Devendra Fadnavis gave up the opportunity to install a BJP mayor in Mumbai after the 2017 civic polls for the sake of the Shiv Sena at his request, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said on Saturday.
But Uddhav Thackeray repaid this gesture by severing the alliance with the BJP two years later, he said, speaking at a conclave of Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) workers here.
He also sought to assuage the concerns of his party colleagues after the Nationalist Congress Party’s rebel group led by Ajit Pawar joined his government a fortnight ago.
“Certain equations have to be formed in politics. Looking at the development (carried out by his government), Ajit Pawar too has backed our government,” Eknath Shinde said.
Shiv Sena MLAs led by Shinde rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray, then chief minister and president of the undivided Shiv Sena, in June 2022. One of the main reasons cited by them was that Ajit Pawar, as finance minister, did not allocate funds for their constituencies. The revolt led to the collapse of the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
“The BJP had almost won the BMC (in 2017 civic body polls). Devendra Fadnavis was the CM. Our chief (Uddhav Thackeray) said we have been controlling the BMC and it should not go out of our hands,” Eknath Shinde reminisced.
The Shiv Sena controlled the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation from 1997 to 2022. Elections to the country’s richest civic body are due for the last one year.
“But had Devendra Fadnavis decided, the mayor would have been of the BJP. But I told him that we are in the government, working together. And our boss’ (Thackeray) heart is in Mumbai, so you leave Mumbai (for the Shiv Sena),” Eknath Shinde said.
“Devendra ji left the quest for Mumbai on my request, but how was this gesture repaid (by Thackeray)?” Eknath Shinde asked.
In the tightly contested 2017 Mumbai civic body polls, the Shiv Sena won 84 seats with the BJP close on its heels by winning 82 seats. No party could win a majority but the Shiv Sena managed to get its mayor elected.
Eknath Shinde said despite this, Uddhav Thackeray ignored “40-50 calls” when the process began to form government after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, and eventually formed government with the NCP and Congress.
“In the last seven years, Devendra Fadnavis did not even mention once that he could have won the BMC and installed a BJP mayor, but he gave it to the Shiv Sena. So who is ungrateful?” Eknath Shinde said, attacking Uddhav Thackeray.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)