Amid the deepening rift between the leaders of NCP-Congress and Shiv Sena that poses a threat to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, the alliance has planned to speed up the process of formation of a coordination committee. The step was triggered by the recent statement by Prithviraj Chavan on Sena approaching them in 2014. As per sources, the co-odination committee will have two leaders each from each party.
As per sources, names of NCP president Sharad Pawar, senior NCP leader Praful Patel, CM and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, senior leader Anil Desai, senior congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ahmed Patel have been put forward for the committee.
On Monday, making a controversial statement, Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan stated that his party agreed to be a part of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government on the insistence of Muslims. Speaking at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act in Nanded, he alleged that a majority of the Muslim community regarded BJP as its principal enemy and called upon the Congress party to stop BJP from forming the government in the state once again. He also assured that the Maharashtra government would not allow the CAA to be implemented in the state.
Ashok Chavan remarked, “This is our state. Our government has been formed in the state. We decided to be a part of the government to keep BJP away from power. Maharashtra should not face damage again akin to what BJP inflicted in the last 5 years. Most of the Muslim brothers said that our biggest enemy is BJP and Congress should be a part of the government to stop BJP. That’s why the Congress party is in the government today. Till our government is there, we will not allow the implementation of CAA in the state.”
Another controversy broke out when in a clear indication of dissent brewing in the Congress party over joining hands with the Shiv Sena, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan claimed that a similar situation had arisen in 2014 as well. He revealed that the Sena had approached him back then to form a coalition government so that BJP could be kept out of power. According to Prithviraj Chavan, he turned down the offer. Furthermore, he opined that an election loss and sitting in opposition were not unusual in politics.
However, NCP contradicted the claims by its own ally. Speaking to news agency ANI, NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, said that the Congress may have been in talks with the Sena but not the NCP. This comment comes among reports of growing discontent among ministers over portfolio distribution.
"Congress is a different party, they might have been in talks with Shiv Sena. But there was no such proposal given to NCP. It was not discussed," he said.
Speaking at an event on January 15, Sanjay Raut claimed that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met underworld don Karim Lala. He also claimed that the underworld decided who will be the city's commissioner and in the state secretariat. Moreover, he claimed that the entire secretariat would meet don Haji Mastan when he was in town. As controversy broke out, he retracted his statement and apologised.
Sources said that he apologised under pressure of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and his remark came at the backdrop of his discontentment over his brother not getting a post in the cabinet expansion of Thackeray government.
There has been discontent among the Sena-NCP-Congress after the expansion of the Maharashtra cabinet with Sena MP Sanjay Raut reportedly unhappy as his brother Sunil Raut missed out on a Cabinet berth while senior party MLA Abdul Sattar was initially miffed over getting just a Minister of State position.
Apart from this, there is a feeling in the Sena camp that the NCP has walked away with not only the highest number of portfolios but also the most important ones as the Sena, for example, had to cede the Home and the Finance portfolio. Shiv Sena's 13 ministers (10 - cabinet, 3 - MoS), NCP's 13 ministers (10 - cabinet, 3 - MoS) and Congress' 10 ministers (8 - cabinet, 2 - MoS) took oath into the three-party (Shiv Sena- NCP-Congress) Maha Vikas Aghadi government.