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Maharashtra

Congress' Patole elected unopposed as Maharashtra Assembly Speaker

Senior Congress leader Nana F. Patole was declared elected unopposed as the 14th Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in Mumbai on Sunday.
Nana F. Patole (File photo: IANS)
Nana F. Patole (File photo: IANS)
Senior Congress leader Nana F. Patole was declared elected unopposed as the 14th Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, here on Sunday.
 
Pro-tem Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil made the announcement that was greeted with applause and thumping of desks by both the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and the Opposition Maha Yuti alliances.
 
The development came soon after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its nominee, Kisan Kathore from the contest earlier today for the prestigious post, according to state party chief Chandrakant Patil.
 
Patole was the candidate of the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) which won the vote of confidence in the assembly on Saturday afternoon with 169:000.
 
Soon after Patole's election was announced, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other leaders of MVA congratulated him and recalled his glowing contributions as a parliamentarian and legislator in Maharashtra for over two decades.
 
Others who spoke included Congress Legislature Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat, Nationalist Congress Legislature Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil and Shiv Sena's senior leader Eknath Shinde.
 
The next major appointment pending is that of the critical post of Leader of Opposition, which is likely to be announced in due course.
 
IANS
 

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Uddhav Thackeray sworn in as new Maharashtra CM

Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a grand ceremony held at the Shivaji Park here on Thursday evening.
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a grand ceremony held at the Shivaji Park here on Thursday evening.
 
Governor B. S. Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Uddhav Thackeray, 59, who sported a striking saffron coloured kurta-pyjama, the Sena party's colour.
 
In an unusual gesture, soon after completing the formalities, Uddhav Thackeray stepped to the front of the stage and knelt down, touched his hands and head on the floor to express his gratitude to the people of Maharashtra for the honour bestowed on him.
 
IANS
 

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Maharashtra floor test on Wednesday without secret ballot, to be telecast live

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave interim directions to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday after considering the competing claims of the parties.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave interim directions to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday after considering the competing claims of the parties.
 
Having heard the parties, the bench of the top court comprising Justices N. V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Ashok Bhushan was of the opinion that since oath-taking of the MLAs has not taken place, a floor test should be conducted as soon as possible on November 27, saying the exercise should be completed before 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
The court said a pro tem speaker would be appointed and the floor test would not be conducted by secret ballot and the proceedings would be telecast live.
 
The court said the oath to MLAs is to be administered before 5 p.m. on November 27.
 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, mentioned before the apex court an application seeking directions to restrain the Devendra Fadnavis government from taking important policy decisions.
 
The apex court has given eight weeks' time to the respondents to file a reply.
 
IANS
 

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Breather to BJP-Ajit govt, SC verdict on Tuesday

The Supreme Court on Monday gave a breather to the BJP-Ajit Pawar government in Maharashtra as it reserved its order on Governor B. S. Koshyari's decision to invite the BJP to form a government in the state for Tuesday.
The Supreme Court on Monday gave a breather to the BJP-Ajit Pawar government in Maharashtra as it reserved its order on Governor B. S. Koshyari's decision to invite the BJP to form a government in the state for Tuesday.
 
The top court said the order on Maharashtra will be pronounced on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government, told the court that he has "brought letters of support of the BJP, NCP MLAs on which the Governor's decision rested".
 
Mehta said: "Documents show that NCP leader Ajit Pawar submitted a letter of support of 54 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs to the Governor with their signatures."
 
"According to letter of support of Ajit Pawar on November 22, Devendra Fadnavis staked claim to form the government, which also includes letters of support of 11 independents and other MLAs."
 
The BJP has 105 MLAs in the 288-member House while the NCP had won 54 seats. The BJP claimed that it has the support of 11 independents and others thus taking its number to 170. Mehta also raised preliminary objections to a judicial review of Governor Koshyari's decision on appointment of Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy in a surprise early morning move on Saturday.
 
Mehta said that "after this, the Governor sent information to the President. Citing this information, he requested the revocation of President's Rule in the state."
 
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi appearing for the BJP submitted that the Governor had gone with the party with the support of 170 MLAs. Rohtagi said that the others have never claimed that the MLAs' signatures were forged.
 
The submissions were made in the apex court during the hearing of a petition of the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP against the surprise government formation by Fadnavis on Saturday morning. Fadnavis was sworn in along with NCP's Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar as his deputy.
 
Meanwhile, Kapil Sibal appearing for the Congress said that he has the affidavit of support of 150 MLAs. He informed the court that the pre-poll alliance fell out as BJP did not stick to its promises with the Shiv Sena.
 
Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi also appearing for Congress and NCP said what has been done is a "fraud on democracy".
 
"How can the Governor rely on signatures of MLAs without covering letter?" Singhvi asked.
 
Singhvi further said that 148 plus seven independent MLAs gave support in the affidavit. Insisting that the signatures of the NCP MLAs were perjury, Singhvi said, "We want to have floor test today after 155 people are saying we support."
 
Mehta intervened in Singhvi's submissions, and said, "Twelve signatures were missing when a letter was submitted to the Governor to withdraw Ajit Pawar's authority."
 
IANS
 

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Total unanimity between Congress, NCP on Maharashtra: Chavan

The Congress on Thursday said that it has resolved all the issues on government formation in Maharashtra with its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and there is complete unanimity between the two parties.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh during a meeting of the two parties in New Delhi on November 20, 2019.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh during a meeting of the two parties in New Delhi on November 20, 2019.
The Congress on Thursday said that it has resolved all the issues on government formation in Maharashtra with its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and there is complete unanimity between the two parties.
 
The party also said that a meeting with the Shiv Sena will take place on Friday in Mumbai for the formal announcement.
 
Addressing the media at the residence of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said: "Congress and NCP have completed discussions on all issues."
 
"There is a complete unanimity between the Congress and the NCP and we will move to Mumbai tomorrow and have a meeting with our pre-poll alliance partners. After that we will follow up that discussion together with the NCP and the Shiv Sena. As soon as discussions are completed, the media will be briefed about the structure of the proposed alliance," he added.
 
The remarks of the Congress leader came after parleys with the NCP in the national capital in the last two days.
 
Earlier in the day, the Congress' top decision making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), met and gave a go-ahead for the alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, where President's rule was imposed on November 12.
 
The Congress and the NCP on Thursday also held meetings separately of their respective leaders and then arrived at the residence of Pawar.
 
On Wednesday, the two parties held marathon meetings lasting over five hours to discuss the common minimum programme in the state.
 
The BJP and its pre-poll alliance partner Shiv Sena contested the October 21 assembly elections together and they won 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member house.
 
The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively, in the assembly.
 
The Shiv Sena had a fallout with the BJP after Uddhav Thackarey demanded a rotational chief ministership, which was refued by the saffron party.
 
IANS
 

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BJP opts out of Maharashtra govt race, wishes Sena 'the best'

In a stunning political development, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday conceded its inability to form the government in Maharashtra despite having the public mandate for its pre-poll alliance.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil talking to journalists in Mumbai on November 10, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil talking to journalists in Mumbai on November 10, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
In a stunning political development, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday conceded its inability to form the government in Maharashtra despite having the public mandate for its pre-poll alliance.
 
BJP State President Chandrakant Patil said that party's stand has been conveyed to Governor B. S. Koshyari this evening after a series of marathon meetings of the party's state core committee since morning.
 
"The Shiv Sena has insulted the public mandate... If it is in a position to form the government along with the support of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party, our best wishes are with them," said Patil, who was flanked by his former minister colleagues like Ashish Shelar, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde, Pankaja Munde and Girish Mahajan, at the brief media interaction on the lawns of Raj Bhavan.
 
Outgoing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis -- who has confidently proclaimed till Saturday that the BJP would form the government -- was conspicuous by his absence.
 
Reacting to the development, NCP's national spokesperson Nawab Malik said that there is no formal proposal from the Sena on the government formation.
 
"However, our national President will clear the party's stand at our party legislators' meeting scheduled in Mumbai on Tuesday," Malik told media persons.
 
The opposition Congress also conducted informal discussions with its legislators, currently flown to Jaipur, to gauge their mood on supporting the Sena, though the party high command has already expressed its reluctance in the matter.
 
There were contradictory opinions in Mumbai -- while former city President Sanjay Nirupam reiterated that the Congress should keep off the Sena at all costs, another former city chief Milind M. Deora suggested exploring a Congress-NCP government with Sena support.
 
Political activity gathered speed after Governor Koshyari took the reins in his hands and late on Saturday invited the BJP -- the single-largest party with 105 MLAs - to indicate its willingness to form the next government, barely four hours before the tenure of the state Assembly expired at midnight.
 
Besides the 105 members, the BJP had claimed the support of several independents and smaller parties, though the exact figures are not clear, and whether these would be sufficient to achieve the simple majority of 145 in the 288-member assembly.
 
