Mu­layam puts house in or­der, gets in Ram­gopal Maratha protests: Pawar, Fad­navis in war of words

THE FEUD SP chief says polls ticket de­ci­sions not in hands of Akhilesh or Shiv­pal

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - Su­nita Aron saron@hin­dus­tan­ HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­ CM Deven­dra Fad­navis and NCP chief Sharad Pawar HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­

Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) chief Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav said on Sat­ur­day he will con­trol ticket dis­tri­bu­tion for the up­com­ing state polls with nei­ther chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav nor state pres­i­dent Shiv­pal Ya­dav hav­ing “full say” in de­cid­ing the list of can­di­dates.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view to HT, Mu­layam played down a feud be­tween his son Akhilesh and brother Shiv­pal that had threat­ened to split the party, and as­serted that gen­eral sec­re­tary Ram­gopal Ya­dav was the num­ber two in the party.

The party pa­tri­arch’s com­ments in­di­cated that he has man­aged work out a com­pro­mise for­mula to defuse the cri­sis in the party, at least for the time be­ing.

Mu­layam, 76, said he had made some changes to the party’s po­ten­tial list of can­di­dates drawn up by Ram­gopal.

“If Akhilesh or Shiv­pal have any sug­ges­tion or opin­ion, it will be ac­com­mo­dated. Ram­gopal is very im­par­tial,” Mu­layam said.

Akhilesh had de­manded “full say” over ticket dis­tri­bu­tion af­ter be­ing re­moved as state pres­i­dent by Mu­layam ear­lier this week.

But Shiv­pal is also un­likely to hold sway over ticket dis­tri­bu­tion, an area usu­ally gov­erned by the par­lia­men­tary board which has au­tho­rised Mu­layam to take a fi­nal de­ci­sion. Ear­lier in the day, Akhilesh gave back the port­fo­lios of med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and mi­nor ir­ri­ga­tion to Shiv­pal but re­tained the all-im­por­tant pub­lic works depart­ment.

Mu­layam said Akhilesh will cam­paign for the party as CM and Shiv­pal as state pres­i­dent. “The party will gain when Shiv­pal will cam­paign as state pres­i­dent and Akhilesh as chief min­is­ter. It will send a good mes­sage. They will work to­gether un­der my guid­ance. Nei­ther will defy me.”

Mu­layam said his long-time aide and Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber Amar Singh had stood by him in his “dif­fi­cult hours”.

The state­ment came a day af­ter the CM said, “I will no longer re­fer to that “out­sider” as un­cle,” – a veiled ref­er­ence to Singh. The party’s cri­sis was at­trib­uted in part to Akhilesh’s sour­ing ties with Amar Singh.

While the Maratha com­mu­nity protests gain mo­men­tum in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party (NCP) en­gaged in a blame game, ac­cus­ing each other of ap­a­thy.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar — seen as a Maratha strong­man — said in an in­ter­view to Marathi news chan­nel ABP Ma­jha on Sat­ur­day that the BJP govern­ment had failed mis­er­ably to live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple, and as a re­sult, peo­ple had come out in open to ex­press their anger. He also clar­i­fied that he had no role to play in the protests.

Pawar’s state­ment came af­ter chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis told Sahyadri chan­nel on Fri­day that the is­sue was be­ing politi­cised and some po­lit­i­cal par­ties were try­ing to in­sti­gate the pro­tes­tors.

The NCP chief said youths are an­gry as the govern­ment has failed to pro­vide them any re­lief.

“Marath­wada re­gion had faced se­vere drought, re­sult­ing in dam­age to crops. They have also faced floods, which too led to crop-dam­age. So nat­u­rally there was anger among them, as de­spite re­peated de­mands, the state govern­ment didn’t waive off crop loans. They have lost faith in the rul­ing regime,” said Pawar.

The for­mer Union min­is­ter said he had waived off crop loans dur­ing his ten­ure as agri­cul­ture min­is­ter in the UPA rule in 2008.

Mi­nors caught rid­ing mo­tor­cyles with­out a valid li­cence are set to face strin­gent ac­tion, af­ter the trans­port com­mis­sioner re­cently is­sued a new cir­cu­lar ask­ing Re­gional Trans­port Of­fices (RTOs) across the state to tighten the screws on such of­fend­ers.

While ask­ing the RTOs to spread aware­ness among the peo­ple about the rules, the cir­cu­lar said those found in vi­o­la­tion of the rules could be im­pris­oned or fined Rs1,000 or be im­pris­oned and fined.

RTO of­fi­cials in Mum­bai said they have al­ready directed their fly­ing squad of­fi­cials to act against those who are found flout­ing the rule. They will take ac­tion against the ve­hi­cle own­ers in these cases, since there is no pro­vi­sion to act against mi­nors.

The cir­cu­lar was is­sued fol­low­ing di­rec­tives from the Nag­pur bench of the Bom­bay high court over a PIL, which raised the is­sue of those be­low 18 rid­ing bikes or scoot­ers above 50cc en­gine ca­pac­ity. Ac­cord­ing to sec­tion 4 of the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles Act, 1988, a per­son be­tween 16 and 18 years is en­ti­tled to ride a two-wheeler hav­ing an en­gine ca­pac­ity of less than 50cc, while sec­tion 7 al­lows a per­son to ride a two-wheeler with­out gears.

RTO of­fi­cials said many of these in­di­vid­u­als be­tween 16 and 18 years were the ones ac­quir­ing a li­cence for rid­ing two-wheel­ers with­out gears, but would then ride mo­tor­cy­cles with gears and hav­ing en­gine ca­pac­ity of more than 50cc.

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