Will the last moment, it was believed that Devendra Fadnavis shall be assuming the chair of the Chief Minister, but things changed all of a sudden and not Fadnavis but Eknath Shinde sat on the chair. It didn’t stop here; Fadnavis had said he would be out of the government, but then within minutes, he became part of the government as the deputy of Shinde.
Many questions left everyone baffled; even before Fadnavis and BJP supporters could come to terms with the first shock, they received the second one of Fadnavis becoming deputy chief minister. But what is the reason behind this mind-boggling politics that shocked not just BJP supporters but everyone following the entire event, including those in the Opposition? The shock was clear when Ajit Pawar, the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra, said there was pin-drop silence when he heard the news of Fadnavis not becoming the chief minister.
But sources now claim that it was decided on day one that the Chief Minister post will be given to Eknath Shinde. But what has taken everyone by surprise is the secrecy. How secretly everything was planned can be understood by this one small incident that, till 5 pm on the swearing day, many BJP MLAs in the State were congratulating each other, showing that even they were unaware.
An aide of Fadnavis said, in a closed-door meeting on day 2 of the swearing-in ceremony, Fadnavis spilled the bin, that even before the MLAs left for Gujarat, post-MLC elections on June 20, it was decided that Shinde will be the Chief Minister.
“Almost eight months ago, when the entire rebellion was planned, it was on the condition that Eknath Shinde will be the chief minister. It took months to convince most of the MLAs to rebel along with Shinde. Except for the very few, most leaders who rebelled had decided to side with Shinde months ago,” said the leader.
While BJP was celebrating and for obvious reasons, because it is no mean feat to snatch these many MLAs under the nose of Sharad Pawar, a veteran Maharashtra politician and Uddhav Thackeray, the president of Shiv Sena, what stumped them is the architect of the entire rebellion was made to accept the deputy post.
Sources in BJP claim that even Fadnavis wasn’t aware till the last moment that he will have to become the deputy of the chief minister for whom he had worked hard for months. Initially, there were just two chairs on the dais at Rajbhawan where chief minister Eknath Shinde was to take oath, but an additional chair was added. This chair came in late because it took some time for Devendra Fadnavis to say yes to the offer of the Deputy Chief Minister post.
“It was a direct call by Modiji, he convinced Devendraji to take the position of deputy chief minister in the government. While Shindeji is an able administrator, Devendraji’s experience will only add to the point of better governance,” said the leader. Many called it the downsizing of Fadnavis by the central leadership, but these rumours ended when Fadnavis, during the two-day assembly, lent a helping hand to the Chief Minister in the house. “Shinde needs time, he has been a minister but currently he also is heading a rebellion. If everything is put on his head alone, it will backfire, with Fadnavis handling things along with him, he has more time to fight the battle on ground too,” said the leader.
The two-day assembly session of Maharashtra witnessed powerful speeches both by Shinde and as well as from Fadnavis. At the same time, leaders from the Opposition benches were still busy expressing shock at Fadnavis becoming Deputy Chief Minister and Shinde the Chief Minister. Fadnavis has proven his mettle by already completing the tenure of five years as a successful Chief Minister, then winning the majority of seats in 2019 for BJP, and recently even getting three Member of Parliaments and five MLCs elected in June. Despite being the leader of the Opposition, Fadnavis, while exposing the MVA Government on various fronts, showed that he has deep penetration into the bureaucracy and the police system and could get information on many issues even before the minister of that department.
Many called it the downsizing of Fadnavis by the central leadership, but these rumours ended when Fadnavis, during the two-day assembly, lent a helping hand to the Chief Minister in the house
The Shinde-Fadnavis Government began its work too in coordination. By winning the speaker election and getting Rahul Narwekar elected easily as the speaker, the Shinde-Fadnavis Government proved their majority. Narwekar’s election also was a message; the same Narwekar who once was a close aide of Aaditya Thackeray had moved out of Shiv Sena allegedly over issues regarding the MLC elections then. By putting him as the head of the house, the BJP sent out a message with which they wanted to make the Shinde rebels comfortable.
The comfort message here was that Narwekar, who had toured NCP before joining BJP, was the first-time MLA but was being respected and valued within the BJP. By doing this, to an extent, the BJP wanted the rebel MLAs to know that it wasn’t following any game plan of use and throw and value those who joined them.
The Shinde-Fadnavis team, which is also referred as ED Government (Eknath-Devendra), got into action from day one and has many things to undo of the previous government. To tackle the biggest issue of funds about which many rebel Shiv Sena MLAs had complained — it is said that the Chief Minister is directly looking into it, and funds will be issued to all as per the need—efforts should be taken to address the concerns amicably.
Shinde has started visiting offices too, including that of the BMC. During the incessant rains that Mumbai and Thane witnessed throughout the week, Shinde, along with the local MLA, visited the BMC office and held regular meetings with the officials. Shinde and Fadnavis held meetings with the disaster management teams across the State to show that the government isn’t only working from their offices or bungalows but to get rid of the image that the last government suffered from working from home. The government also took decisions of no toll for vehicles of devotees headed for Ganeshotsav and to Pandharpur, also was in line with their Hindutva image.
The biggest achievement, if one can attribute to the Shinde-Fadnavis Government is that the ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has once again become active in party politics. Since losing the Chief Minister chair, he has been regularly visiting the Sena Bhawan and also holding various meetings, probably trying to get rid of the image that he was inaccessible to his leader, leading to this coup.