Shinde, Fadnavis on firefighting mode

May 07,2024

On Monday, both chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis were criss-crossing Mumbai and suburbs, addressing party workers to cool down tempers that had flared up over candidate selection and allies not pulling along. Shinde didn’t baulk at warning those who were slacking from election work.

Fadnavis met Airoli MLA Ganesh Naik and his supporters evening to assuage their feelings following the denial of ticket for Thane to Naik’s son, former MP Sanjeev Naik. Naik’s supporters including party office-bearers had resigned en masse from the BJP last Thursday following the nomination of Shiv Sena’s Naresh Mhaske as the Mahayuti candidate. They had declared that they will not campaign for Mhaske and said injustice had been done to Naik, the Navi Mumbai strongman, ever since he joined the party in 2019.

Fadnavis had then called Naik and assured that he would come to Navi Mumbai at his office, Crystal House office to meet the supporters. Naik along with Sanjeev and his younger son, city BJP chief Sandeep Naik, meanwhile, attended Mhaske’s nomination filing and declared support for him.

After Fadnavis met with Naik’s supporters on Monday for over an hour, Naik said they had been pacified to a great extent and pledged they would all work for the alliance candidate. BJP city general secretary Netra Shirke said, “Fadnavis gave us a patient hearing and has assured us that the party will not in any way suffer here. Our resignations have not been accepted.”

She added, “Ganesh Naik too stressed that we all need to work to ensure that PM Modi is re-elected. We have all agreed and will start campaigning from tomorrow.”

Former civic standing committee chairperson Anant Sutar denied party workers were angry. He said, “We have been working for the past four months for the election. We were not upset. We just expressed our feelings. Everyone has that right.”

Sandeep Naik said, “All over the State the alliance partners have got seats and hence there is Kahi Khushi (happiness somewhere) and Kahi narazgi (anger elsewhere). However, once the candidate is chosen, all alliance partners have to work together. Ganesh Naik was planning accordingly. Fadnavis, who understands the feelings of the party workers, gave time to them today.”

Meanwhile, chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited Thane, Mumbai North west and Mumbai North East. He met and spoke to party workers, urging them to work for the alliance candidate in their respective constituencies. He told the workers that he regularly gets feedback on who works and who doesn’t work and their political future depends on the work they do now.

In Thane, the Navi Mumbai BJP unit was not cooperating with the Shiv Sena candidate Naresh Mhaske and in Mumbai North East, the Shiv Sainiks were not cooperating with the BJP candidate. In Mumbai North West too, Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar faced coordination issues.

In a pep talk to his party workers, the chief minister made some revelations. He claimed former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray wanted to arrest some BJP leaders, destabilise the party and wean away 25 MLAs to save his government. Shinde said that there was a plan to arrest him. Shinde also alleged there was a plan to sideline his mentor Anand Dighe too.

In Bhandup, he told his party workers to ensure that the BJP candidate for Mumbai North East, Mihir Kotecha got elected. “I have seen Mihir Kotecha work as MLA. He works for people 24x7.”

Shinde said the votes polled in each booth will be taken into account the respective corporators will be held responsible. “Even if the candidate is of BJP, we have to think that the candidate belongs to Shiv Sena. Please remember that I am chief minister and get feedback from police and intelligence. I also get feedback on who is working for rivals,’’ said Shinde.