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ACTION FROM THE CONCLUDING WEEK OF THE STATE MONSOON SESSION

mansoon-session-1The two week two days monsoon session ended on a stormy note for the ruling Democratic Front government. From the stink that was raised over on the SRA scam, to bullet proof jackets, Ramesh Bagwe’s controversial and embarrassing confessions after visiting Arthur Road jail – the Congress NCP were cornered on every issue possible by the opposition. Perhaps that’s why the opposition seemed to be satisfied with their performance while the cracks between the Congress and NCP seemed to have become bigger. Catch all the final action of what rocked the state assembly in the concluding two days this week with Managing Editor Zeba Warsia. BAGWE’S EMBARASSING REMARKS ON FIVE STAR TREATMENT TO ABU SALEM IN ARTHUR ROAD JAIL ROCKS STATE ASSEMBLY As if the state did not have enough troubles on hand in this state monsoon session that a minister of their own front ended up making controversial remarks about gangster Abu Salem getting 5 star treatment in Arthur Road jail. Soon all hell broke loose as the remarks reflected very poorly on R R Patil led Home Ministry and gave the opposition food for attacking the state on the issue. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s government might not have imagined in their wildest dreams about Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe visit to Arthur Road jail and subsequent outbursts to the media about the five-star treatment being given to gangsters like Abu Salem and Mustaffa Dosa that put the government in a spot. It was fodder for the opposition at a time when both the Shiv Sena and BJP were looking for issues to corner the government in the monsoon session. The opposition seized the opportunity and created a ruckus in the state legislature assembly and the council stating that a corrupt nexus was responsible for this. R R Patil was left alone to fight the Sena-BJP as Bagwe was in Pune, busy with his son’s wedding preparations. R R Patil however, managed to pacify the opposition by promising to lead a delegation to Arthur Road jail. There is no denying that Ramesh Bagwe’s statements showed the home department in poor light. It seems as if the department has no control over the prison. Now the NCP is so upset with Bagwe’s over enthusiasm that they have demanded the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to control Bagwe. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News. STATE SAYS NO TO MNS FOR STALLS FOR MARATHI YOUTH Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray’s initiative to garner jobs for unemployed Marathi youth by cornering stalls on footpaths was booted out by the state government on the concluding day of the session. Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav said the party’s demand for 25,000 stalls would just clog footpaths and it was mooted with a political agenda and an eye on the civic polls. MNS legislators raised the demand for stalls for Marathi youth in the assembly, stating that the Mumbai District Co-operative Bank would extend assistance of Rs 500 crore for this scheme. However State Minister for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav informed the assembly that the hawker’s policy is pending with the state legislature. After it gets cleared by the Legislative Council, it will be decided where there will be hawking zones and who fits the bill of a hawker. He added that until then it would be ridiculous to discuss how 25,000 stalls can be given even with the assistance of Rs 500 crore from the bank. MNS legislators, however, said Jadhav’s reply was political. While the MNS was keen to project its idea as pro-Marathi, the ruling alliance insisted that the scheme was just political sloganeering. The Marathi agenda is likely to get shriller in the coming months, with all parties keen on establishing their pro-Marathi manoos stance in lieu of the civic polls in 2012. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News. GOVERNMENT MOOTS FREE HOMES FOR MILL WORKERS The state’s urban development department will move a proposal to grant free homes to mill workers on the lines of slum rehabilitation scheme. Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav, sensing the sentiment of legislators in the State Assembly, said the government was seriously considering giving mill workers 225 sq ft homes for free, instead of charging them rates lower than the market price. Legislators across party lines pointed out that there were reports that mill workers would be charged Rs 10 lakh for every tenement and few would be able to afford these homes. NCP Legislator Shashikant Shinde questioned why the state cannot give free homes to mill workers? If they can give 269 sq ft houses for free to slumdwellers, then similar justice should be done to mill workers who built the city. Similar demands were made by MNS legislator Bala Nandgaokar and Shiv Sena legislators Subhash Desai and Ravindra Waikar among others. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan informed the House that the state planned to offer 10,165 houses to mill workers through a lottery scheme by Diwali. There are 1.70 lakh mill workers’ families, if one goes by the employment rolls across mills in 1982. The state is in a quandary because it doesn’t have the land to create housing stock for so many workers and there is no genuine data on mill workers. That is why the state announcements are being seen as a case of too little and too late. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News. NO FURTHER PROBE INTO BULLETPROOF JACKETS DEAL : STATE The issue of bullet proof jackets came back to haunt the state even in this monsoon session but this time Home Minister R R Patil told the opposition to give up the subject. The State Home Department has denied further inquiry into the alleged shady purchase deal of substandard bulletproof jackets – one of which slain top cop Hemant Karkare wore during the November 26 terror attacks. Phadnavis challenged R R Patil to bring the guilty to book. Karkare was killed because his jacket did not protect his shoulders where he took five bullets. Following Opposition legislator Devendra Phadnavis’s allegations that some ‘corrupt’ police officers were responsible for buying the “killer jackets”, an upset Home Minister R R Patil told the Opposition to give up the subject and not discuss it further. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News. RAISING STINK OVER SRA, OTHER LAND DEALS IS FUTILE, SAYS ASHOK CHAVAN SRA became the most heated subject of debate and discussions during the concluding days of the assembly. Replying to the debate raised by the opposition about the irregularities and alleged scams in the SRA and other land deals, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said raking filth over these issues would yield nothing. He appealed to the opposition not to allow the builders’ war to become a political war. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan also tried to ridicule the oppositions’ allegations regarding the irregularities and scams that were a result of the nexus between government and builders. However, he ended up in promising action if irregularities were found in the deals. The Chief Minister did not reply to major allegations made by the Leader of Opposition, Eknath Khadse, and other opposition members. The opposition alleged that Vimal Shah of the Ackruti Developers was inordinately favoured by the government while rewarding the SRA projects to him. Eknath Khadse claimed that the nexus between builders and the government had led to a scam of Rs. 50,000 crore. Reacting to this, Ashok Chavan read out the list of builders that gave advertisements in Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, wishing its Executive Chief Uddhav Thackeray on his birthday. This reference led to an uproar in the assembly. Sena leader Subhash Desai objected to this and reminded the Chief Minister about the latter’s advertisement spree during the assembly election and the subsequent petition registered with the election commission in this regard. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said it was the Shiv Sena-BJP government who had appointed the Vimal Shah-led Ackruti for the slum rehabilitation projects. Speaking to the media, CM Ashok Chavan spoke about the land deals made during the reign of Sena BJP. He said that the state only wanted to mar the image of the state government. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.

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