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Sunday, August 07, 2022

HashtagPolitics | ‘First Agniveer’ to ‘Cong’s anath’: How Maharashtra drama played out

The official account of Bihar's RJD tweeted congratulations to Fadnavis on "becoming the first Agniveer of the country.” The reference was to the new Agnipath scheme, in which 75% of the defence force is set to be discharged after a period of four years.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 1, 2022 4:55:25 pm
Newly elected Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after their oath-taking ceremony, at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai. (PTI)

As the political crisis in Maharashtra threw up surprises till the last minute, the parties opposed to the BJP and its new Shiv Sena allies had a field day over what had transpired.

Leading the way was NCP surpremo Sharad Pawar, whose party went from being seen as the glue that held the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition together, to one that had strained internal ties enough to cause the Sena split.

Pawar shared excerpts from his press conference on Thursday, where he said that both the Sena rebel leader sworn in as Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, and the BJP hopeful who had to settle for Deputy CM, Devendra Fadnavis, seemed to have no clue about their fates.

“Eknath Shinde has been given the responsibility of the post of Chief Minister of the state, he may not have any idea about it. After giving orders in the BJP procedure, it has to be strictly followed. Those who were Chief Ministers in the past had to take oath as Deputy Chief Ministers… But once the order comes and any opportunity for power is given, it has to be accepted,” Pawar tweeted. He also acknowledged Shinde’s achievement in taking away “38 (Sena) MLAs”, saying “it was not a simple matter”.

Clyde Crasto, NCP spokesperson and Goa leader, said Fadnavis not becoming the CM indicated “he is not sure of support of all the 40 dissident Shiv Sena MLAs” with Shinde, adding: “if something goes wrong, Eknath Shinde ji becomes the Fall Guy and not him. This is his (Fadnavis’s) Master Stroke.”

While Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who resigned as CM on Wednesday, congratulated the new government, senior party leader Sanjay Raut issued a statement to the press, saying: “The Shiv Sena is not born for power, power is born for the Shiv Sena. This has always been the mantra of Balasaheb Thackeray. We will work and once again come to power on our own.”

The official account of Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal joined in, tweeting: “Hearty congratulations to Devendra Fernandes (Fadnavis) on becoming the first Agniveer of the country.” The reference was to the new short-term military recruitment scheme of the defence forces, in which 75 per cent of the force is set to be discharged after a period of four years.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah referred to the internal churn within the Shiv Sena, and how the BJP had stolen a march. Speculating that “Uddhav was probably counting on a BJP CM giving him a political weapon to target Shinde with”, he said Shinde becoming CM had made “the job of rebuilding their Shiv Sena much more difficult for Thackerays”.

In an official press release, the Congress attacked the BJP quoting examples of what had happened in Karnataka in 2019, Manipur in 2017, Uttarakhand in 2016, Madhya Pradesh in 2020 as well as Maharashtra in 2019, where alliances were forged and MLAs shifted allegiances.

Senior Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, issuing the official statement on behalf of the Congress, said: “What happened in Maharashtra is shameful for a democracy like India. Under the leadership of Modi-Shah, the BJP wants to get power at any cost. They want that either the power should remain with them or the door of the chair should be in their hands”.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted in Hindi, quoting poet and satirist Sharad Joshi: “There are three types of chief ministers: the elected chief minister, the planted chief minister, and the third one, who becomes a battle between the two!”

In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, BJP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan used what had transpired in Maharashtra to take a swipe at Congress arch rival Kamal Nath, who had been sent by his party to tackle the MVA crisis.

Talking to reporters Thursday night, Chouhan said in reference to Nath, “Hum to doobe hain sanam, tumko bhi le doobenge. Aur wo hi kiya, bichare Uddhav bhi chale gaye (We are already sunk darling, but we’ll take you with us. And it so happened that poor fellow Uddhav also went away).”

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Taking a jibe at the Congress, Chouhan added: “Someone who could not save his own government was sent to rescue the one in Maharashtra… The Congress never stops amazing us. There is only one ‘Nath’ (master), all others are ‘anath’ (orphan). The rest of the Congress is an orphan.”

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First published on: 01-07-2022 at 04:46:19 pm

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