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Ajit Pawar’s midnight birthday wish for Uddhav Thackeray comes with a veiled message

Pawar's tweet of a photo of him, in the driver's seat, with the Maharashtra CM came hours after Thackeray said he was steering the 'three-wheeled rickshaw' the coalition govt is.

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray turned 60 Monday and his deputy Ajit Pawar was among the first to wish him. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader wished the Shiv Sena chief at the stroke of midnight, but the birthday niceties were delivered in an attractive gift-wrapping paper with a very suggestive message packed inside.

Along with his wishes, Pawar had tweeted a photo of him and the CM sitting in an open-top car flanked by a few other politicians, actor Aamir Khan and security personnel. What made the tweet suggestive was the fact that Pawar was behind the steering wheel of the car while Thackeray was in the passenger seat.

The tweet came hours after Saamana, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, published an interview with Thackeray in which he equated the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government — comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — to a three-wheeled rickshaw, with him in the driver’s seat.

“The future of my government is not in the hands of the opposition … a three-wheeler is a vehicle of the poor,” Thackeray said in the two-part interview. “The steering wheel is in my hands. The other two are sitting behind.”

Pawar in his tweet said, “Best wishes to the Hon. CM of Maharashtra, ShivSena Party President & Maha Vikas Aghadi Leader, Shri. Uddhav Thackeray ji. Wish you a healthy & long life!”

Leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have been watching the bickering between the MVA allies from a distance, were quick to catch on to Pawar’s veiled message.

BJP leader Ram Kadam retweeted Pawar’s tweet, saying, “Exactly in whose hands is the steering wheel of the state?”

Also read: Morning walkers, fake masks, bad sanitisers — how Covid forced shift in focus for Pune Police

Sparring between allies

The sparring between Uddhav Thackeray and Ajit Pawar comes at a time when there have been instances of power tussles and bickering within the MVA government. Congress and NCP leaders have grumbled about CM Thackeray taking unilateral decisions with the help of the bureaucracy and not giving them their due.

Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also said CM Thackeray runs the government like he runs the Shiv Sena and he needs to have more dialogue with his allies.

Thackeray and Ajit Pawar too have had some ego tussles. Earlier this month, NCP poached five Shiv Sena councillors from the Parner municipal council in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. These councillors were inducted in the NCP at Baramati in Ajit Pawar’s presence.

The Shiv Sena chief did not take well to this. Thackeray and his deputy held a meeting over the issue at the location of the proposed Bal Thackeray memorial in Dadar’s Shivaji Park, following which the five councillors returned to the Shiv Sena fold.

Also read: Uddhav Thackeray says don’t need to travel to monitor state, WFH with tech works just fine


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