Following the Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil’s remark that the BJP had accepted rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as Maharahstra’s Chief Minister with a “heavy heart”, Sena MP and Uddhav Thackeray loyalist Sanjay Raut on July 24 said the statement indicated that the Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government will not last more than six months.
“While there is not a culture of freedom of speech within the BJP, Mr. Patil ought to be commended for speaking his mind [that the BJP reluctantly accepted Mr. Shinde as CM instead of Mr. Fadnavis]…his remarks indicate that Mr. Shinde is merely CM in a temporary arrangement and will soon be ousted,” Mr. Raut said, adding that the rebel Shinde faction was in for a jolt.
On July 23, at the BJP’s State Executive meet in Panvel, Mr. Patil had raised eyebrows when he said it was “with a heavy heart” that the BJP had made Mr. Shinde the CM.
“There was sadness among workers [that Mr. Fadnavis was not made CM]… but we digested the decision and happily agreed to move ahead with Mr. Shinde,” Mr. Patil had said. This prompted a clarification from Mr. Fadnavis that the BJP State chief was merely expressing the feelings of party workers after the Sena (Shinde camp)-BJP took power in the State.
Mr. Raut, pouncing on Mr. Patil’s statement, claimed it made clear that the BJP, in a bid to avert allegations that it had purchased the rebel Sena MLAs for massive sums of money, was compelled to make Mr. Shinde the CM.
“Elevating Mr. Shinde as CM is a gimmick by the BJP to hoodwink the public and buy time…They will soon topple him after which the Shinde camp will be nowhere,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
Mr. Raut said that unlike the BJP, the Sena (Uddhav camp) was not interested in giving dates on loudspeakers, but predicted that the Shinde-Fadnavis government could not last for very long.
To buttress his claim, he observed that even though three weeks had passed since Mr. Shinde and Mr. Fadnavis had been sworn-in (on June 30), there was no sign of a Cabinet expansion.
“No Ministerial portfolios have been allocated as yet. Only two people are running this government which was formed by theft and double standards…It will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions,” said Mr. Raut, who is among Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s staunchest allies left.
The MP, who is under the Enforcement Directorate’s scanner in a case of money laundering, further challenged Mr. Fadnavis and the BJP by stating that their “underhand tactics” of unleashing Central agencies upon the Opposition did not disconcert him in the slightest.