Mumbai Over a month after losing power in Maharashtra, the fissures and inconsistencies in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) seem to be coming to the fore.
The Shiv Sena and Congress have both staked claim on the post of leader of the opposition in legislative council. Shiv Sena leaders are unhappy that the MVA has not come in defence of Sanjay Raut, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Patra Chawl case. The three parties have also not worked up any strategy to protest against inflation or other issues.
On Monday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray wrote to the chairman of the state legislative council nominating Ambadas Danve, a member of the legislative council, as the leader of opposition in the council. This could spark off an internecine war within the MVA as even the Congress staked the claim on the post.
In his letter, Thackeray referred to how the Shiv Sena’s members of the legislative council authorised him to take a decision about this in a meeting on July 9. Surprisingly, Danve, a first-term member of the upper house, has been chosen over experienced faces like former transport minister and Thackeray’s close aide Anil Parab. The term of council chairperson Ramraje Naiknimbalkar has expired and deputy chairperson Dr Neelam Gorhe, who belongs to the Shiv Sena, is holding charge.
Danve is a legislator from the Aurangabad-Jalna local self-government bodies constituency and Sena’s Aurangabad district chief. While the rebellion by Eknath Shinde led to five of six Shiv Sena MLAs in the district leaving the party with him, Danve is among those who have stood by the former chief minister.
The Shiv Sena has 11 members in the council and the support of an independent (Kishore Darade). The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have 10 members each in the house, but claim the support of smaller parties and independents. The Congress has already staked claim to the post of opposition leader though the party has not nominated any legislator for the post.
A Congress MLC said that they had written to the legislature on August 3 staking claim to the position. The NCP, which has secured the position of leader of opposition in the legislative assembly for former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, is said to be eager to get it in the upper house as well since it has experienced hands like former minister Eknath Khadse.
Meanwhile, leaders of the parties that constitute it say that they have failed to evolve a coherent strategy to take on the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis combine. When Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case, it was only the Sena which rushed to show solidarity with his family, with party president and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray visiting them.
The MVA has also not held a common protest on issues like inflation though the three parties have separately been staging agitations.
Ever since it was formed in 2019, the MVA was expected to serve as a template for other non-BJP parties to find common ground across the country. However, the coup in the Shiv Sena that led to Thackeray being ousted and replaced by Shinde may have proved to be the undoing of this rainbow coalition. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had claimed that the MVA is not a coherent alliance, lacking an ideological glue to hold it together except the expediency of being in power.
“The MVA has failed to present a united front and has also failed to coordinate between its constituents. It is each party on its own now,” lamented a senior Shiv Sena leader. He noted that the leaders of the NCP had not gone to meet Raut’s family after his arrest by the ED last week. “We have also failed to launch a co-ordinated protest against the Shinde- Fadnavis regime,” the Sena leader added.