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'What's wrong with Uddhav meeting the PM?'

February 21, 2020 17:49 IST
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Congress-NCP-Sena leaders discount reading too much into the meeting between the Maharashtra CM and prime minister.
Prasanna D Zore/ reports.

IMAGE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray meets Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi for the first time after being sworn in as CM, December 7, 2019. Photograph: @OfficeofUT/Twitter

Even as instances of friction between the three Maha Vikas Aghadi partners -- the Shiv Sena, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party -- keep surfacing regularly over issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the National Register of Citizens, the handing over of the investigation into the Bhima-Koregaon violence to the National Investigation Agency or the open espousal of Hindutva causes related to the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya by the Shiv Sena, the two alliance partners with divergent views to that of the Sena say there is no danger to the stability and functioning of the Maharashtra government despite murmuring about the 'courtesy call' between Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi take centrestage.

"Let the people say whatever they want to. Modiji is India's prime minister. Many chief ministers meet him for discussions or courtesy calls; the Maharashtra CM is also meeting him. What's wrong in it?" asks NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra's Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik.

Recently, the NCP had a run-in with the Shiv Sena over the handing over of the Elgar Parishad case to the NIA.

When NCP President Sharad Pawar expressed his displeasure over the issue, Malik announced that the state government will form a special investigation team to probe the violence. The NCP's Anil Deshmukh helms Maharashtra's home ministry.

"There is no difference of opinion between the Shiv Sena and NCP as far as the Bhima-Koregaon issue is concerned. Those spreading such canards should get their head and eyes checked," says Malik.

"(West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee also meets the prime minister. Is it the first time that a non-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) CM is going to meet the PM? It makes no sense to look at this meeting from the lens of other issues," says senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakre.

The Congress and Shiv Sena have often engaged in verbal duels over the CAA-NRC issue.

While Thackeray has made it clear that he sees no problem in implementing the CAA and NPR in Maharashtra, he has also categorically assured the alliance partners that the NRC will not be implemented.

"Their ideology is different from ours. Did we ever say that we subscribe to the same ideology? None of the alliance partners has any right to ask the other to dilute their ideologies," says Thakre.

"We have come together to fulfill a common minimum programme for the state's development and all the three parties in the MVA are committed to this CMP," says Thakre when asked about the political tussles among the alliance partners and their ideological baggage.

"These issues will not have any impact on the stability of the government," he adds.

Thakre says he has briefed Congress President Sonia Gandhi about the government's functioning and she expressed her happiness about the way the MVA government is ruling the state.

Shiv Sena spokesperson and Deputy Chairman of the Maharshtra Legislative Council Dr Neelam Gorhe says the CM's meeting with Modi can be looked upon as a "courtesy call".

"Uddhavji has had a longstanding relationship with Narendra Modiji and the two could discuss other issues (related to Maharashtra) during this meeting as well," Dr Gorhe says.

"The same can be said about Uddhavji's meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Though courtesy calls, both visits are important from the point of view of Maharashtra's development," Dr Gorhe adds.

Justifying the meeting between her party leader and the Congress president, she says, "Sonia Gandhi is the president of a party with whom we have an alliance in Maharashtra and so meeting her also assumes as much significance as the chief minister's meeting the prime minister."

All the three leaders are of the view that the Maharashtra CM may raise issues related to the state's development during his courtesy call on the prime minister.

"Wait for the CM's press conference after his meetings with the prime minister and Soniaji and you will know what happened during these visits," says Malik when asked if the three alliance partners had chalked out issues to be raised during Thackeray's meeting with Modi.

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