The state and the Opposition got involved in a war of words on Friday, after state Congress chief Ashok Chavan made a claim that the government would resign by the end of this month to enable simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly.
“I am saying it on record that the BJP-led government would dissolve the state assembly by this month end. I have learnt that they have started preparations for the same. I too have sources in the government so I am confidently saying that,” Chavan said during a media interaction in the city.
However, ruling out the possibility of his government resigning before completing the full term, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in Mumbai: “Chavan has no business left, so he has got into making predictions.”
This did not deter Chavan from repeating his claim at another event in the city later during the day. “The ruling BJP in the state does not have anything worthwhile to show to the public while seeking votes in the assembly elections. So, it is planning to take advantage of whatever popularity that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is left with, to sail through in the assembly election,” said Chavan.
“My sources in government have informed that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would dissolve the assembly by the end of this month, making way for joint elections of assembly and Lok Sabha in the state. They have already started the necessary preparations for this,” he repeated.
Chavan also took objection to the chief minister’s remarks about him. “We don’t say what they should do. The public will ensure that after the elections, they would not be left with any business,” he said.
When informed that Fadnavis had already ruled out the possibility of early dissolution of state assembly, Chavan said that would mean that the chief minister was at odds with the Prime Minister’s desire to hold simultaneous elections. “It has been the stand of Modi to hold joint elections of Lok Sabha and state assemblies. It seems there is a difference of opinion between Fadnavis and Modi,” he said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar also joined the debate. “There are seven months for the state assembly to complete its five-year term. If the BJP decides to dissolve the assembly in advance then the people of state will be relieved seven months in advance as the BJP-led alliance was all set to go out of power,” Pawar said in the city.
He said the NCP was concentrating on the Lok Sabha elections and has not given any thought to the assembly elections. “We don’t decide in advance. We will begin our preparations only after the state election dates are declared,” Pawar said.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai said that his party was part of the state government but was not aware of any plans to dissolve the state assembly before the end of term. The Lok Sabha polls are due in April-May, while the Assembly polls are likely to be held in October.