Minister Eknath Shinde dismisses Rane’s ‘rubber stamp’ allegations

Shiv Sena leader accuses BJP of attempting to drive wedge within MVA alliance

A day after Union Minister and senior BJP leader Narayan Rane claimed that Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Minister Eknath Shinde was allegedly ‘fed up’ with his party and on the lookout for ‘alternatives’, Mr. Shinde on Sunday dismissed the allegations as ‘baseless’ and accused Mr. Rane of trying to sow confusion within the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

Mr. Rane, a former Shiv Sainik who is now the Sena’s bete noire and a bitter critic of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had earlier dubbed Mr. Shinde, who heads the Urban Development Department, a “rubber stamp” who could not function independently unless his decisions were approved by Mr. Thackeray.

Mr. Shinde, speaking in Gadchiroli, said that the Chief Minister never interfered in his department’s decisions.

“I have complete freedom to make decisions for my department. I have taken many such decisions on my own, such as approval for the historical and ambitious unified development control and promotion regulations to boost the real estate sector or the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg (expressway). So, there is no truth in his [Mr. Rane’s] allegations,” the Sena minister said.

Mr. Shinde is seen as a bulwark of his party in the Thane region. It has long been speculated that his exit could leave the Sena gasping for survival, and that the BJP would use every guile to woo him into its fold.

“Unless ‘Matoshree’ [the Thackeray family’s residence] approves, Mr. Shinde cannot sign on a file. So, he is tired and frustrated and is searching for a way out,” Mr. Rane had claimed during his recent Jan Ashirwad Yatra.

In response, Mr. Shinde accused the BJP of attempting to drive a wedge within the tripartite MVA alliance, while hitting back at Mr. Rane.

“He [Mr. Rane] was the State’s Chief Minister during the Sena-BJP alliance government (1995-99), so he should know that any important decision or policy must be taken with the CM’s consent. As a Union Minister, he should know that if he wants to take any policy decision, he will have to get it cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Mr. Shinde said.

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