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Maharashtra

Five killed, two injured as chartered plane crashes in Mumbai suburb

At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.
 
Chartered plane crashes in Mumbai, 5 dead
 
 
At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.
 
Eyewitnesses said that the plane was seen hurtling down in the narrow Jeevadaya Lane area and crashed with a deafening sound before breaking into pieces and bursting into flames around 1.15 p.m. There were two pilots and as many engineers on board.
 
The fuselage had broken into several pieces and one piece was recovered at least 50 metres away while some other portions of the plane burnt in the premises of an under-construction building. The fire was brought under control within half an hour by the fire brigade.
 
The aircraft's crucial Flight Data Recorder or Black Box was recovered.
 
A local passer-by in the vicinity of the crash was burnt fatally when some burning ATF fuel from the aircraft fell on him, said an eyewitness who was among the first to reach the spot.
 
The cause of the crash is not known and it occurred in the compound of the under construction Jagruti apartments, thereby averting a potentially major disaster.
 
There are usually at least four dozen labourers working on the premises but they had taken a lunch break when the aircraft hurtled there, creating a crater by its impact.
 
Aviation expert and Executive Airways Managing Director Pradeep Thampi said the aircraft was a 30-year-old King Air C-90, purchased from the Uttar Pradesh government by private company UY Aviation Pvt Ltd in Mumbai around a couple of years ago.
 
"Its call sign was VT-UPZ and it was a regular 12-seater on a test flight. The tragedy has claimed the pilot, co-pilot and two engineers. We cannot say immediately what may have led to the sudden crash," Thampi told IANS.
 
An Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson confirmed that the Mumbai-based UY Aviation Pvt Ltd had bought the aircraft a few years ago.
 
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, who hails from Mumbai, expressed "deep shock" over the tragedy and directed the ministry officials concerned to rush to the accident site and provide all assistance possible.
 
Prabhu said he has ordered the Director-General of Civil Aviation to conduct an investigation into the crash and a team has left for the spot for a preliminary probe.
 
Mumbai Police, fire brigade, disaster relief agencies, besides local BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, legislators and others are at the site and further details of the victim crew members and pedestrians are awaited.
 
IANS
 
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16 dead, 15 injured, several trapped as five-storeyed building collapses in Mumbai

At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.
 
16 dead, 15 injured in Mumbai building collapse
At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.
 
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Assistant Commissioner J S Ghegadmal told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene that 31 victims had been extricated from the debris, of whom 16 were found dead.
 
The injured were rushed to the nearby J. J. Hospital, where the condition of some of them was stated to be serious, sources said.
 
With several more people feared trapped under the tonnes of debris, scores of men from the Mumbai Fire Brigade, the Municipal Corporation, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local residents were engaged in massive search and rescue efforts.
 
Cranes, gas cutters and other equipment were being used to clear the debris and cut through the mangled steel and concrete to reach the victims and look for possible survivors.
 
The structure was more than a hundred years old, sources said. It was locted in a heavily congested area in south Mumbai's C Ward, and rescue teams with their big vehicles and heavy equipment had a tough time reaching the spot.
 
The building had a playschool on the premises which would have opened at 10 am as usual. However, the building came down at about 8.30 am, much before the children were scheduled to arrive.
 
This is the third major incident of building collapse in the metropolis in recent weeks. On July 25, at least 17 people died and 11 others suffered injuries when a four-storeyed residential building collapsed in the suburban area of Ghatkopar.
 
On August 26, six people lost their lives when a part of a seven-storeyed under-construction building collapsed at Chandivali while some unauthorised portions of the structure were being demolished.
 
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Municipal officials said they received a call about the collapse of the building around 8.40 am and the fire brigade was immediately rushed to the spot. There was no immediate word on the number of people living in the building and how many of them were trapped under the debris. Police have cordoned off the area to facilitate the smooth conduct of the search and rescue operations.
 
The incident has come two days after Mumbai experienced its heaviest rainfall since the July 2005 floods.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incient and is personally monitoring the situation.
 
He has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident by a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Housing).
 
Mr. Fadnavis has asked the Municipal Commissioner to submit a detailed report on the tragedy. He also asked the Municipal Commissioner to focus on ensuring immediate medical assistance to the injured persons. State Minister Subhash Desai visited the spot and later briefed Mr. Fadnavis about the situation.
 
Civic officials said the building had been declared unsafe for living six years ago. The residents had been served with evacuation notices in 2011 and ordered to vacate the building to enable redevelopment of the area under the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) project.
 
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16 dead, 14 injured in major fire at ammunition depot in Maharashtra

At least 22 defence personnel died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
16 dead, 14 injured in ammunition depot fire in Wardha
At least 16 people died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of today and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
Wardha district officials said the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Wardha town, about 30 km from Pulgaon, for treatment, official sources said.
 
The massive fire and the explosions that followed lit up the night sky in the town, located about 100 km from Nagpur.
 
The fire broke out in the Central Ammunition Depot around 1.30 am today and was brought under control by around 6 am today, they said.
 
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and would be established only after an inquiry, they said.
 
The sources said families living in accommodation near the depot were evacuated to safer places as a precautionary measure.
 
Fire brigade personnel worked throughout the night to bring the blaze under control.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire.
 
“Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter
 
"I pray that those who are injured recover quickly," he said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to rush to the spot and take stock of the situation. 
 
Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh is also rushing to Wardha for an assessment of the situation, the sources added.
 
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Kovind presents Colours to Army Aviation Corps

President Ram Nath Kovind presenting Colours to the Army Aviation Corps at a ceremony in Nashik on October 10, 2019.
President Ram Nath Kovind presenting Colours to the Army Aviation Corps at a ceremony in Nashik on October 10, 2019.
President Ram Nath Kovind presented Colours to the Army Aviation Corps, which is the youngest corps of the Indian Army and has proved its mettle in various operations, at a ceremony in Nashik, Maharashtra today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President noted that the Army Aviation Corps had earned 273 honours and awards for conspicuous gallantry and distinguished service. 
 
"This speaks volumes about the exceptional valour and high spirit of the Corps personnel and is a model for all soldiers and officers of our armed forces. They have been excellent ambassadors of our country while operating overseas in countries like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo while serving at United Nations Peace Keeping Missions," he said.
 
"It gives me immense pleasure to be present amid my sky soldiers. In my capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, I dedicate this event to the armed forces of our country," he said.
 
He noted that the 32 years since the corps came into existence were replete with tales of heroism, honour and glory in various operations. 
 
"Immediately after its raising in 1986, the Army Aviation Corps proved its impeccable combat credentials during ‘Operation Pawan’ in Sri Lanka. The Siachen Glacier has been the ultimate operational frontier for the Corps since 1984. Routinely operating at 20000 feet and above in extremely challenging conditions, the highly skilled and motivated pilots of the Corps have been carrying out yeoman service in ‘Operation Meghdoot’," he said.
 
"At this Colour Presentation Ceremony, I would like to pay homage to the martyrs of the Army Aviation Corps. Their blood and sacrifice has secured our sovereignty and brought glory to our nation. I also congratulate all veterans and serving soldiers of the Corps for their devotion to duty and professional conduct. You have been true force multipliers in some of the most inhospitable terrain and adverse climatic conditions in the world. I take this opportunity to convey my best wishes to all ranks and families of the entire Army Aviation Corps fraternity. The Indian Army and the nation are proud of you," he said.
 
The colours were received by Combat Army Aviation Training School on behalf of the Army Aviation Corps.
 
Immediately after its raising in 1986, the Army Aviation Corps proved its impeccable combat credentials during 'Operation Pawan' in Sri Lanka. The Siachen Glacier has been the ultimate operational frontier for the Corps since 1984. Routinely operating at 20,000 feet and above in extremely challenging conditions, the highly skilled and motivated pilots of the Corps have been supporting 'Operation Meghdoot' with skill and dedication.   
 
The President congratulated Lieutenant General Kanwal Kumar, Director General and Colonel Commandant of Army Aviation and all ranks (both serving and retired) for their devotion to duty and professional conduct.
 
The ceremony was witnessed by Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and various civil and military dignitaries. 
 
General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General P S Rajeshwar, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Lieutenant General S K Saini, GOC-in-C Southern Command and Lieutenant General P C Thimmaya, GOC-in-C ARTRAC, along with a large number of serving officers and veterans witnessed the ceremony and helicopter flypast.
 
Subsequently, the President visited the School of Artillery, Deolali and interacted with the gunners.
 
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President to visit Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat from October 9-13

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President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat from October 9-13, an official press release said.
 
The President will leave for Maharashtra this evening and present colours to the Army Aviation Corps in Nashik tomorrow. He will also visit the School of Artillery, Deolali, Nashik on the same day.
 
Kovind will reach Karnataka on October 10 and attend the birth centenary celebrations of Maharaja Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar of Mysore.
 
On October 11, the President will lay the foundation stone for the campus of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research at Varuna village, Mysuru.
 
On October 12, the President will visit Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Sansthana in Bengaluru.
 
On October 13, the President will visit Shri Mahaveer Jain Aradhna Kendra in Koba, Gujarat, the release added.
 
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Chess: Pranav, Rakshitta lead India’s challenge

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Indians continued to hold sway in the Under-14 categories of the World Youth Chess Championship, with FIDE Master Pranav Anand and Woman International Master Rakshitta Ravi scoring swift victories here on Saturday.
 
Pranav beat Poland’s Sebastian Poltorak in the U14 Open category to share the lead with IM Aydin Suleymanli of Azerbaijan and Aditya Sawant of India as Round 5 continued late into the evening. Pranav has 4.5 points to move past overnight leader LR Srihari who yielded the top position after losing to Suleymanli.
 
Rakshitta, on the other hand, crushed Varvara Poliakova of Belarus to jump into sole lead in the U14 Girls class with 4.5 points. Top seeded WIM Divya Deshmukh too downed compatriot Aanya Agrawal, putting her title hunt back on track. Divya has 3.5 points after suffering one loss and one draw in five rounds.
 
In the Under-18 Open, India’s star player Grand Master R Praggnanandhaa held on to the pole position with 4.5 points, defeating countryman Arjun Kalyan after an intense battle. He shared the lead with IM Aryan Gholami of Ireland, who comfortably beat IM Viachaslau Zarubitski of Belarus.
 
The country’s other GM P Iniyan played out a draw with IM Aditya Mittal to trail the leaders by half a point.
 