Experts have said that in case the BJP is not able to muster sufficient numbers, then the Governor would invite the second largest party - the Shiv Sena, followed by the remaining two parties, the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress to explore the possibility of forming the next government.
 
Earlier on Sunday, Sena President Uddhav Thackeray met his legislators -- all secured in The Retreat -- a five-star hotel in Madh, Malad (north-west Mumbai) and boosted their morale by assuring that a Shiv Sena Chief Minister would soon be sworn in.
 
IANS
 

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Gadkari says 'not returning' to Maharashtra politics

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any possibility of his returning to state politics and said the political impasse in Maharashtra would be soon resolved, here on Thursday.
File photo of Nitin Gadkari
File photo of Nitin Gadkari
Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any possibility of his returning to state politics and said the political impasse in Maharashtra would be soon resolved, here on Thursday.
 
"I am in Delhi... There is no question of my returning to state politics. The political crisis in the state will be resolved soon," Gadkari said, ending all speculation of his being a contender for the post of a consensus Chief Minister to defuse the state political deadlock over government formation.
 
Endorsing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Gadkari said that all efforts are being made to ensure a government under his leadership in alliance with the Shiv Sena.
 
A day after stoking the political fires over his possible role in the state and a meeting with Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the Union Minister is currently in Nagpur to meet Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.
 
In Mumbai, state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that Gadkari would not return to state politics and said the new government would be formed under Fadnavis' stewardship.
 
IANS
 

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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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Maharashtra IGP Abdur Rahman quits service to protest CAB

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Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Abdur Rahman on Wednesday quit his service, ostensibly in protest against the Citizens (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the past two days.
 
"Yes, I have quit the service citing personal reasons. I have also released a statement explaining in detail the reasons behind my decision," Rahman, an Inspector-General of Police (IGP)-rank officer of the Maharashtra Police, told IANS soon after quitting.
 
Condemning the Bill, he said as a "civil disobedience" move, he decided to resign from the police service and will not attend official duties from Thursday.
 
He appealed to all those belonging to the poor and deprived sections to oppose the Bill in a democratic manner as it would harm them the most, and also called upon the tolerant, secular and justice-loving Hindus to oppose the Bill, besides activists who should challenge it in the courts.
 
Rahman, who has 22 years of distinguished police service behind him, said that the Bill aims to grant citizenship to illegal migrants from all communities except Muslims.
 
"It clearly discriminates against the people belonging to the Muslim community. The Bill is totally un-Constitutional and against the very basic feature of Equality before Law," Rahman said in his statement.
 
He said it is against the very ethos and spirit of the Constitution and violates Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution, and that religion cannot be the basis for giving or denying a person citizenship.
 
"The whole idea behind the Bill is to divide the nation on religious and sectarian lines. It creates fear among the people belonging to the Muslim community. It also compels Muslims to leave their faith and adopt some other religion to save their citizenship. This is totally divisive and unconstitutional," Rahman said in the hard-hitting communication, which went viral on social media with thousands of likes and retweets in a short time.
 
Referring to the Assam example on National Register of Citizens (NRC), the officer said that if it is implemented jointly with the CAB, non-Muslims will be declared refugees and granted Indian citizenship even if they cannot produce the required documents.
 
"This means that the real burden will be only on Muslims to prove their citizenship. This will cause statelessness and hardships to Muslims who have been living in India for thousands of years and a majority of them are the original inhabitants of India," Rahman said.
 
Rahman also apologised to those who wanted him to continue in service and urged for justice to all the deprived people.
 
IANS
 

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PM wanted me to work with him but I refused: Pawar

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NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed that they "work together" during the recent turmoil in Maharashtra, but he refused the offer.
 
Pawar made the disclosure in an interview with Marathi news channel ABP Majha.
 
The NCP chief said that he had told Modi that he has good relations with him, but their "working together was not possible".
 
As per media reports, Pawar's daughter and Baramati MP Supriya Sule was offered a ministerial berth in the Union Cabinet, and there was even speculation that he was offered the President's post.
 
After the Shiv Sena split from its long-time ally BJP over the issue of a rotational Chief Minister, the Sena, Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress had started discussions on a common minimum programme. But in the midst of this, Pawar had set off speculation by meeting the Prime Minister.
 
However, it was Pawar who took the initiative for the Sena-NCP-Congress government, and even convinced an initially-reluctant Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi to give her consent.
 
