Senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday criticised former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for saying that his party is not a key player in running the Maharashtra government.
Amid allegations of mishandling of the coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra, opposition leaders have demanded the dismissal of the state government. The Congress is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MAV) and holds key ministries but Gandhi said, "We are only supporting the government and are not a 'key player' in the state".
Speaking to CNN-News, Fadnavis said Gandhi's statement on Maharashtra "smacks of the tendency to wash off their hands from their responsibility, and blame the Shiv Sena and Uddhav Thackeray for the mess in Maharashtra".
"They are in power together. They haven't supported the government from outside. They can't run away from their responsibility," said the state's Leader of the Opposition.
Fadnavis said the state government is yet to spend financial aid provided by the Centre to tackle the coronavirus pandemic -- he said food grains worth Rs 4,592 crore have been given by the central government and cylinders worth Rs 73.16 lakh provided free of cost. For migrant workers, the Centre provided 600 Shramik Special trains and Rs 1,611 Crore for state disaster relief fund, he said.
"I really don’t understand what is the priority of the state government, today the state needs assertive leadership, I expect Uddhav Thackeray to take bold decisions," he added.
Fadnavis also distanced the BJP from the demands for imposition of President's rule in the state and dismissed speculation that the Opposition was trying to destabilise the government.
"We are not in hurry to form a government in Maharashtra. This government will fall due to its own contradictions and due to lack of corordination," he said, adding this is not the time to play politics. "The BJP's focus is on fighting the coronavirus."
Fadnavis said speculative statements like the Opposition trying to destabilise the Sena-led government are being purposefully made to divert the attention of people from the government's failure. "This is a cover firing," he added. He said the Opposition will continue to put pressure on the government for taking effective steps to curb the pandemic.
Replying to a query on speculation regarding imposition of President's rule in the state, Fadnavis distanced
the BJP from such demand. "Subramanian Swamy and Narayan Rane have demanded imposition of President's Rule in the state. The BJP has no role to play," he said.
Meanwhile, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said Rahul Gandhi hasn't said anything wrong.
"We are part of the government but not a key decision maker. The final authority (on taking decisions) is the chief minister," he added.
Fadnavis's comments come amid hectic politicking in Maharashtra even as NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said only those without a job could think of the government being unstable.
Attacking the BJP for “playing politics” at a time when Maharashtra is reeling under the effects of coronavirus with the dubious distinction of over 50,000 cases, Pawar said, “In such times of a huge crisis, our efforts are to relieve the pain of the people.”
Reacting to Pawar's comments, Fadnavis expressed disappointment and said the lack of coordination is abundant in the Maharashtra government.
Rumours of a potential political upheaval in the state began when Fadnavis complained to Governor BS Koshyari about the "failure" of the Thackeray government in handling the Covid-19 crisis.
This was followed by Pawar’s meeting with Koshyari against the backdrop of strained relations between the Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA government, and the Raj Bhavan. The NCP is one of the key constituents of the MVA.
(With inputs from PTI)