BJP kills two birds with one stone- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

MUMBAI: Political observers in Maharashtra got it all wrong when the BJP surprised everyone by
letting Eknath Shinde assume the post of chief minister and forcing its CM aspirant Devendra Fadnavis to satisfy himself with the deputy CM chair.

By orchestrating a massive coup in the Shiv Sena and bringing down the tri-party MVA government, the national leadership of BJP has killed two birds with one stone.

On one side, Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray has been shown the door while on the other side, the saffron party has clipped the wing of its own ambitious Brahmin leader Fadnavis.

Senior journalist and writer Sachin Parab said the BJP national leadership has been effecting changes in its Maharashtra unit.

“By supporting the Maratha community man Shinde as the CM, BJP is trying to lure the Marathas who had distanced from it after the rise of Brahmin leader Fadnavis. Earlier, the BJP had appointed Vinod Tawade, a Maratha leader, as its national general secretary. The party’s support to Shinde shows that it has been searching for a Maratha leader for the state,” he said.

Parab, however, felt the choice of Shinde may not yield desired results for the BJP. The decision has also cast a big shadow on the leadership of Fadnavis.

“The rise of Fadnavis clipped the wing of OBC leadership in Maharashtra BJP”. Most of them have left the party. The BJP wants to come to power on its own in the state, so it has no option but support a Maratha leadership,” he said.

Jaydeo Dole, a political and social scientist, felt that the BJP not only played a master stroke but also did a tricky job by making a “puppet” CM. “Shinde can function based only on the directions of the BJP. He will be a puppet chief minister. The chances of this government lasting long are less,” Dole said.

He, however, felt the BJP’s aim to keep Thackerays away from the Sena would not succeed. “It is to be seen how many Marathas will accept the leadership of Shinde even though he himself is a Maratha. He has no influence outside his Thane constituency,” Dole said.

Meanwhile, the rebellion has raised question marks about Uddhav’s hold over the party and the road ahead for the Sena faction that remains with him. Fighting a legal battle to retain his hold over the party and preserving the political legacy of Bal Thackeray, revitalizing the party, instilling confidence in the rank and file that is in a state of shock over the scale of the rebellion, gearing up the frontal organizations are some of the challenges before Thackeray, political observers in the state said.

Long and eventful journey to the Maharashtra throne

Eknath Sambhaji Shinde, the 20th CM of Maharashtra, once drove auto-rickshaw to earn a living before rising as a formidable Shiv Sena leader. Born on February 9, 1964, Shinde dropped out of college before graduation.

After moving to Thane, he soon found his calling as one among thousands of Sena cadres who were ever-ready to hit the streets at the command of Bal Thackeray.

As Shinde joined the Sena in Thane, he found a mentor in local party stalwart Anand Dighe.

He became Dighe’s deputy and strengthened the party in the Thane-Palghar region after Dighe’s sudden death in 2001. He faces dozens of criminal cases for charges such as ‘voluntarily causing damage by dangerous weapons’ and rioting, registered during various party agitations.

He became a corporator in 1997 and won his maiden Assembly election in 2004. Currently, he is in his fourth term as an MLA, while his son Dr Shrikant Shinde is the Kalyan MP.

Reluctant deputy stuns political pundits in state

Many were stunned by the political manoeuvre when Devendra Fadnavis announced that Shinde will be the new CM.

The expectation was that 51-year-old Fadnavis would occupy the CM’s chair for the third time.

It took a series of directions from top BJP leaders for Fadnavis to change his mind and join the new government, as the deputy CM.

There is no clarity on what led the BJP top brass to ask Fadnavis to join the new ministry minutes after he announced that he will help it from outside.

He recently led the BJP to major wins in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections in Maharashtra.

Hailing from a middle-class family in Nagpur, Fadnavis has a degree in law, a post graduate degree in business management and also a diploma in project management.

His political career began in 1992 when he was elected corporator in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

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Sena rebels will regret: Raut

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who was accused by the Eknath Shinde group of abusing them and ending any possibility of a patch-up with Uddhav Thackeray, once again targeting them and accused them of backstabbing the ousted CM.

He tweeted an image of a man presumably dressed like Uddhav, with blood oozing from a wound on his back.

Raj takes a dig at Uddhav

Raj Thackeray took a dig at estranged cousin Uddhav a day after the latter stepped down as Maharashtra CM.

“When anyone misunderstands good fortune as one’s accomplishment; therein begins the journey towards one’s decline,” the MNS president tweeted.

Raj had fought a bitter battle with Uddhav for the legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray.

The Coup that topped Uddhav

  • June 20: There were allegations of cross-voting by some Shiv Sena MLAs in the Legislative Council polls. By the time Sena leadership realised that, some MLAs had gone missing.
  • June 21: Uddhav Thackeray called a meeting of his MLAs, but two dozen-odd MLAs led by Eknath Shinde reached Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
  • June 22: Shinde and his supporters flew to Guwahati; Uddhav failed to convince the rebel group to return to Mumbai, moved from CM residence Varsha to his private residence Matoshree.
  • June 23: Shinde declared leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party by 37 rebel MLAs.
  • June 24: Sena filed a plea asking Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal to disqualify 16 rebel MLAs; a no-trust motion against Zirwal brought by two independent MLAs supporting BJP but rejected by Zirwal as it was sent through an anonymous e-mail.
  • June 25: Shinde flew to Vadodra in Gujarat at night and met Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis.
  • June 26: Shinde challenged in Supreme Court the rejection of the no-confidence vote against the Dy Speaker and also the disqualification plea against 16 rebel MLAs.
  • June 27: SC stayed action on disqualification plea till July 12.
  • June 28: Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and urged him to call for a floor test.
  • June 29: Koshyari directed trust vote to be held on June 30; Shiv Sena moved Supreme Court against the order; SC refused to stay floor test; Uddhav Thackeray stepped down.
  • June 30: Eknath Shinde takes oath as CM, Fadnavis as his deputy.

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