Mumbai: In an unexpected twist, the governing Shiv Sena recently declared that Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, has been elected as the “most popular” leader in the state, surpassing his counterpart from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.
The surprise doesn’t end there – Shinde has been positioned just below Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the tagline: “Modi in Rashtra; Shinde in Maharashtra,” causing a stir among BJP members in the state. This information is believed to have come from Zee TV – Matrize voters Survey.
Shiv Sena made an announcement that when it came to the preferred candidate for the Chief Minister’s position, Shinde captured 26.1% of the votes, leaving Fadnavis trailing with 23.2%, a difference of 2.9%.
This revelation continued to jolt the BJP. The advertisement suggests an enormous public affinity towards Modi and Shinde, dubbing them a “dream team”. It stated, “The partnership of Modi-Shinde that has resulted in many public welfare projects has got the top position in a recent survey.”
Shiv Sena further added, “Accordingly, 49.3 per cent of the people in Maharashtra have selected the partnership of Shinde-Fadnavis. We thank the masses for their support.”
In the survey, 30.2% of respondents supported BJP, while 16.2% favoured Shiv Sena, summing up to 46.4%. However, details about the survey remain undisclosed.
An intriguing element of the survey’s report is a large picture of Modi smiling at Shinde, who reciprocates. Strikingly, Fadnavis is absent from the visual. Additionally, while Shiv Sena’s Bow-and-Arrow symbol is present, there’s no mention of the party’s founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray, whom Shinde and his supporters often publicly revere.
The advertisement has sparked intense speculation and conversations among political insiders, with many wondering if Shinde is asserting his prominence in comparison to the usually assertive Fadnavis.
Historically, in the 2014 and 2019 Assembly elections, BJP campaigned with the slogan, “Narendra (Modi) in India, Devendra (Fadnavis) in Maharashtra”. Now, as per the survey, Shinde has seemingly replaced Fadnavis, coining a new slogan ‘Modi in Rashtra, Shinde in Maharashtra’.
This full-page advertisement, which has appeared in several leading Marathi newspapers, follows closely after a heated debate over the Chief Minister’s son and Thane MP, Dr. Shrikant Shinde’s potential resignation, and disputes surrounding the delayed cabinet expansion plans.
This all unfolds just two weeks before the first anniversary of the Shinde-Fadnavis government, which will be on June 30, 2022, after the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Thackeray was ousted.