IANS
 

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SC stays felling of trees on Mumbai's Metro Line 4 project

For the second time within two months, the Supreme Court has intervened to stop the felling of trees for the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority's (MMRD) metro rail projects. On Monday, the apex court stayed, for two weeks, the axing of trees on the Metro Line 4 (Wadala to Kasarvadali via Thane). Last month, it had ordered no tree be cut in the Aarey colony forest area for the Metro car shed.
 
Thane resident Rohit Joshi, through advocate Pooja Dhar, filed a plea challenging the Bombay High Court's November 25 order vacating the stay on the felling of trees for the Metro 4 line project to be constructed by the MMRDA. The High Court had vacated the stay passed by a different bench in October, observing that public projects cannot be stalled.
 
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde, asked the counsel for the petitioner if they have challenged the decision of the authority, which approved the felling of the trees for the project. While granting a stay on felling of the trees, the court asked the petitioner's counsel to move the Bombay High Court.
 
"Counsel appearing for the petitioner undertakes to carry out the amendments before the High Court within a period of one week from today. On that assurance, there shall be an injunction restraining the authorities concerned from felling trees for a period of two weeks from today," the top court said.
 
Joshi contended the permission granted for cutting of the trees was in violation of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Conservation of Trees Act 1975, which requires public notice by advertising in local newspapers, and fixing notice on the trees, which have been identified for felling, and holding an inquiry. "No such procedure was followed in this case," he said in his plea.
 
The petitioner contends that the Tree Authority did not consider any public objections before granting permission to fell trees, and that the High Court had erred in not identifying that preventing destruction of ecology is, in fact, of greater public interest, in comparison with the construction of the Metro project.
 
"Elevated line will result in loss of green cover through the entire corridor of 32 kms.... Destruction of mangroves has already begun for construction of a casting yard," he said in his petition.
 
IANS
 

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BJP leader Hegde sparks off controversy with statement on Maharashtra

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Karnataka Ananth K. Hegde has sparked off a major political controversy by alleging that, in his 80-hour tenure, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis "moved Rs 40,000 crore back to the Centre".
 
This, he alleged, was done to prevent the "misuse" of these development funds by the new Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress government if it came to power.
 
"A CM has access to around Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre. He (Fadnavis) knew if Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena government comes to power it would misuse funds meant for development. So it was decided that there should be a drama. Fadnavis became CM and in 15 hours he moved Rs 40,000 crore back to the Centre," Hegde is reported to have said in Uttara Kannada late on Sunday.
 
He added: "You all know our man in Maharashtra became CM for 80 hours. Then, Fadnavis resigned. Why did he do this drama? Didn't we know that we don't have a majority and yet he became CM... This is the question everyone is asking."
 
Fadnavis immediately rubbished his party colleague's allegations as preposterous and "100 per cent baseless".
 
"I don't know what he (Hegde) has said... I have not taken any such policy decision as the CM. All such allegations are false," Fadnavis said.
 
He said as far as the Bullet Train project is concerned, the Maharashtra government has not given to or taken a single rupee from the Centre and the state's role is limited to land acquisition.
 
"Those who are ignorant of the state-Centre accounting systems make such misleading statements. I call upon the state Finance Department to probe the issue and bring the truth before the people," Fadnavis declared.
 
Commenting on it, NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said that it is not possible to transfer such a huge amount of Rs 40,000 crore back to the Centre, and felt this is being spread to hide the BJP's defeat in Maharashtra.
 
"However, if it is indeed done, then it is a gross injustice to the state. It will have serious consequences and result in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's resignation as the flames of this will spread all over the country," Malik said in a strong reaction.
 
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut termed the report as "a backstabbing and treachery with Maharashtra".
 
Other Sena, NCP and Congress leaders have interpreted Hegde's statement as "casting serious doubts on the integrity and intentions" of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi government, and condemned it.
 
The social media also went viral with the reports today with mixed reactions and some questioning the motives behind the short-lived 80-hour long government which took office on November 23.
 
IANS
 

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7 from MP killed as minibus plunges into Maharashtra river

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At least seven persons were killed and 19 others injured when a private minibus lost control and plunged into the Bori river here early Saturday, a police official said.
 
The incident occurred shortly after midnight when the minibus carrying 26 persons fell off the bridge and crashed onto the rocky bed of the river, Dhule Taluka police station inspector Dilip V. Gangurde said.
 
"All the victims are labourers hailing from Dhauligiri, Sendha in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh. We are on the lookout for the two labour contractors, Kiran Kavde and Sujit Tambare who are absconding," said Gangurde.
 
