Congress an 'old squeaking charpoy', says Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana

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Mumbai: Saamana, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, took a dim view of the murmurs of discontent from the alliance partner Congress in the Maharashtra government and said that the party has sacrificed the most in the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), which also includes the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Congress leaders, including Maharashtra unit chief, Balasaheb Thorat, and former chief minister Ashok Chavan, have been vocal that their party must be involved in the decision-making process of the MVA government.

The Congress is smarting under the rebuff to the distribution of the 12 nominated Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad, or Legislative Council, seats, as per the Governor’s quota.

The Saamana editorial, however, spelled out that the seats must be divided on the basis of the coalition partners’ strength in the state legislative assembly. It said the Sena has 64 members, including eight independents, followed by the NCP (54), and the Congress (44).

“The Sena has sacrificed the most in this power-sharing. It had to give one ministerial berth to the NCP, when Sharad Pawar objected to the Congress from occupying the assembly Speaker’s post,” the editorial said.

Two additional Cabinet berths were also given to the Congress, instead of the posts of minister of state, it added.

The editorial likened the Congress to an “old squeaking charpoy”, which is groaning under the leaders’ “historical inheritance”.

It also reasoned that the resentment is the natural outcome in a three-party coalition government with diverse ideologies.

“The Congress is doing good work, but the old charpoy is squeaking from time to time. The charpoy is old and has a historical inheritance. The CM should get used to such murmurs in the coalition government,” the editorial said.

It also slammed the two Congress ministers and asked blunt questions: “Why are these murmurs? What does their complaint that they should be heard means? Both Thorat and Chavan have long experience in governance. They should remember that even (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar has long experience in administration. But, there are no complaints from his party,” the editorial said.

It cited that there was a consensus that CM Uddhav Thackeray’s decision would be final. “Sharad Pawar, too, abides by this rule,” the editorial added.

The write-up also took a potshot regarding complaints about bureaucracy. “There are complaints about the workings of the state chief secretary Ajoy Mehta and Nagpur municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe. But no matter how ‘big’ an officer is, he has to go by the decision of the chief minister as he is a public servant … but, there is no complaint that any illegal work has been done in the government. The administration is busy fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, but Thackeray should hear out Chavan and Thorat because they are the third pillar of the government,” it said.

However, the editorial assuaged fears and ruled out any threat to the coalition government, despite the growing murmurs of discontent.

In a sarcastic reference to the covert formation of the 80-hour government by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the support of NCP’s Ajit Pawar, it said, “Nobody should remain under this illusion that there is a threat to the government and the gates of Raj Bhavan would open early morning once again for someone.”

Thorat alleged that the editorial is based on “incomplete” information, and suggested that it should have been written after the Congress ministers get an audience with CM Thackeray.

Thorat told media persons: “ The Saamana editorial is based on incomplete information. Our issues are connected to the issues of the people and not regarding any transfers. We’re seeking an appointment with the CM. The squeaking of the charpoy must be heard, even the CM will be satisfied after it. We will put forth our views before the CM and then an editorial should be written, as a completely wrong picture is portrayed about us. We are fully supporting the [Maha Vikas] Aghadi.”

“Discussions should be held to express our views and concerns. The CM must grant us an appointment soon,” he added.

Sanjay Raut, the executive editor of Saamana and a Sena member of the Rajya Sabha, defended the editorial and clarified that it didn’t mock ally Congress. “This is our signature style of writing. I’ve read the interview with Ashok Chavan. If he has any concerns he should speak to the CM. This is not a clash between the administration and the government. Maharashtra is facing two major issues -- Covid-19 and cyclone Nisarga. The administration has to be taken into confidence to tackle the twin crises. Besides, all decisions taken by the government have to be implemented by the administration,” Raut told media persons.

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