Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis stayed away from functions of the BJP president Amit Shah in Pune on Sunday, apparently as part of a strategy calibrated with the blessings of the party brass in the wake of Eknath Khadse’s resignation as revenue minister.
Khadse had resigned on Saturday over charges of corruption in a Pune land deal and alleged phone calls to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
Sunday’s event – a youth rally organised to promote the Narendra Modi government’s skill development scheme – was planned over two months ago, and Fadnavis had confirmed his attendance back then.
According to party sources, the BJP was worried that the chief minister’s presence would shift the focus of the function from the Centre’s welfare measures.
Besides, a public appearance like this would have given the media an opportunity to grill him over the Khadse controversy in the presence of Shah.
Reports from the BJP camp suggested that the revenue minister was asked to resign a day before the Pune rally to prevent embarrassment to the party leadership.
The organisers reportedly made seating arrangements for Fadnavis and other ministers, which had to be changed at the last moment.
The chief minister, instead, went for a tour to Yavatmal in the Vidarbha region – where he spent about half a day.
Shah, for his part, refrained from commenting on the political situation in Maharashtra or Khadse’s resignation.
Instead, he apprised the youth of various schemes launched by Modi government to fight unemployment.
Maharashtra party president Raosaheb Danve, who also spoke at the event, compared the performance of the Modi government with that of the previous UPA government.
No legislator from the Maharashtra cabinet, with the exception of Pune’s guardian minister Girish Bapat, attended the function.