especially for the marginalized sections of society, and also due to the long-standing and continuous cultural and social hegemony of the majority (e.g. the ever-present and unchecked cisheterosexual upper-caste pride), this phenomenon is becoming more and more aggressive in the contemporary era. This is thereby pushing the huge majority of marginalized people into submission. Indeed, this seems to be only getting worse over the years.

Democracy will simply be unable to function without any of these crucial reforms. This is truly important if we really want people to have the ability to guide their own destiny via the State, without any handicaps entrenched in their socio-economic status.

We have always lacked these structures and opportunities to a certain extent, and despite pushback through social movements and incremental victories for social justice over years, it’s still not enough. Plus, there is always the looming threat of all the victories being rolled back by the overwhelming reactionary climate in the country.

Undoubtedly, I cannot speak for every young person in India. However, I look forward to the day when exploitation and marginalization will finally end in every sphere, and where every person will have the full freedom to develop herself/himself in free association with others.

As told to Amit Sengupta

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NDA NCP Ajit Pawar

Working Style Of Modi, Shah Matches With Mine: Ajit

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar issued a statement on Monday, ‘clarifying’ his decision to align with the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state.

Hailing the ‘strong leadership and correct decision-making’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Pawar said that he found the development work done under their leadership ‘important’.

Drawing parallels, the NCP leader said that he identified with the working style of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.

“The decision taken by the Nationalist Congress Party to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena is still being discussed in different media. This letter is to make my role in this matter more clear,” Ajit Pawar mentioned in his statement.

“I find it important that the development work that is being done in this country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Strong leadership and correct decision-making process, these are their qualities that I like very much. My and their working methods are very similar,” the statement said.

“I felt that it would be possible to carry out some of my future plans for development with them in a more effective manner, so I decided to go with them with the aim of taking this state towards development. Since I have taken this role, it has been my experience that since joining the government, development work has gained momentum,” it added.

Pawar asserted that his intention was not to hurt or insult anyone but undertake and complete development works without compromise.

“I have taken my own role with the aim of completing the development works without any compromise with the ideology and objective etc. In this, I do not dare to insult anyone in any way, hurt anyone’s feelings or cheat anyone or harm anyone. It was never my intention to have a dagger in my back or anything like that, nor will I ever have one,” he stated.

He said that to undertake any service for the people it is important to be in power.

“I have seen it done both by being in power and by being in opposition. While in power, we have seen development slowing down rapidly and while in opposition, we have also seen development works getting stuck. So one truth which cannot be denied is that for development work it is necessary for you to be in power,” the Deputy CM said.

He further stated that he has no intention of ‘disrespecting elderly people’.

“I have no intention of disrespecting fatherly or elder people. How can the standard of living of the people be raised, how can the facilities of their basic infrastructure be made more efficient? So this is for the work of the people,” he said.

Pawar further appealed to the people to join him on his ‘path of development’ and sought blessings from the ‘seniors’.

“In the times to come, the Nationalist Congress Party will not comment on anyone personally and will go before the people of the state with a blueprint for development and I also assure the people of the state about this. I humbly appeal to all the citizens to join me as I walk on the path of development and to all the seniors to bless me,” he added.

Ajit Pawar, along with eight MLAs, joined Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra on July 2 last year. (ANI)

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Maharashtra Manohar Joshi

Former LS Speaker Manohar Joshi Passed Away

Former Lok Sabha Speaker and ex-Chief Minister of Maharashtra Manohar Joshi breathed his last on Friday at around 3 am in Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.

The 86-year-old Joshi was admitted to Hinduja Hospital on February 21 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

According to family sources, the funeral will be held later in the day at Dadar Shivaji Park Crematorium, with full state honours.

Joshi served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 and as Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2002 to 2004.

