Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Thursday said he has taken a “contract” for the development of the state and to ensure prosperity and welfare of its people, hitting back at his opponents over their constant jibe at him since assuming the top office.
Speaking in the Assembly, Shinde defended his revolt against the Shiv Sena leadership in June, which brought down the two-and-a-half-year-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, and asserted his act was neither unconstitutional nor illegal.
Replying to an Opposition sponsored debate on various issues facing the state on the last day of the monsoon session, the chief minister said he has been often described as a “contract CM” by his opponents.
Shinde maintained people’s welfare was his only agenda.
“When Union minister Narayan Rane made some comments (last year) against the then-chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray), he was arrested. But I would say I have taken a contract for development of the state, prosperity and welfare of its people,” he said.
In an apparent reference to being constantly targeted as a “betrayer” by the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena since his rebellion, Shinde described criticism against him as a sign of “ideological bankruptcy”.
“Who has betrayed the ideology of (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray and mandate of the people by forging an unnatural alliance for the sake of power?” he asked, referring to the saffron party’s tie-up with the Congress and the NCP in 2019 which led to the formation of the MVA government.
Shinde maintained he has done nothing unconstitutional or illegal by revolting against the Shiv Sena. “I just corrected what went wrong,” said the CM, whose government is being supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I will respond to the ideological bankruptcy through my work,” he said.
In a speech laced with Marathi couplets, Shinde said his government will soon unveil a ‘vision document’ for Maharashtra.
When Jayant Patil (NCP) asked him who had written these couplets, the CM indicated they were written by him, saying “I have talent. I was never allowed to showcase it.” Shinde also justified his appeal to say ‘Vande Mataram’ over the phone instead of hello, a move which drew criticism from certain quarters.
“Freedom fighters went to the gallows singing Vande Mataram. Why should one have objection on being asked not to say hello (while replying over the phone),” he said.