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‘Used to meet Fadnavis when MLAs were asleep’: Eknath Shinde recalls turn of events ahead of Maharashtra government formation

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday revealed that the last month’s state Legislative Council polls came as the last trigger for him to rebel against Shiv Sena even as he hailed BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as the real “kalakar” (artist) behind the formation of the new government.

“On the day of the (results of) the legislative council elections (June 20) and the way I was treated. I had decided that there will be no turning back,” he told the Legislative Assembly after winning the trust vote. In the council polls, the BJP had won all the five seats it contested, while Congress’s Chandrakant Handore lost.

Days earlier, Shiv Sena’s second nominee had lost to BJP’s third candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls from Maharashtra. Apparently referring to how he sneaked out of Mumbai, Shinde said there was nakabandi (security blockade) by the police. “I know how to locate mobile phone towers and track a person. I also know how to evade nakabandi,” he added.

Offering a glimpse of the activities unfolded behind curtains ahead of the formation of the new government, Shinde recalled that he used to leave the hotel where he was camping (in Guwahati) at midnight when all MLAs are asleep and used to return early morning.

“The true kalakar (artist) of this government is Devendra Fadnavis,” Shinde added. After leaving Mumbai, probably on the night of June 20, the Shinde camp moved to a hotel in Surat before moving to Guwahati on a chartered flight. On June 29, the breakaway MLAs flew to Goa before returning to Mumbai on July 2. Last Thursday, Shinde took oath as the chief minister with Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.

made it public that the BJP was an active participant in his recent “uprising” against Shiv Sena leadership.

Shinde’s remarks in the State Assembly, after he won the floor test in the House, left no one in doubt that BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, now the deputy CM, was actively involved in the Shinde-led group’s activities. As his group MLAs were camping at a luxury hotel on Guwahati late last month, there were reports that Shinde had held a secret meeting with Fadnavis after reaching Gujarat from Guwahati.

The reports claimed that before dawn, Shinde came back to the Guwahati hotel, where he was camping with 40 MLAs who turned against the MVA government in Maharashtra. “Our numbers were less (than BJP’s) but PM Narendra Modi blessed us. “Modi saheb told me before the swearing-in that he will extend all possible help to me. Amit Shah saheb said he will stand behind us like a rock,”” Shinde said.

““But the biggest kalakar (artist) is this one,”” Shinde said, pointing to Fadnavis, sitting to his right on the treasury benches. “”We used to meet while my group MLAs were asleep and return (to Guwahati) before they woke up,”” Shinde said.

““The one who orchestrated everything is here,”” Shinde said, pointing to Fadnavis, who was visibly embarrassed to see the not-so-well-kept secret of their parleys come out in the open. ““One doesn’t know what he will do and when,”” Shinde said.

Putting an end to the over a week-long political turmoil in Maharashtra, Shinde took oath as chief minister of the state on June 30. Fadnavis, after initial reluctance, took an oath as deputy chief minister.

Meanwhile, the political resolution at the BJP national executive has said the party’s support to Shiv Shinde as Maharashtra’s chief minister shows it never craves power but believes in serving people “selflessly” and working for their welfare.

For Maharashtra’s development and its people’s welfare, the BJP has supported Eknath Shinde as chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis, the party’s main face in the state, has taken oath as deputy chief minister, the resolution noted.

Due to the “opportunistic and unprincipled” alliance of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which included the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, the state’s development was stopped and people faced “massive corruption and misgovernance”, it said.

With Shinde now chief minister, the resolution said this step has once again proven that the BJP never craves power but believes in serving people selflessly and working for their welfare.

“With the goal of serving the people of Maharashtra under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we will again take the state forward on the path of development and good governance,” it said.

The two-day executive concluded in Hyderabad on Sunday.

The resolution, which was proposed by Home Minister Amit Shah, alleged that the Congress has become synonymous with unprincipled, opportunistic, and corrupt politics due to dynastic politics.

“There is no doubt that a party that does not practise internal democracy can never understand the real meaning of democracy.

”In desperation, Congress is pushing itself to its own destruction. The Congress today stands with the ‘tukde-tukde gang’ by collaborating with the divisive elements in the country,” it said.

Fadnavis was widely tipped to be the new chief minister of Maharashtra but the BJP made the surprise choice of offering the post to Shinde.

On Monday, Chief Minister Shinde comfortably won a crucial confidence vote in the state Assembly.

The newly-formed government in Maharashtra will help free the state from corruption and anarchy and take it on the path of development and good governance, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in Lucknow.

Shinde on Monday took potshots at a “coterie” surrounding Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and launched a veiled attack on Sena MP Sanjay Raut who had harshly criticised the rebel MLAs when they were camping in Guwahati.

“Someone described us as bulls (male buffaloes) to be offered to Goddess Kamakhya in Guwahati.

The goddess told us that she does not want a bull that talks too much,” Shinde told the Assembly after the government led by him won the floor test.

During their stay at a starred hotel in Guwahati, the breakaway MLAs had written an open letter in which they slammed the coterie surrounding Thackeray and singled out Raut, calling him the “blue-eyed boy of NCP”.

““At the time of the Rajya Sabha elections held on June 10, one candidate of Shiv Sena lost. Now it feels like another candidate should have lost the election,”” the chief minister said.

Of the two candidates fielded by the Sena in the RS polls, Raut won but another nominee Sanjay Pawar lost to BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik.

Shinde loyalist Sena MLA Gulabrao Patil also took a veiled dig at Raut.

“We were called pigs but people forgot that he (Raut) won the Rajya Sabha election on our own votes. A coterie of three-four people is surrounding Uddhav Thackeray. They could win at the hustings but they call us pigs. Why should we tolerate such foul language?” Patil asked.

Shinde on Monday night visited the memorial of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park in Mumbai’s Dadar area and said his government is of the common man.

He offered flowers at the structure with Sena MLAs who had crossed over to his faction in tow, around 7.30 pm.”This government has come to power by winning the trust vote with a thumping majority of 164 against 99 due to the blessings of Balasaheb Thackeray,” Shinde told reporters.

Earlier, he paid homage to martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement at the Hutatma Chowk memorial in south Mumbai and also at Chaityabhumi, revered by followers of B R Ambedkar.

From Shivaji Park, Shinde travelled to his residence in Thane city in a special bus where he was given a rousing welcome by cadres.

Decorative arches and huge hoardings were erected at various places in Thane. Colourful decorations were made at the main traffic junctions.

When the bus carrying Shinde, the MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi, and others reached Anand Nagar check post on the Eastern Express Highway, former Thane mayor Naresh Mhaske and others welcomed him with bouquets.

Amid heavy downpour, cadres loyal to Shinde raised slogans hailing him and burst crackers while trumpets were blown.Shinde then visited Anand Ashram, the seat of his mentor the late Anand Dighe, where he was welcomed by the beating of drums.

He was also congratulated by his old school.Shinde was emotionally overwhelmed when he paid tributes at ‘Shakti Sthal’, the memorial of Dighe.A large number of Shiv Sena leaders, sainiks and women hailed Shinde, a resident of the Louiswadi area.

Shinde reached his residence after nearly 13 days where he was welcomed traditionally by his family members.Shiv Sainiks in Kalyan in the Thane district distributed 100 kg laddoos to celebrate Shinde’s floor test win.

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