Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Sharad Pawar on Thursday congratulated Eknath Shinde on taking oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister but noted that he “inspired people to quit Shiv Sena” and it didn’t happen without preparation. Taking a swipe at new government formation in Maharashtra, Pawar said that BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had been “asked” to take oath as Deputy Chief Minister even though he was a former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in the state.
Pawar said he does not think Devendra Fadnavis has accepted the number 2 position of Deputy CM happily. “I don’t think Devendra Fadnavis has accepted the number 2 position of Deputy CM happily. It can be seen on his face. But he had lived in Nagpur, it is his ethos as an (RSS) swayamsevak, so he accepted the position,” the NCP leader said.
Shinde was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Fadnavis took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister today evening. Referring to Shinde, he said that the “one who led MLAs to Assam” had not expected more than the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
“I congratulate Eknath Shinde on his new responsibility. He showed the power of taking such a large number of MLAs to Guwahati. He inspired people to quit Shiv Sena. I don’t know if it happened earlier. But it didn’t happen without preparation,” Pawar told the media here. “I don’t think that the one who led MLAs to Assam had expected more than the post of Deputy CM. But in BJP, as per order- be it from Delhi or Nagpur- CM post has been given to Eknath Shinde… The person who was CM and Leader of Opposition has been asked to take oath as Deputy CM. It’s shocking,” he added.
The former chief minister said that he expects Shinde to work to resolve issues of all departments. “I spoke with Eknath Shinde and extended my greetings. I also expressed my expectations that Head of a State leads entire state and not just a party. You might represent a party but after oath, you represent the state. So, I expect him to work to resolve issues of all departments,” he said.
“I think Uddhav Thackeray gives complete responsibility once he trusts someone. He showed the same trust in Eknath Shinde and gave him the responsibility for Vidhan Sabha and the party. I don’t know if it (political crisis) is a result of that,” Pawar added. Shinde, who claimed the support of 40 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led a revolt which led to the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
A day after the resignation of Thackeray from the chief ministerial post, Shinde and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and staked claim to form the government. Fadnavis, who was Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 2014-19, announced at a joint press conference in Mumbai on Thursday that he will not be part of the government. However later on the urging and directions and of the BJP’s central leadership, Fadnavis took oath as the Deputy CM.
The Eknath Shinde camp, which had stayed mostly in Guwahati during the revolt, said that Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are Shiv Sena’s traditional rivals. They had earlier urged Uddhav Thackeray to stitch a “natural alliance” with the BJP. Thackeray resigned on Wednesday after the Shinde-led group kept adding to its numbers and the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead for a floor test in the assembly.
BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the 2019 assembly polls together but differences cropped up over the post of Chief Minister. “In 2019, BJP and Shiv Sena had an alliance and we got the required numbers in Assembly elections. We hoped to form the government but Shiv Sena chose to get into an alliance with those against whom Balasaheb protested throughout his life. Shiv Sena insulted the mandate of the people,” Fadnavis said.
“Shiv Sena MLAs were demanding that the alliance with Congress and NCP should be ended but Uddhav Thackeray ignored these MLAs and gave priority to MVA alliance partners, that’s why these MLAs intensified their voices,” he added. Shinde, who was also present at the press conference with Fadnavis, said, “A total of 50 MLAs are with us, including 40 MLAs from Shiv Sena…We have fought this battle so far with their help…I will not let even a scratch mar the trust that these 50 people have placed in me – let alone break that trust.”
“The decision that we have taken is committed to Balasaheb’s Hindutva and for the development work in the constituencies of our MLAs. We have 50 MLAs with us,” he added. The Shiv Sena leader further said that though BJP has 120 MLAs, but Fadnavis did not take up the post of Chief Minister.
“BJP has 120 MLAs but despite that Devendra Fadnavis didn’t take the post of CM. I express my gratitude to him along with PM Modi, Amit Shah and other BJP leaders that they showed generosity and made Balasaheb’s Sainik (party-worker) the CM of the state,” he said.