These are strange times for Prithviraj Chavan. While he is battling hard to run a government in association with an alienated ally, the chief minister is being eulogised by staunch rivals.
For instance, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday congratulated Chavan for ‘showing courage’ in launching a departmental inquiry against 45 officials of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
Thackeray, who is otherwise ill-disposed towards Chavan, went to the extent of asking Congress not to replace the CM. This has inevitably created a flutter in political circles.
The CM’s decision to convene a meeting of Mumbai MLAs on October 11 to discuss Sena’s reaction and its demands has only queered the situation further. Unofficial debates in Mantralaya over the relations between Chavan and the Thackerays are not uncommon mainly because of the number of meetings that have taken place between the CM, Uddhav, and his son Aaditya — the Yuva Sena chief — over one issue or the other.
Even MNS chief Raj Thackeray has met Chavan on several occasions.
According to a senior Democratic Front leader, the Sena’s wish of Chavan continuing in his chair is surprising as in the present scenario no CM would dare stop an inquiry into the irrigation scam, given its mammoth scale.
This may be interpreted as Sena’s aversion to possible replacements such as Narayan Rane, he added.
“When we ask for an appointment with the CM, it takes a few days for a confirmation. But, whenever the Thackerays express such a desire, Chavan promptly gives in,” said a Congress leader, who wished to remain anonymous.
When Uddhav was admitted to Lilavati Hospital a few months ago, Chavan visited him twice. He spent close to two hours with the Sena leader, recalled a minister, reckoning that this could be part of the CM’s present agenda to corner NCP, which is being perceived as a major threat for Congress.