‘PM, Shah call to make me CM opened eyes’, says Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde

Updated on Jul 04, 2022 05:37 AM IST

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde was addressing the two-day special session of the state assembly called for the election of a new speaker, and to conduct a floor test for the Shiv Sena-BJP government.

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde along with rebel Shiv Sena MLAs arrive for a special session of Maharashtra assembly at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Sunday. (PTI)
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde along with rebel Shiv Sena MLAs arrive for a special session of Maharashtra assembly at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Sunday. (PTI)
By, Mumbai

In his first address in the Maharashtra assembly after taking over as the chief minister of the state, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde on Sunday said his government, in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will take the legacy of late Sena chief Bal Thackeray forward.

None of the 38 Sena rebels, who joined forces with Shinde leading to a vertical split in the party and the collapse of the 31-month-old Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, was coerced into supporting him, the new CM said.

“Everyone knows that Devendra Fadnavis had 115 members with him. I had only 50. Still, he, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah made me CM despite having numbers with them... This decision of the BJP has opened the eyes of many,” Shinde said.

Also Read | Shinde-Fadnavis bromance status could be ‘complicated’

“There were many attempts (to break our group). Some people (Sena leaders) said that 10-15 MLAs were in touch with them. I asked them to name them, I will send them back on a special plane. I even sent one back by a chartered flight (Nitin Deshmukh),” he added. “There is no question of zor-zabardasti (coercion).”

Shinde was addressing the two-day special session of the assembly called for the election of a new speaker, and to conduct a floor test for the Shiv Sena-BJP government.

During the session, BJP legislator Rahul Narwekar was elected the Speaker, polling 164 votes as opposed to the 107 votes polled by Uddhav-led Sena candidate Rajan Salvi.

Congratulating Narwekar, Shinde said he was confident that the Speaker would act in an impartial manner.

“The people of this country and from abroad… have taken note of the events that have taken place over the past few days,” Shinde said.

“So far, incidents of (legislators shifting from) the opposition to the ruling parties have taken place, but in this incident people left their positions of power. I was the urban development minister and with me, around eight to nine ministers left…,” he said.

“On one side was power, and leaders of the state and the country with a long stint in politics, and on the other side, a common Shiv Sainik of Balasaheb (Thackeray) and (Anand) Dighe saheb,” he said, as he went on to thank the BJP for appointing him the chief minister.

“I did not want anything, I had no expectations, but the BJP respected me and supported (the principle of democracy) and our ideological position,” said Shinde.

“BJP has 115 MLAs and I have 50. But still BJP showed a bigger heart and gave me the CM post. I want to thank PM (Narendra) Modi, Amit Shah and (BJP president) JP Nadda,” Shinde said.

In a dramatic turn of events, Shinde was sworn in as the CM on Thursday, while BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis, who initially said he will not be part of the new government, took oath as the deputy CM.

Fadnavis, who was addressing the House for the first time as the deputy chief minister, said that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will try to fulfil the aspirations of the state.

“This government of BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, under the leadership of Eknath Shinde, will try to fulfil all the aspirations of Maharashtra and we hope that you (Speaker) will give a good cooperation for the same,” Fadnavis said.

Also Read | ‘Why didn’t BJP share CM’s post in 2019?’: Uddhav Thackeray

With Sunday’s assembly session, after the 12-day-long political crisis in the state, the stage was set for a confrontation with both factions of the Shiv Sena.

Referring to senior BJP leaders neglected in the new government formation, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar taunted the BJP’s state unit president Chandrakant Patil. “Do not thump the bench, your ministerial berth is not finalised,” Pawar said.

He also hit out at Shinde, saying that had he expressed his desire to be appointed to the top post, the MVA government would have “installed” him as the CM.

“Even if you had told me in my ear to advise Uddhavji to hand over charge to you as two-and-half years of his term were over, we would have installed you (as the chief minister),” he said.

Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat, meanwhile, expressed dissatisfaction at Governor BS Koshyari not approving the MVA government’s proposal to hold the election to the Speaker’s position since February 2021.

“We are happy that the impartial judge in the Governor woke up just now,” he said.

The post of the Speaker has been vacant in the assembly after the Congress’s Nana Patole resigned from office in February 2021, to take guard as the party’s state unit chief. In the absence of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal was playing the part of acting Speaker in the House.

Former CM’s son and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also hit out at the BJP for not agreeing to the Sena’s proposal of a rotational chief minister. “If Fadnavis saheb had listened to what we had told him two-and-half years ago, then this situation would have come forth earlier,” said he said.

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