Mumbai Confidential: United Front

sharad pawar, uddhav thackeray, mahagathbandhan, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, Mumbai news, ncp, shiv sena, congress, indian express

NCP president Sharad Pawar.

AFTER UPSETTING the BJP in Maharashtra, the Mahagathbandhan of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress is now eying a similar result in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. Seven Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra, including that of NCP president Sharad Pawar and Union minister Ramdas Athawale, will be vacated in April this year. Assured of winning four of the seven seats, the Mahagathbandhan has decided to put up a united front, sources said. In that scenario, the BJP will be assured of winning just two seats, while the seventh seat could turn out to be a close contest between the two sides. Sources also said Pawar will be renominated as the Mahagathbandhan’s consensus candidate.

On Waiting

CHIEF MINISTER Uddhav Thackeray is keen to avoid any controversy over the appointment of Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar and Sena MP Arvind Sawant to key positions in the Cabinet. We have heard that both the leaders have been asked not to formally accept their appointment letters till the government consults legal experts on whether their appointment will constitute Office of Profit. The Thackeray government had earlier issued appointment orders of Waikar as chief coordinating officer in the Chief Minister’s Officer and of Sawant as the head of the state parliamentary coordination committee.

In A Spot Of Bother

HIGH-PROFILE BUREAUCRAT and Thane civic commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal landed in a controversy this past week for allegedly making derogatory remarks against civic officials on a WhatsApp group. While the episode led to an uproar in the Thane municipality’s general body meeting, it could also cast a shadow on Jaiswal’s next assignment. Having completed five years in the Thane civic body, the 1996-batch IAS officer is due for a transfer. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been briefed about the controversy, sources said.

Commander-in-Chief

WHEN UDDHAV Thackeray flew to Delhi on his first visit after taking charge as the chief minister, Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta accompanied him. Sources also said Mehta had played a key role in drafting the state’s wish list, which was handed over to the Centre. Thackeray’s recent bureaucratic transfer exercise also had Mehta’s imprint on it. Just as Mehta’s extended term ends in March, sources said he has continued to be Thackeray’s commander-in-chief as far as state administrative affairs are concerned.

Stepping In

STEPPING IN to curb arbitrary recruitment to plum postings with Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the state administration has barred the authority from recruiting officials on deputation without its concurrence. Orders issued by the state’s housing department last week make it clear that all such recruitment will now have to be cleared by high-level committees appointed by the government. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office will sanction all appointments on deputation for Class I posts and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad will approve Class II postings. Deputations to lucrative posts in the MHADA are much sought after, especially by officials from the all-powerful revenue department.

Pressure Tactic

THE BIG daddies are at it again. Sources said the builders’ lobby has started pushing the demand for a further drop in premiums on additional floor space index. While Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has not yet given into the pressure, we have been told that the CMO has asked authorities in the urban development department to consider the demand. A top-notch builder, with past controversies to his name, has been frequenting Mantralaya a lot these days and has become a subject of debate in the corridors of power.

(Compiled by SANDEEP ASHAR)