Uddhav Thackeray meets alliance Partners amid reports of rift
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of his alliance partners today amid reports of a rift. Speculation of strained ties in the six-month-old Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress coalition peaked after a series of meetings, including one between the Chief Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Sharad Pawar denied that his meeting with Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, hours after he met with state Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, indicated any rethink on the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance that he had been instrumental in crafting.
"Fadnavis is getting impatient," Mr Pawar told that referring to the former Chief Minister and implying that Devendra Fadnavis and his party BJP are trying to bring down the government.
"But there is no threat to the Maharashtra government. All MLAs are with us, any attempt to break them at this time will result in the public beating us," Mr Pawar said.
The Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut also tweeted: "The government is strong. No worries. Jai Maharashtra!!"
While the Shiv Sena and NCP both emphatically denied any divide, a comment by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi only reinforced the impression that all was not well in the ruling alliance.
Mr Gandhi said Maharashtra was facing a difficult situation in its fight against the pandemic and needed a lot of support and attention from the centre.
But what drew much attention was his description of the Congress's role in the Maharashtra coalition. "We are supporting the government in Maharashtra, but we are not the key decision maker in Maharashtra. We are decision-makers in Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Puducherry. There is a difference between running the government and supporting it," said the Congress MP, appearing to distance his party from Uddhav Thackeray and any decision-making in Maharashtra, which is the state worst hit by coronavirus in India.
Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, an NCP MP, then sought to downplay the comment saying: "He is absolutely right. It is an alliance. That shows the humility, the honesty and dedication of the man. I am grateful to him for being honest and being a great team player. I compliment him."
Maharashtra has close to 55,000 virus cases. The city of Mumbai has the maximum number of cases in the country.
The opposition BJP has been attacking the state government over its handling of the crisis. Senior BJP leader Narayan Rane has said the state should be put under President's Rule.
The Shiv Sena, after last year's Maharashtra election, broke up with 30-year-old partner BJP over power-sharing.
Mr Pawar was instrumental in putting together the unlikely alliance of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.