Likely pitfalls that could derail the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis combination

Mumbai : After hijacking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) 3-party auto-rickshaw, new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde converted it into a two-wheeler with an over zealous pillion-rider in Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Over 3 weeks after they were sworn-in, instead of zooming off, the government is still parked’ on the road, but is busy clearing the route ahead by yanking off the MVA’s decisions, policies, schemes and projects.

Relegated to the pavement, the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress looked on gleefully as Fadnavis once snatched the microphone as a startled Shinde cast a brief bewildered stare at the audacity.

Many in the Opposition are wondering aloud how soon’ before the Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweight Fadnavis grabs the reins of power to jump into the driving seat sidelining the ex-autorickshaw driver Shinde.

The challenges before the new regime are both daring and daunting, starting with the much-awaited Cabinet expansion, amid a storm raised by Shinde’s 40-strong band of restless rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.

Then, the Independents or fringes like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to ensure a Thackeray’ on board and the frightful prospects of humouring the BJP legislators, with many bigwigs ready to draw first blood at the first slight.

All these would test the best of Shinde’s balancing skills and Fadnavis’ claimed Chanakya-esque’ mastery to ensure a turbulence-free ride for the new regime.

Among the secret worries are whether the Brobdingnagian BJP with 106 MLAs looking down, would try to grab the cake and leave only crumbs for the rebels, with at least 20 prime portfolios up for grabs and coveted by all.

The next concern for the breakaway group would be the Supreme Court verdict which could make or break the new government, with both sides of the Shiv Sena proclaiming they are the real’ party.

While winning the trust vote in the House was easy, the next formidable challenge for Shinde would be to win the confidence of the masses and establish his own credibility a dismaying proposition as many in the past, like Raj Thackeray of the MNS, and others who revolted in different parties all over India have experienced.

A major battle – legal and political – waiting to erupt between the Thackeray and Shinde sides, is over who will ‘conquer’ the Shiv Sena Bhavan (the party headquarters), bag its Tiger’ logo, the iconic Bow and Arrow election symbol, the well oiled 56-year-old party apparatus, and most important, convincingly delink it from the magical Thackeray surname Shinde would have to prove his supremacy over the Thackeray side in the upcoming civic body elections but hurdles are already cropping up with a section of his group reportedly against allying with the BJP.

Retaining the CM’s traditional stronghold of Thane may be a cakewalk, but dislodging the MVA hold over many other civic bodies like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nanded, etc could pose problems, with or without the BJP’s overbearing shadow.

Top MVA leaders like Thackeray, Sanjay Raut (Sena), Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar (NCP), Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat (Congress), have already predicted that the E.D.’ (Eknath-Devendra) government could fall on its own and the state would be pushed to a mid-term election in a few months.

After Shinde-Fadnavis clear these teething hurdles, they have a table-full of major governance issues like the OBC quotas, handling Covid better than the MVA did, and fast-track or complete several big ticket ongoing projects, estimated to cost over Rs 5 lakh crores.

They are the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Expressway, the Borivali-Thane Tunnel, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the Mumbai Coastal Road, the southern and northern extension to the Worli-Bandra Sea Link, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, and more than 375-kms of Metro Rail spanning the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Other mega projects are the Pune Ring Road, Marathwada Water Grid, the Jalna-Nanded corridor linking the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Expressway, augmenting the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, kickstarting the Konkan Expressway, the Sagari (coastal) Highway, Palghar-Raigad Multimodal corridor, and the long pending Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian Sea and the Dr B. R. Ambedkar Memorial in Dadar.



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