Soon after emerging successful in the floor test held in the Maharashtra Assembly, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday, 4 July, said that he had been suppressed for a long time in the Shiv Sena and would now follow the path of Hindutva.
“We left the MVA to return to Hindutva and hence not a single MLA who joined me will lose the election,” he said.
He also noted that BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who is now the deputy CM, was the real kalakar (artist) behind the formation of the new government.
Shinde disclosed that he was offered the post of deputy chief minister during 2014-19 amid tensions between the ruling BJP and the Shiv Sena, but the latter party had purportedly refused because it was averse to him becoming the deputy CM.
Shinde also said that he had made up his mind to resign (as the minister in the erstwhile BJP-Sena government) but it was the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who had supported him.
"I had been told by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari that I will soon get a good post,” Shinde also said.
Quoting former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Shinde said the senior NCP leader had told him that an "accident" occurred in Shiv Sena after the formation of the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which came to power in November 2019.
Shinde also alluded to Uddhav Thackeray's statement that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had informed him ahead of the formation of the MVA government that leaders of Congress and NCP were not keen to work under Shinde.
“But after the formation of the MVA government, Ajit Pawar told me that an accident took place in your party (Shiv Sena). We were never against you becoming the chief minister," the new CM stated.
Meanwhile, former CM Uddhav Thackeray on Monday challenged the new government led by Eknath Shinde to face the mid-term elections.
'Will Support Droupadi Murmu for President, Cut VAT': Shinde
"All MLAs who voted in our favour today will support Droupadi Murmu in presidential polls... Sharad Pawar is a big leader, but whatever he says is just the opposite of fact. So we will complete 2.5 years of governance," Shinde said, adding that in their next tenure, they will have 200 MLAs – 100 each from the Sena and the BJP.
He also announced that the Cabinet will discuss cutting VAT on petroleum.
"When the Central government comes with any state government, the speed of development increases multifold in that state," he said.
'No Vengeance Despite Bad Words by Own Party Members': Shinde
Eknath Shinde said during the press conference that he will always remain a Shiv Sainik and will not play vendetta politics against those who did not support him.
"I am a very quiet person and I can assure you that there would be no vengeance despite bad words being used against us by our own party members. When we had gone to the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, it was said that 40 bulls (male buffalos) would be sacrificed. Now, who got sacrificed."Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde
While the rebel MLAs had camped in Guwahati under the direction of Shinde, who had led the rebellion in the party, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had stated that "40 living corpses will return from Guwahati."
Shinde said that some leaders in the past had left the Shiv Sena and strayed from the path of Hindutva.
"I am a hardcore Shiv Sainik and will remain so. I alone had closed down 16 ladies' bars in and around Thane. There are some 100 various criminal charges registered against me," said Shinde, who is an MLA from Thane.
Rajya Sabha Election Losses 'Trigger' for Rebellion
Shinde said that though the Rajya Sabha elections held last month were crucial for the Shiv Sena, the party could win only one seat.
The Shiv Sena's second nominee Sanjay Pawar had lost to BJP's third candidate Dhananjay Mahadik in the polls.
"Though I was kept out of the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections, I managed to get three votes from non-Sena voters for our candidates," Shinde said.
"On the day of the legislative council (June 20) elections and the way I was treated, I had decided that I will not be turning back. There was 'nakabandi' by the police. I was aware of how to locate mobile towers and track a person. I also happened to know how to evade nakabandi," he said, referring to his exit from Mumbai to Surat.
Shinde said 50 MLAs are with him while BJP's strength in the House is 106.
"But in the next elections, we will win 200 seats. If not, I will go back to farming,” he added.
Shinde had launched a rebellion in June, accompanied by nearly 40 MLAs of the party, a day after the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. It had led to the splitting of the Sena into two factions, leading to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government.
Shinde subsequently took oath as the chief minister on 30 June after staking claim to the government in an alliance with the BJP.
(With inputs from PTI.)