Maharashtra: Opposition guns for CM Shinde over firing by BJP MLA on Shiv Sena leader
The opposition demanded chief minister Eknath Shinde's resignation after a BJP MLA shot and injured a Shiv Sena leader over a land dispute
The opposition in Maharashtra on Saturday demanded chief minister Eknath Shinde's resignation after a BJP MLA shot and injured a Shiv Sena leader over a land dispute in Thane district. The BJP and the Shinde-led Sena are ruling partners in the state.
The Congress claimed the incident pointed to a law and order “breakdown” in the state, while the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) said Shinde was “responsible” for it. NCP president Sharad Pawar termed the incident worrisome, and said there is a limit to the "misuse" of power.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis told the media that he has ordered a high-level probe into the firing incident, while his peer Ajit Pawar said it was wrong for elected representatives to take the law into their own hands. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan called the shooting “extremely serious and worrisome”.
Kalyan MLA Ganpat Gaikwad of the BJP opened fire on Mahesh Gaikwad, the Shiv Sena chief of Kalyan, inside a police station at Ulhasnagar in Thane district on Friday night, additional commissioner of police Dattatreya Shinde told the media.
Ulhasnagar falls in the Kalyan parliamentary constituency, currently represented by CM Shinde's son Shrikant Shinde.
Speaking to news channel Zee24taas over the phone before his arrest, Ganpat Gaikwad alleged that CM Shinde was trying to establish a "kingdom of criminals” in Maharashtra.
The incident at the Hill Line police station in Ulhasnagar is not only a challenge to law and order but also places a question mark on the trustworthiness and responsibility of the state government to deliver justice, Chavan said in a post on X.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Vijay Wadettiwar attributed the firing to “arrogance of power” and “vendetta politics”, and accused Shinde of “encouraging” mob culture in the state. “There is a law and order breakdown,” he said.
Wadettiwar also said Shinde had betrayed Uddhav Thackeray, and would do the same with BJP. “Ganpat Gaikwad’s statement that Shinde’s son is indulging in corruption and nothing happened despite complaining to Devendra Fadnavis and senior BJP leaders is shocking. It shows the true colours of the maha yuti (ruling coalition). As elections draw close, their internal strife will also grow,” he claimed.
State Congress president Nana Patole said the allegations made by the BJP MLA against the CM are serious and he should resign immediately, while Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut held the CM responsible for the shooting incident, claiming the government in Maharashtra has been formed through mobocracy and gundagiri (rowdyism).
“The incident has occurred in the CM’s district and he is responsible for it. Gaikwad has blamed Eknath Shinde,” Raut told reporters. He also alleged that calls are being made from the CM’s office to criminals in jail, and criminals in Thane, Mumbai and Kolhapur are being released on bail to help the ruling party in the elections.
Before his arrest, Ganpat Gaikwad had also said, “Shinde saheb betrayed Uddhav saheb, he will also betray BJP… he owes me crores of rupees. Shinde should resign if Maharashtra is to be well-managed. This is my humble request to Devendra Fadnavis (deputy CM) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
NCP working president and Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule wondered if the home minister (deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis) has given an "open licence" to BJP leaders to play with law and order. “In Pune, a BJP MLA slapped a police officer in public, while in Ulhasnagar, another BJP MLA opened fire on a former corporator in a police station. The chief minister and deputy chief minister are keeping quiet,” she alleged, adding that the Centre should dismiss the state government.
State minister Chhagan Bhujbal and group leader of NCP (Ajit Pawar) countered Sule’s charge, saying “Did Fadnavis ask the MLA to open fire?”
NCP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto said Fadnavis must resign, claiming that he is unable to maintain law and order in the state. Leaders from his party and criminals feel that they can commit crimes and get away with it, he said.
Crasto said a BJP MLA told his cadre a few days ago that “do as you please and don't fear the law because we have someone living in Sagar bungalow in Mumbai who will take care of you”, referring to the residence of deputy CM Fadnavis.
The fact that a BJP MLA has shot a Shinde Sena cadre must make CM Eknath Shinde realise that all is not well between him and his ally, Crasto said in a statement. “If there is any self-respect left (in him), he should leave the government and assure the people of Maharashtra that he does not endorse such lawlessness,” he said, also demanding Fadnavis’ resignation.
Second deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said it was wrong for elected representatives to take the law into their own hands. “I will discuss the issue with Devendra Fadnavis,” Pawar told reporters.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis said the high-level inquiry would find out what made the MLA open fire and under what circumstances.