Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has said Union minister Amit Shah told him that if they had given a word to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray of making a party leader as the CM in 2019, why would they go back on it. Speaking late Saturday night after a function in Thane district, Shinde also said he will soon visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
He also said the state cabinet would soon be expanded further.
Shinde said the first expansion of the cabinet, done on Tuesday, 41 days after he took oath was the CM, was delayed due to various factors, including some equations and calculations, and the situation in which his government was formed (in June this year).
”In making me the chief minister, senior BJP leaders have shown they have a big heart. The BJP is not always after power,” he said.
Shinde said he had met Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in the presence of Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.
”During the discussion, Shah told me that we made Nitish Kumar the chief minister of Bihar when his party JD(U) had less numbers than the BJP. In Maharashtra, if we have given a word to you (Sena), why would we go back on it,” Shinde said.
After the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, when the BJP won 105 seats and the Sena bagged 56 seats, Thackeray had claimed the BJP did not keep its promise of rotating the chief ministerial post with the Sena.
The Shiv Sena later tied-up with the NCP and Congress to form government in the state.
Shinde said people of Maharashtra had given a clear mandate to the then BJP-Sena alliance, but things were not good later on.
”I had explained to Uddhav Thackeray about the problems many times, but in vain. I had also told him that in such a situation, we cannot face voters in future,” he said.
Shinde further said he had not revolted against the Sena leadership in June to become the CM. He said he still feels like a Sena activist and wants the state to progress and people’s problems to be addressed.
The Thackeray-led government had collapsed in June after Shinde and 39 other legislators revolted. Shinde was on June 30 sworn in as the CM and BJP’s Fadnavis as his deputy.
Shinde did not reply when asked why he was not made the CM or his name did not feature in the list of probables in 2019.
He also refused to comment on if Thackeray made a mistake by becoming the CM. Shinde said the people’s love and affection was the reply to criticism he faced after revolting against the Sena leadership. ”We had the teachings of (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray and (Shinde’s mentor) Anand Dighe to fight against injustice,” he said. Asked why he was tensed before being sworn in as the chief minister, Shinde said when people were concerned about him, one can imagine what would have been his situation.
”Moreover, I had the responsibility of 50 MLAs (who supported him after the rebellion),” he said. Shinde also said following the rebellion, he spent three sleepless nights and travelled from Mumbai to Thane, Surat and Guwahati. On he being friendly with former CM Fadnavis, Shinde said he loves those who work.
”I admire his (Fadnavis’s) way of working, understanding things, decision-making, study of a subject and actions,” the CM said. Shinde said he used to be afraid when he was in-charge of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation under the previous Fadnavis government, and many people had pointed out about the Rs 6,500 crore debt of the MSRDC.
Shinde said he was then ready to resign, but Fadnavis asked him to continue and brought the Samruddi Mahamarg project (connecting Nagpur to Mumbai) under the MSRDC.
He also said all anticipations were proved wrong when this time, he became the CM with Fadnavis as his deputy. ”When Fadnavis announced my name for the CM’s post, it was shocking for all, but we both were aware of it. Fadnavis was very happy with the arrangement,” he said. ”I have no ego. I don’t want credit for any work. I want to deliver results and would always love to take guidance from Fadnavis and his experience as the CM,” Shinde said. On Sharad Pawar’s claim that the Maharashtra government will collapse and the state will go for mid-term polls, Shinde said each party has its own strategy and does not want its MLAs to cross over (hence such comments were being made).
”Many leaders are in touch with me and Fadnavis, but we do not want anyone as we have sufficient MLAs. In fact, 170 legislators are with us (in the 288-member Assembly),” he said. Shinde also said during a visit to New Delhi recently, he met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He was also informed about the progress of Ram temple construction in Ayodhya.
Shinde said he has to take along with him those who missed the opportunity to visit Ayodhya in the recent period for some or the other reason.
It was Bal Thackeray’s dream that the Ram temple be built in Ayodhya and the same was being fulfilled now, he said.
Some detractors had remarked that the Ram temple construction was only a dream and not a reality, but it was being proved wrong now. The temple work is progressing fast and it is a good sign, Shinde said.
Asked about some alleged comments of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Hindu deities during his visit to Maharashtra, Shinde said such things will not be tolerated.
”We respect all castes, creeds and religions,” he said.