Asserting that there is no political agenda vis-a-vis the first visit to the national capital with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after forming the government in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday said the portfolio allocation would take place after Aashadhi Ekadashi that falls on Sunday.
Ahead of their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shinde and Fadnavis addressed media here. Incidentally, Shinde did much of the talking after a two line introduction by Fadnavis.
Answering a question about portfolio allocation, Shinde said, “Tomorrow is Aashadhi Ekadashi. We (Shinde and Fadnavis) will meet in Mumbai after that and then discuss portfolio allocation.”
Aashadhi Ekadashi witnesses the largest congregation of devotees from across Maharashtra gathering at Pandharpur in Satara district after walking on foot for almost a month. The main puja is led by the Chief Minister and his wife every year.
To a question if the government will last (the remaining) two and a half years (term of the assembly), Shinde claimed, “We will not just last the remaining term but also win the next polls with 200 MLAs.”
Shinde refused to comment on the issue of Shiv Sena approaching the Supreme Court challenging the formation of the government and election of Speaker and said, “The matter is sub-judice. I don’t want to talk about it. Ultimately, in a democracy, all that matters is numbers and majority. We are 164 and therefore we are in majority. We have a Constitution, there is a law, and there are rules. Nobody can venture outside that frame. We have formed the government as per rules, nothing is illegal and we have full faith in the judiciary.”
Earlier, after landing in Delhi on Friday evening, the duo called on President Ram Nath Kovind, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and also BJP president J.P. Nadda as part of what they termed as “courtesy meetings”. They are slated to meet Prime Minister Modi also.
“The government that receives help from the Centre, progresses rapidly. Therefore, we have been carrying out courtesy visits in view of the development of our state,” Shinde said and added, “When we took oath, the Prime Minister had promised that he would always stand with us working for Maharashtra’s progress.”
He also credited Fadnavis with starting several big ticket projects in the state such as Samrudhhi Mahamarg (an expressway like project linking Mumbai with Nagpur and beyond all the way till easternmost parts of the state), Jal Yukt Shivar (rainwater harvesting scheme) that are in the interest of farmers and said, “We would carry those forward – the projects that were put on backburner in recent times.”
Fadnavis tried to dismiss comments about his large heartedness (by agreeing to be the deputy chief minister) by saying, it is his party that made him big and therefore has a large heart. “Also, I have been a Chief Minister, so I say, the Chief Minister is the leader, Shinde ji is our leader and we would all deliver a successful government.”
Shinde quickly added that people always had a perception that BJP was always after power but “this party has shown that it is with the ideology of Hindutva as propagated by (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray.”
Both Shinde and Fadnavis asserted that theirs is a natural alliance and have done nothing wrong.