The accident occurred  on the Dhule-Osmanabad highway and the labourers were proceeding to their work sites in Osmanabad.
 
Upon hearing the noise of the vehicle crash and screams of the victims, villagers rushed to the spot and informed the police.
 
The victims have been identified as: Ritesh L. Arya (six months old), Ravina L. Arya (5 years), Mitaram L. Arya, (23), Lalsing A. Pavra (20), Jinyabai A. Pavra (13), Karan S. Barela (3) and Haram S. Barela (5).
 
The injured have been rushed to a private hospital and the critical ones to the Dhule Civil Hospital, added Gangurde.
 
IANS

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MVA's Patole, BJP's Kathore in race for Maha Speaker's post

Nana Patole
Nana Patole
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday said it will contest the Speaker's post and nominated legislator Kisan S. Kathore as its candidate against the Maha Vikas Aghadi's nominee, legislator Nana F. Patole.
 
While Kathore was elected from Thane, Patole is the member from Bhandara.
 
The election for the Speaker's position will be held on Sunday, as per an official announcement.
 
The election will take place a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's government is scheduled to undergo a floor test, here on Saturday.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Raut hints at another 'miracle' in Goa

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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Friday predicted that, after Maharashtra, there could be "a miracle" and a potential "political earthquake" in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Goa soon.
 
"At least four MLAs, including those with Goa Forward Party President Vijay Sardesai, are in contact with Shiv Sena. We plan to form a separate front in that state with various parties, including Congress. We are hopeful that there could be a 'miracle' in Goa also soon," Raut told the media.
 
The Sena leader's comments on the political situation in the neighbouring state came a day after the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress' Maha Vikas Aghadi led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took office.
 
Interestingly, Sardesai has repeatedly insisted that, while his party opposes the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, his party continues to be a part of the pan-India National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Sardesai was sacked as Deputy Chief Minister soon after Pramod Sawant took charge as Chief Minister after the demise of Manohar Parrikar in March this year.
 
The Congress is nonchalant vis-a-vis Raut's announcement of forming a separate front to take on the BJP in Goa. "There is no front today. Is it a legislative front or a political front which he is talking about?" Goa Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello said.
 
The Congress spokesperson also said that Sardesai's Goa Forward party was one of the political outfits which helped the BJP foist an "illegitimate government" on the people of Goa, despite the BJP emerging second in the legislative tally in the 2017 Assembly polls.
 
"This government is bound to break sooner than later, because it represents the height of illegitimacy," D'Mello said.
 
While the Goa Forward debuted in the 2017 polls and won three seats on an anti-BJP plank, the Shiv Sena has a poor footprint in Goa, with the party not being able to elect a single MLA to the 40-member Goa Assembly for nearly three decades now.
 
On the back of a series of defections, the BJP currently has 27 MLAs and the support of three independent MLAs. The Congress which had 17 MLAs in 2017 has been reduced to five, the Goa Forward has three legislators, while Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Nationalist Congress Party have one MLA each.
 
IANS
 

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Uddhav takes oath as Maharashtra CM, 6 Ministers also sworn in

Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at a colourful function held in Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Thursday evening.
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at a colourful function held in Shivaji Park here on Thursday evening.
 
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy at 6.40 pm to Thackeray -- who sported a striking saffron-coloured kurta-pyjama, the Sena's colour.
 
In an unusual gesture of humility, soon after completing the formalities, Thackeray, the first from the politically prominent Thackeray clan to hold the post, stepped to the front of the stage and knelt down, touching his hands and head on the floor to express his gratitude to the people of Maharashtra for the honour bestowed on him.
 
Thackeray is the third from the Sena to be Chief Minister after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane in the late 1990s.
 
Besides, two legislators each from the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)'s main constituents -- the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Congress -- also took oath as ministers.
 
They are: Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, NCP's Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal, and Congress' Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut.
 
Among the prominent dignitaries present on the occasion were more than 500 farmers and farm widows from all over Maharashtra, Thackeray's cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita Ambani and their family.
 
At least three Chief Ministers from other states and six former Maharashtra Chief Ministers like Sharad Pawar, Sushilkumar Shinde, Manohar Joshi, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Devendra Fadnavis were present.
 
Other prominent personalities from all the three parties included Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Shukla, Praful Patel, Kishore Tiwari, Supriya Sule-Pawar, Sanjay Raut, Arvind Sawant, Rohit Pawar, and Ajit Pawar and his son Parth Pawar.
 
