BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday rejected estranged ally Shiv Sena’s claim that the BJP promised rotational chief ministership ahead of the Maharashtra elections and categorically said that the party will not accept the new demands put forth by Sena.
In an interview with ANI, Shah accused Sena, which has broken its alliance with the BJP, of coming up with conditions after the elections that cannot be accepted. “Before elections, both Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and I said many times in public that if our alliance wins, Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister. No one objected back then. Now they have come up with new demands which are not acceptable to us,” said Shah.
Shah slammed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena for the public spat in the last few days. “It’s not in our party’s tradition to disclose what transpires behind closed doors. If the Sena thinks it can revolt and get the people’s sympathy, they really don’t know the public,” he said.
Shah also criticised the Opposition’s criticism of the imposition of President’s Rule and the argument that parties were not given enough time. “Before this, so much time was not given in any state…18 days were given. The Governor invited parties only after the tenure of the Assembly ended. Neither Shiv Sena nor Congress-NCP staked claim and neither did we. Even if today any party has numbers, it can approach the Governor. …I do not want re-election in Maharashtra. After the completion of the six-month period, the Governor will take legal opinion and take the Constitutional step. Those who say imposing President’s Rule was unconstitutional, I would like to tell them that they still have their rights. They just do not have the required numbers. If they have numbers, they can go and form the government,” Shah said.
He added that the reaction of the Opposition was nothing but “politics”. “The President’s Rule was imposed only after NCP told the Governor through a letter in the afternoon that it was not in a position to get the numbers by 8 pm.”
“I would like to make it clear that if there is any party which has suffered the most with the the imposition of President’s Rule in Maharashtra, it is the BJP. We have lost a caretaker government. The Opposition has lost nothing. If they wanted to gain public sympathy by creating a misconception about President’s Rule, it means they do not trust the intelligence of the public,” he said.
“President’s Rule became necessary because the Opposition alleged that the Governor was sustaining an unstable government led by the BJP. Now everyone has six months to get the numbers and meet the Governor. But it was unfortunate that a Constitutional post was dragged into politics,” said Shah.
He also targeted Sena for taking the matter to the Supreme Court and criticised Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who is representing them in court. “The Governor has not denied chance to anyone. A learned lawyer like Kapil Sibal is putting forth childish arguments like ‘we were denied a chance to form government’,” said the BJP chief.
In the October 21 election to the 288-member assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Sena got 56 and the NCP and the Congress won 54 and 44 seats, respectively. The Sena parted ways with the BJP over who should lead the government and has been claiming that the BJP had agreed to a 50:50 formula for chief ministership over five years.
Earlier this week, the BJP announced that it did not have the required numbers to form the government. The Governor then invited Sena but it could not show support for its claim by the deadline set by Raj Bhavan. Subsequently, the NCP was invited and asked to show its willingness to form the government by Tuesday evening. On Tuesday, the Governor sent a report to the Home Ministry, recommending President’s Rule in the state.