Sharing the dais for the first time since their attempt to form a state government ended within 80 hours in November last year, NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, came together to inaugurate two dedicated Covid care centres in the city.
The first event was held in the Auto Cluster in Pimpri-Chichwad, and the second one in Baner in Pune. At both events, the two leaders spoke about the pandemic situation in the state, and steered clear of any political comments. While Pawar is the guardian minister of Pune district, BJP is the ruling party in both Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
In his speech, Pawar said the administration has managed to increase the bed capcity by 2,200 to treat critical Covid patients in the district. “The best facility has been set up at the Covid centre in Baner. The centre has come up under the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, with the complete support of corporate houses, which is worth appreciating,” he said.
The NCP leader and Fadnavis jointly felicitated representatives of the corporate firms who contributed to the effort, as well as civic officials, for setting up the centre in such a short span of time.
Fadanavis was accompanied by state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, who is also the MLA from Kothrud, and city MP Girish Bapat. “We are going through a challenging situation due to Covid-19 and would come out of it with the combined efforts of everyone,” said the leader of opposition.
In comments made after the event, Fadnavis said more testing to screen Covid patients was needed in Mumbai, “The situation of Maharashtra is more serious than that of the country. There has to be maximum testing along with effective management of patients for treatment. Testing capacity has been increased in Pune but it still needs to be increased in Mumbai.”
He pointed out that the positivity rate in Maharashtra was around 19 per cent, which should be below 5 per cent as per ICMR guidelines, while the mortality rate should be below 1 per cent, but was around 3.2 per cent in the state, higher than the national average.
In November last year, after government formation talks broke down between long-time allies Shiv Sena and BJP, Fadnavis and Pawar had, in a shocking turn of events, taken oath as chief minister and deputy chief minister, respectively. But when asked to prove their majority in the Assembly, both leaders had to resign. The NCP later teamed up with the Sena and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Recently, after Pawar’s son Parth, a NCP leader, triggered controversy by demanding a CBI probe into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the opposition BJP had welcomed his comments, leading to speculation that Parth was going to join the party. Both NCP and BJP, however, denied the rumours.