He was also a Member of the Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012 and Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises from 1999 to 2002. (ANI)

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Manoj Jarange Patil

Maratha Reservation Activist Patil Refuses To End Strike

Manoj Jarange Patil, the activist who led the movement to provide caste-based reservations to Marathas and is on a hunger strike, welcomed the reservation bill introduced and passed in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, but contended that the reservation which has been proposed was not as per the community’s demand.

“We need reservation which we deserve, give us reservation under OBC to those who’s proof of being kunbi has been found and those who don’t have proof of kunbi, for them pass a law of “Sage Soyare”,” Patil said minutes after the Bill was passed unanimously by the Legislative Assembly.

He has called for a meeting of the Maratha community at 12 noon on Wednesday.

Jarange Patil is demanding one’s blood relations should also be allowed to have Kunbi registration. Kunbi is a caste in Maharashtra under the OBC bloc. Jarange Patil demanded that all people of the Maratha community be considered as Kunbi and be given reservations accordingly (under OBC Quota) but the government decided that only people having Nizam era documents of Kunbi certificates will get benefits under this.

“I appeal to all maximum people to reach Antarvali sarati for the meet …I am firm on my demand to implement Sage Soyare…I welcome the reservation but the reservation which given are not as per our demand,” Patil said.

“The reservation given by government will benifit only 100 -150 people of Maratha , our people will remain deprived from reservation..Ttherefore I am demanding to implement “Sage Soyare” the next round of agitation will be announced tomorrow…We will take it what we deserve,” he added.

Meanwhile, Manoj Jarange Patil removed the intravenous drip from his hand and denied to take further treatment fron the doctors.

The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (lower house) unanimously passed the Maratha Reservation Bill tabled on Tuesday, which intended to extend 10 per cent reservation to Marathas above the 50 per cent cap.

The CM will now table the bill in the Legislative council for assent after which it becomes a law.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar, said the opposition parties were also of the same view that the Maratha community be given the reservation.

The state government has convened a one-day special session of the state legislature for tabling and further consideration of this special Bill.

The bill for the 10 per cent Maratha quota that the Mahayuti government of Eknath Shinde has approved on Tuesday is similar to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, introduced by the then Devendra Fadnavis government.

This is the third time in a decade that the state has introduced legislation for the Maratha quota.

“I am the CM of the state and I work with the blessings of all. We don’t think on the basis of caste or religion. If such a situation comes with any other community, my stand as CM will be similar to what is my stand for the Maratha community. Our PM always says Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas,” Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said.

“We all are of similar views here on the Maratha reservation so I will not make may political statement here. With the co-operation of you all, we could do it. I kept my promise which I made to the Maratha community. I thank all my colleagues including my both DCMs and other ministers. Today is a day of fulfilment of our promises,” Shinde added after tabling the bill.

“Our aim was to work on a war footing, day and night, to bring this issue to a proper conclusion. The Maharashtra government is fully committed to giving reservation to the Marathas and today we are doing this. Devendra ji and Ajit Pawar ji always used to tell me that by whatever means we have to give reservation to the Maratha community. Devendra ji had once given reservation to the Maratha community while being the Chief Minister and that reservation was also upheld in the High Court. But unfortunately for some reason it was struck down by the honorable Supreme Court” the CM further stated.

“Therefore, this time we have reconstituted the Backward Classes Commission and conducted a survey as per the order of the Supreme Court and after collecting the necessary data, we are now planning to give them reservation. We have tried to fulfil the rules and regulations in every way and now we are ready to give this reservation,” he added.

The reservation has been extended based on a report submitted to the state government by the Maharashtra Backward Class Commission (MBCC) headed by chairman Justice (Retired) Sunil Shukre.

The state already has a 10 per cent quota for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in which the Marathas are the biggest beneficiaries, claiming about 85 per cent of those.

The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission on Friday submitted a report on the social and educational backwardness of the Maratha community for which it had undertaken a survey of around 2.5 crore homes within only nine days.

The committee proposed a 10 per cent reservation for Marathas in education and jobs, similar to that of the previous bill brought in 2018 by the then-state government.