India’s hopes remained alive in the U16 Open too, with Candidate Master Aronyak Ghosh drawing against co-leader International Master Rudik Makarian of Russia. The duo was joined by Iranian FM Arash Daghli who upstaged Indian FM Amit Moksh.
 
Key Results
 
Under 18 Open: Praggnanandhaa R (4.5) bt Arjun Kalyan ( 3.5); Aryan Gholami (IRI, 4.5) bt Viachaslau Zarubitski (BLR, 3.5); Aditya Mittal ( 4) drew with Iniyan P (4)
 
Under 18 Girls: Kucharska Honorata (POL, 4) drew with Viktoria Radeva (BUL, 4)
 
Under 16 Open: Aronyak Ghosh ( 4.5) drew with Rudik Makarian (RUS, 4.5); Moke Hans Niemann (USA, 4) drew with Stefan Pogosyan (RUS, 4); Arash Daghli (IRI, 4.5) bt Amit Moksh (3.5)
 
Under 16 Girls: Mrudul Dehankar (3) lost to Akshaya BM (4)
 
Under 14 Open: Suleymanli Aydin (AZE, 4.5) beat LR Srihari (4); Pranav Anand ( 4.5) beat Sebastian Poltorak (POL, 3.5); Manish Kumar (3.5) lost to Aditya Samant (4.5)
 
Under 14 Girls: Varvara Poliakova (BLR, 3.5) lost to Rakshitta Ravi ( 4.5); Ekaterina Nasyrova (RUS, 4) drew with Dhyana Patel (4)
 
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Aditya Thackeray to contest Assembly polls from Worli

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As anticipated, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray's son Aditya Thackeray will contest the Assembly elections from Worli in Mumbai, a top party source said here late on Sunday.
 
The 288-member Maharashtra Assembly will go to the polls on October 21 while the results will be declared on October 24.
 
The development comes amidst the uncertainty over Sena's proposed poll tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but the source said the "alliance is very much on".
 
The 29-year old grandson of late Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena, Aditya Thackeray will stand from the prestigious Worli seat in south-central Mumbai.
 
He will be the first member from the Thackeray family to enter the electoral fray after Shalini Thackeray, the wife of Jeetendra Thackeray, a cousin of MNS founder Raj Thackeray, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Aditya Thackeray, who has BA and LL. B. degrees, is the son of Uddhav and Rashmi Thackeray and has a younger brother, Tejas Thackeray.
 
IANS
 

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Ex-CM, late CM's son in Congress' first Maharashtra list

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With less than a week left for filing nominations for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls, the Congress on Sunday released a list of 51 candidates, including former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
 
Congress General Secretary Mukul Wasnik released the list of the 51 candidates after the names were finalised by the party's Central Election Committee.
 
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which are contesting in alliance with other smaller parties, have agreed to contest 125 seats each and leave the remaining 38 seats in the 288-member Assembly to the other allies.
 
Among the Congress candidates are Chavan from Bhokar, state unit President Vijay aka Balasaheb Thorat from Sangamner seat, Working President Nitin Raut from Nagpur North, and party MLA Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh, son of late former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, from the Latur city seat.
 
The party has also fielded sitting Dharavi MLA Varsha Gaikwad, the daughter of senior Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad.
 
The last date of nominations for the October 21 elections is October 4. Counting of votes will take place on October 24.
 
The Congress, which had ruled the state for three consecutive terms with the NCP from 1999 to 2014, had contested the 2014 assembly polls all alone. It won 42, while the NCP won 41 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, won 122 seats and its ally Shiv Sena 63 seats, while the remaining were won by others.
 
Ahead of the assembly polls, the Congress has suffered major setbacks as several senior leaders have left the party, including Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who was Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, former Ministers Abdul Sattar and Kripa Shankar Singh, who was once known as the party's north Indian face in Mumbai.
 
IANS
 

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Sharad Pawar meets nephew Ajit in Mumbai

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A day after his bombshell resignation, former two-time Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar arrived in Mumbai to meet his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar at the latter's home on Saturday afternoon.
 
This is the first meeting between them after Ajit Pawar abruptly resigned as Baramati MLA on Friday evening, stunning party and state political circles.
 
Sharad Pawar, on late Friday night, said Ajit's family informed him that he was "disturbed" over the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case in the alleged Rs 25,000-crore scam in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd. (MSCB) and decided to quit.
 
He also indicated that Ajit Pawar was contemplating quitting politics altogether even as the state prepares for elections on October 21 with the NCP posing a formidable challenge along with the Congress and other allies to wrest power from the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine.
 
In a party meeting, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray declined to comment on the issue saying: "I am not interested in anybody's family squabbles."
 
In a surprise move, Ajit Pawar went and submitted his resignation to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade who accepted it, barely six weeks before the term of the present assembly is due to expire.
 
While Sharad Pawar drove down from Pune, Ajit reportedly came from Ahmednagar and the entire family, including Supriya Sule, MP (Pawar Sr.'s daughter) and other close relatives, were huddled in a private meeting.
 
Some senior party leaders like Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde and National Spokesperson Jitendra Awhad were outside Pawar's residence, but there was no word on the discussions going on inside.
 
There was fresh speculation that Sharad Pawar might prevail upon Ajit to reconsider his move and plunge afresh into the election campaigning which he was doing till Thursday.
 
IANS

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'Upset' over ED case, NCP leader Ajit Pawar quits as MLA

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Upset by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case lodged against him, Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has quit as MLA from Baramati, party President Sharad Pawar said here late on Friday.
 
