Mumbai: In a sensational allegation Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that differences of opinion within the Maharashtra cabinet over Maratha quota led to gang-war like situation during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday and added that the society has been divided on caste lines because of a "weak" and "unstable" government at the helm of affairs. Ministers from the Eknath Shinde cabinet, however, refuted the claim and challenged Raut that if he proved the claim the cabinet would resign.
During his routine interaction with the media, Raut said, "The chief minister's writ isn't there on the ministers because of which they are at each other's throat. The situation is such that ministers may beat up each other. There is a gang war-like situation in the cabinet." He also referred to the recent war of words between state ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Shambhuraj Desai over the issue of Maratha reservation.
Exercise caution on emotive issue: Shinde
Chief Minister Shinde on Wednesday expressed displeasure over contradictory statements made by his cabinet colleagues on Maratha reservation and urged them to exercise caution on the emotive issue.
Raut said Maharashtra has never seen such a situation where the society had been so divided on caste lines. He also added that activist Manoj Jarange-Patil has given a deadline of December 24 for resolution of the Maratha quota issue and has threatened to "choke" Mumbai and that If the chief minister doesn't take this threat seriously, Maharashtra's image will take a beating.
Ministers refute Raut's claims
Meanwhile, Rural development minister Hasan Mushrif and excise minister Shambhuraj Desai refuted Raut's claims. Desai described Raut's "gang war like situation" remark as laughable, while Mushirf said if Raut proves that ministers virtually came to blows in the cabinet meeting, "we will resign as ministers."
"It is surprising that a four-term MP speaks such language. Raut could land in trouble if he relies on such information," Desai said.
He also said that CM Shinde had told all ministers in the cabinet meeting that they should exercise caution while talking to the media and ensure there was no contradiction in the collective decision taken by the government.
"Maharashtra doesn't take Raut seriously because he knows only to spread rumours and has no development vision," Desai added.
Desai also said that he completely agrees to what Mushrif has said and that the entire cabinet would resign if Raut could prove his claims.
Raut also criticized the Election Commission and the Enforcement Directorate. He said that the ED gets activated wherever the BJP loses.