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BJP, Shiv Sena talks continue over six 'difficult' Maha LS seats

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Mumbai, April 1 (IANS) Despite burning the midnight oil over hard negotiations, the stalemate continues between BJP and Shiv Sena over six Lok Sabha seats, including Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Nashik, Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis held three rounds of talks so far but could not arrive at a consensus as both have taken aggressive stands claiming the winnability factor in those six seats. Insiders from both parties pointed out that CM Shinde and DyCM Fadnavis have hinted that the workable solution will now be possible only after the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Of the six seats, Thane is held by Shiv Sena UBT after the split in June 2022, Palghar by Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde), Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg by Shiv Sena UBT, Nashik by Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, Dharashiv (until recently known as Osmanabad) by Shiv Sena UBT and Sambhajinagar by AIMIM.

The bone of contention is that BJP has staked claim over Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Sambhajinagar and Nashik while Shinde faction has made a strong pitch not to leave these seats to BJP. Both parties claim their better winning prospects riding on Modi wave and Modi ki guarantee.

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CM Shinde is not ready to give Thane seat considering it as a matter of prestige. Incidentally, Thane is CM Shinde’s home turf. On the other hand, BJP has argued that after the split in Shiv Sena, Shinde faction lacks a formidable candidate to take on sitting MP Rajan Vichare from the Shiv Sena UBT.

In Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, CM Shinde is under tremendous pressure from Industry Minister Uday Samant and his brother Kiran Samant to field the party nominee instead of leaving it to BJP. However, BJP is keen to nominate former Union Minister Narayan Rane and hopes to snatch the seat from Shiv Sena UBT. In Palghar too, BJP is confident to win the seat based on its increased presence and also because of the work of RSS and organisations affiliated to it. BJP hopes to get support from Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi in Palghar.

Similarly, in Sambhajinagar, which was until recently known as Aurangabad, Shinde faction has considered the nomination to the party’s Minister Sandipan Bhamre or Maratha reservation activist Vinod Patil. On the other hand, BJP has made a strong pitch for Sambhajinagar seat as the party believes that it was in a comfortable position to take the advantage of divided opposition and cracks within Shiv Sena UBT. The Union Minister Bhagwat Karad is BJP’s likely nominee in Sambhajinagar. The Shiv Sena UBT has announced its nomination to former MP Chandrakant Khaire.

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On top of it, the Ajit Pawar-led NCP’s claim over Nashik has made the ongoing seat-sharing process more complicated. NCP Minister and Samata Parishad founder Chhagan Bhujbal has claimed that his nomination has been pitched by none other than senior BJP leaders which has clean bowled the Shiv Sena in particular. The sitting MP Hemant Godse has already launched his campaign without waiting for the official announcement of seat-sharing agreement while Bhujbal is confident to get the nomination from his party.

Bhujbal has categorically made it clear that he will contest the Nashik seat on the party’s clock symbol and not on BJP’s lotus. However, the local BJP is not in tune with Bhujbal’s proposal citing that it has three legislators and the backing of over 70 former corporators from the Nashik Municipal Corporation and also from the adjoining Trimbakeshwar civic body.

As far as Dharashiv seat is concerned, Shiv Sena UBT has already nominated sitting MP Omraje Nimbalkar who has started his campaign by stepping up outreach with voters. BJP is expected to field party legislator and former Minister Rana Patil while Shinde faction is finding it difficult for a suitable nominee who can take on Om Raje Nimbalkar. NCP led by Ajit Pawar hopes to get the Dharashiv seat and it has already shortlisted three names, including party legislators Satish Chavan and Vikram Kale and the district officer-bearer Suresh Birajdar.

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–IANS

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Eknath Shinde tells party cadres to start preparations for Maha Assembly polls

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday told the party leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs and office bearers to start preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Eknath Shinde also stressed on launching the membership drive and focussing on updating the electoral rolls.

The Maharashtra CM, who reviewed the preparations for the Shiv Sena’s 58th anniversary on June 19, said that the party has retained its strongholds including Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Konkan, Thane and Palghar.

“… and now, the time is to further consolidate Shiv Sena’s position in the rest of Maharashtra,” he said.

The Chief Minister also said that the party’s anniversary would be celebrated in a “big way”.

Eknath Shinde congratulated all his colleagues for the success of the party in the recently held Lok Sabha elections but asked them to correct the mistakes made in the general elections and to prepare more efficiently for the upcoming assembly elections.

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He said even as people are supporting the Shiv Sena, the party leaders and workers will have to work more vigorously to change the wrong narrative set by the opposition about the change in the Constitution.

Eknath Shinde said all efforts will be made during the assembly elections so that the opposition would not repeat wrong narratives.

He said that all Hindu festivals like Dahihandi, Ganapati, Dussehra, Diwali should be celebrated with much enthusiasm including Ashadhi Wari of Pandharpur.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra CM announced that the government will implement a tree plantation campaign in every district to tackle climate change.

He directed all district collectors to plant one lakh trees in each district. In addition, he added that the Shiv Sena will also conduct a similar campaign across the state.