"I was not aware of his decision. He is a fighter and a blunt speaker who will not leave the battlefield. I learnt about it after speaking with his family," Sharad Pawar told a crowded press conference at his Modibaug home in Pune.
 
The Maratha strongman said that according to his family, Ajit Pawar was "greatly disturbed" at the manner in which Sharad Pawar's name was dragged in the alleged Rs 25,000-crore scam in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd (MSCB).
 
"There used to be problems related to the MSCB work in the cooperative sectors, which we used to sort out with the help of other agencies. But Ajit Pawar is particularly distressed after my name (Sharad Pawar's) came in the picture," he added.
 
Pawar said that Ajit Pawar is extremely disgusted over the depths to which politics has plummeted in recent years and gone to the extent of advising his son Parth against joining politics and instead take up farming or get into some other business.
 
"I get the impression Ajit Pawar may even consider quitting politics," Pawar said.
 
"The real reasons behind his decision I will learn only after I meet him. I can assure you that there are no differences in the family where I am the head and my word in final. There may have been disputes over some political issues but even those were ironed out after discussions," Pawar said, urging the media not to portray the family in bad light.
 
Earlier this evening, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade confirmed that Ajit Pawar had submitted his resignation as a legislator and it has been accepted.
 
Ajit Pawar personally visited the Speaker's office and submitted his resignation to the Speaker's aide, stunning state political circles.
 
"He later also sent his resignation by email to me this afternoon and then called me up with a request that it should be accepted. I did not ask for the reasons. As requested, I have accepted the resignation," Bagade told the media.
 
The development came on a fast-paced day when nominations for the October 21 state assembly elections opened against the backdrop of Sharad Pawar's plans to visit the ED office for investigations.
 
Incidentally, Ajit Pawar, 60, was conspicuous by his absence earlier on Friday at Sharad Pawar's home in Silver Oaks Apartment when the latter finally announced he had cancelled plans to go to the ED office.
 
The younger Pawar is the only leader in the state's history to have served as Deputy CM on two occasions - from November 2010 to September 2012 and again from October 2012 to September 2014.
 
IANS
 

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Maharashtra: NCP leader Ajit Pawar quits as MLA

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In a fresh shock to the beleaguered Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday quit as MLA from Baramati, party sources said here.
 
No reason was given for the abrupt step by Pawar who was named along with his uncle and NCP President Sharad Pawar, besides other political leaders and officials by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the alleged Rs 25,000-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd. scam on September 24.
 
Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade confirmed that Ajit Pawar had submitted his resignation as legislator and that it has been accepted.
 
Ajit Pawar personally visited the Speaker's office and submitted his resignation to the Speaker's aide.
 
"He later also sent his resignation by email to me this afternoon and then called me up with a request that it should be accepted. I did not ask for the reasons. As requested, I have accepted the resignation," Bagade informed the media.
 
The development came on a fast-paced day when nominations for the October 21 state assembly elections opened against the backdrop of Sharad Pawar's plans to visit the ED office for investigations.
 
Incidentally, Ajit Pawar, 60, was conspicuous by his absence earlier today at Sharad Pawar's home in Silver Oaks Apartment when the latter finally announced he had cancelled plans to go to the ED office.
 
He made the announcement in the presence of the NCP top brass, and leaders of various alliance parties such as Congress, Samajwadi Party, and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana after the Mumbai Police requested him in view of a possible law and order situation.
 
Senior party leaders remained incommunicado on the probable reasons behind Ajit Pawar's quitting his legislative seat which he was slated to contest again.
 
He is the only leader in the state's history to have served as Deputy CM on two occasions -- from November 2010 to September 2012 and again from October 2012 to September 2014.
 
Speculation was rife in political circles about whether Pawar Jr.'s decision indicated a rift within the state's numero uno political family or whether the ED is likely to summon him for investigations soon or that he could chart a different political course.
 
IANS
 

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As Pawar visits ED, Rahul accuses govt of vindictivenes

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As Maharashtra erupts with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supporters taking to the streets against what they call "harassment" of its chief Sharad Pawar by investigative agencies, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has now thrown his weight behind the senior politician.
 
In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi said: "Sharad Pawar Ji is the latest opposition leader to be targeted by a vindictive government. The timing of this action, a month before elections in Maharashtra, reeks of political opportunism."
 
The NCP supremo is slated to voluntarily visit the Enforcement Directorate on Friday in its Mumbai office after the agency named him in the case of alleged irregularities in a cooperative bank.
 
Earlier, in a hurriedly called press conference, Pawar expressed his intent to join the investigation. Meanwhile, hundreds of NCP supporters have taken to the streets in protest.
 
Ahead of the crucial Maharashtra election to be held on October 21, NCP has sensed an opportunity to play the victim card.
 
Rahul Gandhi's tweet comes in the backdrop of the investigative agencies grilling D. K. Shivakumar and P. Chidambaram, two prominent Congressmen who are in Tihar jail now.
 
IANS
 

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19 killed as heavy rains lash Maharashtra

A scene in Pune, which was lashed by  heavy rains for the past two days, on September 26, 2019
A scene in Pune, which was lashed by heavy rains for the past two days, on September 26, 2019
At least 19 persons have been killed and 11 are missing in various rain-related incidents in Pune, Jalgaon and Nashik since late Wednesday, officials said here on Thursday.
 
