Party denied me CM post in 2019, Shinde says after winning trust vote

The new government won the trust vote with 164 MLAs voting in favour and 99 voting against it.

July 04, 2022 07:32 pm | Updated July 05, 2022 10:00 am IST - Mumbai

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis with other leaders after winning the floor test on July 4, 2022.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis with other leaders after winning the floor test on July 4, 2022. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

After the newly formed Maharashtra government of rebel Shiv Sena leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde won the trust vote in the Assembly on Monday, Mr. Shinde claimed that he could have become the Chief Minister back in 2019, but his party did not allow it.

“When the Maha Vikas Aghadi was formed and meetings were being held, all were agreed on my name and later I was told by Ajit dada that though the other two parties had no problem, it was the Sena that decided against it,” said Mr. Shinde in his speech in the Assembly. He was replying to the discussion on the resolution moved by Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis to congratulate him on winning the trust vote.

The new government won the trust vote with 164 MLAs voting in favour and 99 voting against it. Interestingly, two Nationalist Congress Party and seven Congress MLAs remained absent during the vote, including former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Later Mr. Chavan and the other MLAs claimed that they arrived late and the Assembly doors were closed for voting. Mr. Fadnavis, while thanking all those who voted for the government, also said that he was grateful to those who remained invisible during the vote.

The trust vote victory puts an end to the drama that started on June 20. Pointing to Mr. Fadnavis, the Chief Minister said that he was the mastermind behind the rebellion that unfolded in last few days. Mr Shinde left Mumbai on the night of June 20 with a group of MLAs for Surat and then went on to Guwahati, where they were stationed for the next 10 days. After the court directed a floor test, Mr. Thackeray resigned and, in a surprise move by the BJP’s central leadership, Mr. Shinde was picked for the top spot against general expectations that Mr. Fadnavis would be chosen. 

Revealing that after 2019, he was repeatedly approached by party MLAs to snap ties with the Congress and the NCP, Mr. Shinde stated that he communicated the same to former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at least five times but he was ignored. “We are not rebels. Betrayal is not in our blood. But we fought the election with the BJP as it is our natural ally. How can we remain in alliance with the Congress and the NCP?” he asked.

He claimed that the Sena was systematically weakened despite Mr. Thackeray being Chief Minister. “When my department was facing interferences, Sena workers used to come to me with their complaints and I listened to them. If the power I have is not beneficial to my party workers, then what is the use of it?” he asked.

Party organisation

Hinting that he would now turn his attention towards the party organisation, Mr. Shinde said that once all the court battles were over, he would turn his focus on it. “We [Shinde group MLAs] have maintained patience despite you calling us names and threatening us, attacking us. Do not forget that each of these 50 MLAs have their supporters as well but we won’t let the blood of Sena workers spill on the road. But do not stretch us to the limit,” he warned. Countering Mr. Thackeray’s statement that the present government is not of the Sena, Mr. Shinde, without naming anyone, said that he and those who joined him have not left the Sena and remain loyal to the party.

A politician, who rose from being the Sena branch head in Thane to Chief Minister, Mr. Shinde attributed his success to the trust bestowed upon him by his mentor and former Sena leader, the late Anand Dighe. “We have not given up on the Hindutva of Balasaheb Thackeray and this has to be told aloud to everyone. What the BJP government did at the Centre, including about Article 370, is the agenda of our leader Balasaheb Thackeray. Because we were with the Congress and the NCP, we couldn’t even praise Savarkar [Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar], we had to keep a Minister with Dawood links in the Cabinet [reference to jailed NCP leader Nawab Malik]. How can we tolerate this?” he asked.

Commenting on the warning of NCP leader Ajit Pawar that no leader who quits the Sena gets elected the next time, Mr. Shinde emphasised that he had not quit the party. “When these MLAs came with me, I decided that come what may, I will not let them down. I might end my political career, but will ensure that they get elected next time,” he said.

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