While BJP is under pressure due to the Maratha agitation crisis, there are rumours being spread by its alliance partner Shiv Sena in context to replace the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as the Maratha agitation turned out to be violent. However, two senior BJP ministers rubbished the claim later, saying there was no talk within BJP of replacing Fadnavis.
BJP Spokesperson Avadhut Wagh stated, “There is no vacancy for the post of the Chief Minister in Maharashtra for the next 15 years for sure. The BJP did not face any loss due to the statement issued by Sanjay Raut. People who called them ‘Maratha Kranti Muka Morcha’ are now supporting ‘Maratha Kranti Morcha’. There is a difference between Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, just like Mahatma Gandhi’s Congress and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress are different.”
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there are “talks within the BJP” to replace Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in the backdrop of the ongoing Maratha quota stir which has turned violent and the government has been unable to tackle it. Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari dismissed the rumour claiming it as an act of rumour-mongering by the Sena.
Shiv Sena Spokesperson Dr. Neelam Gorhe commented, “There are some aspirational people who want to be the CM. Some people are upset with Devendra Fadnavis because of his straightforward behaviour and also is in charge of the Home Ministry, hence this question might have been raised.”
From a series of huge, silent and disciplined marches to violent demonstrations, the protest by the Maratha community is making an effort to seek reservations in jobs and education. Shiv Sena held the government responsible for allowing the protestors to go out of the hand and slammed the CM in their mouthpiece Saamna. Adding on to its delineation, Raut also claimed Shiv Sena of being the supporters of the Maratha community’s demand for reservation in government jobs and education from the very beginning.
Congress Chief Spokesperson Dr. Ratnakar Mahajan said, “These statements are diversion tactics from the main issues such as BJP’s failure to fulfil promises declared in their manifesto. Congress-NCP also tried to bring an ordinance on the reservation and enact a law on it. But unfortunately, due to election, it remained unsuccessful and later the matter went under judicial review. Shiv Sena is not clear about their stand as their party members issue contradictory statements.”
As the political experts believe that if the Maratha community starts taking these rumours seriously, it would be difficult for BJP to manipulate them by shifting the focus in order to persuade the community. A political analyst on the condition of anonymity spoke to AV and said, “It could be possible that the ruling government might replace the CM looking at the history of changing leadership in Maharashtra since 1960’s. Manohar Joshi became the first non-Congress chief minister of Maharashtra, after the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which lasted four years, before he had to resign following a land scam. Joshi was replaced by party colleague Narayan Rane. Later, Vilasrao Deshmukh’s stint began in 1999 and lasted till 2003, when increased factionalism within the party’s state unit resulted in him being replaced by another Marathwada leader, Sushil Kumar Shinde.”
“Shinde became Maharashtra’s first Dalit chief minister and led his party into the 2004 state assembly elections. Ashok Chavan, known back then for his “clean image,” replaced Deshmukh and led the party in the 2009 assembly elections. But following the Adarsh housing society scam, Chavan was asked to resign from the post. He was replaced by Prithviraj Chavan, a former minister of state in the Central government, who stayed as chief minister for four years. This meant Maharashtra had a second spell under President’s Rule,” he added.
Now with the elections gearing up in 2019, Shiv Sena is trying to make its way to sway the vote bank by gaining the support of Maratha community. Time will only tell whether BJP will replace its CM and the statement issued by its alliance partner will prove to be right. How will the Maratha community react to the following statement or the state will again have to face the repercussion with ‘bandh-like situation’ due to remarks of political parties.
NCP MLC Rahul Narvekar expressed, “Shiv Sena is an unsatisfied outfit. So they always spread rumours. According to me, replacing the CM is not going to help the BJP as the reservation step taken by the Fadnavis is eventually the party’s internal matter, hence, it would not help the outfit in the long term.”