The Maharashtra assembly on Sunday witnessed verbal swordplay between Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis as the former taunted that he was in the House though he never said 'Me punha yein' (I will come back), an election slogan of the Bharatiya Janata Party leader who retorted that he will return as CM and they only have to wait for some time.
"I will not hesitate to admit that we have been good friends for a long time. Had you listened to us, I would have been sitting at home watching today's developments on TV," Thackeray said after Fadnavis, leader of the state BJP legislature unit, was named the new Leader of Opposition in the House by Speaker Nana Patole.
"I never said I will come back, but I came in this House," the Shiv Sena chief said during his congratulatory speech, adding, "I can assure this House and people of Maharashtra that I will not do anything at midnight. I will be working for the interests of the people."
Thackeray's swipe was apparently about the early morning hush-hush swearing in of Fadnavis as chief minister on November 3, along with Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister, after night-long dramatic political developments in Mumbai and Delhi. The two, however, resigned after Pawar pulled out .
Responding to the barbs over his 'Me punha yein' remarks, Fadnavis said he did say it but forgot to announce a time table of his return as chief minister.
"...But I can assure you one thing, you need to wait for some time.
"Mera paani utarte dekh kinare par ghar mat bana lena, mein samundar hoon, laut kar vapis aaoonga (Thinking the tide has ebbed, don't you dare build your house on the coast, for I am the sea, and I will come back)," he said, quoting a famous couplet.
"I not only announced several projects in the last five years, but started work on them as well. You never know, I may come back to inaugurate them," he said.
The BJP could not come to power in Maharashtra despite emerging as the single largest party as 'political arithmetic prevailed over merit', Fadnavis said in the assembly after a resolution was moved to congratulate him on being appointed the Leader of Opposition.
Thackeray said he won't call Fadnavis an 'opposition leader', but a 'responsible leader'.
"If you would have been good to us then, all this (BJP-Shiv Sena split) would not have happened," he added.
"I have learnt a lot of things from Fadvanis and I will always be friends with him. I am still with the ideology of 'Hindutva' and won't ever leave it. In the past five years, I never betrayed the (BJP-Sena) government," he said.
Appealing to the House to minimise farmers woes, Thackeray said, "The aim of this government is not only to waive farmers loans but we also need to reduce his worries as well."
"Those who were in opposition for several years are now with me to form the government whereas friends (BJP) have gone away to sit on opposition benches in this House," he said.
NCP minister Jayant Patil also took a swipe at Fadnavis.
"He (Fadnavis) said he would return, but didnt say where he will sit (in the House)," Patil said.
"Now he has returned and is occupying this top post (of Leader of Opposition) which is of the same level as CM post," Patil said.
The NCP leader expressed the hope that Fadnavis won't be part of any efforts to dislodge the Thackeray-led government of the Sena-NCP-Congress combine.
Though the Sena-BJP combine won a comfortable majority in the recent Assembly polls, the two parted ways following disagreement over the chief minister's post.
"It is poetic justice that those who wanted non-existence of the opposition will now have to work as an effective opposition," Speaker Patole said after he was elected unopposed to the post.