The ongoing session of the Maharashtra legislature was disrupted this week after rousing protests by the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Shiv Sena over BJP state chief Raosaheb Danve’s remark that a separate Vidarbha should be carved out of the state. It took a spirited response by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and a calculated U-turn by the Shiv Sena, led by party chief Uddhav Thackeray to sail through the “akhanda Maharashtra” storm.
Ruling ally Shiv Sena spewed fire while telling the BJP that they were not the owners of the country. Congress and NCP staged protests for “akhanda (undivided) Maharashtra” and caused adjournment of the Assembly several times over the matter. Then opposition Congress and NCP, along with ruling ally Shiv Sena, entered into talks to pass a proposal on akhanda Maharashtra in the Assembly. This would have isolated the BJP. But the Shiv Sena made a U-turn at the last minute, saving embarrassing moments for the government.
The Shiv Sena immediately sought credit for Uddhav Thackeray for discouraging the opposition from putting forth the proposal for akhanda Maharashtra in the state legislature. “The condition was such that the Congress, NCP were trying to cash in on the differences between the Sena and the BJP. The senior leaders of these parties had decided to move a proposal before the legislature, but they decided to call on Uddhav-ji. He said that it would be improper to put forth such a proposal in the House, because the debate during the proposal would come on record of the House and that it would be harmful for the future of Maharashtra,” a Shiv Sena leader said. This U-turn helped BJP sail through the crisis that seemed impending before the government.
The BJP had always made its stand for smaller administrative states clear. So had the Sena always stood for akhanda Maharashtra.
CONSPIRACY AGAINST FADNAVIS?
The storm calmed after a spirited reply by CM Fadnavis in the Assembly. He questioned the NCP’s status quo for seeking his resignation. “We haven’t come to power because of your grace. The people of Maharashtra have voted us to power,” he thundered. He also pointed out that some leaders from Congress and NCP had themselves demanded a separate statehood for Vidarbha. “Jao, apne Praful Patel se poochho (Go, ask Praful Patel),” Fadnavis slammed NCP. He also told the Assembly that he had taken oath as the Chief Minister of akhanda Maharashtra, and that currently the government was not considering any proposal for a separate Vidarbha.
Though the Chief Minister raised a spirited voice, some members in the ruling alliance confided that the timing of the controversy was likely to suggest that it was raised to corner Fadnavis. “When the state Assembly is in session, what is the need for the state BJP head Raosaheb Danve to speak outside the Assembly about the issue of separate Vidarbha? It was a Sunday, he was in a public meeting. He knew his statement would cause a furore. The Assembly wasn’t in session that day, but was to begin working again on Monday. Then why did he raise the issue at such a time? Even a naive person would know the impact of such significant statements during the Assembly session. We have seen this often. In other cases too, some BJP leaders seem to be making statements to target Devendra Fadnavis and not the opposition. But we have no business interfering in their internal matters,” a senior leader of the ruling alliance told The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity.