Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday held a meeting with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his official residence Varsha to convey a message of unity to the Opposition parties ahead of the Budget Session commencing Wednesday.
The primary objective of the meeting was to ensure better floor coordination between the BJP and Shiv Sena, often seen at loggerheads on several issues in the past. By allowing Thackeray to list dos and don’ts to the MLAs/MLCs and leaders of ruling party and also government, Fadnavis wants to consolidate the support base within the saffron alliance. It was also to prevent Congress-NCP from creating fissures within the saffron alliance.
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Fadnavis also got all the smaller parties — Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Rashtriya Samaj Party, Shivsangram and Republican Party of India — supporting the BJP-led government in Maharashtra to his fold to blunt the Congress-NCP opposition in the assembly and council.
While underplaying political overtones, Fadnavis said, “There is nothing unusual about Sena-BJP leaders jointly addressing the members of the ruling party.”
“In the past, even Shiv Sena chief late Balasaheb Thackeray would always address the members ahead of the Budget Session. We felt why not ask Uddhav Thackeray to address the members before the Budget Session,” he added.
A senior Sena leader said, “It was a good strategy on the part of the CM to rope in Thackeray. After all, it suits both Sena and BJP. After all, Sena cannot always adopt a confrontation strategy while sharing the fruits of power. We have ministers in the government. We cannot always adopt double role.”
“Moreover, Thackeray’s address to the members along with CM also gives a message to our own cadre that Sena is not being neglected by BJP,” he said.
While working on a political strategy on one hand to streamline teething problems within the BJP alliances, Fadnavis is also ensuring that the Budget 2016-17 would be policy driven, with a definite direction for the coming year. “My government is sensitive to the anguish and problems of people. I am aware of the gravity of the farmers’ crisis due to recurring drought in Maharashtra. The ministers’ drought visit to talukas shows our concern to address the farmers problems. Why is the opposition criticising,” said the CM.
“Till now, we have disbursed Rs 2,500 crore directly in the accounts of farmers in drought hit regions. Apart from this, Rs 2,000 crore is being credited to farmers account directly. Even those farmers who have not subscribed to crop insurance are being covered by the government. Several measures to mitigate drought are under way. The Centre has provided Rs 3,000 crore assistance.”
He said the Rs 10,512 crore package which his government had declared is already being implemented. The chief minister said students fees of Rs 40 crore in drought-hit regions have been waived. “We are giving more concessions on education for students,” he assured.