In June 2017, the then Devendra Fadnavis government constituted the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) headed by Justice (retired) MG Gaikwad to study the social, financial and educational status of the Maratha community.

The Commission submitted its report in November 2018, classifying Marathas as a socially and educationally backward class (SEBC).

On May 5, 2021, the Supreme Court struck down reservations for the Maratha community in colleges, higher educational institutions, and jobs, after noting that there was no valid ground to breach 50 per cent reservation while granting Maratha reservation. (ANI)

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Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's wife

Anyone can contest polls in democracy: Supriya Sule

Speaking on the speculations about Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar’s candidature against her in Baramati, the pocket borough of the Pawar clan, NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar leader Supriya Sule, said on Sunday that “anyone can contest elections in a democracy.”

The big battle for Baramati has intensified, with Lok Sabha polls ahead this year.

Sule told ANI, “How can this be a family fight? Anyone can contest elections in a democracy. I also said yesterday that if they have a strong candidate, then I am ready to talk to that candidate. Whatever topic, time, or place they decide, I am ready to sit down and discuss…”

On the issues she will be fighting, she said, “I am contesting for Parliament polls. Unemployment, inflation, a big Paytm issue, and the scam of the electoral bond… People who have been accused of corruption…all those corrupted… if they are convicted…they all are joining the BJP,” she said, adding, “whether corruption took place in the country or not. This is a big issue.”

Her remarks came in the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court verdict striking down as “unconstitutional” the electoral bond scheme.

“Should there not be an inquiry? ‘Na khaunga, na khane dunga’ was a lie,'” Sule added, taking a dig at Prime Minister Modi.

Her latest remarks came a day after publicity campaign vehicles in Baramati showcased pictures of NCP Chief Ajit Pawar and his wife Sunetra, even as speculation continued on her being the candidate of the NCP (Ajit Pawar) for the constituency in the Lok Sabha. This constituency, which was repeatedly represented by Sharad Pawar, is currently represented by his daughter, Supriya Sule.

The campaign vehicle carried a banner with photographs of Sunetra Pawar and Ajit Pawar with the symbol of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The Baramati Lok Sabha segment has traditionally been a bastion of Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule.

Supriya Sule was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2006, followed by three consecutive terms in 2009, 2014 and 2019 as a Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha.

Sunetra Pawar is a social worker and hails from a political family. Her brother is senior politician and former minister, Padamsinh Patil.

Sunetra Pawar is the founder of the Environmental Forum of India, an NGO founded in 2010 and serves as a trustee for the indigenous and well-known educational institution Vidya Prathishthan. She has been a Think Tank member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum in France since 2011. (ANI)

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Defence Research and Development Organisation

DRDO, Over 1,200 Defence Firms To Participate At MSME Defence Expo

Indian Defence forces along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are set to take part in the inaugural edition of the Maharashtra Defence Expo which is being held from February 17-19 in Pune with an aim of promoting the medium and small enterprises.

The expo with a large participation from the medium and small enterprises is also aimed at promoting the coastal state as a hub for defence manufacturing, state government officials said here.

The expo is being held at the Pune International Exhibition and Convention Centre with defence firm Nibe Limited as its knowledge partner, they said.

The state of Maharashtra has a large number of defence PSUs, DRDO laboratories (headquartered in Pune), and Ordnance Factories, along with a robust network of over 12,500 MSMEs contributing to the defence ecosystem in the country.

The event aims to provide a platform for prominent industry leaders, innovative start-ups, and dynamic MSMEs to showcase their capabilities, fostering collaboration and unlocking immense potential within the defence sector.

The event will also see the participation of approximately 10,000 students from various universities and engineering colleges in Maharashtra.

