With only a day left for the deadline to form government in Maharashtra to end, the power tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ally Shiv Sena continued for the chief minister’s post even on Thursday with leaders of the saffron party meeting the state governor alone and Sena “shifting” its MLAs to Bandra resort “to avoid poaching”.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari asserted that the new government in the state will be formed soon under the chief ministership of Devendra Fadnavis with the support of the Sena. However, refusing to budge, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP can call him up only if they decide to give the Chief Minister’s post to Sena for 2.5 years.
Thackeray said, “I don’t want to break the alliance, but I want the BJP to implement what was decided during the Lok Sabha elections.” Thackeray held a meeting with Sena MLAs in Mumbai where he said he was ready to hold discussions with the top brass of BJP if they agreed to what was decided during the Lok Sabha polls. “We will hold discussions with BJP provided they agree to what was decided during the Lok Sabha polls. They can call me up if they decide to give us Chief Minister’s post for 2.5 years, otherwise don’t call me up,” he said.
Hopeful of forming the government soon, Gadkari said, “The political crisis in the state will be resolved soon. Talks between Shiv Sena and BJP are heading in right direction,”
After the meet, held at Thackeray’s Bandra residence ‘Matoshree’, the legislators were reportedly shifted to Rangsharda Hotel, close to the party chief’s home, amid the ongoing uncertainty over government formation and fear of switching sides. “It is necessary for all the MLAs to be together in the prevailing situation. Whatever decision Uddhavji takes will be binding on all of us,” Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil and Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar along with other senior party leaders met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to discuss “legal aspects” of the delay in the formation of a government in the state after the October 21 elections. Addressing reporters after the meeting, Patil said they informed the governor that the people of Maharashtra have given the mandate for Mahauti (Grand alliance).
After this, Sena leader Sanjay Raut held a press conference where he said his party is adamant on the CM post. “There will be Sena CM. There is no change in the stand of Sena. Uddhav Thackeray will not break the alliance. The Sena chief has been saying this since October 24. It is up to the BJP now.”
He also asked that if the people’s mandate was for the ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance), why the BJP was not staking claim to form the government. Raut, however, denied Sena MLAs being taken to a hotel.
Later in the day, Maharashtra Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan amid talk of the latter stepping in to appoint a caretaker CM if nobody stakes claim to form the new government before the present Assembly’s term ends in two days.
Anant Kalse, former principal secretary of the state legislature, said the onus is on Governor Koshyari to act if no party stakes claim to form the new government. “If no party comes forward, the governor can invite the single largest party to form the government,” Kalse said.
“If that party shows its inability to form the new government, then the governor will invite the second largest party to form the government. The governor will have to carry out these modalities,” PTI quoted Kalse as saying. “Till the new CM is sworn in, the session of the new Assembly can’t be convened,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Thursday questioned the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance’s “moral right” to form government in Maharashtra if the Sena apprehends poaching of its MLAs by its senior ally.
The Nationalist Congress Party, the other prominent opposition party, claimed that MLAs were being approached with inducements for switching camps.
“The Shiv Sena is an alliance partner of the BJP and part of ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance). If it is afraid that the BJP will poach its MLAs, then we can very well understand how much morally corrupt the BJP is, and why we must save Maharashtra from them,” said state Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant.
Shivsena is an alliance partner of @BJP4India and part of #Mahayuti
If it feels scared that #BJP will poach their MLAs, then we can very well understand how much #BJP is morally corrupt and why we must save Maharashtra from them. Does#Mahayuti hv moral rights to form govt now?
— Sachin Sawant (@sachin_inc) November 7, 2019
“Does Mahayuti have the moral right to form government now?” Sawant tweeted.