Maharashtra is witnessing a political upheaval. Everything is not hunky-dory among the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners--an unlikely alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been repeatedly targetting them over the corruption allegations against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and the "failure" to curb the spread of COVID-19. They are also demanding President's rule in the state by highlighting instances of "misgovernance" by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
The alleged meeting between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Ahmedabad has sent signals of BJP's "Operation Lotus" unfolding in Maharashtra. It is well known among political circles that the two parties were close to forming a government in 2014 and 2017, and the 2019 coup isn't hidden from anyone.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut has criticized the government, inviting fury from Deputy Chief Minster Ajit Pawar and a few other ministers. Speaking about suspended cop Sachin Vaze, who was repeatedly being defended by the ruling party even after his involvement in the Ambani bomb scare case came to the fore, Raut said that he had informed some leaders that Vaze could create problems. Raut also recently called Anil Deshmukh "the accidental home minister".
Meanwhile, tomorrow (March 31) is going to be a big day for Maharashtra and its politics. Here are the reasons:
1. Bombay HC to hear Param Bir Singh's PIL against Anil Deshmukh
The Bombay High Court will hear the PIL filed by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh seeking a CBI probe against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who he claimed asked suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants in Mumbai. Singh filed the criminal Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the HC on March 25. The PIL also raised the issue of alleged corruption in police transfers and postings in the state.
Singh had initially approached the Supreme Court, alleging he was transferred from the post of Commissioner Police of Mumbai on March 17 and shunted to the Home Guards department after he complained to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other senior leaders about the "corrupt malpractices" of Deshmukh. The apex court had termed the matter as quite serious, but asked Singh to approach the High Court.
2. Maharashtra government likely to announce 15-day lockdown amid rising COVID-19 cases
In accordance with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s directives, the relief and rehabilitation department has started framing SOPs for a limited lockdown. The announcement is expected after March-end, perhaps on April 1 or 2, for at least 15 days. The government is mulling reducing the timings of the shops, cutting down BEST services and asking Railways to strictly implement crowd management. Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that if people did not follow the COVID norms laid out, then a total lockdown would have to be imposed.
Meanwhile, NCP leader Nawab Malik has opposed the imposition of a lockdown. "We can't afford lockdown. We've asked CM to consider other options," he said. Sanjay Raut too has appealed the CM of not going with the decision of imposing a lockdown. He has rather appealed to put in place restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
3. NCP chief Sharad Pawar to be operated on March 31
One of the most powerful politicians in the country, Sharad Pawar is unwell and he will be hospitalised on March 31 for surgery as he has been diagnosed with gallbladder disease. A cancer survivor, the 80-year-old former Union Minister had undergone surgery for the illness in 2004.
NCP chief spokesman and Minister of Minority Affairs Nawab Malik tweeted, ''Our party president Sharad Pawar was feeling a little uneasy due to pain in his abdomen last evening and was taken to Breach Candy Hospital for a check-up. Upon diagnosis, it came to light that he has a problem in his gall bladder.’’ He further said, ''Pawar is on blood-thinning medication which is now being stopped due to this issue. He will be admitted to hospital on March 31 and an endoscopy and surgery will be conducted. Hence all his programmes stand cancelled until further notice.’’ Pawar was supposed to campaign for the Assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala.