Mumbai: With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) severely criticising Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s ‘work from home’ style, when parts of the state have been battered by floods, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar Monday rushed to his defence.
Thackeray has been working from Mumbai at the request of Pawar and his other colleagues in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the NCP chief said during a media interaction in Osmanabad district while on a tour of flood-hit areas.
“Whether it is the floods or the Covid crisis, we had requested CM Uddhav Thackeray to sit at one central place, communicate with all the districts and take decisions. You have all other colleagues. We will all go on the field and give you information,” Pawar told reporters.
“In my opinion, to fulfil the responsibility that a CM has, he has accepted this point of view on our request,” he added.
However, Pawar’s defence of Thackeray came on a day when the CM stepped out of Matoshree, his home in suburban Bandra, to visit the flood-ravaged Solapur district.
Pawar, who will complete 80 years this December, has himself been touring areas in Maharashtra inundated by untimely heavy rain last week, causing damage to crops, loss of life and livelihood.
Others leaders from the MVA, such as Deputy CM and NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Congress’ Vijay Waddetiwar, Minister for State Disaster Management and Relief and Rehabilitation, have also been on the field surveying the damage.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis, who has been campaigning for the BJP in Bihar, has taken a break from the poll fray to travel across the Pune, Solapur and Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra.
अतिवृष्टीमुळे नुकसान झालेल्या शेतकऱ्यांशी संवाद साधण्यासाठी,नुकसानीची पाहणी करण्यासाठी पुणे, सोलापूर आणि उस्मानाबाद जिल्ह्यांना भेटी देत आहे.
Visiting Pune,Solapur & Osmanabad districts to asses the damage & losses caused by heavy rains and to interact with farmers.#ओला_दुष्काळ
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) October 19, 2020
Thackeray’s ‘work from home’
The Maharashtra CM has been under constant attack from the BJP for not travelling across Maharashtra and personally seeing the situation on the ground even as the state is battling a high Covid-19 caseload.
The party last week launched the same attack again, with Union minister Raosaheb Danve criticising Thackeray for not stepping out of his house due to the pandemic and meeting distressed people battling the heavy rains.
Pawar has intermittently defended Thackeray, but had also advised him in the past to step out occasionally and be seen.
In one such interview to a Marathi television channel, the NCP president had praised Thackeray for working sincerely, but had advised him to step out, visit rural areas and meet people to inspire confidence. Within days of that interview, Thackeray travelled to Pune for a day-long review meeting of the rising Covid toll in the district.
Thackeray has strongly defended his style of operating out of Mumbai, and from his home, while holding most meetings with authorities from across Maharashtra through video conferencing.
In an interview to Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, Thackeray had said technology has evolved such that he doesn’t need to travel and work from home, and can keep an eye on the entire state.
CM visits Solapur
In a rare visit outside Mumbai, Thackeray is on a daylong tour of the Solapur district in western Maharashtra Monday, travelling to several villages. He is also scheduled to hold a review meeting with district officials in the afternoon.
As part of the visit, Thackeray visited damaged fields, interacting with the farmers and hearing out their issues.
Earlier in June, the CM had stepped out of Mumbai to visit the Raigad district to assess the aftermath of Cyclone Nisarga. While the CM has travelled outside Mumbai on a handful of occasions since then, it has mostly been to hold review meetings on the Covid crisis with district officials.
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