According to the state and district disaster management authorities, at least five persons were washed away in flood waters in the Khed-Shivapur area on Pune-Bengaluru Highway. Three bodies were recovered from a well in the downstream region early today and a hunt is on for the others.
 
A building compound wall crashed in Arnyshwar Complex killing six more, while some others were feared trapped under the debris. While two bodies have been recovered, a search is on for the remaining persons.
 
Caught in a thunderstorm, six people were killed as they took refuge under a tree in Jalgaon, a Maharashtra Disaster Control Authority official told IANS.
 
Two persons were found dead in cars that were washed away in the flood waters in Kondwa and Saswad areas.
 
An autorickshaw driver was killed due to electrocution in a flooded area of a village on the outskirts of Nashik today, police said.
 
As flood waters rose, more than 15,000 people were evacuated from Baramati tehsil, and others from different areas like Sinhgad, Dhanakwadi, Balajinagar, Ambegaon, Sahakar Nagar, Parvati Nagar, Kolhewadi and Kirkatwadi.
 
In many areas, panicked residents took refuge on upper floors or terraces as flood waters gushed into the ground floors of residences.
 
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams each are deployed in Baramati and Pune, while a fifth team was on its way to Baramati and that the flood situation is being closely monitored.
 
He also spoke with Baramati legislator and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and promised full help to the flood-affected.
 
State Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said a very grim situation has arisen due to Pune floods and resulted in loss of lives.
 
"I urge the state government to take immediate measures to bring relief to the people in this crisis," Thorat told mediapersons.
 
Since last night, Pune City and district has been lashed by more than 16 cm of torrential downpour, with forecast of more rain in the next 24 hours.
 
Officials said this is a record rainfall hitting the district in the past 10 years, flooding many areas in a very short period.
 
Normal life has been crippled in the state's cultural, academic and IT capital since yesterday as most people preferred to remain indoors under heavily overcast skies and non-stop rain.
 
An estimated 200-plus big and small vehicles were washed away in the floods in the city and outskirts, besides tonnes of rubbish piling up in different areas.
 
Local officials said around 150 homes have been damaged, rendering hundreds of families homeless.
 
In view of rising water levels and flooding in many areas, Pune Collector Naval Kishore Ram declared a holiday today for all schools and colleges in Pune city and neighbouring areas of Purandar, Baramati, Bhor and Haveli.
 
Water discharge of at least 13,000 cusec is slated from the flooded Khadakwasla Dam near the city and the Pune Municipal Corporation has evacuated around 500 people. Similarly, the water discharge from Nazare Dam in Purandar was increased to 85,000 cusec.
 
Traffic on the highways linking Pune with Mumbai, Nashik, Bengaluru was hit due to rain and at least two incidents of landslides on the Pune-Satara highway.
 
IANS
 

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Eleven killed as heavy rains lash Pune

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At least 11 persons have been killed in various rain-related incidents in the city and surroundings since late Wednesday, officials said here on Thursday.
 
According to the State and District Disaster Controls, at least five persons were washed away in flood waters in Shivapur.
 
A wall crashed in Arnyshwar Complex killing six more, while some others were feared trapped under the debris.
 
Rescue teams were engaged in efforts to extricate those believed buried under the rubble.
 
Since last night, Pune City and district has been lashed by over 16 cm of rain, with forecast of more rain in the next 24 hours.
 
In view of rising water levels and flooding in many areas, Pune Collector Naval Kishore Ram has declared a precaution holiday for Thursday in the Pune city and neighbouring areas of Purandar, Baramati, Bhor and Haveli.
 
Teams of the NDRF, SDRF, Fire Brigade and other agencies are engaged in shifting people to safer locations as various big and small rivers, dams and reservoirs have started overflowing or excess water was being discharged.
 
IANS
 

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Sharad Pawar to 'drop in' at ED office on Friday

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Back to his old fighting form, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar -- who has been named by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case -- said on Wednesday that he will suo motu 'present' himself at the agency's office on Friday afternoon.
 
"I came to know about the ED case only yesterday (Tuesday). I shall fully cooperate with the investigating agency. I am prepared for any kind of 'hospitality' offered by them," Sharad Pawar told media persons here.
 
Pointing out that it is the probe agency's right to investigate the matter, the veteran politician said that he would go to the ED office in south Mumbai at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
 
"I believe in the country's Constitution drafted by Babasaheb Ambedkar... I was never a director in any of the banks. But I will fully cooperate with the ED and provide them with whatever information they require," the NCP chief said.
 
The development came a day after the ED lodged cases against Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and other politicians and officials for their involvement in the alleged scam of Rs 25,000 crore in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB).
 
The ED move, coming ahead of the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections, has caused political tremors in the state. The development came a month after the Bombay High Court ordered the Mumbai Police to lodge an FIR in the MSCB matter.
 
Sharad Pawar added that this was only the second such case filed against him in his entire life and he would fully participate in the probe.
 
Hinting at putting up a spirited fight, he said that Maharashtra has a long tradition of following the ideals of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, so "we shall never surrender before the Delhi 'takht' (throne)".
 
In a veiled attack on the BJP-led ruling front, Pawar added that the people of the state have responded tremendously to the NCP in the election campaign and the ED action was a conspiracy hatched against them.
 
