Mumbai: BJP’s good showing in local polls, mammoth Maratha community marches after rape and murder of a girl and exit of senior minister Eknath Khadse from the state cabinet after a series of corruption charges were some of the developments that dominated Maharashtra’s political landscape in 2016.
The year also saw the Devendra Fadnavis-led government grappling with issues like acute water scarcity, prompting operation of a ‘water train’ to Latur in Marathwada region.
Khadse resigned in June, after a series of charges, including alleged links with mob boss Dawood Ibrahim and involvement in multi-crore land scam in Pune.
Khadse, 64, was the the first high profile ‘casualty’ since the BJP wrested power at the Centre and the state in 2014. A panel headed by a retired Bombay High Court judge was set up to look into the Pune MIDC land deal in which Khadse’skin appeared to have a conflict of interest. It was given three months to investigate and was granted an extension later. It is yet to submit report.
Fadnavis publicly gave a ‘clean chit’ to Khadse and asserted he would be soon back in the Cabinet if the panel finds him innocent.
Demonetisation did not affect BJP’s performance in last month’s municipal council polls in Maharashtra. In what was touted as a referendum of sorts on the Modi government’s ambitious move, BJP came out on top, notching up the highest number of seats (893 as against 396 in the 2011 polls).
BJP won 51 of the 147 municipal councils that went to the polls on November 27. This was the first time after 2001 that direct elections were held for council presidents.
It was followed by Shiv Sena with 25, Congress 23 and NCP with 18 posts. Eleven Independents and 19 other candidates were also elected as municipal council presidents. BJP and Sena made the inroads at the cost of Congress and NCP, whichhave traditionally dominated local body polls.
The year also saw ‘mook’ (silent) morchas by the Maratha community, which comprises around a third of the state’s population.
After holding almost 30 silent morchas across Maharashtra, the Maratha Kranti silent morcha entered Mumbai, the country’s commercial capital, in November in form of a bike rally.
The Maratha reservation issue figured in the winter session of Maharashtra legislature, with Fadnavis assuring the legislators that the state government was committed to providing reservation to the agitating Maratha community.
Maratha leaders are also demanding amendments to the controversial Scheduled Caste and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, alleging it is being blatantly misused by Dalits to settle personal scores.