Newsmakers of the Week | CM Eknath Shinde, activist Teesta Setalvad and former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar

The Indian Express | 1 month ago | 02-07-2022 | 10:35 pm

Newsmakers of the Week | CM Eknath Shinde, activist Teesta Setalvad and former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar

Last week’s rebel Shiv Sena MLA who turned Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena Chief Minister this week; a former Maharashtra CM facing prospect of losing control of a party founded by his father; an activist and a former police officer arrested after Supreme Court’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots case; two Lok Sabha bypoll candidates — a winner from Punjab’s Sangrur while another who lost from UP’s Azamgarh yet made the biggest impact.New Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath ShindeA day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test, bringing to an end the 31-month rule of his Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra with BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy on Thursday. From working in a beer brewery in Thane and driving an autorickshaw to make ends meet, to becoming the most powerful leader in the Shiv Sena after the Thackerays, to splitting the party and becoming the 20th Chief Minister of the state, Eknath Shinde, 58, has had an eventful career. In this crisis, two other qualities helped Shinde prevail: the fact that he has the loyalty of many party MLAs for being an accessible leader – especially when appointment at Matoshree got tough – and being generous with economic largesse.Former Maharashtra Chief MinisterIn the last few days, Uddhav Thackeray faced the worst crisis in his short political life, emerging from the overarching shadow of father Bal Thackeray. Not only did he lose chief ministership after taking a gamble with an unlikely coalition, he is facing the prospect of losing control of a party founded by Balasaheb and deriving sustenance from the Thackeray name. In hindsight, it seems Uddhav sowed the seeds right at the beginning when, on November 28, 2019, he took over as Chief Minister. He thus became the first Thackeray to hold a public office, with Balasaheb choosing to let a Sainik be CM while he held full control over the party.Activist Teesta Setalvad and retired Gujarat DGP R B SreekumarA day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit by the SIT to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) earlier this week arrested Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad, who backed petitioner Zakia Jafri, and retired Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar, whose role had been called into question by the Court. Teesta Setalvad, a journalist and activist based out of Mumbai and a Padma Shri, is a founding trustee and secretary of the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) established in 2002 in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, with one area of work being providing legal assistance to victims of the riots. She was among the first activists to take up the cases of riot victims in Gujarat in 2002, finally leading the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team to probe the post-Godhra riots, six years later, under former CBI director R K Raghavan. Setalvad has also faced several allegations over the years.A decorated police officer, R B Sreekumar challenged the Narendra Modi government’s claims of peace in Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 riots, spoke of the alleged collusion between government agencies and rioters, and was shunted out and denied promotion while in service. The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch arrested the 75-year-old former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) from his home in Gandhinagar on charges such as forgery and criminal conspiracy. This came a day after the Supreme Court called into question his role in the petition against Modi in the riots. The court made the observation while upholding the clean chit Prime Minister Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, had received from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in connection with the riots.Guddu Jamali, the BSP candidate in Lok Sabha bypollsThe Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Shah Alam — a two-time MLA — lost the Azamgarh Lok Sabha by-election but made the biggest impact. Alam, popularly known as Guddu Jamali, garnered 2.66 lakh votes, with a vote share of 29.27 per cent, effectively damaging the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) chances of retaining the seat that its president Akhilesh Yadav had won in 2019 with a 60.36 per cent vote share. The SP had contested the election in alliance with the BSP. With Jamali, 49, putting in a strong performance, the SP saw its vote share slide to 33.44 per cent even as the BJP almost held on to its vote share, which dipped marginally to 34.39 per cent. The SP ultimately lost to the BJP by 8,679 votes. Sangrur Lok Sabha bypolls victor Simranjit MannDealing a severe blow to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann, emerged as the victor Sunday in the crucial bypoll in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, the bastion of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, defeating AAP candidate Gurmail Singh in a neck-and-neck fight. The bypoll was necessitated when the incumbent Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann resigned from the seat after becoming the CM in March following the AAP’s landslide victory in the state Assembly elections. It was considered to be the first test of the fledgling Mann-led AAP government’s popularity. Pushed to the margins of Punjab’s mainstream politics for over two-and-half decades, the 77-year-old pro-Khalistan leader and ex-IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann’s stunning win is likely to boost the Panthic politics in the border state.

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