There is desperation and then there is Devendra Fadnavis, twice Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister of Maharashtra (once for 24 hours).
As Mumbai runs out of the COVID-19 vaccine and the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government battles an unprecedented public health emergency, Fadnavis is busy trying to topple the government.
The toppling of opposition governments dubbed “Operation Lotus” by the BJP seems to have reached its zenith in Maharashtra as Fadnavis tries for the umpteenth time to topple the state government.
Says a senior BJP leader who is a central minister, “We all know Devendra feels cheated that he had to exit the government. He makes no secret of his obsession with Varsha (CM residence in Mumbai) in every public meeting he yelled, “I will return (as Maharashtra CM) but, this is not the time. Maharashtra will not appreciate this. People are dying and we are playing politics. Even the BJP and the central government needs to stand as a rock with the people of Maharashtra, otherwise the people will not forget nor will they forgive”.
Attacks on Thackeray
Try telling the Centre that. Several union ministers including India’s textile minister Smriti Irani, health minister Dr Harshvardhan launched a savage Twitter attack on the Uddhav Thackeray government yesterday after Maharashtra sent an SOS on the vaccine running out.
The Maharashtra government and some other state governments have asked the centre to allow mass vaccination as the second deadly wave of COVID-19 spreads like wildfire.
In response, Dr Harshvardhan, the health minister released a stinging statement saying “deplorable attempt by some state governments to distract attention from their failure and spread panic among the people”.
Vardhan says the request for mass vaccination is “irresponsible” and he needs to set the record straight. To do so, Vardhan lists a set of percentages that Maharashtra is guilty of. Under indices, the Centre adds examples from Delhi and Punjab (two other opposition ruled states).
Time of national crisis
This is unprecedented playing of politics in the time of national crisis. Priyanka Chaturvedi, Rajya Sabha member of the Shiv Sena gave an angry riposte calling out the ministers. “They are glorified trolls, not in the service of the nation but mentally mere party slaves. Chaturvedi added “some of them are MPs of Maharashtra, should be speaking up for the state but, shamelessly playing politics”.
Which brings us back to the ongoing “Operation Lotus” undertaken by Fadnavis. To topple the government, Fadnavis has gotten the Centre to activate all central agencies against the opposition legislators.
The BJP describes a “letter bomb” written by arrested encounter specialist Sachin Vaze, alleging he was expected to collect hundreds of crores for his political bosses. Now why the word of a disgraced police official, who drove around with a note counting machine, is gospel, only Fadnavis can tell us.
After holding multiple press conferences on Vaze, Fadnavis then called the “MVA ministers liars desperate to hide their fallacies by spreading lies about Government of India on COVID & management”.
Fadnavis on a mission
Fadnavis has also made several trips to the Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who had earlier sworn him in as CM — sans the numbers — asking for dismissal of the Thackeray government.
After Anil Deshmukh, former Maharashtra home minister, resigned post Bombay High Court ordering a probe against him on the allegations made by former Mumbai commissioner of police, Parambir Singh, Fadnavis was triumphant.
Now Fadnavis is demanding the resignation of another minister in the Thackeray government. What has added to Fadnavis’s determination to topple the government is union home minister Amit Shah’s claim in an interview “can’t say what will happen in Maharashtra post May 2”.
This is the date the assembly results of some state elections come out and Shah presumably feels that if the BJP does well, Operation Lotus in Maharashtra will acquire added traction.
BJP legislators in Mumbai talk in hushed tones of the multimillion offers being made to the MVA legislators.
As the second wave of Covid-19 hits with huge ferocity, the government and leaders of all political parties are not cancelling giant public meetings where people mill around without masks, not cancelling large religious congregations, which could lead to super spreading of COVID and not boosting vaccine output.
Recipe for disaster but, don’t disturb our leaders they are busy in Operation Lotus.