Thackeray's son Aditya Thackeray and wife Rashmi Thackeray, besides aunt Kundatai (mother of Raj Thackeray), who was seen shedding tears of joy at her nephew's ascent as CM, were also present.
 
Scores of leaders, legislators, MPs and well-wishers touched Thackeray's feet as he gracefully accepted their wishes and felicitations.
 
A group of Jain monks and sanyasins also turned up impromptu to pray for, wish and bless Thackeray and son Aaditya, on the stage after the oath ceremony.
 
Shivaji Park was transformed into a colourful sea of humanity with an estimated over 100,000 people including activists of the three MVA parties and others coming from all over Maharashtra to witness the historic event.
 
IANS
 

SC declines urgent hearing plea against Sena post-poll pact

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined urgent hearing on a plea, which accused the Shiv Sena of breaching trust by aligning post-poll with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress to form the government in Maharashtra.
 
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde, declined to list the PIL filed by a political activist for urgent hearing. The lawyer representing the political activist submitted that the Sena had forged an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested the Assembly polls, but it cheated the citizens by later joining the parties it had opposed for years.
 
The court asked the lawyer to identify himself. "Who are you," asked the Bench after hearing him for a brief period. To this, the lawyer replied he was a citizen of the country.
 
The formulation of post-poll alliances was not barred under any law, the court observed.
 
On Tuesday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigned hours after the apex court ordered a floor test on Wednesday and its live telecast.
 
IANS
 

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Fadnavis, Ajit Pawar, other Maharashtra MLAs take oath

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The oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected MLAs started at a brisk pace as pro tem Speaker Kalidas N. Kolambkar on Wednesday started administering oaths to them inside Vidhan Bhavan here on Wednesday.
 
All the legislators, many of them wide-eyed first-timers, started reaching the legislature precincts from 6.30 a.m. onwards to avoid the morning traffic rush in one of the city's commercial hubs, Nariman Point.
 
Inside the legislature, among the early MLAs who took oath were former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, five-time MLA Dilip Walse-Patil and BJP member and former Cabinet Minister Haribhau Bagade.
 
The oath-taking ceremony, as it proceeded smoothly, was telecast live, in accordance with Supreme Court orders of Tuesday and is expected to be completed by this evening.
 
A friendly and relaxed atmosphere prevailed both within and outside the Vidhan Bhavan, in contrast to the sheer tensions and political turmoil of the past one month that had the state on edge.
 
Later, Chief Minister-designate Uddhav Thackeray is likely to drop in to South Mumbai to interact with his party leaders and legislators.
 
Thackeray -- who is not a member of either house of the legislature -- will be sworn-in as the new Chief Minister by Governor B.S. Koshyari at a function in Shivaji Park on Thursday at 6.40 p.m.
 
He was unanimously elected the leader of the Maha Vikas Aghadi for the Chief Minister's post by the top leaders of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, bringing down the curtains on the political crisis which had gripped the state after the October 24 election results.
 
IANS
 

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Thackeray to be sworn in as Maharashtra CM on Thursday

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray late on Tuesday met Maharashtra Governor B S Koshiyari and staked his claim to form the new government in the state, party sources said.
Uddhav Thackeray (File photo: IANS)
Uddhav Thackeray (File photo: IANS)
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray late on Tuesday met Maharashtra Governor B S Koshiyari and staked his claim to form the new government in the state, party sources said.
 
The Governor has accepted the claim and announced that Thackeray will be sworn in as on 5 p.m. on November 28 (Thursday) at Shivaji Park.
 
Earlier in the evening, Thackeray was unanimously elected as chief of the "Maha Vikas Aghadi" (MVA), the alliance formed by the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and other parties,  paving the way for him to become the new Chief Minister.
 
Thackeray's name was proposed by NCP state President Jayant Patil and Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat at a meeting of all the newly-elected MLAs of the parties in the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' here.
 
Present on the occasion were NCP President Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party state President Abu Asim Azmi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana President Raju Shetti, and other top leaders of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress.
 
The fast-paced developments came barely hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar abruptly resigned this afternoon, a day before the special session of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was to be convened for a floor test on Wednesday as ordered by the Supreme Court.
 
After the meeting, a high-level delegation including NCP leader Praful Patel, NCP state chief Jayant Patil, Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, Samajwadi Party state President Abu Asim Azmi and other leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi met the Governor and submitted a letter from Thackeray, support letters of all alliance partners, and other documents, to the Governor.
 
