Trouble for Maha govt? Speculation rife as Fadnavis calls on Khadse day after meeting Sharad Pawar

Express News Service
MUMBAI: A day after he met NCP chief Sharad Pawar, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday called on his loyalist-turned-bitter foe Eknath Khadse at the latter’s village in Jalgaon district.

While the meetings sparked speculations about a new political arithmetic in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut sought to downplay the development, quipping Sharad Pawar may have advised Fadnavis on how to be a “good opposition leader”.

The NCP, too, maintained there was nothing political about Fadnavis’ visit, with party chief spokesperson Nawab Malik saying the Maha Vikas Aghadi under Uddhav Thackeray was going strong. However, analysts speculated that Fadnavis was BJP’s emissary to Pawar, with whom the saffron party has been seeking an alliance for a long time.

“Devendra Fadnavis may have been sent by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to reopen the dialogue with NCP at a time it is being criticised for its Covid handling. BJP is on a sticky wicket and they require a leader of Sharad Pawar’s stature to tackle the situation. However, it is too early to say anything,” political observers said. 

Fadnavis’ visit to his former political Guru and the present foe Khadse, too, raised eyebrows.

Before leaving BJP, Khadse had accused Fadnavis for poorly treating him and forcing him to resign as minister on flimsy grounds. Khadse was not given ticket in 2019 polls, instead his daughter Rohini was made the BJP candidate. She was steamrolled by Shiv Sena candidate. 

Asked about any political angle to the meeting between Pawar and Fadnavis, Shiv Sena leader Raut said the BJP leader himself termed it as a ‘courtesy meet’. 

Earlier also there were speculations in political circles when Raut met Fadnavis in September last. However, Raut had then said the meeting pertained to an interview of Fadnavis which he planned to conduct.