Spotlight on Fadnavis as Mah battles crisis
   Date :22-Jun-2022

TWO successive defeats of the ruling MVA candidates in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council polls and the subsequent rebellion by senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde have pushed the Uddhav Thackeray Government to the brink and given BJP an edge in Maharashtra with the spotlight on former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
‘Mee Punha yein…’ (I will come back), was Fadnavis’ slogan when he sought a fresh mandate in the Assembly elections in 2019.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party and Fadnavis the Chief Minister, but he had to quit in the face of imminent defeat in a Supreme Court-mandated floor test after rebel NCP leader Ajit Pawar failed to win over enough MLAs to keep the Government afloat.
Fadnavis, whose nimble political manoeuvres helped the BJP defeat the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi candidates in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections, may be holding the trump card that could pave the way for the BJP’s return to power in the key western State. It is advantage Fadnavis as the Thackeray-led MVA Government battles an existential crisis after Maharashtra Urban Development and Public Works Department Minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde rebelled with a chunk of party MLAs and parked himself in a luxury hotel in Surat in neighbouring BJP-ruled Gujarat.
Shinde, a quintessential organisation man, wields considerable influence in the Sena and was its leader in the State Assembly before being sacked on Tuesday.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, BJP is the single largest party with 106 MLAs followed by Shiv Sena (55), NCP (53) and Congress (44).
The Shiv Sena had walked out of a pre-poll alliance with the BJP after the 2019 Assembly elections to form the Government with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress following differences with the BJP on the Chief Minister’s post. There was unease in a section of the Shiv Sena over the growing stature of Aaditya Thackeray, Uddhav’s son and Minister, in party affairs.
“Shiv Sena has not been able to keep its flock together. The Sena MLAs often complain of the chief minister being inaccessible,” a leader in the ruling coalition said, adding Shinde, too, was finding it difficult to get files related to his Ministry cleared by the Chief Minister.
Another MVA leader admitted the ruling coalition was caught unawares by Shinde’s revolt, and accused the BJP of engineering defections to topple the Government.