On the last day, the renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv, in the last Cabinet meeting of Uddhav Thackeray led to a political turmoil. Uddhav Thackeray had planned this but it failed to materialise. We will discuss the real story behind Uddhav Thackeray’s last minute decision of renaming.
According to sources, Uddhav Thackeray tried all the tricks from the book to retain power during the political crisis of Maharashtra which saw him being unseated as Chief Minister and his own Minister Eknath Shinde taking over his post. The renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar was one such trick. It was Shiv Sena which always had been referring to Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv; it was also part of its manifesto for a long time to rename these districts of Maharashtra. However, there was a lot of drama that took place in the last days of the MVA government, where Uddhav Thackeray was even seen as going soft on the issue of renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar, something that is close to the Shiv Sena’s ideology. Contrary to Shiv Sena, Devendra Fadnavis was visibly aggressive on the topic.
Abandoning Hindutva Ideology
Uddhav Thackeray was battling a rebellion which kept on accusing him of leaving the Hindutva ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray. The renaming issue kept on popping several times and the former Chief Minister and Shiv Sena party president was seen not doing much about it. According to sources, Uddhav Thackeray camp asked one of his Ministers amongst the very few to propose the name change and bring it in the Cabinet. In the last cabinet meeting, Uddhav Thackeray then got this topic out of the syllabus for some Ministers from the MVA alliance parties and got it passed.
Rectifying His Mistake
Uddhav Thackeray camp feared that, if he doesn’t take this decision, then even this opportunity will be snatched by Devendra Fadnavis. There were major rumours that Devendra Fadnavis in his first Cabinet meeting would have passed this same decision. Uddhav Thackeray realised that the last Cabinet meeting was his last chance to make an attempt to prove that he was still following hardcore Hindutva and wanted to gain a point over his rivals and the rebel and made this decision,” said the political source.
While Uddhav Thackeray and his camp wanted to win a point over the BJP, they ended up putting their own partners of the MVA alliance in trouble. Earlier, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar claimed that he wasn’t aware about the decision that Uddhav Thackeray took during the last Cabinet meeting of renaming Aurangabad and Osmanabad. Though surprisingly most of the Ministers from NCP were present during the last Cabinet meeting. There was news that only two Congress MLAs showed their displeasure in regards to the name change.
The game was to show that Uddhav Thackeray camp was still following the hard-core Hindtuva ideology of Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. But many ended up reading this strategy as Uddhav Thackeray’s parting gift to BJP. The Congress saw major protests where many of its city units, especially that in Aurangabad where party workers protested against this decision, most of its ministers didn’t know what to say, they were caught unaware and even last week there were protests by AIMIM. AIMIM’s Imtiaz Jaleel represents the constituency in Parliament. The AIMIM in the Rajysabha elections held on June 10 had supported the MVA and it was left red faced when the MVA changed the name at the last moment of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar. On the other hand, the Shinde and Fadnavis government got a gift and they even welcomed the decision on the floor of the house and claimed that this government will ratify the name changes.
There was a lot of drama that took place in the last days of the MVA Government, where Uddhav Thackeray was even seen as going soft on the issue of renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar, something that is close to the Shiv Sena’s ideology
The name change strategy left many questions, firstly why did the ministers in the cabinet especially from the Congress and NCP agreed to this decision? The Shiv Sena barring the chief minister had hardly three ministers in the cabinet that day, the rest present were from the NCP and Congress. To answer this, a political source said, “Most ministers of NCP and Congress wanted to give one last opportunity to save their government and also as Uddhav Thackeray was facing a rebellion on the same issue, they allowed it to happen. Somewhere, they were still confident that things may change and the government would stay.”
However, that didn’t happen and instead now, the same thing that the MVA alliance partners thought will help them, has been a bone of contention and that is the reason why even a seasoned politician like Sharad Pawar, who was attributed as the architect of the MVA came out and said he wasn’t aware about the name change decision by Uddhav Thackeray.
Things have gone so bad, that the Congress is giving out clear signals that it doesn’t want to continue to Shiv Sena led Uddhav Thackeray in the MVA, in which now Uddhav Thackeray’s party is the smallest one. After Uddhav Thackeray announced the support to NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu for Presidential polls, things went further sore between the Congress and Uddhav Thackeray.
The Congress in a recently held meeting with NCP apparently informed Sharad Pawar that they do not wish to continue in an alliance where Uddhav Thackeray is a part of. However, Sharad Pawar has still convinced Congress to stay put in the alliance. Though political pundits clearly say that, the days of MVA are numbered.
Post the presidential polls to be held on July 18, it is believed that the Shinde and Fadnavis government will announce the cabinet. The gossip circle is buzzing with the news that many MLAs from other parties are also willing to jump the ship towards BJP. Already the Shinde camp is growing strong, with many Sena leaders abandoning Uddhav Thackeray and joining hands with Eknath Shinde, the latest being a former corporator Sheetal Mhatre, joining Shinde. Mhatre, was seen heavily criticizing Shinde and the rebel MLAs, but she now joining Shinde it is believed that many are waiting to join, but Shinde camp is picking them wisely.