Maharashtra: Speculation abounds as CM calls Union minister ‘future colleague’, MVA partners play down remark

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Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday sparked a fresh round of speculation about a Shiv Sena-BJP reunion after he referred to Union minister of state Raosaheb Danve of the BJP as a potential “future colleague” during an event in Aurangabad.

Speaking at a function, Thackeray referred to dignitaries seated on the dais, including minister of state for Railways Danve as “my former, current, and if we come together, my future colleague”. He then looked back to where Danve and another Union minister of state, Bhagawat Karad, were seated. Maharashtra minister and Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat and Shiv Sena minister Subhash Desai along with other ministers and MVA leaders were also present at the event.

Even as the statement gave rise to speculation, government sources said Thackeray made the remark in jest and there was nothing more to read into it.

“I like the Railways for one reason — You can’t leave the tracks and change direction. But if there is a diversion you can come to our station. The engine does not leave the tracks,” said the CM.

Thackeray later told media persons that “time will tell” what he meant by “future colleagues” when asked about his remark and a possible Sena-BJP alliance. “Leaving aside the lighter part of it, I feel that politics should not become perverse, as it has been taking place lately. It should stop. While there is a Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government in the state, the BJP-led government is at the Centre. But, ultimately, we are from this land. So, without having any arrogance about the positions that we hold, we must use our posts to do good for the state,” the CM added.

After the assembly polls in 2019, the Sena broke away from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the latter “not honouring the promise of sharing the CM post for two-and-half-years each”. Since the formation of the MVA government in the state with the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress coming together, the BJP has been claiming regularly that it will topple the MVA government and form a BJP-led government. However, the MVA government will complete two years in office in November.

Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said that anything is possible in politics but there is no possibility of a Sena-BJP alliance at this juncture. “In politics anything is possible. At this juncture I don’t see the possibility of Sena and BJP coming together,” Fadnavis asserted. “The BJP is crystal clear on its politics. We are not desperate for power. We are pursuing politics with the central objective to serve people. Service is our goal.” He described Thackeray’s statement as an indication of his “disillusionment” with the MVA alliance.

“The unnatural alliance is not likely to last longer. He has not been able to deliver. The governance is mired in corruption. The CM must have spoken his mind in the realisation of the situation he is in now,” Fadnavis said.

Meanwhile, Sena alliance partners Congress and NCP downplayed Thackeray’s statement, adding their own interpretations, none of them appearing upset by the CM’s remark.

“Recently, I have seen a movement in Shiv Sena about inducting leaders and it seems the BJP’s Chandrakant Patil and Raosaheb Danve may join the Sena. So, CM’s indicative statement is important,” said Jayant Patil, irrigation minister and NCP state president.

Ajit Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister, said, “We are all working together in the Maha Vikas Aghadi and it is going on smoothly so far. So, I do not give much importance to his statement.”

Nana Patole, state Congress president, said that the BJP is frustrated for not being able to come to power and that the CM might have made the remark to reduce the stress of the saffron party. “CM is used to making such jokes,” said Patole.

Meanwhile, Thackeray announced “full support” to the proposed high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Nagpur. While backing the proposed project, Thackeray also lamented that he had expected the first bullet train project to be between Mumbai and Nagpur and not Mumbai-Ahmedabad.

Thackeray, who was on a tour of Aurangabad on the occasion of Marathwada Liberation Day, also announced a slew of projects for the region. The CM announced the redevelopment of 150 Nizam-era schools, starting a college focusing on the saint literature in Paithan among others.

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