In his acceptance speech after he was unanimously elected as the leader of the alliance, Thackeray remembered his late father Bal Thackeray and thanked Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Pawar for the trust reposed in him.
 
He said he was overwhelmed by the honour and would strive to live up to the expectations of all the supporting parties and the people of the state.
 
"This is an alliance of parties with divergent ideologies. This will give a new direction to the whole country. However, it should not be reduced to 'yours' or 'mine', but it should be 'our' government. More important, the common man of the state should feel it is 'my government' always," he said to thunderous applause.
 
Spicing the speech with his brand of humour, Thackeray also extended an olive branch to former ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and said: "I will soon go to meet 'Mota Bhai' in New Delhi" (referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi).
 
However, he rued how the BJP dumped its 30-year-old ally and virtually called him a "liar", and then ejected him from the alliance and the NDA.
 
"We were not hungering for the post of CM... but, you had given a promise and you should have kept it. You had no faith in me, but the Opposition parties reposed their trust in me," Thackeray asserted.
 
He said the MVA parties did not "bend" before anybody, did not indulge in falsehoods and lying is not his brand of "Hindutva", and now after the struggle of the past few weeks, he would concentrate on the awesome task of administration before him.
 
Thackeray promised to lead an all-inclusive government which would work for the cause of the farmers, the poor, the downtrodden and marginalised sections of society and sought the cooperation of all the MVA parties in his endeavour.
 
Other leaders of different parties in the MVA also spoke and congratulated Thackeray on his election as the new CM and assured him of their full support in running the government.
 
NNN

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Thackeray chosen as leader of Maha Vikas Aghadi, to be next Maharashtra CM

Uddhav Thackeray (File photo: IANS)
Uddhav Thackeray (File photo: IANS)
Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was unanimously elected as chief of the "Maha Vikas Aghadi" (MVA) -- the alliance formed by the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and other parties -- on Tuesday evening, paving the way for him to become the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
 
Thackeray's name was proposed by NCP state President Jayant Patil and Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat at a meeting of all the newly-elected MLAS of the parties in the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' here.
 
Present on the occasion were NCP President Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party state President Abu Asim Azmi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana President Raju Shetti, and other top leaders of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress.
 
Later, Thackeray, accompanied by other top leaders of the alliance left for Raj Bhavan to stake his claim to form the government before Governor B. S. Koshyari. He will be sworn in as Chief Minister on December 1 in the evening at 5 pm, at a mega-function planned in Shivaji Park, it was announced by a spokesperson.
 
The fast-paced developments came barely hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar abruptly resigned this afternoon, a day before the special session of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was to be convened for a floor test on Wednesday as ordered by the Supreme Court.
 
In his acceptance speech after he was unanimously elected as the leader of the alliance, Thackeray remembered his late father Bal Thackeray and thanked Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Pawar for the trust reposed in him.
 
He said he was overwhelmed by the honour and would strive to live upto the expectations of all the supporting parties and the people of the state.
 
"This is an alliance of parties with divergent ideologies. This will give a new direction to the whole country. However, it should not be reduced to 'yours' or 'mine', but it should be 'our' government. More important, the common man of the state should feel it is 'my government' always," he said to thunderous applause.
 
Spicing the speech with his brand of humour, Thackeray also extended an olive branch to former ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and said: "I will soon go to meet 'Mota Bhai' in New Delhi" (referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi).
 
However, he rued how the BJP dumped its 30-year-old ally and virtually called him a "liar", and then ejected him from the alliance and the NDA.
 
"We were not hungering for the post of CM... but, you had given a promise and you should have kept it. You had no faith in me, but the Opposition parties reposed their trust in me," Thackeray asserted.
 
He said the MVA parties did not "bend" before anybody, did not indulge in falsehoods and lying is not his brand of "Hindutva", and now after the struggle of the past few weeks, he would concentrate on the awesome task of administration before him.
 
Thackeray promised to lead an all-inclusive government which would work for the cause of the farmers, the poor, the downtrodden and marginalised sections of society and sought the cooperation of all the MVA parties in his endeavour.
 
Other leaders of different parties in the MVA also spoke and congratulated Thackeray on his election as the new CM and assured him of their full support in running the government.
 
 
NNN
 

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Ajit Pawar quits as Maharashtra Deputy CM: Sources

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Triggering yet another major political upheaval in Maharashtra politics within days, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is understood to have quit from his post, authoritative political sources said here on Tuesday.
 
Ajit Pawar, who did not take charge of his new assignment on Monday, has submitted his resignation letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, but no official announcement has been made so far, the sources told IANS.
 
