Maharashtra Congress leader Nana Patole seems unstoppable as he fired a salvo against a senior ally member, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, describing him as “the remote control” of the state’s coalition government.
On Thursday (July 15), Nana Patole took a potshot at one of the tallest leaders in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance Sharad Pawar, credited to bringing the three unlikely partners together. Patole said, “There is no doubt that Sharad Pawar is the remote control (of the Maharashtra government). We (Congress) do not make statements against any big leader, but any outsider should look into one’s own party before making statements,” added Nana Patole, said media reports.
However, when his negative comments sparked off a ruckus, Patole tried to explain that the remote control remark was derogative. Dousing the fires he had lit, he said, since Pawar as NCP chief has a bigger role in making the MVA government, he guides the allies and is the remote control.
Sharad Pawar however preferred to brush aside Patole’s comments by stating that he refused to react to what “small people” say and that he would speak only if Sonia Gandhi had said something, said a News18 report.
But, Patole’s unfiltered statements against allies Shiv Sena and NCP, has been triggering either a spate of public retorts or making the MVA allies scuttle around trying to do damage control to present a unified front. Recently, on July 14, Patole again declared that the Congress would contest the next assembly election in Maharashtra separately. And, went after the NCP over the 2014 election, stating that the Congress was “cheated” in 2014, as the NCP decided to contest alone.
Just as the NCP went on their own in 2014, Patole said, the Congress too will take the decision to fight the 2024 Maharashtra assembly election alone. “Like NCP took the decision in 2014, we have our own strategy,” said Patole, according to a NDTV report.
Patole also accused the MVA government of spying on him and then quickly backtracked blaming the BJP for causing infighting among the allies.
However, the MVA alliance, which is a coalition of ideologically disparate parties, seem to find the going tough at times, it seems. Two days earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray too made a remark that he had been against the Congress and NCP — his allies — politically, which set off ripples among the political parties in the state.
Open voting method for Speaker’s election
The uneasiness that prevails in the MVA alliance once again came to the fore, when reports emerged that the Maharashtra government was planning to change the rules to adopt the method of open voting for the state assembly Speaker’s election. This immediately prompted senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday to ask whether the state government was scared despite having a majority in the House.
He said the move showed that the MVA allies not only do not trust one another, but also their own legislators. Fadnavis told reporters how Congress state unit chief Nana Patole was constantly declaring that the party would contest alone in the next Assembly polls, and how NCP president Sharad Pawar was countering this and how Congress leaders, who meet Pawar, dont take Patole along.
“This shows what is happening among the ruling allies. We are playing the role of a strong opposition. I have been saying from day one that this government will collapse under its own weight. I did not give any time-frame. When it collapses, we will give an alternative government,” he said.
The MVA, an unlikely coalition of the Shiv Sena and its one-time opponents, the NCP and the Congress, came to power in November 2019. Though questions have been raised over the stability of the Shiv Sena-led government time and again, MVA allies have repeatedly asserted that the Uddhav Thackeray government is stable and will complete its full five-year term (which ends in 2024).
The Congress feels like the third wheel
One of the reasons however that the Congress party leaders seem to be insecure is because the Congress has always felt they were the “third wheel” in the three-party dispensation, said a News18 report. Though, senior Congress leaders were against teaming up with the Shiv Sena when the MVA was formed, they had to do so just to keep the BJP at bay.
For the grand old party, the Maharashtra power-sharing arrangement was more of a survival tactic. But Congress party leaders feel that the Sena and NCP have been on the same page when it comes to keeping the Congress out of the decision-making process in the state and this rankles for a party that had once enjoyed the numero uno position.