Facing his first session of the legislature after a reshuffle and controversial resignation of seniormost colleague Eknath Khadse, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis stepped up the attack against the Opposition, even as he defended his ministers.
Fadnavis’ stance on Sunday, after the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) boycotted the traditional tea party, signaled the BJP-led government might look at exploiting the cracks in the Opposition.
The Fadnavis government has been moving from one controversy to another -- from former revenue minister Eknath Khadse’s resignation to the Opposition claiming half of Fadnavis’ ministers face graft allegations to the CM’s public spat with women and childcare minister Pankaja Munde on Twitter.
Putting all these behind, Fadnavis defended his ministers -- Munde, Khadse and Ram Shinde.
Munde has been facing flak after the Bombay high court (HC) struck down tenders worth Rs6,300 crore on allegations of tender conditions being tweaked for some contractors supplying nutrition supplements at day-care centres.
Fadnavis defended Munde, saying the media had not reported the HC order correctly. “The HC has said the procedure is right and our conditions for the process have been upheld. They have only said the people eligible for it have not been surveyed. They have told us to continue with the conditions and do a survey.”
On a query about Khadse’s return to the cabinet, Fadnavis backed him, but refused to give a definite timeline. “We have always maintained that Khadse was not in the wrong and there was no mention of him [in the case regarding a bribe demand made by a person close to Khadse].”
Saying the ACB will not prosecute anyone over “wild” allegations, he said, “We will take a call on Khadse’s return after the probe into the MIDC case is over,” he said. The CM defended Shinde, against whom the opposition had made allegations of patronizing an accused in the Karjat gang-rape case. “This Opposition has no issues at all. They couldn’t raise a single substantial issue. We have a response to every allegation they’ve raised against our ministers. They should look at our responses. We are ready to debate them, but levelling allegations and not listening to the answers is not right,” he said.