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Eknath Shinde Completes 100 Days as Maharashtra CM. Next Up, BMC Elections Amid Legacy War With Uddhav

By: Shubham Chohan

News18.com

Last Updated: October 08, 2022, 15:23 IST

Mumbai, India

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde addresses supporters during his Dussehra rally at BKC ground, in Mumbai on October 5, 2022. (PTI)

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde addresses supporters during his Dussehra rally at BKC ground, in Mumbai on October 5, 2022. (PTI)

The upcoming BMC elections would be the first electoral test for the Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray factions, both of which claim to be the “real” Shiv Sena

The Eknath Shinde government completed 100 days in Maharashtra on Friday, a milestone that prompted Uddhav Thackeray, the predecessor he unseated and rival claimant to the Shiv Sena throne, to allege that Shinde spent “90 of these days” in Delhi, a reference to the BJP which supports the current dispensation.

Hitting back, the Shinde camp has said the current CM works among the people while his predecessor Thackeray remained inaccessible. “He (Eknath Shinde) is working 18 hours a day amidst the people. It’s not possible that all problems will be solved in two-and-a-half months… but you (Uddhav) didn’t even go to the CM office in two-and-a-half years,” said Mahim MLA Sada Sarvankar, speaking to News18.

LEGACY WARS, INFRA PUSH

Since assuming power, Shinde, with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as deputy CM, announced a slew of new decisions and reversed some announced in the Uddhav tenure.

It began with slashing the rates of petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 3, respectively, which is expected to burden the state’s treasury by Rs 6,000 crore. Soon a financial incentive of Rs 50,000 was announced for roughly 14 lakh farmers who regularly repaid paid their loans.

Last week, the government announced that the BMC and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) employees will receive a bonus of Rs 22,500 each ahead of Diwali.

“Those who do well should be encouraged. A balance has to be maintained between the development work and the welfare schemes of our employees. The employees and the citizens are ours,” Shinde said.

On the infrastructure front, it brought back the Metro 3 car shed at Mumbai’s Aarey, a project the Uddhav Thackeray government had stayed. Shinde also put the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on fast-track and invited fresh bids for the Dharavi redevelopment project.

THE FADNAVIS FACTOR

On many of these decisions, the Opposition accused Shinde of being the “puppet CM”, alleging that Fadnavis is the real power centre. Fadnavis had initially said he would remain out of the government and support Eknath Shinde as CM, but in a surprise move took oath along with Shinde.

The BJP maintains there is an equal sharing of power between the alliance partners.

“All decisions are taken by discussion, not like earlier where there was dispute and dissatisfaction. Since there is perfect coordination, there is no question of remote control. You name a decision that’s taken by the CM and changed by the Deputy CM,” said Bhalchandra Shirsat, spokesperson of the Maharashtra BJP and ex-municipal councillor from Mumbai.

Analysts, however, believe issued are bound to crop sooner or later. “Even the bureaucrats are not sure if this government will continue. There is no clear line of thinking. There are now two bosses. Who is the superboss? That is also the question,” said Sudhir Suryawanshi, author of Checkmate: How the BJP won and lost Maharashtra.

“All this (political) chaos is having a cascading effect on the administration, the decisions. They don’t have a full-fledged cabinet. One minister (Devendra Fadnavis) is holding more than three districts as guardian minister,” he added.

MISSION BMC

The next big challenge before Shinde is the upcoming polls to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has been controlled by the Shiv Sena for last 25 years. The rival Dussehra rallies held by Shinde and Thackeray gave a glimpse into the support base of each faction. Many of those who attended the CM’s rally said they belonged to Thane, Nashik, Nanded, Aurangabad and Jalna. Thackeray’s audience mainly came from Mumbai.

In 2017, the Sena won 84 out of 227 seats in BMC, while the BJP finished a close second with 82 seats. Sena’s then rivals Congress and NCP won 31 and nine seats, respectively.

Given the changed political dynamics in the state, the BJP has set a target of 150 seats for the upcoming elections, while reiterating however that it will fight the local body polls as the major partner in alliance with the Shinde faction.

As many as 66 corporators from Thane, 45 from Kalyan-Dombivali, 30 in Navi Mumbai and 12 in Ulhasnagar have pledged their support to Shinde. In Mumbai, MLAs Sada Sarvankar, Yamini Jadhav, Prakash Surve, Mangesh Kudalkar and Dilip Lande are with the Chief Minister and are expected to have some councillors on their side.

Shinde faction leaders say the CM has started expanding his voter base in Mumbai as well. “He has worked in Thane for 40 years and is now starting to work for Mumbai as well. I don’t think that (building a base) will take much time… (earlier), he was dissuaded from working and looking at Mumbai,” Sarvankar said.

With around two years to go for the state polls, leaders say the faction has already set the ball rolling. “We have to prepare for elections, of course. And why just BMC? There’s also the Vidhan Sabha elections,” said Naresh Mhaske, spokesperson of the Shinde camp.

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first published:October 08, 2022, 15:23 IST
last updated:October 08, 2022, 15:23 IST
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