Mumbai, May 26
The simmering discontent between the ruling Shiv Sena led Maharashtra Government and Opposition BJP, came to the fore when former CM and BJP leader Narayan Rane called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and demanded imposition of a President’ rule in view of the alleged failure of the Government to rein in COVID -19 moving at galloping speed in the state.
In a memorandum to the Governor, Rane claimed that the government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had failed to stop the spread of coronavirus epidemic. Last week former Maharashtra CM and leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP President Chandrakant Patil had also presented a petition to the Governor, pointing out shortcomings in the measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus. Fadnavis was to address the media on late Tuesday evening about its stand.
In another development NCP chief Sharad Pawar held a meeting with the Governor on Monday morning. This was followed by one-and-a-half hours long meeting between him and Thackeray at latter’s residence at Matoshri at Bandra in North West Mumbai, on Tuesday evening. Pawar had maintained that he met Koshyari on his invitation and no political issues came up for discussion. However, the timing of the meeting was significant as it took place against the backdrop of strained relations between the Shiv Sena, which heads the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, and the Governor.
The NCP is one of the key constituents of MVA and Pawar was one of the key leaders from Maharashtra who had openly complained about Koshyari’s “intervention” in the functioning of the state administration.
It is abundantly clear that the relation between the Shiv Sena and the Governor have been strained in view of the recent developments. For example the Governor had not approved the Maharashtra cabinet’s decision to nominate Thackeray to one of the seats of the Maharashtra legislative council from “Governor’s quota”. Besides, he has opposed the idea of postponing college examinations on the ground that the recommendation by the state government violates UGC norms. Also, the governor has demanded a separate administrative machinery to look after Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor. Basically, all the matters related to Raj Bhavan are handled by the general administrative department coming directly under the chief minister.
In yet another development Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray on Tuesday wrote to the Governor stating that instead of holding the college examinations amid, spreading COVID-19, the performance of students be assessed based on their past performance.
The similar recommendation has already been made to the UGC by Maharashtra Minister for Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant. However the Governor has opposed it.
As if to make Thackeray’s cup of woes full, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday shielded Congress from the spread of the virus in Maharashtra saying that Congress is not in a decision making role in Maharashtra. During a media interaction, he said that there is a difference between running the government and supporting the government. The Congress can be considered to be in a decision making role in states like Punjab and Rajasthan, but not in Maharashtra.
However Gandhi’s claim rings hollow considering Congress has several important ministries in Maharashtra including Education, energy, public works, revenue etc. For Gandhi to say that Congress is not a key decision maker in Maharashtra is a shoddy attempt of shielding his party from partaking in the misgovernance that has marred the state during the pandemic.
Three days back former CM and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, had also remarked that the Maharashtra government is not run by the Maha Vikas Aghadi but it is run only by the Shiv Sena. It is apparent that the Congress party, headed by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are all set to pin the blame of the COVID-19 mess in Maharashtra squarely on Thackeray, who had compromised not only politically but also ideologically for the Chief Minister’s chair while forming an alliance with Congress and NCP.