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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mumbai Confidential: Graft Talk

The Devendra Fadnavis government — which turns four this month-end — has been promoting the dismantling of the transfer-posting industry in the bureaucratic echelons as a major achievement.

Mumbai | Published: October 29, 2018 5:01:47 am

The Devendra Fadnavis government — which turns four this month-end — has been promoting the dismantling of the transfer-posting industry in the bureaucratic echelons as a major achievement. But sources said this past week, a town planner, under suspension over graft accusations, had an ugly showdown with a senior Urban Development department official over his reinstatement. The town planner also levelled an allegation, in full public glare, that an exorbitant bribe was being demanded for reinstating him. With the matter getting out of hand, the Mantralaya police had to be called in. While neither side has filed a formal complaint, there continues to be an awkward silence in the department over the episode.

In The Fray

If our sources are to be believed, former Bombay HC Chief Justice, Judge (Retd.) Dhirendra Waghela, is a contender for the position of the Chairperson, Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), which has been lying vacant for almost two months now. While the name of another former Bombay HC CJ, Judge (Retd) Manjula Chellur, had been doing the rounds for the post, she was recently appointed by the Centre as the Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity.

Sudden Transfers

Eyebrows are being raised in the corridors of power over the sudden transfer of 1998-batch IAS officer R R Jadhav from the Dairy Development Commissioner’s post. Jadhav was shifted to the Labour Commissioner’s post on October 22, the same day the Congress released some official papers (belonging to the department), where it was indicated that a cooperative firm, founded by Cooperative Minister Subhash Deshmukh and now controlled by his kin, had allegedly used bogus documents to avail central grants for a dairy project. Jadhav had ordered a probe in this regard. Speculation is also rife over the frequent reshuffling of the MTDC Managing Director’s post, with Abhimanyu Kale (2005-batch) the latest one to be appointed to the post. It is said Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal’s office had been pushing for the change.

Rescue Bid

The capsizing of a boat in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast last Wednesday could have turned into a major tragedy had the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard not acted quickly. But questions are being raised in certain corridors of power over why the VVIP boat, which was carrying Shiv Sangram Samiti chairperson, Vinayak Mete, Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, and other top officials and was sailing ahead of the capsized boat, had not returned for the rescue bid. It would be interesting to see if the Mumbai Maritime Board — which is probing the matter — would also delve on this aspect.

Pressure Tactic

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is leaving no stone unturned to stitch a pre-poll pact with bitter ally, the Shiv Sena. On the one hand he has been extending an olive branch to Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, but on the other hand, he has also upped the pressure on the ally, following his move to address gatherings in parliamentary constituencies represented by the Shiv Sena. Thackeray, too, will be visiting the BJP-led constituencies, as part of his own state-wide tour. With Thackeray brandishing the Hindutva card aggressively, word is that the warring allies might come together again, citing the Hindutva agenda.

Publicity Blitz

Get ready for a barrage of advertisements of government’s social welfare schemes. The coming six months, in the run-up to the 2019 polls, will see the Fadnavis government market his government’s achievements over the past four years. The Chief Minister-led General Administration Department has now sanctioned Rs 20 crore for screening advertisements on TV channels, radio stations, and state transport depots, among others. With October-end also marking the end of four years in rule, the Fadnavis government is also compiling a book, listing achievements department-wise.

Compiled by Sandeep Ashar

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