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BJP leader explains why Devendra Fadnavis was CM for 80 hours. His rejoinder

Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in before 8am on November 23 hours after the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was withdrawn at 5.47am.

BJP leader explains why Devendra Fadnavis was CM for 80 hours. His rejoinder
Fadnavis was sworn in before 8am on November 23 hours after the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was withdrawn at 5.47am.(REUTERS)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Parliament member Anant Kumar Hegde again embarrassed his party on Monday by claiming that the rushed swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra chief minister last month was a pre-planned move to ensure that funds worth Rs 40,000 crore were returned to the Centre.

Fadnavis immediately denied the claim, which is the latest in a series of Hegde’s controversial statements that have made the BJP uncomfortable. He maintained that he did not take any major policy decisions when he was the chief minister for a few days.

“Anyone who understands how Central and state governments’ accounting systems work will not make such statements. The state finance department can probe this. I think those, who make such statements and others who are giving reactions to them, are both wrong,” Fadnavis said.

Hegde, who is a five-time lawmaker from Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada, claimed that Fadnavis knew if the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena government comes to power, it would misuse the funds meant for development. “So it was decided that there should be a drama. Fadnavis became CM [chief minister], and in 15 hours, he moved Rs 40,000 crore back to the Centre,” news agency ANI quoted Hedge as saying.

Fadnavis was sworn in before 8am on November 23 hours after the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was withdrawn at 5.47am. The President’s Rule was clamped on November 12 as governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari told the Centre that no party was in a position to form the government after the BJP and its oldest ally, the Sena, parted ways amid disagreements over equal powersharing. The BJP-led government in Maharashtra collapsed last week as Fadnavis admitted he did not command a majority and paved the way for the Sena-NCP-Congress combine to take power.

Hegde has regularly made news for his controversial remarks. He was booked for hate speech in 2016 after he said that as long as Islam exists, terrorism will exist. There was an uproar in Parliament in December 2017 over Hegde’s comment that the BJP will change the Constitution by excluding the word secular from its preamble. Hegde was then a Union minister. Also in 2017, he was accused of beating up doctors in Karnataka for failing to attend to a member of his family.

In January, Hedge was again in the news when he said “the hand that touches a Hindu woman must not exist” while referring to inter-religious marriages.

Even as the BJP leadership cautioned all its lawmakers and ministers against making reckless comments, Hegde continued to flout the advisory.

He attacked the Kerala government over its handling of the protests over the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple last year and called it “daylight rape” of the Hindus. He later referred to the opposition parties as “crows, monkeys, foxes, and donkeys”.

In September, Hegde called former bureaucrat S Sasikanth Senthil a traitor after the bureaucrat resigned as Dakshina Kannada’s deputy commissioner saying he was doing so as “fundamental building blocks of our diverse democracy” were being “compromised”.

In May, Hegde deleted a series of tweets in which he seemed to support freedom of expression of those who wanted to have a debate on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse. The tweets came as the BJP was trying to deal the controversy over its then Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Thakur’s comments calling Godse a patriot.

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