Series of twists and turns


Finally, at 7.30 pm, Shinde was sworn in as the Chief Minister and Fadnavis as his deputy. Such are the twists and turns in Indian politics. By making Shinde the CM, the BJP top brass seems to be more interested in the longevity of its Government in Maharashtra, a leading industrial State, than in the benefits that come with the top office. Besides, they know that Shinde would be completely dependent on them for survival. When Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the Maharashtra Chief Minister immediately after the Supreme Court's refusal to stay a floor test in the Assembly on Wednesday, it looked like former Chief Minister and top Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the State Devendra Fadnavis was set to make a comeback. The rebel Shiv Sena leader, Eknath Shinde, was expected to be his deputy. But that was not to be; at a joint press conference with Shinde, Fadnavis himself announced that Shinde would occupy the high office.
This was a big surprise for everyone - not just the BJP and Shiv Sena leaders but also the Thackeray camp and other anti-BJP politicians. There was some disappointment in the BJP camp that their leader Fadnavis - who had worked so hard to keep the pressure on the MVA Government and eventually ousted it - could not become the CM. While political commentators were analysing the ramifications of his not joining the State Government - Is he aspiring for a national role in the party? Will he manage the Government by remote control? - news came that he would indeed join the State Cabinet, as Deputy CM.
At present, perception is that while Shinde has the majority of Sena MLAs with him, the party rank and file is solidly behind Thackeray. But then there is often a chasm between perception and reality. Shinde and his followers have themselves risen through the ranks. In other words, Shinde and Co cannot be dismissed as nobodies, as leaders who are of no consequence without the backing of the Thackeray family. Ironically, Thackeray might have helped Shinde's case as the Chief Minister. In his response to the rebellion, he had asked the Shinde camp, "If I step down, can you guarantee another Sainik will be the Chief Minister?”

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