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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hazare keeps Maharashtra in limelight in 2011

The year's biggest newsmaker Anna Hazare, sweeping of civic polls by the ruling Congress-NCP alliance despite some strain and setback to some key leaders in these elections besides the 'rebellion' of Gopinath Munde dominated Maharashtra's political landscape in 2011.

74-year-old Hazare was the most-talked about Maharashtrian during the year. "I Am Anna Hazare" slogan was likened to the "We Are All Khaled Said" campaign of the Egypt uprising that toppled the Hosni Mobarak regime, and to some, Delhi's Ramlila Maidan resembled Cairo's Tahrir Square. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Industries Minister Narayan Rane, both from Congress, suffered personal setbacks in municipal council elections, which otherwise saw strong performances by the ruling Congress-NCP combine.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's remark that Congress agreeing to give the key Home portfolio to NCP was a mistake, brought to the fore the underlying unease in state's ruling coalition.
"I think it was a mistake. We should have relooked at it. I don't know of any other coalition government where the portfolios of Home, Finance and Planning are not with the chief minister," he had said.

Chavan's remarks made at a time when home minister RR Patil (NCP), who had to quit after the 26/11 terror attacks, was under fire over the July 13 Mumbai blasts, added to the discomfiture of his party's ally.

In June, the appointment of Vikas Mathkari as president of BJP's Pune unit led to a buzz that senior leader Munde, who disfavoured it, was leaving the party.

In April 2008, Munde had quit all party posts to protest against the appointment of Nitin Gadkari supporter Madhu Chavan as the BJP's Mumbai unit president. Munde was later persuaded to withdraw his resignation. Lok Sabha and assembly elections were due in 2009 and the party could not afford an important non-Brahmin leader leaving it. However, this time around Gadkari was himself at the helm of affairs in the BJP. With no major elections round the corner in Maharashtra, the BJP leadership decided not to humour Munde and what looked like a bang ended in a whimper.

Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam's statement that north Indian Mumbaikars can, if they choose to, bring the city to a halt sparked off a controversy, with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and his estranged cousin MNS chief Raj condemning him in one voice for playing the "Hindi card" in view of the BMC elections, due in February.

"North Indians play a crucial role in Mumbai. We are told that we, Hindi-speaking migrants, are a burden on Mumbai. This is not true. Actually, it is we who bear Mumbai's burden. If north Indians make up their mind, they can bring Mumbai to a halt," Nirupam had said.

Maharashtra saw statewide protests after the attack on Sharad Pawar in Delhi. Rasta roko were held in various parts, including Pawar's hometown Baramati in Pune district. Hazare's controversial reaction, "Just one slap?", enraged NCP workers who staged protests at Ralegan Siddhi.

Eyebrows were raised over Indiabulls' donation of Rs 2.5 crore to the Bhujbal foundation, headed by Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, which holds the Nashik Festival.


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