After the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the deputy CM in the Shinde-Fadnavis government on Sunday (2 July), political turmoil has engulfed Maharashtra.
Editorials, posters and war of words are sparking rows.
Shiv Sena MP of the Uddhav Thackeray faction, Sanjay Raut claimed that Ajit Pawar would soon replace Eknath Shinde as the CM of Maharashtra.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Raut stated, "Today, I am stating this on camera: the CM of Maharashtra is going to be changed. Eknath Shinde is being removed. Eknath Shinde and the 16 MLAs are going to be disqualified."
Raut further expressed his belief that while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is attempting to break the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress, they would stand united and contest the 2024 elections in Maharashtra together.
Raut also expressed surprise that PM Narendra Modi had previously accused NCP leaders of corruption, yet those very leaders were now taking oaths at the Raj Bhavan.
In an editorial in Uddhav faction's mouthpiece Saamana, it was claimed on Monday that Ajit Pawar did not join the Eknath Shinde-led government merely for the deputy CM position.
The editorial further stated, "CM Eknath Shinde and rebel MLAs of the Sena would be disqualified soon, and Pawar would be crowned. This new development will not go down well with the people of the state. The state had no such political tradition and it will never be supported by the people.".
Meanwhile, posters have come up in Mumbai calling for Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray to unite amidst the political situation in Maharashtra.
These posters were put up by MNS workers. "The whole Maharashtra is waiting for Raj saheb and Uddhav saheb to come together... A Maharashtra sainik's request," a poster by Lakman Patil said.
Raut did not specifically comment on these posters when asked, instead merely expressed confidence, stating, "The people of Maharashtra stand by us and will continue to support us."
Another set of posters has come up in Nagpur, in which BJP leader and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is being described as Chanakya of Maharashtra, as he managed to get Shiv Sena and NCP leaders into the NDA fold.
While Raut is claiming opposition unity, rifts have already been created over the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition.
NCP appointed its leader Jitendra Awhad as the new Leader of Opposition of Maharashtra assembly, but this was opposed by Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe who asserted the balance of power has shifted.
"The full picture is not yet clear. Why was the Leader of Opposition from the NCP? Because they had more MLAs. But now, Congress has 45 MLAs with them. And as Ajit Pawar has claimed that he has 40 MLAs with him, then NCP will have only 13 MLAs left. The picture would be clear in two to three days," stated Atul Londhe.
Londhe further emphasized that the party with the highest number of MLAs is entitled to appoint the Leader of the Opposition. He asserted that this is an accepted formula, and no one can object to it. According to him, Congress doesn't even need to claim anything, as the formula itself ensures their eligibility for the position.
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