Maharashtra power struggle: Will the real chief minister stand up?

On Tuesday, CM Shinde downplayed the advertisement and survey cited in it claiming that both of them are in 'people's mind'

By KANIZA GARARI  Published on  14 Jun 2023 6:19 AM GMT
Maharashtra power struggle: Will the real chief minister stand up?

Mumbai: It's a poster war in Mumbai on popularity?

Who is more popular? Chief Minister Eknath Shinde or Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis? Or is there an ongoing cold war between the two? Are they trying to pressurize each other on who is popular in the public?

Back to Back advertisements

On Tuesday, prominent English and Marathi newspapers carried an advertisement citing a survey of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ahead of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in popularity.

The advertisement's tagline was "Modi for India, Shinde for Maharashtra",

On Wednesday, the newspapers carried an advertisement with CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis together. Along with them were photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, Shiv Sena supremo Bala Saheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe.

"We both are in people's mind"

On Tuesday, CM Shinde downplayed the advertisement and survey cited in it claiming that both of them are in 'people's mind'.

Shiv Sena minister Shambhuraj Desai said, "Our party has nothing to do with the advertisement. It may have been issued by a well-wisher of our party, Shinde and Fadnavis."

Survey cited Shinde has an edge over Fadnavis

It was found that 26.1 percent of people in Maharashtra wanted Eknath Shinde as chief minister while 23.2 percent wish to see Fadnavis as the next chief minister, the advertisement claimed.

Thus, 49.3 percent of people in Maharashtra supported the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, it said, citing a survey conducted by Zee TV-Matrize.

Further, 30.2 percent of citizens of Maharashtra prefer the Bharatiya Janata Party while 16.2 percent prefer the Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde), which means a total of 46.4 percent of people trust the alliance for the development of the state, the advertisement said.

Modi-Shah's Shiv Sena

Reacting to the advertisement, Sanjay Raut of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena said, "It was Balasaheb's (Bal Thackeray's) Shiv Sena earlier, but the advertisement has cleared the air. It has now become Modi-Shah's Shiv Sena. Where is the image of late Balasaheb Thackeray?"

A fake survey

State Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said the survey cited in the advertisement was a fake one. "The Maha Vikas Aghadi will win more than 42 Lok Sabha seats and 200 Assembly seats. A new story would be written about Shinde as `once upon a time, there was Shinde'," he said.

Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 Assembly constituencies.

Bharat Gogawale, chief whip of the Shinde-led Sena, said, "We never 'manage' anyone to get a favorable survey. He (Shinde) is accessible to people and visits all parts of the state. We have not asked any media house to conduct a survey for us."

A cold war

NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase claimed that Shinde was trying to cut his deputy, Fadnavis, to size.

Shinde was upset over local BJP leaders claiming the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat, currently represented by his son Shrikant Shinde, for the BJP in the next general elections, Tapase said.

He also said that it was good that finally, Shinde realized that there could not be a permanent symbiotic relationship with the BJP which always "cannibalizes" its ally.

The BJP will pressurize all Shinde-faction candidates to contest with the lotus symbol or face political isolation, Tapase claimed. There is a growing divide between Shinde and Fadnavis and public anger is being noted in inept administration and decision-making. Due to this reason, it is found that both of them don't trust each other but in public view portray a togetherness.

(with inputs from PTI)

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