The publication of an advertisement in both regional and national newspapers, authorised by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena, has caused dissatisfaction among the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. This development has given more air to the recent speculations of strife between the two allies.
A full-page advertisement, bearing the headline 'Modi for India, Shinde for Maharashtra,' was published, featuring a survey report that indicated Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as being more popular than Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“According to the election surveys, 30.2% of citizens of the state prefer BJP, while 16.2% prefer Shiv Sena led by Shinde. This shows 46.4% of people trust the ruling alliance for the development of the state," the latest advertisement read.
“According to the surveys done for the chief minister’s position, 26.1% of the population desire to see Shinde as the CM, while 23.2% give preference to Fadnavis. Thus, 49.3% of the state population wish to see a strong ruling alliance for the state’s leadership,” it added.
Leader of Opposition and NCP leader Ajit Pawar did not miss this opportunity to take a jibe at the Chief Minister.
"Till date, in my political career, I have not seen this kind of advertisement which I saw in today's newspapers. PM Narendra Modi and CM Shinde's photos were there in the advertisement. They (Shiv Sena) say that they are the soldiers of Balasaheb Thackeray, whereas Balasaheb Thackeray's and Anand Dighe's photos were missing from the advertisement," Ajit Pawar said.
In response to the advertisement, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut labeled the party as "Modi-Shah's Shiv Sena."
“It was Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena earlier, but the advertisement has cleared the air. It has now become Modi-Shah’s Shiv Sena. Where is the image or photo of late Balasaheb Thackeray in the advertisement?” he said.
In a separate tweet, Raut wrote: "This advertisement made by spending crores of rupees. Eknath Shinde has forgotten Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray. Their bubble that they are the Shiv Sena has burst. They forgot to put Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray's photo in the advertisement. So much fear of Modi Shah? The rest od the issues like survey and Fadnavis are secondary."
2024 polls will tell who is more popular: Bawankule
BJP’s state unit chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule, reacting to the advertisement, said 2024 polls will tell who is more popular.
“Such advertisements or surveys have no value, as the people of the state decide who is more popular. The advertisement does not bear any significance. The people of the state will decide who is more popular in 2024-elections. One thing is clear, people of Maharashtra love the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis, Eknath Shinde and Modiji. Fadnavisji was sworn in as the CM twice and is popular among the people. The advertisement has carried Shinde’s picture because he is chief minister of the state,” Bawankule said.
Rift over Kalyan Lok Sabha seat
This development comes shortly after reports of differences between the two allies over the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat.
Following remarks made by certain BJP leaders attributing a significant role to PWD Minister and BJP leader Ravindra Chavan in Dr. Shrikant Shinde's victory, Dr. Shinde expressed his displeasure and offered to resign from his position.
Dr Shrikant Shinde is son of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.