Talks on government formation in Maharashtra failed to take off Tuesday after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rejected Shiv Sena’s claims that the two partners had a pre-poll understanding on a 50-50 formula of sharing power and rotating the post of the CM if returned to power. The Sena hit back, calling off talks scheduled Tuesday and circulating an old video clip to remind Fadnavis and the BJP that they are “going back on their word”.
Speaking to reporters at his residence ‘Varsha’, Fadnavis said: “The Shiv Sena was not promised the CM’s post for two-and-a-half years when the alliance was formalised before the Lok Sabha polls.”
The BJP-led alliance, he said, will provide a “stable and efficient” government for the next five years, and it will be led by him. BJP MLAs will be meeting in Mumbai Wednesday to elect the leader of the BJP legislature party.
Fadnavis said his election to the post will be a formality. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced the name and the meeting will be a formality,” he said.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused Fadnavis of going back on his word. “I don’t know what the CM has said. If he is saying that the 50-50 formula was never discussed, then I think we need to change the definition of truth. What was discussed, regarding the issue the CM is talking about, is known to all,” he said.
The Sena cadre circulated a video in which Fadnavis, after formalisation of the alliance between the two parties before the Lok Sabha elections, can be heard saying that the two parties will maintain equality of posts and responsibilities. Raut said: “Everyone knows he made the statement before the media. He himself spoke about equal power-sharing with us. I don’t know what he is talking now.”
Told that Fadnavis, in the video clip, makes no mention of sharing the CM post, Raut said: “When he says sharing posts and responsibilities, it is understood that the CM post will be shared as well. Chief Ministership is also a post.”
The Sena said it was calling off talks with the BJP scheduled for Tuesday. Raut said: “The first meeting was scheduled to take place at 4 pm at Sofitel Hotel (in Mumbai). At this meeting, Subhash Desai and I from Sena and BJP’s Bhupendra Yadav and Prakash Javadekar were supposed to take part. If Fadnavis is denying the 50-50 formula, then on what basis should we hold talks?”
The election results in Maharashtra where no single party has managed to attain the majority mark on it own — in a House of 288, the BJP has 105 and the Sena 56 — has come in the way of government formation with the Sena seeking more in any power-sharing arrangement.
Many Yuva Sena office-bearers and Sena leaders have been running a campaign on social media, called “My MLA, My CM”, with a photograph of Aaditya Thackeray. “Since he has been elected MLA, we would like him to be the Chief Minister, lead the state,” a Yuva Sena functionary said.