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Maha Political Upheaval: BJP’s 'Washing Machine' Has Resumed Operation, Say Opposition Parties

Ajit Pawar, who split the NCP and took oath as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, said his party decided to join the BJP-Shiv Sena government for the development of the country and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar
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Opposition parties on Sunday lashed out at the BJP after NCP leader Ajit Pawar and eight others were inducted into the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government, saying the ruling party's "washing machine" has resumed its operation to clean tainted 

Ajit Pawar, who split the NCP and took oath as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, said his party decided to join the BJP-Shiv Sena government for the development of the country and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.

Raising the corruption allegations faced by the newly inducted ministers, the opposition parties said the BJP can no longer talk about fighting corruption after joining hands with them and alleged that democracy is being "disrobed" in Maharashtra.

The BJP, however, took a dig at the opposition parties saying those trying to forge an alliance against it are unable to keep their leaders united.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "Clearly the BJP's washing machine has resumed its operations. A number of new entrants into the BJP-led alliance in Maharashtra today had been facing serious corruption charges with ED, CBI and Income Tax authorities after them. Now they have all got a clean chit."

The Congress will intensify its efforts to free Maharashtra from the clutches of the BJP, Ramesh asserted.

The Congress said its president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi spoke with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and extended support to him.  Gandhi, however, did not refer to the Maharashtra developments in his address at a rally in Telangana.

"The BJP's dirty tricks department is working on overdrive in Maharashtra. This is not a legitimately elected government, but an ED-facilitated power grab. The Maharashtra government is a product of corruption and sin," AICC general secretary K C Venugopal alleged on Twitter.

The Congress is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance that also comprises Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar-led NCP.

"The oath-taking ceremony in Maharashtra was part of Operation Lotus and it has no official support of NCP. Those who took oath, it is their personal decision and not that of the NCP," Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.

After the revolt, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said it is "not a googly but a robbery", referring to BJP's move, and made it clear that his party will not fight the battle legally, and he would instead go to the people and seek their support. 

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently levelled allegations against the NCP saying that the party indulged in corruption.

"I am happy today that he gave cabinet berths to some colleagues from the NCP. It shows that the allegations of corruption were not factual. He has exonerated the party and all those against whom he had levelled allegations and I am thankful to the PM for this," he said. 

After inducting "corrupt men" as ministers, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot talk about fighting corruption, senior TMC leader Babul Supriyo, who was earlier a minister in the Modi government and had switched from the BJP, said.

Calling the BJP "hypocrite", Supriyo, a minister in the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal, said tainted leaders under the scanner of ED for corruption have been put into a "washing machine" manufactured by the BJP to remove their stains and blemishes.

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Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted, "Principles be damned, BJP should be the last party in the country talking about ideological alliances. They are just political opportunists wanting power at any cost. With the latest development in Maharashtra, those MLAs who were corrupt and were jailed are now being sworn in as ministers!"

BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla took a swipe at the opposition leaders' attempt at forming an alliance to take on the BJP in 2024 and tweeted, "PDA - Poora (completely) Disturbed Alliance?"

Those who cannot keep their parties and leaders united are trying to forge opposition unity "from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka to Bihar", Poonawalla charged and added, "Gehlot, Pilot, DKS, Siddaramaiah, Manjhi...first unite them!"

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav claimed that Maharashtra has emerged as a "bigger laboratory" for the BJP after Madhya Pradesh and the saffron party will do other "experiments" in the run-up to 2024 general elections to stay in power

 "BJP does this from time to time, first they did this in Madhya Pradesh, and then in Maharashtra, but people are watching this," Yadav told reporters in Lucknow.    

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said. "This game of musical chairs is going to destroy democracy and the Constitution. Democracy is being disrobed in Maharashtra and the power-hungry Bharatiya Janata Party has a big role to play in it," Patole said.

Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas B V said NCP MLA Hasan Mushrif has become free from corruption charges after joining the Shinde-led government.

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"A few days ago, ED had filed a case and raided his house and sugar factory. Today he has become corruption free after being cleaned in the washing machine completely. Will ED raid at his places again?” he asked.

AAP leader Atishi said that BJP has declared openly now that all the corrupt should come to its fold and get "cleaned off their sins in its washing machine".

Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, "The BJP and PM Modi have violated the Constitution. It (Ajit Pawar joining the Maharashtra government) is the biggest joke on democracy. Rajiv Gandhi brought anti-defection law while Atal Bihari Vajpayee increased the number of MLAs (to change the party) to 2/3rd, so this is an insult to Vajpayee as well."

Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan said the Shinde government was resorting to taking help from MLAs of other parties because of its own instability.

"After the opposition parties' meeting in Patna, they (BJP) are afraid, and that's why they want to break opposition parties," said DMK leader TKS Elangovan.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut claimed it was the beginning of the process of Eknath Shinde losing his chief minister's post.

But Chief Minister Shinde ridiculed the opposition parties who "routinely predict" the fall of his government. "From day one, opposition parties have been predicting the fall of the state government. Now, they must be very disappointed. I wonder which astrologer is giving them such advice," he said.

RJD leader Mritunjay Tiwari also said the BJP has engineered the defection to save its government in Maharashtra.

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CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said it is one more lesson for the people and the Opposition to close ranks.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said no words are enough to condemn the manner in which the BJP has repeatedly undermined the popular mandate in Maharashtra.

"Not only is democracy being butchered but they are using the national anthem to provide cover for such disgraceful actions. On one hand, BJP is arresting political opponents on trumped-up corruption charges while they themselves are on an MLA purchasing spree. Hard-earned public money is being misused to quench BJP's thirst for power," she alleged.

In a swipe, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal tweeted, "I guess this is the mother of democracy that Modiji was talking about in his address to the US Congress!"

"BJP doesn't believe in people's power, they only believe in politics of defections (jod-tod ki rajniti) and this time they will get a big shock," JD (U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said.

BJP spokesperson R P Singh, however, said, "India is developing rapidly and this is happening only because of PM Modi. Ajit Pawar knows this very well and that's why he decided to join hands with us."

Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said Ajit Pawar was unhappy in the Opposition for a long time.

"Ajit Pawar's decision to join the NDA is a 'dashing decision' and this is a huge setback for Sharad Pawar," he added. 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot alleged the BJP wants to "eliminate" the Opposition on the basis of money power and central agencies.

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-With PTI Input

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