"However, the people of the state are watching and understanding everything that is going on before the elections," he said.
 
Reacting to Sharad Pawar's statements, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the government has no role to play in the matter and the allegations were totally baseless.
 
"The Mumbai Police have filed the FIR on the basis of the Bombay High Court orders... When any scam of Rs 100 crore takes place, the ED also take cognizance and probes the money-laundering angles," Fadnavis pointed out.
 
Dismissing the allegations that the state government was instrumental in targeting people ahead of the elections, the Chief Minister said that the ED has merely followed its procedures.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of NCP and the party's youth wing workers staged a noisy demonstration outside the ED office, protesting the cases lodged against the NCP leaders and others in the alleged MSCB scam.
 
The police resorted to mild lathi-charge and rounded up many of the demonstrators to disperse the crowd.
 
Similar protests were held in other parts of the state, including the Pawars' home town Baramati, Pune and western Maharashtra.
 
IANS
 

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ED books Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar in MSCB scam

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In a massive jolt to the Pawar family ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday registered a money laundering case against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and 75 others in a case related to the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) scam.
 
The ED's move against the political bigwigs from the NCP comes after the Bombay High Court in its last month's order asked the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police to file FIR against Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar and 75 others in the alleged scam.
 
The ED said it had filed its case based on the FIR of the Mumbai Police, which lodged a case in connection with the scam last month.
 
The Bombay High Court had ordered to register an FIR in the alleged scam as petitioner Surinder Arora had filed the case in the Bombay HC seeking an investigation into the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank which was controlled largely by NCP leaders.
 
IANS
 

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ECI to hold bye-election for Satara LS seat on October 21

 
The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it would hold the bye-election for the Satara Lok Sabha seat from Maharashtra along with the Assembly elections in the state on October 21.
 
An official press release said the notification for the bye-elections would be issued on September 27 and the last date for filing nominations is October 4. Scrutiny of nominations will be held on October 5 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 7.
 
Counting of votes will be held on October 24, along with those cast in the assembly elections.
 
The bye-election was  necessitated by the resignation of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Udayanraje Bhosale on September 14. He  has since  joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Bhosale was elected from the constituency in 2009, 2014 and 2019.
 
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SBI adopts repo rate as external benchmark for floating rate loans

State Bank of India building (Photo: IANS)
State Bank of India building (Photo: IANS)
State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, today said it had decided to adopt the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) repo rate as the external benchmark for all floating rate loans for MSME, housing and retail loans effective October 1.
 
A press release from the bank said this was as per the RBI's notification of September 4, through which it had asked banks to link all new floating rate personal or retail loans and floating roate loans to Micro and Small Enterprises to external benchmarks from October 1.
 
"SBI voluntarily extends the external benchmark based lending to Medium Enterprises also, to boost lending to the MSME sector as a whole," it said.
 
SBI had introduced floating rate home loans effective July 1, 2019. A few modifications have been made in the scheme effective October 1, 2019 to comply with the latest regulatory guidelines, the release added.
 
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Haryana, Maharashtra to go to polls on Oct 21; counting on Oct 24

Elections for the 288-member Maharashtra and 90-member Haryana assembly will be held on October 21, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The results will be declared on October 24.
 
Elections for the 288-member Maharashtra and 90-member Haryana assembly will be held on October 21, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The results will be declared on October 24.
 
Announcing the schedule of the polls in both the states, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said, "The Assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra will be held on October 21 and the counting of votes will take place on October 24."
 
He said the notification for the elections will be issued on September 27. "Last date for filing nomination is October 4, while the scrutiny of the nomination papers will be done on October 5," he said.
 
The CEC said that the last day for withdrawing nominations is October 7.
 
Arora also said that the tenure of the Haryana legislative assembly will expire on November 2, while that of Maharashtra will end on November 9.
 
In the 2014 Assembly polls in Maharashtra, the BJP had won 122 seats, its ally Shiv Sena 63 seats, the Congress 42 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 41 seats while others managed 20.
 
The Congress and the NCP had contested the 2014 Assembly polls separately after sharing power for 15 years in the state.
 
In the 2014 Assembly polls in Haryana, the BJP won 47 seats followed by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) at 19 while the ruling Congress managed just 15 seats. Two seats went to the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), and one each to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Five Independents were also elected.
 
IANS
 

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Congress appoints poll in-charges for Maharashtra

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Looking for a comeback in the Maharashtra Assembly polls, the Congress on Thursday appointed five senior party leaders as election in-charges for different regions of the state.
 
Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal in a release said, "All India Congress Committee (AICC) has approved the proposals for appointment of election in-charges for Maharashtra assembly elections."
 
He said party General Secretary Mukul Wasnik has been made the election in-charge of Vidarbha region, Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pandey has been made the election in-charge for Mumbai and party control room.
 
The party also appointed senior party leader Rajni Patil as the election in-charge of Western and Konkan regions, while R. C. Khuntia has been given the charge of the northern region and Rajeev Satav for Marathawada region.
 
Last month, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi appointed party General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia as the chairman of the screening committee for Maharashtra.
 
In the 2014 elections, the BJP came to power by winning 122 seats in the 288-member Assembly, while the Shiv Sena won 62 seats. The Congress and the NCP bagged 42 and 41 seats, respectively. The Congress and the NCP are looking for a comeback in the state.
 
