The ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was leading in at least 31 constituencies in Maharashtra and the Congress-NCP in 16 while the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi led in one constituency as per early counting trends on Thursday.Union Minister Nitin Gadkari led in Nagpur, BJP State president Raosaheb Danve-Patil in Jalna, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan in Nanded, Supriya Sule-Pawar in Baramati and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti in Hatkanangale.Earlier, counting of votes started in Mumbai and Maharashtra amid tight security for 48 Lok Sabha seats, officials said.In Mumbai, the prominent candidates in the fray are: BJP’s Gopal Shetty, Poonam Mahajan, Manoj Kotak; Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar, Rahul Shewale, Arvind Sawant; Congress’ Milind M. Deora, Sanjay Nirupam, Eknath Gaekwad, Priya Dutt, Urmila Matondkar; and Nationalist Congress Party’s Sanjay Dina Patil.
The Centre’s move to revoke Article 370 has triggered apprehensions in the northeastern States enjoying similar constitutional safeguards. The Constitution bestows special provisions under Article 371A for Nagaland, Article 371B for Assam, Article 371C for Manipur, Article 371F for Sikkim and Article 371F for Mizoram.Former Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said the move by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was a “red alert” for the people of the northeast.“It has become a threat to States like Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal which are protected by the Constitution. If 35A and 370 are repealed, Article 371G safeguarding the interests and existence of lesser tribals of Mizoram will be under severe threat,” he said.Also Read A snapshot of Article 371 The Mizo National Front government chose to adopt a “wait and watch” policy but NGOs such as the influential Young Mizo Association — which has spearheaded a movement against the Centre’s bid to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill — said any move to “tamper with” Article 371G would be opposed to the hilt.The Neiphiu Rio-led coalition government in Nagaland, in which BJP is a partner, chose not to react. Neither did the Naga Students’ Federation.‘Minorities undermined’“This is something undermining the minorities in India. I think this is very undemocratic. People in Nagaland would be particularly worried as a settlement of the Naga political process is long overdue,” said Chuba Ozukum, president of Naga Hoho, apex body of all Naga tribes. The “political process” is a term used for the peace talks between New Delhi and the Isak-Muivah faction of the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagaland that fought a secessionist battle with the armed forces until declaring a truce in July 1997.
Support poured in for Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday from opposition parties as well as ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena as he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) all of Thursday.MNS workers registered their protest against the government action through the hashtag #ISupportRajThackeray on social media. Late on Wednesday, unknown persons threw pamphlets in Lalbaug and Parel asking why the ED had never questioned BJP leaders. Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said Mr. Thackeray had raised issues against the Central government’s functioning during the Lok Sabha campaign. “Instead of answering, the government sent an ED notice. Anyone who questions the government is either served a notice or termed anti-national. This isn’t good for democracy, this is dictatorship,” said Mr. Thorat.On Wednesday, Mr. Thackeray’s estranged cousin and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had said he does not expect anything concrete to emerge from the ED probe. On Thursday, Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that despite their political differences, both the Thackerays are brothers. “Uddhavji has made himself clear on this issue. Blood is always thicker than politics,” said Mr. Raut.The Nationalist Congress Party too criticised the action taken against Mr. Thackeray. “If the ED finds the Kohinoor case worthy enough to be investigated, then let them do that. But the timing of the ED summons to Raj Thackeray clearly raises questions,” said NCP’s Mumbai president Nawab Malik.Leader of the Opposition in Council, Dhananjay Munde, said every individual who has dared to ask this government questions has been victimised and is being thrown into the net of enquiries and investigation agencies.
Maharashtra has topped the list of 18 large-medium States in the overall first-ever ranking of Indian States on justice delivery, followed by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana. In this category, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are at the bottom, while among the list of seven smaller States, Goa leads the group.This is according to the India Justice Report 2019, released on Thursday by the Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, among others.Public dataThe report has been prepared based on publicly available data of different government entities on the four pillars of justice delivery — police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid.Releasing the report, Justice (Retd.) Madan B. Lokur called it a pioneering study and said: “The findings establish beyond doubt very serious lacunae in our justice delivery system. It is an excellent effort to mainstream the issues concerning our justice system, which in fact affect every aspect of society, governance and the economy.” He added that judiciary and the government should take note of the significant findings, and the States too should act to urgently plug the gaps in the management of the police, prisons, forensics, justice delivery, provision of legal aid, and the filling up of vacancies.The report highlights the fact that even the best performing States scored less than 60% in their performance on capacity across the police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid.The country has about 18,200 judges with about 23% sanctioned posts vacant, notes the report, adding that women are poorly represented in these pillars, constituting just 7% of the police.“Prisons are over-occupied at 114%, where 68% are undertrials awaiting investigation, inquiry or trial. Regarding budgets, most States are not able to fully utilise the funds given to them by the Centre, while the increase in spending on the police, prisons and judiciary does not keep pace with the overall increase in State expenditure,” the report said.Budget constraintsIt added that some pillars also remain affected by low budgets. For instance, India’s per capita spend on free legal aid is 75 paise per annum, the report said.The report looked at data indicators from the four pillars, covering themes like infrastructure, human resources, diversity (gender, Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Class), budgets, workload and trends over the last five years.‘Grim picture’“Collectively, the data paints a grim picture. It highlights that each individual sub-system is starved for budgets, manpower and infrastructure; no State is fully compliant with the standards it has set for itself. Governments are content to create ad hoc and patchwork remedies to cure deeply embedded systemic failures. Inevitably, the burden of all this falls on the public,’’ noted Maja Daruwala, chief editor, India Justice Report.