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The year when state lost its famous men

Prabhat Sharan Mumbai, Dec 28, 2012, DHNS

For Maharashtra, 2012 marks the demise of many of its famous residents who had once dominated their respective fields.

Amongst the famous men whose loss has left a permanent vacuum includes Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, actors Rajesh Khanna, Dara Singh, A K Hangal and filmmaker Yash Chopra.

Thackeray, who mesmerised the Marathis with his acrid speech and charisma, was largely credited with Shiv Sena’s success in the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation polls in February. The party, however was in mourning by November, when Thackeray, 86, died of age-related ailments.


In August, the ruling Congress party lost a major trouble-shooter in the state with the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was Union Minister for Science and Technology at the time of his death.

Bollywood lost four of its icons in the space of two months.  On July 18, Rajesh Khanna, the craze amongst women in his hay days and noted for his melancholic roles and touching dialogue deliveries, died at his Bandra sea-face bungalow ‘Aashirwad’ due to liver complications aged 69.

Just six days before his demise, the film world’s equivalent of a giant figure, wrestling legend and actor Dara Singh passed away after slipping into coma following a massive cerebral stroke.

In August, film world was again in mourning for the grand old man of Bollywood A K Hangal, better known for his role in Sholay as Rahim Chacha, who passed away aged 95.

Filmmaker Chopra's death in October came as a shock for Bollywood and his fans. The director seemed full of life as he finished work on his Shah Rukh Khan starrer ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’. Chopra had announced his retirement from filmmaking on his 80th birthday, just weeks before his death. He was planning to spend some time with his wife after working endlessly for years but fell victim to dengue fever.

Political realignment

Bal Thackeray’s death has left a sense of desperation amongst the second rank leaders of SS, who have lost the elections three times along with their allies BJP to the Congress-NCP combine.

However, a political realignment is expected among the rightwing parties if Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were to join the rightwing fold and fight the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections as an ally of SS and BJP.

Earlier in February the Congress was forced to ask its city unit chief and party finance handler Kripashankar Singh to quit following Bombay High Court’s directive to city police to investigate into his “disproportionate wealth.”

Relationship between Congress and its ally the NCP, who form the Democratic Front in the state, was at its worst in 2012.

Matters between the allies came to the fore in July, when party chief and union minister Sharad Pawar issued veiled threats to the Congress, hinting that all was not well in the state. His action was seen as a smokescreen to protect his nephew Ajit who was drawing flak for irregularities in state irrigation projects.

In September, Pawar instructed Ajit to resign his Deputy Chief Minister’s post and demanded a whitepaper on the irrigation projects. The sub-text had been that the DCM post would remain vacant.

Earlier this month, after the dust storm over irrigation projects died down, the whitepaper was placed before the state cabinet which cleared Ajit of any wrong doing. He was reinducted into the state cabinet again in a hastily organised swearing in ceremony.

The sensitive Vidarbha region, which had dominated news for farmer suicides, was the source of a major political controversy in the BJP that almost cost its president Nitin Gadkari his post following corruption allegations involving his Purti Enterprises.
Gadkari just managed to cling on to the post amidst calls for his resignation both within and outside the party.

Gadkari floated Purti Enterprises during his tenure as PWD minister in the state government, which flourished with alleged benami investments.

Known for his eagerness to speak to the media, Gadkari found himself facing awkward
questions without getting much protection from the party machinery which was busy handling the in-fighting. He received a reprieve when the media attention turned on to the sugarcane farmer’s agitation.

Adarsh scam reveals deep-rooted corruption  

Mumbai, DHNS: The controversy continues and also the stalemate between the warring parties, comprising accused Adarsh Housing Society, the Ministry of Defence and the Maharashtra government.

The Adarsh Housing scam has come to symbolise the deeply-rooted corruption in the system. In the end, like the proverbial zebra skin, it is harder to distinguish the black stripes from the white.

In April, the quasi-judicial commission in its interim report stated that the south Mumbai Colaba plot on which the sky-scraper is constructed is owned by state government that was leased out to the Defence Ministry. The commission also said there were no plans to construct any structure for Kargil War heroes or war widows.

Since then, the Defence Ministry has challenged it and has moved the Bombay High Court which is also monitoring the parallel CBI probe into the scam. The state government has challenged the legality of the CBI in carrying out the probe.

The same stand has been taken by the tainted housing members in the court.
Several arrests including that of serving bureaucrats were made in March; all of them later came out on bail after the CBI failed to file the charge sheet in stipulated time.  The CBI charge sheet has named 14 persons including former state chief minister Ashok Chavan.

Incidentally, the key promoter of the tainted society and former Congress MLC Kanhayialal Gidwani who had earlier been charged by the CBI for trying to bribe investigating official, succumbed to massive heart attack in November.

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