With every major political development in the state of Maharashtra, it is becoming increasingly clear that while Uddhav Thackeray is the de jure Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the real power wrests with the NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar. In what can be seen as a reaffirmation of this power arrangement in the state, Sharad Pawar has once again bypassed Uddhav Thackeray, and has announced that Maharashtra won’t implement the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
Pawar said, “CAA and NRC have been brought in by BJP Govt with a calculated strategy to adversely affect the religious and social harmony in the country. They are using it to divert attention from economic issues.” With this Pawar has contradicted and virtually overruled the sitting Maharashtra CM, Uddhav Thackeray who had earlier said that the state government would reveal its stance on the CAA only after the Supreme Court decides the question of its validity. He had said, “A very wrong message is being sent in the name of CAA to the country. Some people are planning to challenge it in court. We would first like to see what the court decides on CAA, we will clear our stance on it then.”
This incident makes it clear that Sharad Pawar doesn’t care about the opinion of the Chief Minister. In fact, Pawar seems to be in the real control of affairs as far as the functioning of the Maharashtra government is concerned. Moreover, this is not the first time that he has defined and overruled Uddhav Thackeray.
It must be noted that the Sena was hopeful of a grand memorial and statue of Balasaheb Thackeray at Aurangabad, Maharashtra. As per reports, the said memorial was supposed to be built in the Priyadarshni Garden of the city, and required the felling of not less than 1000 trees for the same. However, Pawar has spilled water over all such ambitions with one swift stroke.
He said, “Balasaheb Thackeray was a nature-lover. Creating his memorial is appreciable. But Balasaheb himself would not have liked the idea of cutting trees for it. He would have thrashed the one who tried to hack trees.”
Taking a dig at Uddhav Thackeray over his position of a puppet CM, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Thursday called Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as a “dummy CM”, saying he has to seek approval from Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar before taking any decision; ‘compulsions of a coalition government’, in former PM Manmohan Singh’s words. His fate as a remote-controlled CM, in fact, got sealed ever since the alliance came into existence. The Shiv Sena decided to desert its ideology and form a coalition government with its rivals. It had proposed the alliance to be named as ‘Maha-Shiv Aghadi’. The name however was not secular enough to meet the high standards set by the NCP and the Congress. Sources say that the word ‘Shiv’ irked the secular faction of the coalition, and therefore it had to be dropped. The coalition was thus named as ‘Maha-Vikas Aghadi’.
Uddhav Thackeray therefore could not have his way even when it came to deciding the name of the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP coalition. From the time of alliance formation itself, there were clear signs of Uddhav Thackeray being reduced into a puppet CM. Out of his megalomania, Shiv Sena deserted its long-standing alliance with the BJP, and by necessary implication its ideology as well. However, Uddhav Thackeray now occupies the CM chair, while real power is being exercised by the NCP chief who is clearly not bothered about what Uddhav Thackeray thinks or says. He is firmly in control of the Maharashtra governemnt even as the Shiv Sena supremo watches helplessly.