Just days ahead of the monsoon session of the state legislature, when the under-attack BJP will need its ally Shiv Sena’s backing to defend itself over the alleged scams, the support seems more of an illusion. What makes the BJP’s position even weaker is that all’s not well within the party, with rumours that internal politicking is likely to have rocked the government’s boat, leading to the allegations of scams.
Taking an adversarial position, the Shiv Sena on Friday added fuel to the controversy over chief minister Devendra Fadnavis allegedly delaying an Air India flight to the US. In an editorial in party mouthpiece, Saamana, Sena slammed discriminatory treatment given to the CM’s principal secretary, Pravin Pardeshi, terming it as a security breach.
The party also put a question mark on Fadnavis’ highly publicised US tour, saying memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed during such trips rarely materialise.
“Foreign investment is a maze... it doesn’t seem that any investment has so far come to the state… Sena was kept out during the grand oath-taking ceremony of BJP ministers... But since then, chief minister and other ministers seem to be getting caught in some or the other controversy,” said the Saamana editorial.
On Thursday, a combative Fadnavis had rejected all charges and threatened legal action, amid a raging Congress offensive, with former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan saying the BJP leader should apologise. “I reiterate, the reports of me delaying flight are misleading. In fact when I’d already boarded how can I say I won’t travel without delegation?” Fadnavis had tweeted. “Enough is enough. Once I’m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation.”
However, Press Information Bureau chief Frank Noronha had tweeted: “@PMOIndia asks ministry of civil aviation for a report on delay in #AirIndia flights on account of VIP travels in the recent past.”
The Sena has so far not defended BJP ministers – Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde – against whom allegations of financial irregularities have been made.
The uneasy relationship between the allies came to the forefront even over the squabble for LED lights at Marine Drive continued on Friday, after the Bombay high court suggested that sodium vapour lights should be brought back to Queen’s Necklace, as the promenade is famously known. This issue has seen public spats between BJP’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar and Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Sena chief Uddhav.
Meanwhile, speaking about the recent scams, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “The way allegations are being made and the so-called scams are surfacing, there seems to be conspiracy against the party. We will find out whoever is behind this,” he said in Aurangabad, while speaking to IBN Lokmat news channel.
Mungantiwar’s statement led to a buzz that the minister was indicating that there was someone within the cabinet who was working against others. However, when HT spoke to the finance minister, he clarified that his reference was to external elements, including probably a cartel of contractors.