Uddhav meets allies after Rahul Gandhi’s upending statement

Uddhav Thackeray & Rahul Gandhi

Mumbai : In an attempt to boost the morale of ruling allies, the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held discussions with leaders of his partners on Wednesday after a series of meetings and a comment by Rahul Gandhi led to questions about the future of his Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government.

The Congress youth icon Rahul Gandhi’s statement on Tuesday that the century-old party was “only supporting” the Uddhav Thackeray-led government and was not “the key decision-maker” fuelled the theory that the barely six-months-old Maha -Vikas-Aghadi regime may be ended soon amid the escalating Covid-19 crisis in the state.

Gandhi Tuesday sought to distance his party from the Maharashtra government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, saying it only played a “supporting role” in the state. “We are not the key decision-makers in Maharashtra, we are key decision-makers in Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Puducherry. There is a difference between running and supporting a government,” Gandhi stated while addressing a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday. He was replying to queries about the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra where his party Congress is a constituent of the ruling Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government. Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of coronavirus cases in India, with capital Mumbai accounting for the bulk of the cases.

Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, an NCP MP, then sought to downplay the comment saying: “He is absolutely right. It is an alliance. That shows the humility, the honesty and dedication of the man. I am grateful to him for being honest and being a great team player. I compliment him.”

Talk of a rift within the coalition government started when two top leaders Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray appeared to hold contrasting views on whether Maharashtra should exit the lockdown. While Sharad Pawar recommended a plan to re-open the state as well as Mumbai to revive economic activity after two months, the Chief Minister appeared to favour extending the restrictions.

Earlier in the day, Pawar had denied that his meeting with Thackeray on Monday, hours after he met with state Governor BS Koshyari, indicated any rethink on the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance that he had been instrumental in crafting

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP and Congress’s Balasaheb Thorat, the state Revenue Minister are in the meeting, apart from the Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai. Senior Sena leader and Minister Eknath Shinde said, they discussed the steps taken to fight Covid and the other measures that need to be taken. The government is taking all steps to fight Covid. There is no disagreement among us. All three parties attended and all 170 MLAs are supporting the Government, he further claimed.