‘Eknath Shinde was trying to join Congress when Prithviraj Chavan was Maha CM,’ claim MVA leaders 

BJP dismisses claims of Ashok Chavan and Uddhav loyalist Chandrakant Khaire as ‘laughable’

September 30, 2022 02:11 am | Updated 12:04 pm IST - Pune

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. File photo

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. File photo | Photo Credit: PTI

Reeling from the revolt by rebel Shiv Sena leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, leaders of the beleaguered Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition (of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Congress) have made sensational claims that Mr. Shinde had wanted to defect to the Congress in the recent past.

Former four-time MP and Uddhav camp loyalist Chandrakant Khaire on Thursday claimed that Mr. Shinde and other Sena MLAs had harboured such plans when Congressman Prithviraj Chavan was the CM (2010-14). He had been mulling a breakaway faction of the Sena with MLAs to join the Congress, much like his intra-party revolt a few months ago, Mr. Khaire elaborated.

“He [Mr. Shinde] had been after Prithviraj Chavan to join the Congress but nothing came after it. Today, he blames Uddhav Thackeray for allying with Congress to form the MVA but what about his own inclinations at the time?” said Mr. Khaire, an influential Sena leader from Aurangabad district in Marathwada.

Mr. Khaire’s claims come a day after senior Congressman Ashok Chavan said that the Shiv Sena had wished to form an MVA-like alliance when the latter was in alliance with the BJP and Devendra Fadnavis was CM in the BJP-Sena government (2014-19).

“During the Fadnavis government, a delegation of Shiv Sena leaders had come to us with a proposal to form the government. Mr. Shinde was part of this delegation,” Mr. Ashok Chavan had said on Wednesday, while hinting that the Sena, frustrated by the BJP’s ‘domineering’ attitude, had been trying to break away from their saffron partner even then.

The Sena leader further backed Mr. Chavan’s claims.

Both the ruling BJP and the Shinde-led Sena faction rubbished the claims of both Mr. Khaire and Mr. Chavan as “laughable”.

Unrest in the Congress?

Terming Mr. Chavan’s claims as “ludicrous”, Shinde faction spokesperson Naresh Mhaske said that Ashok Chavan was making these statements in order to divert attention from suspicions surrounding the Congressman’s own possible ‘defection’ to the BJP.

“Ashok Chavan’s adarsh (principles) are well-known. It is well-known that he wishes to join the BJP. He is saying all these just to divert attention from this fact,” said Mr. Mhaske, in a mischievous allusion to the Adarsh Housing Society scam that had led to Mr. Chavan’s resignation as Chief Minister in 2010.

Since Mr. Shinde’s rebellion in June this year, speculation of a similar churn within the Congress have been doing the rounds. The intentions of Mr. Chavan and 10 other Congress MLAs were called into question when they did not vote in the floor test of the newly formed Shinde-Fadnavis government last month, causing the MVA’s tally to fall to 99 from 109 (after the Sena revolt). 

While Mr. Chavan has denied rumours of his joining the BJP, his meetings with Shinde camp and BJP leaders have only stoked rumours of his possible defection.

BJP State president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the fact that Mr. Khaire and Mr. Chavan were making such claims clearly pointed to the fact that Uddhav Thackeray had wished to betray the BJP in order to become CM even when both saffron partners were in power.

Maharashtra Minister and Shinde camp MLA Abdul Sattar said it was inconceivable that Mr. Shinde could ever have wished to join “a bankrupt Congress.”

“It was the other way round in that the Congress was trying to woo Mr. Shinde,” he added.

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