IANS
 

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Congress, NCP announce tie-up for Maharashtra polls

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The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will contest 125 seats each, while other allies will contest the remaining 38 seats in Maharashtra assembly polls next month, NCP President Sharad Pawar announced here on Monday.
 
Addressing the media here, he said that the other allies include the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, the Peasants & Workers Party, the Peoples Republican Party and the Left parties.
 
Pawar said it will be significant which seat will be contested by which party and the candidates they put up, though there may a swapping of a few seats, even as the NCP will try and give opportunity to fresh faces.
 
"We are making efforts to have combined election rallies of all Opposition parties in important cities like Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik. Barely a month is left and the Election Commission is likely to announce the elections schedule within this week," he said.
 
The NCP chief's declaration came even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena combine have yet to finalise their alliance amid murmurs of discontent in the latter which may be offered a lesser quota by the BJP.
 
On the spate of defections from the NCP to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena, Pawar said: "We are not concerned about those who have left the party. Some people feel that they (BJP-Sena) will return to power. However, the public sentiments are against them. We will definitely win."
 
"Some people who have quit the NCP have said that they were threatened with probes by investigating agencies like the ED. I don't want to reveal their names, but this is what they have said," he claimed.
 
On his remarks concerning Pakistan, the NCP chief said that he said nothing about the neighbouring country, but commented on his experiences with the people of that nation.
 
"The Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) should get proper information before speaking. I had spoken about my friends, the response given to Indian cricket team, how they cheered every time they (Indians) scored runs, and such things," Pawar said.
 
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Restored Jayakar Bungalow inaugurated at NFAI in Pune

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Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday inaugurated the newly restored Jayakar Bungalow, an iconic heritage structure at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI).
 
The bungalow will house a digital film library where film researchers can access the rich film database of the Archive. Also available would be personalised viewing spaces for watching a movie from NFAI collection.
 
The Minister released a special booklet ‘Parampara: An ode to Jayakar Bungalow’ that chronicles the history of bungalow along with the story of its restoration. A special feature of the booklet is the experiences shared by some of the renowned film artists including Shabana Azmi and Rehana Sultan among others, who had stayed in Jayakar Bungalow that was then part of FTII girls’ hostel. He also launched a mobile app for booking the slot for viewing films at NFAI.
 
Javadekar said the Jayakar Bungalow has a special place in the art and architecture of Pune and now, after restoration, this was being put in use for the benefit of film researchers. He felicitated Prasanna Gokhale, the great-granddaughter of M R Jayakar, who was present on this occasion.
 
The Minister complimented the NFAI team along with CCW and the conservation team for the efforts taken to restore the building.
 
A grade I heritage structure, the bungalow was built in the 1940s by Barrister M R Jayakar, a renowned national leader, member of the Constituent Assembly and first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pune. Over the years, the ownership of the bungalow changed hands from Jayakar to Indian Law Society to FTII and then to NFAI. From 1973, NFAI functioned from its premises.
 
The bungalow built in the Tudor style of architecture is one of its kind in Pune. The exquisitely designed bungalow has wooden flooring, a narrow wooden staircase, typical of British architecture, and massive bookshelves that stretch almost to the roof.
 
The two-storeyed bungalow is built in a load-bearing system with the use of coursed stone ashlars masonry with lime mortar. It has serene interiors, complete with ceramic tiles and wooden ceiling.
 
For many years, large portions of the bungalow remained unused as the main activities of the Archive shifted to its present building in the 1990s. Therefore, it was felt that restoration should be carried out to give it a major facelift.
 
A most significant rule of restoration was applied throughout the project, that is to use maximum salvaged materials. In the first phase, all the later additions and alterations were carefully removed that let the structure breathe after many years.
 
While maintaining the heritage status of the structure, new technology was introduced considering the current times and future usages. The bungalow has been restored to its most plausible original form and put in adaptive reuse.
 
“We wanted to restore the unique architecture and aesthetic value to bring back the glory of the olden times. The objective was to conserve the heritage structure and make it contemporary so that it can be accessible for citizens and film lovers. The digital library and personalised viewing spaces are the steps in this direction. We want this place to be a hub of cultural activities where film lovers can come and engage in meaningful conversations”, said Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI.
 
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NCP leader Udayanraje Bhonsale resigns, joins BJP

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Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Udayanraje Bhosale on Saturday resigned as a Lok Sabha MP and joined the BJP saying he was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.
 
Earlier on Saturday, Bhosale first met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and submitted his resignation from the Lower House.
 
He then arrived at the residence of Bharatiya Janata Party President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, where he formally joined the BJP in the presence of BJP Working President J. P. Nadda, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several other senior leaders.
 
After joining the BJP, Bhosale said: "I am inspired by the works and leadership of Modi, Shah and the BJP."
 
"I am happy to see that the BJP was following the paths of Shivaji Maharaj to strengthen the country."
 
Bhosale also hailed the Modi government for revoking Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and said: "What nobody thought, they made it real by handling the sensitive matter in a very mature way to strengthen the country."
 
Bhosale also said that the people of the country were joining the BJP because of the leadership in the party and its ideologies.
 
Shah, while welcoming Bhosale, said: "The BJP and the Jana Sangh have always followed the ideologies of Shivaji Maharaj. And it was great that one of his family members has joined the party."
 
