By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, July 4 (IANS): Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said he was 'oppressed and suppressed' for long and treated in an unfair manner that ultimately resulted in the major revolt that led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government headed by former CM Uddhav Thackeray.
In his maiden address to the Assembly after winning the crucial vote of confidence - 164 in favour and 99 against - Shinde recalled that the recent political happenings did not occur in just one day and was the culmination of many past instances when he was short-changed.
"There are many people here, like (Shiv Sena MLA) Sunil Prabhu, and others who have witnessed how I was treated and suppressed for long," said Shinde, at times becoming emotional and sad.
He harked to NCP President Sharad Pawar, and how he had reportedly said that NCP-Congress leaders were unwilling to work under Shinde, and then he (Sharad Pawar) insisted that the Sena President Thackeray should assume responsibility as CM.
However, after the MVA came to power, Shinde mentioned how senior leader Ajit Pawar - the new Leader of Opposition - had told him that an 'accident' had taken place in the Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP was never against him (Shinde) becoming the CM.
In November 2019, the Shiv Sena joined the MVA alliance of Nationalist Congress Party-Congress which collapsed on June 30, 2022 after 31 months in office.
Hinting at a grudge even during the previous Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena regime, Shinde said he was promised the post of Deputy CM, and even BJP's Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had assured him of a 'good post' soon - which never materialised.
"I was continuously harassed in the MVA, treated unfairly even during the assembly elections. So, I rebelled against all the injustice. I have got justice now. Even if we are martyred, we shall not retreat," Shinde asserted.
He said that after the rebellion (June 20), the group of MLAs supporting him were branded as 'traitors', but said "we are not traitors, and fought for justice just as Balasaheb taught us."
He described the two-and-half years in the MVA government as "not a very happy experience", with people writing against Veer Savarkar and talking against Balasaheb Thackeray.
Shinde also elaborated on his fondness for the Sena where he grew politically under the guidance of Thane's Anand Dighe and then Balasaheb Thackeray, terming the party as "my family where I spent my life".
"I never hankered for any position. I am grateful to the BJP. Our natural alliance is with BJP. I tried to tell this to Uddhav Thackeray five times. The MLAs were asking how to remain in power with those who are anti-Hindutva. We are the Shiv Sainiks of Balasaheb and Dighe," said Shinde.
"We will now establish the 'aam aadmi and people raj'. In the next elections, we shall win 200 seats," said Shinde.
In his speech, the BJP's Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis extolled Shinde's virtues, his long political career, contributions and many sacrifices which were ignored for long.
Taunting at the trolls who roasted him for his 'Mee Punha Yaeen' (I will return) slogan of 2019, Fadnavis said: "I have indeed returned, and this time brought even Eknath Shinde with mea!"
However, now, he would take his sweet "revenge" by 'just forgiving' the trolls and critics who severely lampooned him for so long.
To the rants by some Opposition MLAs shouting "ED, ED" at some MLAs during the vote of confidence, Fadnavis shot back, saying "its correct that the new government is formed by ED - Eknath and Devendra."
He also took a swipe at Thackeray, without taking his name, saying there was a 'deficit in leadership' in the previous regime, but now strong and dedicated leaders (Shinde-Fadnavis) would be available 24x7 to serve the people.