What Is Keeping Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde So Busy?

What Is Keeping Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde So Busy?

Shinde is busy in his efforts to consolidate his position as a political leader of the state and making his Shiv Sena stronger

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Saturday, June 22, 2024, 03:20 AM IST
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Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde | PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is a very busy man. From his media presence, he seems to be the busiest of all the Chief Ministers the state has had. But if one gets the impression that he is busy taking care of the welfare of the state and its people, that would be an erroneous conclusion.

Shinde is busy in his efforts to consolidate his position as a political leader of the state and making his Shiv Sena stronger. Leaders of the past, whether from Maharashtra or from any other state, spent more time taking care of the welfare of the people rather than in verbal bashing of the Opposition. They firmly believed that the people would vote for them and their respective political parties on the basis of their work in the state.

Things changed in the national political arena with the entry of religion in politics. The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party being the biggest culprits on that count. Leaders of these two political parties fanned communalism and tried to win the support of the people. They did not succeed in that effort overnight; it was a long process. From time to time various slogans were coined to ignite communal passions. Some of the popular slogans were Mandir Vaheen Banayenge and Garva Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hai.

There is nothing wrong in feeling proud of one’s religion, but the pride should come from the good teachings of the religion and adherence to those teachings by the practioners of that religion. There is no harm if people are fundamentalists, when it comes to the practice of their religion, but they should not be fanatics. Fundamentalists follow the tenets of the religion; fanatics not only believe that their religion is superior, but often end up in violent actions to prove the superiority of their religion. Members of almost all the major religions in the country have indulged in such violence in the past. Political leaders, who depend on religion for their political growth, have taken advantage of such elements and are still trying to do so.

Shinde and his cronies are no exception to the use of religious fanatics. They spare no effort in spreading religious hatred and fanning communal passions, even if the people they are supposed to serve are left without jobs, facing inflation and often going to bed on an empty stomach, in the absence of income.

Shinde does not believe in the old popular advertisement of a detergent powder, where the model wonders why the other person’s shirt is whiter. Shinde scores over all political leaders in the state, with at least his clothes being spotless white. His clothes remain white, even during photoshoots in the fields to show how he is connected to the ground and with the farmers, even if the farmers are left high and dry in the state and at the national level. He tries to convince the public at large that the his political rivals are not spotless.

While doing so, he has selective vision and cannot see the corruption charges that have been made against his political associates like Ajit Pawar and Ravindra Waikar, among others.

Instead, Shinde still spends most of his time flaying his main political rival Uddhav Thackeray. Ever since he broke away from the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, he has spent most of his limited vocabulary on attacking Thackeray and has been repeating the statements time and again, at different venues.

In his efforts to keep fanatic Hindus with him and to win the support of those who have not voted for his candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, he has been reiterating that Uddhav Thackeray has stopped starting his speeches by addressing Hindus gathered at the meetings, and that Thackeray’s Shiv Sena’s success in the Lok Sabha elections was due to the votes of Muslims. In a democracy, a candidate has the right to secure the votes of the electorate, irrespective of its religious or language background. By his statements, Shinde is impressing upon the people that Thackeray’s Shiv Sena has given up the Hindutva path in politics. Shinde is silent on the numerous photos showing his deputy Devendra Fadnavis, Ashish Shelar of the BJP, other deputy Ajit Pawar, his son Shrikant and he himself socialising with Muslims to win their votes, if not their hearts.

Nearly a year ago, Shinde had held a convention of Muslims to garner their support and there is nothing wrong in that, but he is critical of Thackeray when it comes to Muslims’ support. This way he is trying to polarise the two communities — the only way he sees success for his party in the ensuing state legislative assembly elections.

There is a similarity in the Hindu religion and the current politics in the country, though the latter is now changing. There are very few among Hindus who worship Brahma, the creator, while Shiva the destroyer is more popular; but there are good number of people who worship Vishnu the operator.

People did blindly follow those who spread the poison of communal hatred, but soon realised that they do not have the power to swallow the poison of communal hatred and deviated from that path during the Lok Sabha elections, just as Lord Shiva drank the poison.

The electorate will soon be sick of Shinde’s rhetoric, just as many were tired of Narendra Modi’s rhetoric. It is time Shinde spent more time on carrying out his duties as the Chief Minister. There are many incidents of crime, water shortage and problems of the farmers, apart from several other issues that need attention of the Chief Minister.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

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