Fadnavis skips the event; allies angry, claim ‘not invited’
The oath-taking ceremony of new ministers of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was marked by the absence of both the Opposition as well as allies. While Opposition leader in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, skipped the event, along with Opposition leader in the upper house, Pravin Darekar, smaller allies such as Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), too, were conspicuous by their absence. They were reportedly piqued about not being invited to this ceremony.
Abu Azmi, president, SP (Maharashtra) said the MVA needs to respect their contributions. “We just demand basic decency as allies that MVA needs to talk to us,” he said. PWP MLC, Jayant Patil, said that despite being an ally of MVA, they were not invited to the event. Hitendra Thakur, BVA president, alleged that the smaller allies of the MVA government were kept in the dark about the cabinet expansion. “I have no information about my party being invited for the cabinet expansion. None of the smaller allies and Independents expressed desire for a ministerial berth, but MVA should have taken us into confidence,” said Thakur. The BVA and some allies were also angry that independents candidates like Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar and Bachhu Kadu were given ministerial berths without their assent. SSS chief Raju Shetti, who was tipped to be given the charge of the agricultural ministry, said, “Maybe my criticism [of the state’s loan waiver scheme] did not go down well with them, but they are taking all allies for granted.”
In the run up to the government formation, the allies and Independents had played a vital role in boosting the MVA’s numbers.
Shaikh as minister: BJP slams government
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) over induction of Congress legislator Aslam Shaikh as a minister.
Despite repeated attempts, Shaikh was not available for any comment.
Shaikh had signed a petition sent to then President Pranab Mukherjee on July 28, 2015, to grant clemency to Yakub Memon who was sentenced to death in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, pointed out BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. “Earlier, the Sena had welcomed capital punishment for Memon. It should now clarify its stand on this,” he said, adding that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was making compromises to save his chair.
Shaikh is elected as an MLA from Malwani constituency in Mumbai.
Those who had signed the petition included Congress leaders Naseem Khan, Amin Patel, Shaikh Asif, Shaikh Rashid.
Memon was hanged to death in 2015. (Shrinivas Deshpande)