Mumbai: The BJP’s de facto chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, by refusing to deny his meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, has sent out a strong signal that the party is confident of cashing in on the increasing tension among Maha Vikas Aghadi partners and return to power in the state. Even though the NCP and Shiv Sena have strongly denied any such meeting, Shah has succeeded in his plan of creating suspicion among the ruling partners and further pit them against each other.
Shah’s statement, ‘Everything can’t be made public’, seemed to immensely cheer up the state BJP camp. The party’s state chief Chandrakant Patil went a step ahead, saying that the party leadership’s decision on a BJP-NCP tie-up would be in the interest of the BJP.
The news of the purported meeting comes at a time when the Shiv Sena-led MVA government has been under attack for corruption, especially after former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh’s letter bomb and IPS officer Rashmi Shukla’s ‘top secret’ letter on the police transfer racket. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have rejected the BJP’s claims alleging that it was involved in defaming the state and the police force.
However, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s claim that NCP leader Anil Deshmukh is an ‘accidental’ home minister after veterans Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse Patil refused to take up the job has attracted strong criticism from the NCP, which asked Raut to shut up and stop playing spoilsport. Raut was snubbed by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who reminded the former that “The allotment of cabinet berths is the prerogative of the head of every political party (in the coalition). No one should play spoilsport when a three-party government is functioning properly.’’
He further said that Sharad Pawar, being the head of the NCP, took all the decisions, including the allotment of cabinet berths to the party leaders.
On the other hand, the Congress has attacked Raut for running a campaign for NCP Chief Sharad Pawar to be the UPA chairman. Patole said, “Sanjay Raut has become the spokesperson of Sharad Pawar. Shiv Sena is not part of the UPA, and hence they have no right to make such statements.” Raut shot back saying Patole should not speak on national issues.
On the corruption charges against Deshmukh, the Congress observed that MVA government’s image had been seriously damaged and called for damage control. “Undoubtedly, the MVA government’s image is dented by the turn of events. The bomb scare, death of Mansukh Hiran, the former city police commissioner’s corruption allegations against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh have been a matter of deep concern. Even though the allegations are not against the Congress, they are against the state government in which the party is a key ally,’’ said a senior minister.
He further said the participants at the meeting held on March 23 said the MVA ruling partners would have to urgently take corrective steps to restore the government’s image.
Given these widening differences among the ruling partners, the BJP is determined on pitting them against each other for its own advantage.