Mumbai:- On a cool wintry Saturday dawn nearly four years ago, the fledling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of Shiv Sena-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party was patting itself and preparing to anoint Uddhav Thackeray as Maharashtra Chief Minister. Suddenly, they spluttered on their morning cup of tea when breakfast TV flashed news of a close-door ceremony in which BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar took oath as CM and Deputy CM.
Nearly four years later, Ajit Pawar again sent the MVA into a post-luncheon tizzy, this time by splitting the NCP to join the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party regime of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Fadnavis, as the second Deputy CM – a first for the state, though a fifth time for himself.
For the beleaguered MVA, this is the third near-fatal ‘surgical strike’ inflicted on the alliance by in-house leaders going switching camps to join the rival BJP.
After the November 2019 aborted experiment, Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde quietly defected to join hands with BJP as the new CM on June 30, 2022.
For the former autorickshaw-driver turned CM, and the state BJP, this is an irony of sorts. They had vehemently attacked the MVA regime as a stationary ‘autorickshaw’ with three drivers facing in opposite directions.
With Ajit Pawar’s NCP group joining the Sena-BJP, it has been catapulted to a three-wheeler, though Shinde quickly interjected today to say that they are now “a triple-engine government” which will move faster than a ‘Bullet Train’, tugging at PM Narendra Modi’s heart.
NCP President Sharad Pawar, when questioned about it, said: “This is not a googly, it’s a robbery…!”, referring to Shinde’s comments that his googly resulted in clean-bowling of the NCP.
Stunned by Ajit Pawar’s second deception-cum-defection, livid Congress and Shiv Sena-UBT leaders have hit out at Shinde, Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar for the ‘fraud’ perpetrated on the people of Maharashtra.
State Congress President Nana Patole said democracy was ‘disrobed’ in the state with “the perverted BJP vandals now sabotaging the NCP in its lust for power”.
He targeted Shinde, reminding how he pretended that Hindutva was in peril after Thackeray joined the MVA, and had dumped the Shiv Sena in June 2022.
“Now, what about Shinde’s Hindutva, it is purified? Just recently, Modi accused NCP of corruption of Rs 70,000-crore, and now he has joined hands with the same NCP group,” slammed Patole.
Attacking in full mode, MP Sanjay Raut said that almost all who were sworn-in today as ministers had serious enforcement investigations pending against them.
“All those whom the BJP had threatened to throw in jail have now been inducted as Ministers,” said Raut, a fact later corroborated even by Sharad Pawar himself.
Raut added that some people have taken up the task of “cleaning up” Maharashtra politics, they are free to have their way, but Sharad Pawar is standing solid and “the people will not tolerate this game for long”.
State Congress General Secretary Sachin Sawant said that Modi in his recent trip to the US had uttered the word ‘democracy’ 14 times in his speech, but now the ‘mask’ has been yanked off his democratic slogans.
“Modi himself had levelled corruption allegations against NCP and now the BJP is moving shoulder-to-shoulder with its breakaway group. We would like to see how much they enjoy it… The BJP was desperate and had realised that its going to lose badly in Maharashtra in the next elections, so they targeted the NCP,” said Sawant.
NCP state President Jayant Patil said that the MLAs were made to fraudulently sign on some papers even without informing what it was all about. Mahesh Tapase, NCP’s chief spokesperson assured that barring those who had left the party today, the entire NCP apparatus from the block to district to the state level stands like a rock behind Sharad Pawar.
Other senior Congress leaders like Balasaheb Thorat, Atul Londhe, Sena-UBT’s Kishore Tiwari and NCP’s Dr. Jitendra Awhad – named the new Leader of Opposition and Chief Whip – have also decried the manner in which the BJP split the NCP.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray also expressed disgust at the manner in which state politics, which led and enlightened the nation, has now gone such a low level and thrown to muck.