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Will Ministry Expansion Curb Maharashtra's Political Disorder?

By SUNIL GATADE, VENKATESH KESARI
August 09, 2022 08:28 IST
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Fadnavis is the local remote control, but the ultimate remote control is in the hands of the BJP leadership in Delhi, observe Sunil Gatade and Venkatesh Kesari.

IMAGE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, right with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

Political disorder is the order of the day in Maharashtra.

For one month, only two ministers -- Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis -- have been the state's all-powerful government.

Shinde and Fadnavis have looked after all of Maharashtra's 36 districts, 31 departments, 30 commissionerates, and 29 directorates.

It is for anyone to conclude whether the administration would come to a complete standstill or not in such a scenario.

At one time, Maharashtra was considered one of the best governed states. Besides, it is the second largest in the country after Uttar Pradesh and sends 48 members to the Lok Sabha. Mumbai is the financial hub of the country.

The carrot of ministerial expansion helped keep a lid on internal disorder. The BJP may have been projected as a disciplined party, but a sizable section has a grudge against Fadnavis.

Reports quoting unnamed sources had it that Chief Minister Shinde has been more than advised by Union Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah that he and his band of breakaway Sena MLAs cannot dream of creamy and heavyweight portfolios.

Shinde's three visits to the national capital in one week makes it clear how the CM's office is being devalued.

When A R Antulay was the Congress chief minister in the 1980s, Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray used to suggest that Antulay's stature was not less than that of deputy prime minister.

To marginalise the Shiv Sena, Shinde is important in the BJP scheme of things, but not to share real power.

It is as if he is a dummy chief minister. At joint press conferences, reporters have once or twice seen the spectacle of a deputy CM taking away the mike from the CM to have his say.

Fadnavis is the local remote control, but the ultimate remote control is in the hands of the BJP leadership in Delhi.

Bal Thackeray used to boast that when the Sena-BJP government was in power in Mumbai in 1995 that the remote control was in his hands. Now the remote control of those who swear by the Sena founder is in Delhi.

IMAGE: Shiv Sena workers garland Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on his 62nd birthday, July 27, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

The perception among political observers in the state is that the 'job' handed to Shinde and his 40 odd 'commandos' is to finish the Sena politically. Past attempts to split the Sena have boomeranged as few rebels get elected in a subsequent election.

The difference this time is that the Sena legislature party and the parliamentary party have collapsed like a pack of cards and that is but natural as Shinde had confided to his colleagues after the June 20 revolt that a 'great power' is supporting the cause of pulling down Uddhav Thackeray from power.

Thackeray's long illness and his apparent neglect of his flock led to the disorder in the Sena.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Shinde-led rebel camp have filed a clutch of petitions against each other in the Supreme Court. There does not look an easy or early solution given the Constitutional issues involved.

IMAGE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has also stirred a hornet's nest by his controversial remarks about Maharashtra and Maharashtrians so much which the BJP quickly distanced itself from. Koshyari was a veteran BJP leader before his appointment as Maharashtra governor.

The Sena will surely exploit Koshyari's remarks during the campaign for the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation elections later this year, hence the governor's quick and unprecedented apology.

Maharashtra may have an expanded ministry today, but the political disorder in the state won't die down soon.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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SUNIL GATADE, VENKATESH KESARI
 
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