Mumbai: Signs of discord within Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government have cropped up once again with a Thane Congress leader putting up posters that take potshots at allies Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for allegedly giving the party second-rate treatment.
The posters, put up by the Congress’ Thane unit chief Vikrant Chavan, seek to taunt the “Thackeray sarkar” — the Uddhav Thackeray government — for what he sees as a denial of the credit and recognition the party deserves in the government.
The MVA government in Maharashtra is a tripartite coalition comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP, and the Congress. Shiv Sena chief Thackeray serves as chief minister.
Chavan claimed the posters were his response to banners put up Saturday by the Slum Developers and Architects Association of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR, comprising Mumbai and its satellites, including Thane), which thank the state government for its decision to set up a separate slum redevelopment authority for the MMR on the lines of the one in Mumbai.
“Thackeray sarkar chi vachanpurti (Thackeray government meets its promises),” the banners said in Marathi.
Speaking to ThePrint, Chavan said he was irked by the fact that the banners had blow-up images of CM Thackeray, Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde and NCP minister Jitendra Awhad, but “no mention of the Congress”. Shinde is the guardian minister for Thane, while Awhad holds the housing portfolio.
While Chavan said there was no mention of the Congress, the banners did have a small photograph of Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat in a corner.
The posters he has put up say the Thackeray government wouldn’t have been able to come to power had Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi not extended support.
“Sarkar tighancha mag nav ka fakta doghancha (If the government is of three parties, why are only two parties named?)” the posters put up Sunday morning said.
“The credit for the projects planned by the Maharashtra government also goes to the Congress. That’s all we want to politely say,” the posters add.
While the Maharashtra Congress has made light of the posters, the BJP was quick to highlight the poster war with leaders such as Kirit Somaiya and Ram Kadam tweeting the two posters side by side.
"Vah re Thackeray Sarkar"….
— Kirit Somaiya (@KiritSomaiya) August 31, 2020
ठाण्यात #कांग्रेसची पोस्टरबाजी
सरकार तिघांचं मग नाव का फक्त दोघांचं..? असे सवाल ठाणे काँग्रेसने लावलेल्या बॅनरवर विचारण्यात आलेत. तुमच्या तीन पक्षाच्या आपसातील भांडणांमध्ये महाराष्ट्राचं वाटोळं केलंत @INCMaharashtra @MumbaiNCP @ShivsenaComms pic.twitter.com/ZKwEeBfSjM
— Ram Kadam (@ramkadam) August 31, 2020
‘Shiv Sena, NCP don’t take us into confidence’
Chavan said the posters were just a reminder to the “Shiv Sen and the NCP that we are also there in this government … that, had it not been for us, there wouldn’t have been a ‘Thackeray sarkar’.”
There is no “narazi (resentment)” as such, but the Shiv Sena and the NCP keep making tall promises to people in the name of the Maharashtra government without doing much work on the ground, and it reflects badly on the Congress, he added.
“In Thane, the two parties keep putting up posters making claims about their ambitious plans and the work done without taking the Congress into confidence. The actual state of Thane, its slums, its roads etc is so bad that it is going to boomerang on the Congress some day. There are potholes under their posters too,” Chavan said.
Maharashtra Congress general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant sought to play down talk of differences between the three parties. “In a three-party government, there are bound to be differences. But the goal is to keep the BJP at bay. We sort out these differences from time to time and work together in one direction,” he said.
“It is not possible to satisfy every member of the party. We will look into what the grievance is,” he added.
Just the latest instance of differences
Signs of friction within the MVA were also on display last month, when a state government advertisement for its jobs portal featured only Shiv Sena and NCP leaders, leaving several Congress leaders miffed.
In the nine months since the MVA government came to power, there have been intermittent rumblings from within the state Congress about having to play second fiddle to the Shiv Sena and the NCP.
Congress ministers have complained about not getting their due in this government, besides taking exception to what they see as Thackeray’s over-reliance on civil servants.
Party leaders have also complained about what they allege is unequal distribution of development funds among the three allies. Last week, Kailash Gorantyal, a Congress MLA from Jalgaon, threatened to go on a hunger strike over the same reason, saying he had the backing of 11 more MLAs.
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