‘Only natural BJP-Sena alliance’: Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis display bonhomie in Delhi ahead of power pact

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis addressed a presser in the national capital on Saturday. The bonhomie between the two leaders was visible during the briefing. Both the leaders are currently on a two-day visit to Delhi where they are expected to finalise the power-sharing agreement in the new coalition government.

Slamming the ousted Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Shinde said that the existence of party MLAs “came under threat” during the previous regime.

“Back then we couldn’t speak that’s why we took the step. It’s only the natural alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena that can take Maharashtra ahead,” Shinde was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

It was Shinde’s rebellion against then chief minister Thackeray that led to the collapse of the MVA government.

Deputy chief minister Fadnavis echoed Shinde’s views, calling him “our leader and CM”. “We’ll work under him. The injustice was undone and our natural alliance was revived,” he added.

Fadnavis further stated that the saffron camp had made him the chief minister of Maharashtra earlier, but now as per the need of the party, it is required that all abide by it’s decision. He was referring to him being named as the deputy while Shinde becoming the chief minister.

Shinde said that the newly-formed BJP-Sena government in the western state will complete its tenure of five years, and also win the next assembly elections that will take place in 2024. “Maharashtra has [a] strong government; we have 164 MLAs, [the] opposition has 99,” the chief minister told PTI.

Shinde and Fadnavis landed in Delhi on Friday, and met Union home minister Amit Shah on the same day. Following the meeting, Shah tweeted about being “confident” that the two will take Maharashtra to “newer heights of development” under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The duo met President Ram Nath Kovind, BJP national president JP Nadda and defence minister Rajnath Singh earlier on Saturday. Both the leaders are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the day.

These developments come a day after Uddhav demanded mid-term polls, and said that no one can take away the Sena’s bow and arrow symbol. The former chief minister and his successor are embroiled in a war to claim Bal Thackeray’s legacy after Shinde and other rebel MLAs named their group ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb’.

A Supreme Court hearing on the Maharashtra political tussle will take place on July 11. Among several pending pleas on the issue, one has been moved by the Uddhav camp seeking suspension and disqualification of the 16 rebel Sena MLAs, including Shinde.

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