Addressing mediapersons, Pawar said the biggest challenge for the Shinde government was to gain credibility in the eyes of Maharashtra’s people in view of the circumstances under which it was sworn in to power. He claimed that BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was visibly unhappy being made the deputy chief minister and has been forced to accept the post due to pressure from party bosses.
“I believe that Uddhav Thackeray’s working style is such that if he has faith in someone, he gives him complete autonomy to work. We saw that he had given complete responsibility of operating the legislative wing as well as the party to Eknath Shinde. He handed him the leadership. I do not know if this is the cause behind what has transpired,” Pawar said.
Expressing surprise over Fadnavis’s appointment as the deputy CM, Pawar said, “One who has been the CM and has worked as the leader of Opposition has been made the deputy CM. There are things that you need to do if the order comes from Delhi or Nagpur. It was a huge surprise but once you want to enjoy power at any cost, then such things happen and that is what Fadnavis saw today.”
Maintaining that he had spoken to Shinde, congratulating him after he became the CM, Pawar said that Shinde had succeeded in ensuring that over 40 MLAs left the Shiv Sena. “The current ruling dispensation has the requisite majority and other parties need to gracefully accept this reality.”
Pawar further said that central agencies like the ED were being used to target and pressurise political opponents. He claimed that he has received notices from the income-tax department over the last few days seeking information about property affidavits that he had filed while contesting Lok Sabha elections. “I have got I-T notices asking for property details that I had shown in the affidavit filed for 2004, 2009 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2020 Rajya Sabha election,” Pawar said.
Taking on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Pawar said, “He needs to reflect on his conduct and work towards restoring the prestige of the Governor’s office.”
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With Shinde becoming the CM, the BJP rank-and-file, which was in a celebratory mood over Fadnavis returning to the helm, was taken by surprise. However, Shiv Sena and Congress claimed they knew this was coming.
“I am not surprised… I knew they will make Eknath Shinde the CM. This must have been the deal. Otherwise, why would so many MLAs go running to Surat and Guwahati… it is clear that they were working on a deal for the last one year,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “We had been discussing this among ourselves. We had come to the conclusion that BJP will move in favour of Shinde.”
Londhe added that Shinde becoming the CM means BJP is moving towards its ambition of “finishing off” the Sena. “Besides trying to checkmate Sena, BJP has also cut Devendra Fadnavis to size,” he added.
Downplaying reports that Fadnavis was unhappy, BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “In BJP, we accept orders from our top
leaders as an ordinary karyakarta… Devendra Fadnavis will use all his experience for the progress and prosperity of people of Maharashtra.”
Shiv Sena’s Maval MP Shrirang Barne, known for his proximity to Shinde, said he was completely surprised by the move. “I could not believe it that Shinde could become the chief minister. The way BJP was going about in the last two-and-a-half years, I thought they would make Fadnavis the CM.”
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