Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s move to abruptly shift Rajeev Jalota from the role of finance secretary has stirred an intense debate in the corridors of power. Jalota, a 1988-batch IAS officer, was holding the key position in additional capacity since May. According to the grapevine, he was shunted out for raising a strong objection to a proposal for issuance of government guarantee to an infrastructure project. The manner in which he was moved out has also invited a lot of discussion. With Jalota headed to a foreign trip, Public Works Department Secretary Manoj Saunik (1987 batch) was first assigned the additional charge of finance till he returns. But later, fresh orders were issued stating that Saunik will hold the department’s charge till further orders. We can also confirm that the proposal in question was later approved by the finance department.
The ruling BJP is leaving no stone unturned to improve its poll prospects. According to our sources, there was a scramble to sanction funds for development works in the Assembly segments represented by BJP MLAs before the model code of conduct kicked in on September 21. Development funds were also released for several constituencies represented by Opposition turncoats who have joined the BJP ahead of the polls. Senior bureaucrats in the state’s urban development, revenue, rural development and social justice department, among others, had to work overtime to sanction the funds.
Fighting For Green
Protests over felling trees at Aarey Colony to make way for the Metro car shed have garnered massive public attention in the last few days. It has also captured the imagination of Bollywood celebrities. After Amitabh Bachchan faced protests for speaking out in support of the Metro project and Katrina Kaif and Arjun Rampal expressed displeasure over the decision to chop trees, singer and actor Lucky Ali, too, got into the act this past week. Ali, who enthralled the audience with a music concert at Sion’s Shanmukhananda Hall on Saturday, drew applause when he said some words about Aarey Colony during one of his interactions with the crowd. Talking about how much he loved his birthplace Mumbai, Ali said the city needed more (habitable) space but “not towards Aarey Colony”. This was greeted with a lot of hooting and applause from the crowd.
One For The Grandson
NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grandson Rohit Pawar is keen to make an electoral debut. He wants to take on state minister Ram Shinde from the Karjat-Jamkhed seat. And the buzz is that his grandfather is doing everything to grant Rohit his wish. During seat sharing negotiations with the Congress, the NCP has made it clear that it wanted to contest the Ahmednagar seat, which neither party has won in five elections. In 2009, when the two parties had contested in an alliance, the Congress had contested from the seat. We are told that Pawar’s party has offered the Shrigonda seat in the same district in return.
Within hours of the Election Commission of India announcing the dates for the Assembly polls, Udayanraje Bhosale, who resigned as an NCP MP earlier this month, and some of his associates rushed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. It turns out that Bhosle was upset that the ECI had not announced the bypoll for the Satara Lok Sabha seat he had vacated along with the state polls. According to sources, one of the conditions that the royal family descendant had put forth before his formal induction into the BJP was that care should be taken to ensure that the LS bypoll in Satara is held along with the Assembly polls. While some senior BJP leaders argued that the delay in completion of the administrative formalities for vacation of the seat had led to deferment of the announcement by the ECI, party sources said the plan was also to use Bhosale as a star campaigner across the state. A senior BJP minister, meanwhile, said the window for the ECI to hold simultaneous polls in Satara was still open.