Photo with Pawar puts Shinde in a predicament

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde | Photo Credit: cueapi

Amid predictions by the Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders about the stability of the new Maharashtra government, a photograph of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and NCP president Sharad Pawar created a stir so much so that Mr. Shinde had to issue a clarification that it was an old photo.

The photo of Mr. Shinde visiting Mr. Pawar at the latter’s house in Mumbai started circulating on Wednesday morning. The photo held significance as Mr. Pawar, at a meeting of party MLAs three days ago, had asked them to head to their respective constituencies and start working at the ground level. The veteran leader’s statement was seen as hinting at a mid-term election in the State, though he never said so.

In that meeting, NCP State president Jayant Patil had passed a remark that the new government of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not go a long way as the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis had been made the Deputy Chief Minister which would give rise to discontent in the BJP camp.

As the photo went viral, Mr. Shinde issued a clarification on Twitter. “A photo is being made viral presently where I am with NCP president Sharad Pawar. We never had any such meeting. Do not believe in rumours,” he tweeted.

He added another tweet, tagging a tweet from November 11, 2021 by the official handle of the NCP where the photo was first published.

Mr. Pawar was in Delhi on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Opposition parties to strategise for the Presidential election.

Meanwhile, the rebellion by Mr. Shinde seems to be getting support from the Shiv Sena’s parliamentary group as well. A day after party Lok Sabha member Rahul Shewale asked Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to extend support to NDA’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, the party on Wednesday changed its chief whip in the Lok Sabha.

The Sena’s parliamentary group leader, Sanjay Raut, wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker appointing Thackeray group loyalist Rajan Vichare – who represents the Thane Lok Sabha constituency which is the home turf of Mr. Shinde – as the new chief whip.

The party removed Bhawana Gawali from the post. Ms. Gawali, who is facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), is said to have aligned herself with the Shinde group and the BJP.

On July 1, her aide, Saeed Khan, was released on bail by the Bombay High Court. He was arrested by the ED last September in a money laundering case related to Ms. Gawali.  

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 7:49:27 pm |