Other States

Maharashtra swearing-in ceremony: no invites to smaller allies

Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Paksha, an ally of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly polls expressed disappointment at the slight.  

While none among the smaller constituents of the ‘Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) government secured even a single ministerial post in the new Cabinet, the leaders of these parties, including Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Paksha, Jayant Patil of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and Abu Azmi of the Samajwadi Party, were particularly piqued at not being formally invited to the swearing-in ceremony.

Also read: Maharashtra Cabinet expansion: Ajit Pawar takes oath as the Deputy Chief Minister

Mr. Shetti, an ally of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly polls, expressed disappointment at the slight, remarking that there seemed little to distinguish between the ‘arrogant attitude’ of the erstwhile BJP government and the newly formed MVA coalition of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress. 

“While a band has great importance prior to a wedding ceremony, the band members are usually found sitting in a corner after the conclusion of the ceremony. Perhaps something of that sort has happened with us allies. Prior to the elections, we were in demand, but no one [from the MVA] asked after us once the government was formed,” quipped Mr. Shetti, while speaking from Kolhapur.

Mr. Shetti said that no one among the smaller constituents of the Congress-NCP, be it his party, Mr. Patil’s outfit or Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, had received a proper invite for the function. 

‘Common decency’

“It is common decency to send invites to one’s allies. But it appears that our contribution in helping keep the BJP out of power is not to be recognised,” said the farmers’ leader, a former two-time MP from Hatkanangale in Kolhapur.

“While this slight does not mean that we plan to withdraw support from the MVA, it does reflect poorly on this new government. It certainly does not help distinguish them from the erstwhile BJP government,” Mr. Shetti said.

He further observed that none of the smaller allies were taken into confidence during the month-long discussions that preceded the Cabinet expansion process.

“We had been repeatedly urging them [the Sena, the NCP and the Congress] to take us into confidence while drawing up the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). However, no one paid us heed,” he said.

In the Assembly polls, Mr. Shetti’s party won one seat, while Mr. Thakur’s outfit returned three MLAs, Mr. Azmi’s Samajwadi Party won two and the PWP bagged one.

Agriculture Ministry portfolio

After the formation of the MVA government, there was speculation over Mr. Shetti’s party getting the key Agriculture Ministry portfolio. 

Mr. Shetti wondered whether his opposition to the loan waiver declared by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his party’s independent stance on farmers’ issues was a reason for the snub. 

“The waiver declared by the Uddhav Thackeray government does not factor in the losses endured by farmers in the Sangli-Kolhapur deluge and the unseasonal showers this year,” said Mr. Shetti.

In a similar vein, veteran Ambedkarite leader and MLC Jogendra Kawade, founder of the Peoples Republican Party and an MLC, said it was unfortunate that allies were being snubbed in this way. 

He said, “We received only gate passes for the event. At least the government ought to have given us a proper invitation. However, having fought against the BJP-RSS, we are happy that a progressive government has come to power. Accordingly, I will be going for the swearing-in ceremony.”

He added that he hoped Mr. Thackeray and the top leadership of the Congress and the NCP took cognisance of the aspirations of smaller parties in Cabinet expansions in the future.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 3:36:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-cabinet-expansion-smaller-allies-snubbed-at-swearing-in-ceremony/article30431849.ece

Next Story