Hours before the midnight deadline for government formation, Devendra Fadnavis submitted his resignation as Maharashtra Chief Minister to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and wasted no time in launching a fierce attack on its ally Shiv Sena, blaming it for the current stalemate.
Addressing a press conference, Fadnavis, who will continue as caretaker CM for now, made it clear that any discussions with the Sena would be held only if it stopped using objectionable language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. An hour after the outgoing CM’s presser, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray hit back at Fadnavis and expressed regret over joining hands with BJP.
“Why should we talk to a party which has stopped so low? Shiv Sena has in the last five years and last 15 days used the kind of language which was not expected of an alliance partner. Not only did it attack our party consistently through its newspaper and speeches, but it did not even spare Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose leadership has been recognised worldwide,” Fadnavis said.
The kind of language used against the Prime Minister, Fadnavis said, had not been even uttered by the Opposition. “If such a language is going to continue against the Prime Minister, then we are wondering why should we continue in such a relationship. Discussions will be held only when Shiv Sena addresses our grievances,” Fadnavis said.
There has been no headway in government formation even a fortnight after Assembly poll results were announced on October 24, where the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance secured a majority by winning 161 seats out of 288 seats.
Reiterating that no decision had been taken by the two parties over sharing the chief minister’s post, Fadnavis said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had given such a proposal but nothing was finalised.
“In my presence, we had taken no decision on sharing CM’s post for 2.5 years. I even confirmed with party president Amit Shah. He said Uddhavji had given such a proposal, but no decision was taken regarding giving CM’s post for 2.5 years,” Fadnavis said.
Countering Fadnavis’ statements, Thackeray said that Amit Shah had agreed to Sena’s demand for rotational CM during the Lok Sabha polls.
“I stopped discussions with Fadnavis, Shah after they sought to give us the Deputy Chief Minister’s post. I had told them that I will not accept anything less than the CM’s post because I had promised my father that one day, I will install a Sena Chief Minister in Maharashtra. When Amit Shah asked me what do I want? I told him that we want 50-50 formula including sharing of Chief Minister’s post for 2.5 years,” he said.
The Sena had claimed that before the Lok Sabha polls, the two allies had decided to share the CM’s post in the next term for two-and-half-years each. Thackeray said that the decision of sharing the CM post was not made public on Fadnavis’ demand as he had said: “it would create problems for him within the party.”
“They had taken a decision not to hold discussions..I called Uddhav ji several times, but he did not take the call. We had not stopped the discussions,” Fadnavis said while maintaining that the alliance has not broken. “They did not have time for us but had time for the Congress-NCP against whom we had sought votes and come to power,” he further said.
Refuting its ally’s allegations of Sena engaging in talks with the Opposition, Thackeray maintained that he had not spoken with Congress or NCP and asserted that he would not continue to have any alliance with people who paint him as a liar. “I was happy under the belief that two Hindutva espousing parties had come together. However, their hearts have darkened now. I regret joining hands with such people. We have other options open before us,” he said.
Apart from the political situation in the state, Thackeray also spoke on the upcoming Ayodhya verdict and Nannar project.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut who was at Sharad Pawar’s residence, also reacted to Fadnavis’ statement and backed his party chief. “The talk of 50:50 formula Uddhav Saheb says was discussed and approved,” Raut said.
“If the chief minister says there will be a BJP government again under his leadership, my best wishes to them. In democracy, those who have majority form the government and get the chief minister’s post,” Raut said.