Hope Fadnavis won’t repeat mistakes made as CM: Sena

Saamana editorial says BJP leader should follow rules as LoP if he wants to repair image damaged by hush-hush swearing-in ceremony

The Shiv Sena said on Monday that Devendra Fadnavis, as Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly, should not repeat the mistakes he made when he was chief minister.

Attacking Mr. Fadnavis again over the hush-hush manner in which he was sworn in as chief minister on November 23 — he had to quit three days later — an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost a face having mass appeal.

It claimed that people have drifted from the BJP. “The current support that the BJP has (of its own MLAs and Independents) is unlikely to remain with the party. Whatever is happening to the party is the outcome of its previous deeds,” the Sena said.

Mr. Fadnavis was named LoP in the Assembly on Sunday.

“Fadnavis should remember he has gone down in history as a person who was illegally sworn in by keeping everybody in the dark and without having majority,” the Sena said.

It said he was in that post for only 80 hours, and if he wanted to get rid of that image, he should abide by the rules as LoP and take lessons from senior BJP leader and former LoP Eknath Khadse. “Fadnavis should maintain the dignity of the LoP’s post and not repeat the mistakes he made earlier as chief minister,” the editorial said.

The Marathi daily noted that the central BJP leadership decided to continue with Mr. Fadnavis as the party head in the State Assembly, but did not do so in other States. “In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the chief minister for many years, but when the party lost to the Congress, he was not made LoP in the MP Assembly,” it said.

Similarly, Vasundhara Raje was also not made LoP in Rajasthan after the BJP lost elections in that State, it said. “But, what could be the secret behind Delhi backing Fadnavis despite the results?” the Sena asked.

“It is now a fact that the Assembly polls mandate was not for the BJP. Despite that, Delhi supported Fadnavis to take oath as chief minister (with the support of NCP’s Ajit Pawar), but the government collapsed in three days … And now the BJP made him LoP when people of the State voted for a change,” it added.

The Sena also took a dim view of the objections raised by Mr. Fadnavis during the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s floor test on Saturday. Mr. Fadnavis had alleged that the Assembly session was not being held as per constitutional norms. He also objected to the appointment of NCP leader Dilip Walse-Patil as the pro tem Speaker.

The ministers of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government were not sworn in as per the constitutional norms, he had claimed.

However, Mr. Walse-Patil rejected his claim, saying the session was being held with the Governor’s approval. The BJP MLAs then walked out before the head count began in the 288-member House.

“The kind of drama Fadnavis did during the new government’s floor test was not good. He made a ridiculous statement that he works as per rules. He should then explain under what rule he objected to the floor test on Saturday,” the Saamana editorial said.

The Sena also said the appointment of Congress leader Nana Patole as Speaker of the Assembly was a “tight slap on the face of the BJP.”

Mr. Patole had earlier quit the Congress and won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket. However, he returned to the Congress in December 2017 citing differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Fadnavis.

“Patole was the first BJP Lok Sabha member who revolted against Prime Minister Modi, saying the latter does not allow party MPs to speak,” the Sena said. He came back to the Congress and became Speaker of the Assembly. Now, Mr. Patole will decide whether Mr. Fadnavis should speak or not in the House, the Sena taunted.

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