There is intense speculation on Fadnavis, too, who is scheduled to address the media here, the first time after taking charge in his second term as the Chief Minister in an early morning coup of sorts, along with Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM early on November 23.
 
IANS
 

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Maharashtra: ACB closes nine irrigation scam cases, says they don't pertain to Ajit Pawar

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The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday closed investigations in some of the cases pertaining to the infamous "irrigation scam" in the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) when it was headed by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, officials said here.
 
The ACB has shut the investigations into at least nine cases in which Ajit Pawar was allegedly involved, though it is not clear if he was directly named, on the first day of the new government taking office on Monday, 48 hours after it was sworn in early on Saturday.
 
However, Director-General of Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau Parambir Singh said today that "none of these cases closed today pertain to DCM (Deputy Chief Minister) Ajit Pawar".
 
After a furore in political circles this evening, the ACB issued a statement saying it is probing 2,654 tenders in 45 projects under the VIDC - then headed by Ajit Pawar -- as per two public interest litigations filed in the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) in 2012.
 
So far the open probe has been completed in 212 tenders and First Information Report (FIRs) filed in 24 cases and charge sheets in five cases.
 
Open enquiry has been shut in 45 tenders as no offence was found, and departmental enquiries have been recommended in 28 matters for administrative lapses, said the ACB.
 
The ACB added that the nine closures today are among the 45 closed in the past two-to-five months as no criminal offences were found against anyone.
 
These nine files pertain to big and small irrigation VIDC projects in Washim, Yavatmal, Amravati and Buldhana in the Vidarbha region, according to the ACB notification.
 
These cases, among others -- collectively known as the sensational Rs 70,000 crore 'Irrigation Scam' -- were allegedly perpetrated around 10 years ago, and created a massive political storm.
 
Ajit Pawar was heading the VIDC at that time when the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance was in power, and the (then) opposition parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, Aam Aadmi Party and others raised it regularly to gain political mileage.
 
The ACB is investigating over 2,600 tenders in irrigation-related complaints in which two dozen first information reports have been registered, which are being investigated as before, and the files closed today are only in nine routine cases.
 
ACB officials also said that today's closure is conditional and could be reopened if more information comes to light during investigations or a court orders for a further probe.
 
The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has taken strong objections to the sudden closure of these alleged scam cases with a threat to launch an agitation and also counter it legally.
 
"In these nine cases alone pertaining to the VIDC matters, there are very serious allegations of misuse or siphoning of over Rs 9,000 crores. After so many years, how can they be abruptly closed?" VJAS President Kishore Tiwari told IANS.
 
He said the manner in which it has come two days after the new government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was sworn in, itself makes the ACB's move "very suspicious" and would be challenged at all levels.
 
IANS
 

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Lok Sabha adjourned till 2 p.m. over Maharashtra

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The Lok Sabha was on Monday was adjourned till 2 p.m. for the second time, soon after the House met following a brief clash between two Congress MPs and the marshals during Question Hour as well as a protest led by Congress over Maharashtra developments.
 
Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House till 2 p.m. soon after it met for the second time at 12 noon.
 
Earlier in the day, Birla ordered marshals to take two Congress members -- Hibi Eden and T N Prathapan --who were holding a banner with the slogan "Stop Murder of Democracy" slogan -- out of the House. Eden and Prathapan were holding the black banner while placards had messages like "Save Constitution" and "Save Democracy".
 
However, the two MPS were joined by other Congress members in resisting their eviction from the House and were seen jostling with marshals, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House till 2 p.m.
 
When the House met and Question Hour began, the Congress members trooped near Speaker's podium.
 
Even former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi declined to raise a question when Birla called his name to speak during the Question Hour. Rahul Gandhi said, "I had come here to ask a question. But I would not ask as democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra."
 
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), however, was missing from the Lok Sabha while the National Conference joined the Congress protest in the House.
 
The Congress MPs, including party interim Chief Sonia Gandhi, on Monday morning staged a protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament over the Maharashtra developments.
 
The Congress has been protesting against the manner in which Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, as his deputy on Saturday morning.
 
The Congress had earlier said it will stall proceedings in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over the manner in which Fadnavis was sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister in an early morning ceremony on Saturday.
 
Earlier, the Congress parliamentary strategy group, which includes Ghulam Nabi Azad, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and K. C. Venugopal, met at Sonia Gandhi's residence 10 Janpath in New Delhi.
 
IANS
 

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