Political parties in the State are making sure their ground-level staffers are primed for the forthcoming general elections. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is micro-planning by appointing ‘panna-pramukhs’ across the State, the Shiv Sena’s new handbook for ‘gatpramukhs’, the lowest level in the organisational hierarchy, is doing the rounds. It spells out tasks designated to around 25,000 gatpramukhs across Maharashtra. Panna pramukhs, on the other hand, are workers who will come in contact with voters who are on the electoral list.The Shiv Sena has published a special handbook which details the work expected from a gatpramukh. This includes keeping tabs on the voter’s list; keeping a record of the voters who have migrated or are dead; keeping a record of voters who have traditionally voted for the Sena and those who tilt towards other parties; communicating the party programme, initiatives and schemes to voters in the area; maintaining a cordial relationship with voters, ensuring their problems are solved; taking a lead in finding a solution to possible quarrels, and maintaining a clean image. These individuals are also tasked with continuously informing ward presidents and deputies about issues in the area assigned to them. “One might find the concept of the panna-pramukh very interesting, but the Shiv Sena has been implementing it successfully for over two decades. The gatpramukh is the reason the Sena is directly connected to voters across wards in Mumbai,” said a senior Sena leader. As per the party’s organisational structure, a gatpramukh is the lowest-ranking official but one of its most important; he or she maintains contact with voters in 15 to 20 houses on a daily basis. Sensing that all parties, especially the BJP, are focusing on micro-planning, the Sena too is investing more in its gatpramukh.According to the Sena leader, the party has appointed over 25,000 gatpramukhs across the State. “Each one of them is tasked with 15 to 20 families. They will be involved in everything from maintaining cordial relationships with them to bringing them out to vote. This isn’t new for us. The system has been in place in a majority of 48 Lok Sabha constituencies.”
Stating that the plight of the farmer was a much more critical issue than the question of the future chief ministerial post, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday cautioned that the ruling government would be in a serious spot if the farmer’s issues boiled over.“I am not bothered who will be the next Chief Minister and from which party. Unfortunately, this question has assumed significance for some people who think it is greater than the burning question of farmers. I am only concerned about the farmers of Maharashtra securing justice and their woes being redressed. Until this happens, I will continue to regard politicos as unworthy,” Mr. Thackeray said, addressing farmers in Shrirampur in Ahmednagar district.The Sena chief, who was taking stock of a help centre set-up by his party workers in the tehsil, said that the ruling government [BJP-Sena] must not be complacent following its Lok Sabha win and must strive to place the farmers’ woes high on its agenda.“The farmer is not a slave. There is a limit to his sacrifice and patience. Once they are exceeded, it could prove severely detrimental to those in power. I assure that the Sena will not rest till farmers are given their due,” said Mr. Thackeray.At the same time, the Sena president quashed suggestions of any schisms in his party’s alliance with the BJP, stating that the saffron coalition was strong and that detractors needn’t be concerned about the possibility of any rift.“I do not speak against the BJP-led government. Having said that, I want to state that one of the conditions of our alliance with the BJP was the issue of completely writing off loans for the farmers, and not a mere loan waivee. The Sena will ensure that every farmer avails of this benefit,” Mr. Thackeray said.He reiterated his warning that the Shiv Sena would take action against insurance companies and banks denying financial aid to farmers.“It is the responsibility of these companies to give them insurance money. But I have information that many are refusing to do so. I only want to warn them that they cannot escape justice like a Nirav Modi or a Vijay Mallya,” said the Sena chief.
Umar Akmal hit an 18-ball unbeaten 38 as Lahore Lions beat defending champions Mumbai Indians by six wickets in their opening qualifying round match of the Champions League Twenty20 in Raipur on Saturday.Put into bat, Mumbai produced a mediocre batting display as they could score just 135 for seven with Aditya Tare top-scoring with a 37 and the Pakistani side comfortably chased down the target with eighth balls to spare.Ahmed Shehzad (34) and Nasir Jamshed (26) laid a good platform by stitching 51 runs for the opening wicket, but they looked like losing way in the middle overs as Mumbai came back strongly on the back of some fine bowling and fielding.Lahore needed 26 runs from the last three overs and the match headed towards a tight finish. But, Akmal turned the game on its head with a superb show of batting as he struck four fours and two sixes from 18 balls as Lahore ran away with a win.Meanwhile, New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson showed his prowess in the shortest format as he powered Northern Knights to a convincing seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka’s Southern Express in a rain-curtailed opening game of the Champions League T20 in Raipur on Saturday.With heavy downpour and soggy outfield reducing the match to 10-overs per side, Southern Express managed 92 for five in 10 overs which was easily surpassed by the Northern side with three balls to spare. Williamson led the charge with a 29-ball-52. Earlier, openers Kusal Perera and Gunathilaka rode on their luck due to shoddy fielding from Northerns as Southern Express scored 92 for five in 10 overs.advertisementKusal smashed his way to 37 off 20 balls with seven boundaries as Gunathilaka contributed 39 off 26 balls with two fours and three sixes. The opening stand of 55 laid the foundation of a challenging score.Diminutive Kusal was quick to dispatch anything on his legs behind the square. His partner Gunathilaka was slow to begin as he was not timing the ball properly but later got into the groove. The openers were helped by some shoddy fielding as Northern dropped as many as six catches of the duo.