India Today Conclave Session 1 with Eknath Shinde, CM Maharashtra
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Friday delivered the keynote address at India Today Group's premier thought event, the Conclave, in Mumbai. He spoke of events that led to revolt within the Sena, Balasaheb Thackeray, the chief ministership, his idea of governance and the possibility of both Sena factions coming together in future.
"I never wanted to be the CM. Our MLAs were upset. That is why I took this [revolt against Sena leadership] step and I don't think I have done anything wrong," he said, adding that the Sena-BJP alliance in the state is taking forward Balasaheb's ideology and legacy and not Uddhav Thackeray.
ON EVENTS THAT LED TO REVOLT
Uddhav Thackeray became the chief minister after Shiv Sena formed an alliance with ideologically opposite parties Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP soon after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections.
According to CM Shinde, the mandate after the 2019 state elections was for a BJP-Shiv Sena government but Uddhav Thackeray, the party chief, formed a government going against the mandate.
"How it happened, why it happened, everyone in Maharashtra knows. This was not to gain anything or become the chief minister. We [Shiv Sena] fought the election with the BJP and the mandate was for a BJP-Shiv Sena government. But against the wishes of the people, the MVA government was formed in 2020. There was resistance from our MLAs," he said.
"Sena MLAs were not able to fulfil the expectations of people. Despite our government in the state, our workers were not getting justice. Many of us tried. I tried [to convince Uddhav Thackeray] as the BJP is our natural alliance partner. But we were not able to achieve that," he added.
'NEVER WANTED TO BE CM'
Eknath Shinde further pointed out that the step [revolt] was not taken to achieve anything or to become chief minister. The step was taken to respect people's mandate, he said.
"How it happened, why it happened, everyone in Maharashtra knows. This was not to gain anything or become the chief minister," Shinde said at India Today Conclave.
ON ALLIANCE WITH BJP
Eknath Shinde spoke of the BJP's commitment towards its alliance partners and said he was made the CM even when he had 50 MLAs. He said the revolt was a step towards ideological commitment and not for the chief ministership.
"They gave me an opportunity and we are doing good work," Shinde said, adding that perception changed when he was made the CM.
ON BALASAHEB'S LEGACY
We did what people wanted. We haven't drifted away from Balasaheb's ideology, Shinde said, calling his revolt against the Sena leadership a courageous step. The chief minister also pointed out that his faction, Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, secured 277 seats in the recently concluded panchayat elections and said people back his faction to take Balasaheb's legacy forward.
"We built the party working with Balasaheb Thackeray. His thoughts are with us. We haven't left the ideology. We did what people wanted. We joined the natural alliance with the BJP. That's why we have the support of the people," he said.
ON POSSIBILTY OF SENA FACTIONS COMING TOGETHER
On being asked about the possibility of rebel Sena factions coming together in future, Shinde said the question is about 'ifs and buts' and there is no point in going into that question right now.
"The Sena-BJP alliance is working for Maharashtra. We are taking the ideology of Balasaheb forward," said Shinde on possible reconciliation with Uddhav Thackeray and his camp.
ON HIS MODEL OF GOVERNANCE
Eknath Shinde referred to his model of governance as pro-people, pro-development and inclusive. CM means 'common man'. I work like a common man. Hence, there is prosperity and development in the state of Maharashtra, the CM said.
When asked about the BJP-Sena alliance's CM face for the 2024 Maharashtra Assembly polls, Shinde said, “Public will decide", adding that his focus right now is on working for the development of the people.