Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was among the first few to wish Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday evening, having come all the way from Pune to do so. Needless to say, masked greetings were exchanged, with physical distancing very much in evidence.
Traditional bouquet -- with three kinds of blooms -- apart, there were a '1,000 words' Pawar had put out on Twitter at midnight -- a photograph of himself behind the steering wheel while the CM sat beside him. Taken at face value, the photograph would suggest that Thackeray, in the co-passenger seat of the eco-friendly vehicle, must be the navigator. But it may also imply, in the fitness of things, that Thackeray is at the helm of a three-party government, which has to be chauffeured by the versatile Ajit Pawar.
‘’Best wishes to the Hon. CM of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena Party President & Maha Vikas Aghadi Leader, Shri. Uddhav Thackeray ji. Wish you a healthy & long life!’’ said Pawar in his tweet.
Pawar’s midnight tweet stirred up a debate in the state's political circles, as Thackeray, who took over as CM in November 2019 after having sundered an almost three-decade-old alliance with the BJP, has been repeatedly reminding the NCP and Congress that he is the boss and his will be the last word in the functioning of the state government.
Pawar’s tweet came a day after Thackeray, in an interview with the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, had drawn a parallel between the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress to an autorickshaw. He went on to add he was in the driver’s seat, firmly in the saddle, despite the opposition BJP coming out with regular pronouncements on the imminent collapse of the MVA government. Clearly, the CM had pandemic rickshaw-seating norms in mind as he drew this analogy.
In the same interview, Thackeray had said that the MVA government’s future was not in the opposition’s hands. "A three-wheeler is a vehicle of the poor and the wheel is in my hands. The other two are sitting behind,” he noted.
Despite repeated claims by Thackeray, Pawar and Congress Minister Balasaheb Thorat that the government is stable and strong, ever so often, differences bubble up are among the three. The NCP, in particular, had expressed serious disappointment with Thackeray after the lockdown was extended up to July 31. As for the Congress, it is still unhappy over not getting its due share in decision-making.