Priority is saving Maharashtra from COVID-19 pandemic: Sharad Pawar

Updated: May 27, 2020, 07:15 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

While the NCP chief says his party and the Congress are with Thackeray, Rahul Gandhi washes hands off COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, fuels speculations of MVA's disintegration

Shiv Sena has brushed off speculations saying Uddhav was only seeking Sharad Pawar's advice. File pic
Shiv Sena has brushed off speculations saying Uddhav was only seeking Sharad Pawar's advice. File pic

Amid speculations that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is disintegrating and the BJP is out to destabilise the three-party government, NCP boss and MVA architect Sharad Pawar met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday night, apparently to address any anomalies, amid the COVID-19 pandemic which is proving to be an acid test for the three-party government.

RaGa rap
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi fuelled the disintegration theory and complicated matters for the MVA by saying in New Delhi on Tuesday that his party was not in a position to take important decisions in Maharashtra. "We support the government but we are not the key decision makers in Maharashtra. There is a difference between running a government and supporting a government," he said, clearly washing the party's hands of the pandemic escalation. However, he also demanded that the Centre help Maharashtra.

Pawar visited the Thackeray residence late on Monday night after having a dialogue with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who is learnt to have expressed his displeasure over the handling of the pandemic. The same day, BJP leader and MP Narayan Rane asked Koshyari to dissolve the MVA government and invoke President's Rule. Though the BJP said later that the ex-CM's demand was not the party's official stand, Rane's statements clearly represented an undercurrent in the BJP.

Pawar put to rest the speculations of instability by saying that the MVA government was under no threat. "The remedy for COVID-19 hasn't been found yet and similarly they haven't found a way to collapse the MVA government," he said. "The NCP and Congress are with Thackeray. We three are working together with the priority being saving Maharashtra from the pandemic," added the NCP boss.

He also said that Koshyari had certified the MVA as a good government but denied having talked politics with Thackeray. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also attended the meeting.

"My meeting with the CM is not unusual. We have been discussing the pandemic, usually at (Dadar's) Balasaheb Thackeray memorial. But yesterday, I went to Matoshree. I haven't been there since Balasaheb passed away. We reviewed the pandemic and mulled over preparations ahead of monsoon. We also discussed Balasaheb. Politics isn't a subject to be discussed these days. Who talks politics in such times?" he said.

But political observers and leaders didn't buy Pawar's explanation. A Congress leader said the meeting was significant because it happened after the governor's dialogue with Pawar. "Whatever our leader Rahulji has said, it is based on our input. We have a series of grievances that are not addressed by the government. Our ministers also face difficulties whereas the other two parties are relatively comfortable in the coalition," said the leader.

Not to worry, says Sena
Raut said that the concurrence of Monday's meeting is unwarranted. "There is nothing wrong if Pawar's advice is sought (by the CM). Even the PM seeks Pawar's advice. The government will run full term. The opposition faces a threat, not us," he said.

Experts speak
A political expert said that this particular Pawar-Uddhav interaction should be seen with a deeper political understanding. "While there is no respite from a health crisis, the political situation has also been developing new issues for a six-month-old government. In his last address to the state, the CM had asked people to pray for good times while projecting the worst for them," he said.

Another political commentator saw a political upheaval as a blessing in disguise for the MVA.

"Suddenly, the focus has shifted to politics from the pandemic. People are talking parties and their respective machinations instead of the health crisis. Who knows this better than a seasoned politician like Sharad Pawar?" he said.

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