This presents an unparalleled opportunity for students to interact with the top brass of the Tri-Services and industry professionals deeply engaged in the defence sector, an official said. (ANI)

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Yojana-Urban Modi

Modi Gets Emotional As PMAY-Urban Housing Scheme Inaugurated In Solapur

In a heartfelt moment during the inaugural address of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-Urban) scheme in Solapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got emotional as he talked about the housing scheme in Maharashtra.

“Today the country’s largest society is built under PM Awas Yojana has been inaugurated. It was my promise in 2014 and coming back to see it is a fulfilling moment and I thought, I wish I too had gotten a chance to live in such a house in my childhood,” PM Modi shared in his inaugural address.

The beneficiaries of the housing scheme include handloom workers, vendors, power loom workers, rag pickers, bidi workers, and drivers, among others.

“I am happy that the pledge we had taken for the thousands of poor and labourers of Solapur is being fulfilled today. The day I came here to lay the foundation stone of this project, I had given you the guarantee that I would soon come to give the keys to your houses,” the Prime Minister added.

“Today, Modi has fulfilled this guarantee. Remember, Modi’s Guarantee means ‘Guarantee Ke Poora Hone Ki Guarantee’!” he added.

He emphasized the government’s dedication to the welfare of the poor and the implementation of schemes to make their lives easier.

PM Modi highlighted the challenges faced by the poor under previous governments and reiterated his commitment to a government dedicated to the welfare of the poor since 2014.

“Our government, following the ideals of Prabhu Shree Ram, has been ensuring that good governance and honesty exist in the country,” the Prime Minister said.

“For a long time, slogans of ‘Garibi Hatao’ were raised in the country. But despite these slogans poverty was not eliminated. Schemes were made in the name of the poor, but the poor did not get their benefits,” he said.

“The middlemen used to loot their rightful money. The policies, intentions and loyalty of the earlier governments were in the dock,” he added.

During the address, the Prime Minister inaugurated 7 Amrit Projects worth Rs. 2,000 crore across different cities in Maharashtra, extending congratulations to the people of the state on this special occasion.

AMRUT 2.0 is designed to provide universal coverage of water supply through functional taps to all households in all the statutory towns in the country and coverage of sewerage/septage management.

In line with the government’s philosophy, PM Modi emphasized the dignity of labour, self-reliance, and the welfare of the poor.

“As soon as the government was formed in 2014, I had said, ‘My government is a government dedicated to the poor.’ Therefore, we implemented such schemes one after the other, which would reduce the difficulties of the poor and make their lives easier,” he said.

“Prabhu Shree Ram has been the greatest inspiration for us to remain dedicated and committed. It is Ramrajya which has inspired everyone’s support, everyone’s development, everyone’s faith and everyone’s efforts,” he added.

PM Modi concluded with anticipation for the historic consecration of Ram Lalla, expressing devotion during this special time ahead of the grand ‘Pran Pratishtha’ ceremony of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya.

The Prime Minister shared the significance of the moment and the end of the decade-long practice of having darshan in a tent.

“I am now busy with my Yama Niyamas under the guidance of some saints and I am following them strictly before the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of Ram Lalla. It is also a coincidence that my ritual started from the land of Panchavati from Nashik in Maharashtra,” PM Modi said.

“This time is full of devotion for all of us. That historic moment is going to come on January 22, when Lord Ram is going to sit in his grand temple. The decades-old pain of having darshan of our idol in a tent is now going to go away,” he added.

During the programme, the Prime Minister dedicated more than 90,000 houses completed under PMAY-Urban in Maharashtra and 15,000 houses to Raynagar Housing Society in Solapur.

Further, the Prime Minister kickstarted the distribution of 1st and 2nd instalments to 10,000 beneficiaries of PM-SVANIDHI in Maharashtra during the programme. (ANI)

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Eknath Shinde Pune Hit-And-Run Case

M’rashtra Signed MoUs Of Over Rs 4L Cr At World Economic Forum: Shinde

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday said that the state has signed MoUs of more than Rs 4 lakh crore, i.e., around 46 billion, here on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Speaking to ANI, CM Shinde said, “People are excited to invest in Maharashtra. Including today and yesterday, various MoUs were signed. We expected around 3 lakh crores, but MoUs worth more than 4 lakh crore, i.e., around 46 billion, were signed.”

“We get a huge international platform from the World Economic Forum. Discussions are held on the environment and technology. Maharashtra is the favourite destination for industries. Our policy is very flexible and pro-industry. The people (in Maharashtra) are very positive and cooperative,” he added.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister further said that the good relations between Maharashtra and the Central Government and the double-engine government are working.

“Everyone knows that the state government of Maharashtra and the central government have good relations. Double engine government is working. Maharashtra is also the biggest contributor to the Gross domestic product (GDP),” he told ANI.

The World Economic Forum was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Earlier, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said her government in New Delhi is working with a mantra of women-led development, and it has helped in empowering them.

She said the PM Awas housing scheme, where a majority of the beneficiaries are women, and the Ujjwala gas connection for poor women have helped empower them.

The total number of gas connections in India rose from 14 crores to 32 crores since the incumbent BJP government came to power in 2014. A majority of the new gas connections were under the Ujjwala scheme that started in 2016.

“230 million women received their bank accounts for the first time courtesy of the Jan Dhan Yojna. Of the 400 million loans given out, 70 per cent of beneficiaries were women with women-owned businesses, which means, 280 million women-owned businesses received funds. The NPA was less than 2.5 per cent”, said Minister Irani at an event organised by the industry body Confederation of India Industry, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated the lounge. This initiative is devoted to capacity building, mainstreaming and sharing some of the best practices in the industry and taken across the spectrum. (ANI)

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Milind Deora Eknath Shinde

This Is Just Trailer: Shinde After Deora’s Induction To Shiv Sena

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday said that the induction of former Union Minister and Congress leader Milind Deora in his party was just a trailer and the full picture was yet to come, hinting at more influx from the opposition ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking after Deora joined his party in the presence of several leaders of Shiv Sena in Mumbai, Shinde said that he performed an “operation” one and half years before and didn’t even have to make stitches and the operation was done.

“I am not a doctor. Despite not being a doctor, I performed an operation one and half year before…didn’t even have to make stitches and the operation was done. I won’t say anything more than this…This is just a trailer, film is yet to come in,” he said.

Shinde drew parallels between the sentiments expressed by Milind Deora on the current occasion and the emotions he himself experienced 1.5 years ago when he severed ties with then Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.

“The feelings that you (Milind Deora) have in your mind today are the same that I had 1.5 years back. Such situations arise when a decision has to be made,” Shinde said.

Deora on Sunday joined the Shiv Sena in the presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde after quitting the Congress earlier in the day.

The former South Mumbai Lok Sabha MP joined the ruling party in a function in Varsha, the official residence of the chief minister, in the afternoon. During the ceremony, Deora affirmed his commitment to strengthen Shinde’s leadership further and praised his vision for Mumbai and the state.

“I am joining him to strengthen his hands further. Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah also have a vision for the country. I want to strengthen their hands as well through the Shiv Sena,” Deora said.

The Maharashtra leader ended his 55-year-old association with the party which went back to his father Murli Deora.

The Maharashtra leader ended his 55-year-old association with the party which went back to his father Murli Deora.

While emphasizing his commitment to Congress, Milind Deora said that he remained loyal to the party during its most challenging decade.

“I have been receiving a lot of phone calls since morning that why did I sever 55-year-old ties of my family with Congress party…I was loyal to the party during its most challenging decade. Unfortunately, today’s Congress is very different from the Congress of 1968 as well as that of 2004. Had Congress and UBT given importance to constructive and positive suggestions and merit and capability,

Eknath Shinde and I wouldn’t have been here. Eknath Shinde had to make a major decision, I had to make a major decision,” he said. (ANI)

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