Praising Bhosale for resigning as an NCP MP just four months after the Lok Sabha elections, Shah said: "He resigned as an MP within four months on moral grounds to join the BJP, which is a matter of pride."
 
The Union Home Minister also stressed that the BJP, under the leadership of Modi in the Centre and Fadnavis in the state, will improve its tally in the Maharashtra Assembly elections scheduled later this year.
 
"I have toured the state recently and I am assured that the BJP will improve its tally in the assembly elections and will win three fourth majority," he said.
 
Bhosale won in the Lok Sabha elections by a margin of around 1,30,000 votes from the Satara parliamentary constituency in Maharashtra.
 
IANS
 

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After Urmila Matondkar, Maharashtra ex-Minister quits Congress

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In a second consecutive blow to the Mumbai Congress on Tuesday, former minister and senior leader Kripa Shankar Singh announced he had quit the party.
 
Singh met Congress General Secretary Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday and tendered his resignation from the Congress.
 
He is likely to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) soon, though he is reported to be in touch with the Shiv Sena as well, aides indicated.
 
Fuelling the speculation to this was the fact that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray had visited Singh's Bandra residence to celebrate Ganeshotsav recently.
 
Earlier this afternoon, Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar sent shock-waves in the Congress by quitting after accusing its Mumbai leadership of "betrayal". However, she has not revealed her future course of political action so far though speculation is rife that she may consider joining another party.
 
Singh -- once billed as the Congress' benign north-Indian face in Mumbai -- has also expressed his differences with the Congress' official stance opposing the recent striking down of the Constitution's Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Among other posts, Singh was the Mumbai Congress President for a term and served as Minister of State for Home and held other portfolios in the former Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition government.
 
In 2011, Singh and some of his close family members had come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in certain corruption-related cases after which he had to quit his ministerial post in mid-2012.
 
Meanwhile, several prominent faces from the Congress and NCP are likely to join the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena this week as the countdown for the announcement of Maharashtra assembly elections starts.
 
Earlier in the day, actress Matondar, caught in a web of intra-party politicking, abruptly quit the Congress, alleging 'betrayal' by the party.
 
"I hereby resign from the Indian National Congress (INC) as a member and from any post held in the INC. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for INC," said Matondkar in a terse letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi dated September 7.
 
She said the first thoughts of resigning from the party came when -- despite her repeated efforts -- no action was taken in pursuance of her explosive letter dated May 16 to the former Mumbai Congress President Milind Deora, which was 'leaked' in early July.
 
"Thereafter, to my utter dismay, the said letter containing privileged and confidential communication was conveniently leaked to the media, which according to me was an act of blatant betrayal," Matondkar said.
 
She claimed that nobody from the party was apologetic for the leak of the nine-page letter, nor was anybody concerned for her despite her repeated protests over the issue.
 
In the letter, Matondkar had named certain key persons in the party's local units at the block and ward levels and other infighting which reportedly resulted in her defeat in her maiden electoral contest in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.
 
On the contrary, she pointed out that the persons she had specifically mentioned in the letter to Deora for their "shoddy performance" in Mumbai Congress were rewarded with newer positions, instead of being held accountable for their acts and omissions.
 
"It is obvious that the key functioneries of Mumbai Congress are either unable or not committed to bring about a change and transformation in the organisation for the betterment of the party," a peeved Matondkar pointed out.
 
She said her "political and social sensibilities" refused to allow vested interests in the party to use her as a means "to fight petty in-house politics", instead of working on a bigger goal for the Mumbai Congress.
 
"I stand by all my thoughts and ideologies and will continue to work for the people to the best of my capacity with honesty and dignity. I thank all the people who helped and supported me through my journey," she signed off.
 
The popular actress had joined the Congress on March 27 this year and later unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North against sitting Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gopal Shetty, who won by a staggering margin of 4,65,000 votes.
 
Nevertheless, she led a high-profile election campaign attracting huge crowds in all her public meetings, rallies and door-to-door canvassing with different sections of people in her constituency.
 
IANS
 

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Sonia, Pawar discuss alliance for Maharashtra polls

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With the Maharashtra Assembly elections just two months away, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday met Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the seat-sharing deal in the state, party leaders said.
 
A senior Congress leader, related to the development, said that the two leaders discussed the issues of alliance between the Congress and NCP along with regional parties opposed to the state's ruling BJP-Shiv Sena coalition.
 
He said that the two leaders also discussed the issue of taking the Left parties along with it in its alliance in the state. Another party leader said that the Congress and NCP are also mulling the idea of including Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in their anti-BJP alliance in the state.
 
The leader added that the Congress has some reservations about the inclusion of the MNS in the anti-BJP alliance in Maharashtra, so before taking a final call on the issue, the party's top leaders will discuss the matter with the state leadership.
 
This was Gandhi's first meeting with Pawar after she was appointed as the party's interim chief a month ago.
 
Two months ago, MNS Chief Thackeray had held a meeting with her at her residence here, giving rise to speculation that he might also be a part of the anti-BJP alliance in the assembly polls in the state.
 
In the 2014 elections, the BJP came to power by winning 122 seats in the 288-member Assembly and later allying with the Shiv Sena, which won 62 seats. The Congress and the NCP bagged 42 and 41 seats, respectively.
 
The Congress and the NCP is looking for a comeback in the state.
 
IANS
 

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