Maharashtra government walks a tightrope amid tussle between alliance leaders

September 21,2023

A fresh war of words has erupted within the Maharashtra government alliance partners (Shinde-Fadnais- Pawar), intensifying the political landscape in the state and providing fresh ammunition to opposition parties.

The verbal duels began with comments made by BJP MLA Ganpat Gaikwad against Shrikant Shinde, son of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, but have now extended to involve another BJP leader, Gopichand Padalkar, who referred to Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) Ajit Pawar as a "wolf."

Padalkar's controversial comment, labelling Ajit Pawar as "a cub of a lying wolf", has set off a firestorm of controversy within the state's political circles. Many Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar faction) leaders promptly criticised Padalkar's remarks, calling on Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take action against such inflammatory language.

NCP workers have organised protests in various locations in response to the remarks.

In response to the growing tension, Devendra Fadnavis reprimanded Gopichand Padalkar, stating, "The statement was inappropriate. It is wrong for him to make such a statement. Leaders, workers, and MLAs of all three parties should respect the leaders of all three parties. I am of the clear opinion that such language should not be used at all."

BJP MLA Nitesh Rane waded into the controversy, defending Padalkar and targeting Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. Rane argued that Raut had made comments about Ajit Pawar while still within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. "I am just saying that the same rule should prevail for Padalkar and Raut. When Raut made comments against Ajit Pawar, nothing happened. At that time, who was supporting Raut? Those who remained silent then are now criticising Padalkar."

Meanwhile, in Kalyan, BJP MLA Ganpat Gaikwad was captured making a speech against the Shiv Sena. Shrikant Shinde represents Kalyan as a Member of Parliament.

Gaikwad stated, "If they have bows and arrows, we have rockets. If you try to disrupt my work, I'll give a befitting reply. I am not afraid. I have brought Rs 129 crore worth of projects to my constituency, and I know on whose desk these projects are pending."

In response, Mahesh Gaikwad from the Shinde faction cautioned against criticizing the bow and arrow and pointed out that many cases had been filed against MLAs who were labeling them as gangsters.

Vijay Wadettiwar, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra, weighed in on the ongoing turmoil, suggesting that those who prioritize remaining in power must be prepared to tolerate such comments.

"A BJP MLA is making comments about a Shiv Sena MP, and an MLC is making comments about the Deputy CM. When one decides to cling to power at any cost, it becomes difficult to command respect. One must have the courage to step out of the government. Parties were fragmented to form the government, and now there are doubts about their very existence," he said.