Devendra Fadnavis used Rajya Sabha & MLC polls to widen rift in Shiv Sena

Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis used the Rajya Sabha and Maharashtra legislative council polls to sow division and engineer a split in the Shiv Sena.

On June 3, a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) delegation met Fadnavis and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil. The delegation, comprising NCP Leader Chhagan Bhujbal and Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai, met Fadnavis to request the BJP to withdraw the third Rajya Sabha candidate and in return the MVA would offer a fifth MLC seat to the BJP. The MVA wanted the Rajya Sabha and MLC elections to be held unopposed. Fadnavis refused the MVA offer. He was firm that he wanted elections for the Rajya Sabha even though the numbers were not favourable to the BJP, according to people aware of the matter.

There were a lot of internal conflicts in the MVA and there were several Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs along with independent MLAs who were upset with the MVA government for ignoring them, said the people. Fadnavis, in fact, had publicly stated before the Rajya Sabha polls that he was depending on the anger among the MVA government MLAs for electing its third Rajya Sabha candidate even though it did not have the numbers.

In the past one year, several Shiv Sena leaders had gone public with their grievances of being ignored in the government and also of the problems in a three-party government. “People thought that Fadnavis was just going to use this anger to win the Rajya Sabha and MLC polls. What the MVA did not realise was that he was also going to use it to bring down this government,” said a BJP leader, who did not wish to be identified.

Not just in the Shiv Sena, there was anger even in the Congress camp, and several Congress members had briefed the party leadership about the “drift” in the party. At least 10 Congress MLAs cross-voted for the BJP during the MLC polls. The BJP leader said that having an election for the Rajya Sabha and MLC polls helped the BJP. “If Fadnavis would have agreed for the Rajya Sabha and the MLC polls to be held unopposed then the MLAs would not have been kept in hotels or herded together. It would have caused ripples under normal circumstances if Eknath Shinde spent time with the Sena MLAs. However, since they were all kept in the same hotel, no one sensed anything wrong. In fact, even when Shinde and other Sena MLAs left together on Monday evening, no one raised any suspicion,” he said.

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