Political turmoil in Maharashtra, differences in coalition government come out in the open

The Uncut

Mumbai. Tensions are rising in the ruling Mahayuti alliance amid open warnings over unresolved issues like cabinet expansion and Rajya Sabha nominations in Maharashtra. There have been reports of discontent in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over the nomination of Sunetra Pawar, wife of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, for the vacant Rajya Sabha seat. This move has sparked discontent in the NCP. Senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who wanted to become a Rajya Sabha member, has especially expressed displeasure.

Bhujbal, a prominent OBC leader, questioned the fairness of ticket allocation for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections, indicating a sense of being sidelined in the party’s decision-making process. “There could be reasons (for not giving him tickets). Sometimes it is fate or some kind of compulsion,” he said. He refused to comment on whether dynastic politics was the reason for this. When asked if he had been wronged in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha tickets, Bhujbal, visibly upset, said the question should be asked “to him”.

Bhujbal said, “This is my wish (to become an MP). So I was ready to contest from the Nashik Lok Sabha seat. I was told that my ticket in Delhi has been finalised, I started working, but when the decision (of announcing the name) was pending for a month, I stopped working because enough humiliation had happened.” The ticket from Nashik eventually went to Shiv Sena’s Hemant Godse, who lost the election to rival Rajabhau Vaze of the Shiv Sena (UBT).

Ajit Pawar on Friday sought to downplay the apparent discontent in his party, saying the decision to nominate his wife for the Rajya Sabha bypoll was taken by the NCP’s top unit. He denied reports that Bhujbal was upset. Asked about media reports that Cabinet Minister Bhujbal was upset after Sunetra Pawar’s nomination, the NCP president said a party colleague himself had told him he was not upset. Ajit Pawar said some people, including the opposition and “our close friends”, were spreading such reports but there was no truth in them.

Ajit said that prominent NCP leaders including Praful Patel and Bhujbal were present when his wife filed her nomination papers. Amid these internal conflicts, Sunetra Pawar has filed her nomination papers as the NCP candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha by-election after her recent defeat in the Lok Sabha elections from Baramati.

By-election for a Rajya Sabha seat in Maharashtra is to be held on June 25. The seat has fallen vacant after the resignation of NCP leader Praful Patel, who was elected a Rajya Sabha member in February. However, Sunetra Pawar is sure to be elected unopposed as she is the only candidate.
In another development, Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat has issued a stern warning over the delay in cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, saying there will be serious consequences if the issue is prolonged further. The state government led by Shiv Sena chief Eknath Shinde is facing criticism for its lethargic attitude towards cabinet expansion, having carried out only two expansions since assuming office in June 2022.

Shirsat, a potential ministerial candidate, has stressed the urgent need for the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister to show clarity on the upcoming cabinet reshuffle and make a decisive announcement to prevent tensions in the coalition. Shirsat said, “Everyone wants to become a minister, but no one says so. You cannot drag this on for long. The time has come to take a concrete decision. If the cabinet expansion is delayed further, the consequences will be bad.” Uncertainty and discontent are brewing in the coalition government, and the political landscape of Maharashtra is going through challenges and internal power struggles.

State minister Abdul Sattar on Friday hit back at BJP leaders demanding his expulsion from the Eknath Shinde government for the defeat of senior leader Raosaheb Danve from the Jalna Lok Sabha seat. BJP leaders from Sattar’s assembly seat Sillod have written a letter to the state leadership demanding his expulsion. Danve, who has been an MP from Jalna since 1999, was defeated by Congress’ Kalyan Kale by over 1 lakh votes in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Taking a dig at those BJP leaders, Sattar said, “If he (Danve) had won, he would have taken all the credit, but now that he has lost, he is blaming me.” Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has been vocal about the need for an immediate solution to the onion crisis and stressed the importance of fixing a support price for onion to protect the interests of farmers and consumers.
In Pune, his wife Sunetra Pawar said if she was offered the post of minister of state at the Centre, she would welcome it.
In response to a journalist’s question, she said, “Of course, if I get a chance, I will definitely take advantage of this opportunity.”

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