Looks like Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray has reactivated his remote control. The first indication came last week when the party changed the candidate for Bhiwandi assembly by-election on his directive. Now, the Sena Supremo wants one of his trusted lieutenants, Sanjay Raut, to handle the Navi Mumbai municipal elections that are scheduled in April - though many in the Sena top brass are averse to the idea. The tiger is roaring once again.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has his hands full these days. Not with grand plans to transform Mumbai, but damage control measures each time his loudmouth cabinet colleagues go public with opinions that put the government and the CM in an awkward position.
Senior minister Balasaheb Thorat, who holds additional charge of the education department, declared that granting permissions to new Marathi schools was becoming difficult, for instance. Then, water supplies minister Laxman Dhoble left the government red-faced when he appealed to farmers to beat up those opposing the plan to make liquor from food grains. Barely had Dhoble apologised for his indiscreet remark when dairy development minister Nitin Raut publicly threatened to quit the cabinet in support of statehood for Vidarbha.
Perhaps Shashi Tharoor could be called in to advise our ministers?
Will he, won't he?
Solapur strongman Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil is keeping NCP leaders wondering whether he is moving over to the Congress camp.
Two months after the new cabinet was announced, Mohite-Patil is still sulking about not getting a ministerial berth, fueling the defection rumours. They just might turn into reality, we hear, if a certain union minister, who's working overtime to lure the miffed leader to the Congress, succeeds.
Poaching on good officers from other departments is common in Mantralaya. But the cooks and waiters in the Mantralaya canteen are not safe either - ministers always want them deputed to their official residence, leading to a staff shortage in the canteen. Irked, the general administration department finally issued a circular banning the practice. Will our ministers now eat humble pie?
Caught in crossfire
BJP leader Pandurang Phundkar is a worried man these days - he's not sure how long he will be able to retain his post as Opposition Leader in the Legislative Council. News from the BJP camp is that Nitin Gadkari has agreed to make Gopinath Munde's nominee Prakash Shendge, an OBC leader from western Maharashtra, president of the state BJP. In exchange, the Gadkari camp has staked a claim on Phundkar's post, leaving him caught in the crossfire.
One more censor
A clearance from the Shiv Sena and its clone, MNS is not enough if one is to make a film about the Thackeray clan.
Singer-musician Avdhoot Gupte thought that with the nod from Uddhav and Raj for his Marathi movie, Zenda he would have no problem with the release of his film. But then, he ran into unexpected trouble from the Narayan Rane camp, which felt a character in the film bore a resemblance to the Konkan strongman. Next thing Gupte knew, Rane’s son Nitesh had blocked the film’s release, demanding the removal of certain scenes. And Gupte is left wondering how to clear this censor.