–IANS

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Bengal LoP requests Governor to ensure retention of CAPF till Durga Puja

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Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) The Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday requested Governor C.V. Ananda Bose to initiate the process for retention of 400 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF), already in the state, till the Durga Puja in October in wake of the post-poll violence that has broken out in different pockets since the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on June 4.

Adhikari made this request after meeting the Governor at Raj Bhavan, along with a group of victims of post-poll violence.

The Governor told Adhikari that he would do whatever was necessary to arrest such instances of post-poll violence in the state.

Later speaking to the media persons the Governor said that he promises in the names of all great men born in West Bengal that he will go to the extreme in this matter.

Quoting a recent order of the Calcutta High Court, the Governor said that it seemed that he was under house arrest.

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“Those who are victims of post-poll violence were not earlier allowed to meet the Governor,” he said.

He also said that he has received a total of 1,025 complaints related to post-poll violence.

Adhikari told media persons that he has informed the Governor that the pillars of democracy are under attack in West Bengal. “The ration cards of around 5,000 individuals in the state have been snatched away,” he alleged.

–IANS

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Manipur Governor apprises President about prevailing situation in the state

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New Delhi/Imphal, June 16 (IANS) Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on Sunday called on President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan and discussed the situation in the state, officials said adding that the President assured to extend all possible support.

Manipur Raj Bhawan sources said that the Governor apprised the President about the hardships faced by the displaced persons sheltered in various relief camps in the state, and requested immediate action for the resettlement of the displaced people in their respective villages.

“The Governor also requested the President to provide financial assistance for the displaced people in the state,” a source said.

She also invited the President to attend the Convocation Ceremony of the Manipur University.

Giving a patient hearing to the Governor, the President assured to extend all possible assistance to the state, the sources added.

The Governor also met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Rashtrapati Bhavan and requested financial assistance to Manipur.

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In view of the ethnic strife in Manipur since May 3 last year, over 50,000 men, women and children belonging to different communities have been displaced and are now sheltered in 350 camps set up in schools, government buildings, and auditoriums in Manipur.

–IANS

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Has Agnipath Scheme been relaunched? Govt says fake WhatsApp message doing rounds

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The government on Sunday dismissed reports that the Agnipath Scheme has been relaunched, terming the social media message fake and clarifying no such decision to this effect was taken.

“A #fake WhatsApp message claims that the Agnipath Scheme has been re-launched as ‘Sainik Saman Scheme’ after review with several changes including duty period being extended to 7 years, 60 per cent permanent staff & increased income… GOI has taken no such decision,” the Press Information Bureau clarified on its X handle.

The fake message doing rounds contained a number of spelling mistakes, making it appear questionable.

The opposition, which has been critical of the Agnipath Scheme from the outset, aggressively questioned its credibility during the Lok Sabha polls campaign with the Congress ‘promising’ to do away with the scheme if voted to power at the Centre.

The Agnipath Scheme is a “tour of duty style” scheme that was implemented in September 2022 for the recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces only for a four-year period.

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Personnel recruited under this system would be called Agniveers.

–IANS

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'No consultation': Kharge slams relocation of Mahatma, Dr Ambedkar statues in Parliament complex

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday slammed the government for “arbitrarily” removing the statues of many great leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, from their prominent places in the Parliament House Complex and their relocation “to a separate corner”.

He termed the action, taken without any consultation, as violative of the “basic spirit of our democracy”.

“The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar were situated in prominent locations and of other major leaders at appropriate locations after due deliberation and consideration. Each statue and its location across the Parliament House complex holds immense value and significance.”

“The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture located right in front of old Parliament Building held immense significance for India’s democratic polity. Members paid their respects at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi imbibing within themselves the spirit of Mahatma. It is at this place that Members often conducted peaceful and democratic protests, drawing strength from their presence,” he said in a statement.

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“The statue of D. Babasaheb Ambedkar too had been placed at a vantage point conveying the powerful message that Babasaheb is extolling the generations of parliamentarians to steadfastly hold on to values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. Incidentally, during my student days in mid-60s, I was in the forefront demanding for installation of statue of Babasaheb in the precincts of the Parliament House,” Kharge noted.

“Such concerted efforts eventually resulted in installing of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue at the place where it was hitherto before placed. The prior placement of Babasaheb statue also facilitated seamless movement of people paying their tributes to him on his birth and death anniversaries,” the Congress chief said, adding that “all this has now been brought to a naught in arbitrary and unilateral manner”.

He noted that there is a dedicated Committee called the “Committee on the Installation of Portraits and Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in the Parliament House Complex,” which includes MPs from both Houses, but this had not been reconstituted since 2019.

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“Such decisions made without any proper discussion and deliberation with relevant stakeholders are against the rules and traditions of our Parliament,” he said.

The Congress President’s reaction came as Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, inaugurated the newly constructed Prerna Sthal at the Parliament House Complex, where all the statues of eminent Indian leaders and freedom fighters, previously dispersed across different places in the Parliament House complex, have been brought at one place.

–IANS

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