CM Eknath Shinde and his entourage…

Mumbai/Nagpur – There is an old English proverb-A man is known by the company he keeps, isn’t it absolutely true? If I am surrounded by all the Shah’s and Javeri’s 24/7, being a hardcore Maharashtrain Brahmin too, I have started behaving like Gujarati’s. For me life has become a source of enjoyment so much so that my stomach knows no bounds now and a measuring tape too sometimes falls short if I sit and eat a Thaali. Thank God I don’t chew Gutka or wear a gold bracelet round my wrist, but a white gold chain surely has made its way around my neck. See how company influences! Anyways, enough of me! Devendra Fadnavis is known to be in touch even today with his childhood friends who, like DF are very down to earth, and I am fortunate to know almost all of them. From one being a top notch architect cum interior designer to another being a builder of Nagpur, another one has become a President of a very prestigious club of cricket. Like Fadnavis, these ‘best friends’ too are large hearted and typical Nagpuri, if I may call them emotional and vulnerable who wear heart on their sleeve and nothing scares them…, No not even Nawab Malik or Sanjay Raut . Believe me I can go on and on with politicians and their inner circle but have space constraint issues but one thing I would like to tell you…You will be surprised and shocked to know that many of these so-called ARCH RIVALS in politics of Maharashtra share a drink, their children hang out together every weekend, and many are business partners of each other.

Now that it has been 6 to 7 months Eknath Shinde has come to power as the Chief Minister of this state. Time has come to review his team and the work they do. Obviously CM SHinde came with a ‘package’ of staff once he resumed office. There were some old timers, some who CM Shinde liked/trusted were called to the CMO and some were appointed on recommendations. But do you know what the surprise is?

Surprise is appointment of the same person who brought Chagan Bhujbal in trouble over the Shiv bhojan Thaali and almost ended Ganesh Naik’s empire Santosh singh Pardeshi has been appointed as the OSD (Officer on Special Duty) to the CM. Now if CM Eknath Shinde has to let his image down, only God can help him such is the reputation of Pardeshi in Mantralaya. By the way Mr. Shinde, grapevine is, you appointed this Pardeshi because Loksatta’s owner Goenka had recommended his name. My information says otherwise. Being in the same field, I spoke to a few close friends of Goenka, they all denied such recommendation and neither they said Goenka even if in future would fall to a level of recommending a person like Pardeshi. So there you go, whosoever did the work of Pardeshi, has fooled you, better get it checked, I might be wrong also.

Another character that is appointed in the CMO is one IRS by the name Dr Amol Shinde who looks after the Audit. I have heard he just cannot do any work. He does even know what to write and how to mark a file and to whom when anyone approaches him, says my source. Only credit is he has worked under MoS Agriculture at the Centre. But then what is the use of just filling in posts for the heck of it? Oh heard, he is also close to a lady officer in the CMO and also has love popping out of his eyes when he sees this Mantralaya beat lady reporter.

Then you have two Private Secretaries. One is Dr Nitin Rathod and the other one is Dr Balaji Khatgaonkar. Now Khatgaonkar’s life has gone to become a PS and what he is today; his work and dedication just cannot be matched. His grip over the administration, know-how is just super. Now Dr Nitin Rathod is the one who is warming chairs at the CMO. Neither he knows anyone in the government nor has even basic knowledge nor does he have any grip as the Private Secreatary.

Then there is one Dr Vaibhav Pawar who is OSD to the CM. In the earlier government I have heard this Pawar looked after all the DOGS of the Thackeray’s-and their vaccines and food and round ups both at morning and night. He is a Dog expert they say, let alone an administrator. It is jokingly said that Tejas Thackeray once asked Vaibhav Pawar which is his favourite soong and pat came the reply from Pawar-“Who let the dogs out”…. CM Shinde, one more baggage in your team. By the way there is another very capable person in Dr Prashant Bhambre who is appointed as an OSD but due to no work allocated to him and no place to sit, Bhambre spends time at home rusting his brains.


Now this man whom I am referring to is one character. These days they say it’s his voice only, at least he wants to be known that way. He has come out of nowhere. Amit Hukrekar who is the OSD to the CM, has been given important work of engagement of the CM. But this ‘Rakhi Sawant’ of the CMO is busy in playing “Aa Behen Chugli Kare” He is known to fill the ears of everyone and when time comes to work he is the one shouting and asking for attention. Another wasted candidate at an important post. By the way CM Shinde, this Amit claims to have worked with ex Minister Suresh Prabhu for almost 9 years. Can a Khatgaokar or Prabhakar call up Mr. Prabhu and get this information checked?

Now coming to the ones who are actually working and who are moving at the pace of CM Eknath Shinde. One is PS Dr Balaji Khatgaonkar, OSD Dr Rahul Gethe, Dr Nitin Dalvi who looks after Vidhan Bhavan, Viraj Mulay, Dr Rajesh Kawale, and the man of all seasons, PA Prabhakar Kale. If whatever Eknath Shinde is today is in reality because of these 4 to 5 people. It is a team of these people who actually take the effort to read the files, mark what is important, put their ‘legal’ views on the file and then only CM Shinde signs. All the MLA’s of the Shinde group and of the BJP only approach these people for works. I am yet to write on Sachin Joshi, so hang on…

In the IAS and IPS, at the top is ever efficient and most loved by CM Shinde, IAS Bhushan Gagrani. This man really knows how to handle whatever he gets. Never on an ego trip, always there for everyone. Man of limited words and docile personality but works like a monster. Then there is IAS Vikas Kharge whom we all love and is an asset to CM Shinde. IPS Brijesh Singh another good officer and known to be close to Fadnavis, is Principal Secretary too in the CMO looking after DGIPR . The other day my person in the DGIPR department at the ground floor of Mantralaya was telling me that IAS Jayshree Bhoj is not liking the fact that Brijesh is the DG of DGIPR as an IPS cannot hold an IAS post. But it’s OK…Then of course there is Radhyesham Mopalawar-Infrastrusture boss in the CMO who is the karta-dharta of the Samruddhi Expressway.

Now comes the big man Anand Madia. An IT enthusiast and very close to Delhi. Boss, those who don’t know when others are dying to get Government facilities, Anant Madia does not use an official car nor does he take a single rupee in terms of his salary. This is the man who wants to deliver and is here for the upliftment of Maharashtra in the IT sector. And with this, we also have Ashish Kulkarni who has an important work of MLA’s and funds and they call him ‘the bridge’ between DCM Devendra Fadnavis and CM Eknath Shinde. Then there is media Coordinator in Vinayak Patrudkar who, like the rest of CM’s PRO’s for years, only knows daily Marathi & English newspapers and channels. For these PRO’s bloggers are not a big thing. Can’t blame it on Patrudkar. These guys are merely there as a status symbol and for resume building. They cannot control any media nor have any say in what comes for and against CM Shinde in any newspaper or on a channel.

At the end, all these are the workers and non-workers of CM Eknath Shinde. And then there is Sachin Joshi. Hope you got what I am trying to say here…A man is known by the company he keeps.

by Vikrant Hemant Joshi.

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