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Eknath Shinde Proves He Is No Pushover, Emerges Stronger In The Run-Up To Polls

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde is emerging as an independent leader which even the might of the BJP has acceded to. Soon after Shinde assumed power two years back on June 30, 2022, it was largely believed that the Shinde’s faction of the Shiv Sena would eventually be made to merge with the BJP and the name and symbol would be wiped out. However, far from being wiped out, Shinde has kept the Sena flag so strong that the BJP has officially announced that Shinde would be leading the BJP-led Mahayuti alliance into the polls. Meanwhile, both his deputies — Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar — are busy struggling to retain their base within their own parties as they face power struggles from within. Fadnavis’ stature has witnessed sharp climb down post-Lok Sabha debacle while Ajit Pawar support base is being debilitated by an astute Sharad Pawar. The Manoj Jarange Patil-led Maratha agitation has further consolidated his position; any attempt to dislodge this Maratha CM would not be acceptable to the Maratha community. The BJP which suffered strong backlash from the Maratha community in the Lok Sabha poll would not want to antagonise Marathas at this stage. Shinde is also working on crafting his own individual brand. His strategy of tagging chief minister to the monthly stipend for women scheme — Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Yojana — has resonated well with rural women who are flocking to government offices in large numbers. He also got the winning Indian Cricket team to visit the Maharashtra assembly, the posters for which bore the CM’s face along with his two deputies, rather than the faces of the popular cricketers.