Voters are with us, choice between those working on ground or those running govt on Facebook: Shinde

He also said the voters are clear in their mind about whom to choose between someone who ran his government on Facebook Live while sitting at home or those who are working on the ground.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde

Thane | Unfazed by confusion over the split in two key parties and switchovers galore across all political forces, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has exuded confidence that the ruling alliance is way ahead of the opposition bloc in Lok Sabha elections in the state and his single-point agenda is to achieve 'Mission-45' to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi reach his 400-plus target in the Lok Sabha elections.

He also said the voters are clear in their mind about whom to choose between someone who ran his government on Facebook Live while sitting at home or those who are working on the ground.

"Nothing was happening during the previous government. The government led by Uddhav Thackeray was being run on Facebook Live. They were running the government while sitting at home. Can a government be run with the chief minister going to the secretariat for just two days?" he alleged.

Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second highest after 80 in Uttar Pradesh, and the BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP alliance is targeting to win at least 45 of these seats in the ongoing polls. BJP is contesting on 28 seats, Shiv Sena on 15, Ajit Pawar-led NCP has got four and one seat has gone to Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP).

In an exclusive interview with PTI here at his residence, Shinde said people of Maharashtra are voting for the ruling alliance because of its good work, completion of several long-stalled projects and large-scale job creation, among other factors.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP got 23 seats, the then Shiv Sena got 18 and NCP got four seats. Of these, five Shiv Sena MPs are now with the faction led by Uddhav Thackeray, while the Shinde-led Sena is now in 'Mahayuti' ruling alliance with BJP, and so is Ajit Pawar-led NCP.

The opposition alliance now mainly comprises Sena's Uddhav Thackeray faction, Sharad Pawar faction of NCP and the Congress.

"We are seeing very good trends. In the initial phases of voting, our Mahayuti alliance has taken a strong lead and it will definitely get a lot more seats than others. This has happened because of the development that has taken place in our two years of government, the work we have done and the number of infrastructure projects that we have started to make Maharashtra the top state in terms of infrastructure projects," Shinde said.

He listed various connectivity and road projects, including Atal Setu, the Nagpur-Mumbai project named after Balasaheb Thackeray, and metro projects inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Large-size infrastructure projects that were stalled, all of those have resumed. Work is happening all around. Various schemes have been launched by our government for farmers, women, youth and senior citizens among others.

"Several industries are coming here and Maharashtra is becoming their top priority choice. We have emerged as an industry-friendly state and people are reposing trust in us. This will generate employment on a large scale. It's because of all this work that people are voting for us and they will vote for us in the rest of the phases also," Shinde said.

Asked what the prime minister has told him about his vision for Maharashtra and his expectations from the state government, Shinde said, "He (Modi) loves Maharashtra a lot. He always supports us on our development agenda." "The double engine government of the Centre and state is working very well here. All our proposals, be it of railways, roads, urban development or irrigation, PM Modi is helping us a lot. He says there is a lot of potential for development in Maharashtra and we should work on that and the Centre will extend full support," the chief minister added.

Shinde said it is the general public that benefits the most from "this whole-hearted support for Maharashtra from PM Modi" and therefore people are very happy, more so after they saw everything getting stalled during the earlier government.

Asked how he is taking forward Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy after being recognised as the real Shiv Sena, Shinde said it is being done through the development of the state.

"Our government is the one that has been formed for the general public. When elections happened in 2019, the people's mandate was for the BJP-Shiv Sena government. But they abandoned the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray for the greed of the chief minister's chair.

"We are now taking forward Balasaheb's ideology and that forms the foundation of this government. We got full support from our prime minister and Union home minister. The work we are doing, so many major schemes we have launched, development is the main agenda for all of that and that is the real agenda of Shiv Sena and that is what Balasaheb had dreamed of," he added.

Asked whether the voters in the state were confused, Shinde said, "Voters have complete clarity in their mind. They know that ours is a government that takes decisions in the public's interest." Giving examples, he said his government has brought out 122 irrigation-related schemes in two years, while the previous government could do just two in two-and-a-half years.

"That's the difference and people know that. Our government goes to the doorsteps of the people. Government at your doorstep is our policy," he added.

Shinde said there were beneficiary schemes earlier too but people were not getting the benefits because the leaders used to cut the ribbon and leave the project or scheme midway.

"We decided to put all benefits under one roof. That's the difference. Who will people support, those who do the work or those who sit at home, those doing Facebook Live or those hitting the ground?" he quipped in an apparent attack on Uddhav Thackeray

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