Shinde needs to perform or perish

A full-fledged Cabinet with adequate representation for all regions, classes and groups is the need of the hour. Shinde’s game seems to be to win the support of all the Shiv Sena MLAs who are still with Thackeray.

Vidya HebleUpdated: Tuesday, July 05, 2022, 11:08 PM IST
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PTI

The Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra has won two trials of strength. It should be said to the credit of both the chief minister and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis that they won the tests in a commendable way. The Opposition Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian National Congress also played ball so much so that nobody is in doubt about the majority support the new government enjoys. The election to the Speaker’s post held last week exposed the political game the Governor had been playing for nearly one-and-a-half years. It was his bias against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government which was in evidence when he did not allow election of a new Speaker. When Shinde wanted the election in the normal manner, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari did not raise any objection at all. It is a pity that Constitutional authorities like the governor act like the handmaidens of those in power. Be that as it may, Shinde has proved that he has been able to win the confidence of a majority of the Shiv Sena MLAs. In retrospect, he was not boastful but was merely stating the obvious. Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray should introspect on how and why his MLAs ditched him. To blame the BJP for his failure will not take him anywhere. The fall in the Opposition votes on the trust motion should bother the MVA leaders. It is difficult to believe that so many Opposition MLAs could not reach the House in time and vote against the government. There is more than meets the eye in the turn of events. Anyway, everything will be clear in a few days. What is certain is that the Shinde government is now comfortably placed to continue for the remaining period of the Assembly. The Thackeray group is hardly in a position to take on Shinde.

Having ensured that their government is safe, Shinde and Fadnavis should take the next step of filling ministerial posts. A full-fledged Cabinet with adequate representation for all regions, classes and groups is the need of the hour. Shinde’s game seems to be to win the support of all the Shiv Sena MLAs who are still with Thackeray. In the ideal scenario, he gets the support of 50-plus Shiv Sena legislators. In that case, he can claim that he is indeed the Shiv Sena boss. And with the support of the administration, he can claim to be Bal Thackeray's real successor. Such an image will help him face the municipal elections in Mumbai. Everyone knows that if he wins the Mumbai civic election in partnership with the BJP, it would make the existence of the Thackeray group almost untenable. Shinde made a statement that when the MVA government was formed, neither the NCP nor the Congress had any objection to him becoming the chief minister. The manoeuvring against him came from the Shiv Sena. Of course he was blaming Thackeray for denying him an opportunity. There is no doubt that he has proved capable of holding the post, and it is entirely on his own steam that he has come to power. It is one thing to advertise his Hindutva and quite another to practise it.

One of the achievements of the Thackeray government was that it did not allow the hardliners in the party or outside of it to take the law into their own hands in the name of any ideology. Peace and public opinion are greater than the pursuit of any ideology. As someone who has come up from the ranks and knows the problems of the common man, Shinde does not have to be told what the people expect from him. While he wants to use the Cabinet posts to lure some more MLAs, the real challenge is to bring administration back on track. For one reason or another, the government has not been functioning satisfactorily, the Governor-CM feud being one of the reasons. As Shinde himself complained, the former finance minister was not being fair to other party MLAs. And ever since Shinde revolted against Thackeray, administration has come to a standstill. There have been many incidents showing the government, especially the police, in a poor light. The public perception is that corruption has not been on the wane. In other words, a lot needs to be done to regain the image of the state as a forward-looking bastion of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Other states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have stolen a march over Maharashtra. The state needs to be put back on the rails of development so that the problems of unemployment can be minimised. All this does not leave Shinde and Fadnavis with the luxury of time. Now, they need to begin their job in right earnest.

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