- All three coalition partners united in fighting COVID, says Sharad Pawar
- Maharashtra is worst-off in India's battle with coronavirus
- BJP has been attacking the state government over the crisis
Sharad Pawar, a key component of the government in Maharashtra, remains firmly committed to his alliance with the Congress and the Shiv Sena; a series of recent meetings he has held do not indicate any reconsideration on his part, he told NDTV today.
"Fadnavis is getting impatient," Mr Pawar told NDTV in an exclusive interview today, referring to the former Chief Minister and implying that Devendra Fadnavis is keen to bring down the government. "But there is no threat to the Maharashtra government. All MLAs are with us, any attempt to break them at this time will result in the public beating us," Mr Pawar said.
Mr Fadnavis, however, said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will fall on its own and he was disappointed by Mr Pawar's statement. "We are not in a hurry to form government. This government will fall because of its own contradictions. We don't want to bring down the government, we want to wake them up," Mr Fadnavis said.
Maharashtra is worst-off in India's battle with coronavirus - the city of Mumbai has the maximum number of cases in the country. The opposition BJP has been attacking the state government for its alleged inadequecies in dealing with the crisis. Senior BJP leader Narayan Rane has said that the state should be put under President's Rule with the government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray being removed.
Even though the Congress was absent at Mr Pawar's meeting with the Chief Minister, Mr Pawar told NDTV that all three coalition partners in Maharashtra were together, and united in fighting the COVID threat.
After Maharashtra voted in October, Mr Pawar was the centrepiece of the strategy that saw Mr Thackeray, the president of the Shiv Sena, taking over as Chief Minister. The Sena, after the election results, divorced the BJP after a thirty-year-long political marriage. As it began exploring new partnerships, Devendra Fadnavis returned as Chief Minister with a new ally- Ajit Pawar who is Mr Pawar's nephew. Together, they said, they had the numbers required to win the trust vote. In a highly controversial move, Mr Fadnavis of the BJP was sworn in at dawn by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari - a tactic seen as highly partisan from an office meant to represent strict neutrality.
Mr Fadnavis lasted 72 hours in office. Mr Pawar was able to arrange a reconciliation with his nephew; their party, the Nationalist Congress Party, then moved into a joint effort with the Sena and the Congress; and their new government, called the Maha Vikas Aghadi, took charge of the state.
Mr Pawar is a mercurial friend given to political expediency. In the last parliament session, he was reported to have several interactions with the Prime Minister. Yesterday, he met with the Governor and with the Chief Minister. No reason to connect the dots to interpret his appointments as examining his options, he said today.
Describing his meeting with the Governor as a "courtesy call", he said it was not he sought the meeting and that they did not discuss either "COVID or politics". His conferral with the Chief Minster he described as "routine", though he admitted it was unusual for him to visit Mr Thackeray at his storied home of "Matoshree" in Mumbai.