India

Amid reports of rift, Uddhav Thackeray meets alliance partners

Amid reports of rift, Uddhav Thackeray meets alliance partners
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray during an event in Mumbai (File)

Amid speculation that the Maharashtra coalition government is on shaky ground, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called for a meeting with members of the Maha Vikas Aghadi today. The meeting is currently underway at Varsha bungalow, news agency ANI reported.

Dismissing any rumors of a rift in the alliance, a cabinet minister called today’s gathering a “regular meeting.” “It is not a crisis meeting as being speculated. CM is holding meetings with the ministers regularly. It is also a regular meeting,” the minister told The Indian Express.

Reports of cracks within the Maha Vikas Aghadi were triggered after NCP chief Sharad Pawar held meetings with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Uddhav Thackeray separately.

Pawar’s meeting with the chief minister, held at Thackeray’s residence Matoshree, came as the main opposition BJP has stepped up its criticism of the Thackeray government’s alleged mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis in Maharashtra. But on Tuesday, Pawar told NDTV: “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.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who attended the meeting, said Pawar and Thackeray discussed the COVID situation. “The Maha Vikas Aghadi government will complete its five-year term and we will fight the elections together after five years,” he said.

The three parties, however, are said to differ over Thackeray’s strategy for easing the lockdown. With over 53,000 cases, the state has the biggest caseload in the country.

Sources in the Sena said that while Pawar is keen on granting some relaxations to put the state on the path to normalcy, the chief minister is in favour of retaining the restrictions to contain the outbreak and save lives. Congress, the third wheel in the alliance, has distanced itself from the COVID situation, with Rahul Gandhi saying that the party is not a key decision-maker in the state.

Amid all this, the BJP’s plan is to let the government crumble on its own. Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis told reporters on Tuesday that the BJP was not interested in pulling down the government, but it “will fall of its own burden”. The party plans to intensify its campaign for President’s Rule because the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had “utterly failed to contain the coronavirus situation” and “to manage the issue of exodus of migrant labourers”, at least four leaders of the party told The Indian Express. Ealier BJP leader Narayan Rane had met with the Governor seeking President’s Rule in the state.

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