Meeting unwell people despite differences is Maharashtra's culture: BJP

File photo of Uddhav Thackeray
Despite all the political turmoil, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Harshvardhan Patil and Ashish Shelar met Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, 57, at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, where he underwent angioplasty. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray (pictured) on Tuesday also met Raut and later said the Rajya Sabha member was recovering fast. Shelar said: “It is Maharashtra’s culture. We meet people who are unwell, regardless of political differences.” Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar also met Raut at the hospital in the morning. Raut, editor of the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamna, led the party’s charge to seek an equal share in power with the BJP after the Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

Rajya Sabha vacancies

Three of Madhya Pradesh’s 11 Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant in April next year. The tenures of Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Vice-President Prabhat Jha, and BJP leader Satyanarayan Jatiya will expire on April 9, 2020. Of the three, the Congress and the BJP are expected to win one seat each comfortably. For the third seat, the Congress appears to have an upper hand. The party has direct support from 115 MLAs and another six are supporting it indirectly. Among the three contenders for the two seats expected to go to the Congress are Deepak Saxena, who vacated his Assembly seat for Chief Minister Kamal Nath and appears to be the firm favourite, Singh, and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Musical chairs

The coveted post of official spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh government, chosen from among ministers, appears to be troubled. Soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in March 2017, cabinet ministers Sidharth Nath Singh and Shrikant Sharma, who held the portfolios of health and energy, respectively, were appointed state government spokespersons. In August 2017, Singh came under attack over encephalitis deaths in Gorakhpur. Although he appeared to survive the crisis in the immediate aftermath, he was removed as health minister in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this year. Now, with the state government ordering a CBI probe into the investment of the UP Power Employees’ Provident Fund in scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, Sharma is facing the biggest challenge of his tenure. As opposition parties bay for his blood, observers say it’s only a matter of time before he’s eased out.

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