Shiv Sena cancels meet to discuss government formation, taunts BJP.
Mumbai: Strained relations between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena worsened on Tuesday as a war of words erupted between the two allies who, on October 24, seemed all set to form the next government in Maharashtra.
First, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis rubbished Uddhav Thackeray’s claim that the Shiv Sena had been assured of the post of CM for two-and-a-half years as part of a power sharing “formula” agreed before the Lok Sabha, and said that he would be the chief minister of Maharashtra for a full term.
No plan to split the five-year term had been agreed upon with the Sena, Mr Fadnavis, 49, said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I will be chief minister for five years,” he told reporters.
It was BJP president Amit Shah, Mr Fadnavis said, who had indicated to him that no such formula had been discussed.
He was reacting to the Shiv Sena’s warning to immediately adopt the 50-50 formula agreed upon by both the parties or it would explore “other options”.
Soon after Mr Fadnavis’ statement, Uddhav Thackeray cancelled his party’s 4 pm meeting with the BJP on formation of the next government, and a close aide of his released an old video of the chief minister’s press conference on February 18 this year in which he is purportedly talking of equal sharing of posts and responsibilities in the state government.
Shiv Sena’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut held a press conference where he announced the meeting’s cancellation. “If the CM himself is saying that that the 50-50 formula was not discussed, what will we even talk about? Therefore, the meeting has been cancelled.”
“If Devendra Fadnavis thinks he has the support of145 MLAs (majority mark in the 288-member Assembly), he can go ahead and form the government… I do not know what the chief minister has said. If he is saying that the ‘50-50 formula’ was never discussed, then I think we need to change the definition of the truth,” he later told news agency ANI.
While trying to reiterate that the Shiv Sena was under no pressure to join hands with the BJP if promises made were not honoured, Mr Raut made a reference to the turn of events in Haryana where Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Singh Chautala’s incarcerated father was released on furlough after he backed the BJP.
“There is no Dushyant (Chautala) here whose father is in jail,” he said.
“Uddhav Thackeray ji has said that we have other options, but we don’t want to commit the sin of choosing that alternative. The Shiv Sena has always indulged in the politics of truth. We are not hungry for power,” he added.
At his press conference Sena leader added that a video clip existed in which the chief minister could clearly be seen talking about sharing posts and responsibilities equally in the BJP-led state government.
The 4 pm meeting to discuss the on formation of the next government was suppored to be attended by Union minister Prakash Javdekar and party leader Bhupendra Yadav from the BJP side, while the Sena was to be represented by Subhash Desai and Sanjay Raut.
Asked if the meeting would be held in the future, Mr Raut said, “Mr Thackeray will take a call on it.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Mr Fadnavis had changed his tune a bit and said that the BJP had never accepted the Sena’s proposal to share the chief minister’s post. “I have spoken to BJP president Amit Shah about it (each ally sharing the CM’s post for 2.5 years). Mr Shah confirmed that the condition was put forth by the Sena, but we had never consented to it,” the chief minister said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Diwali Milan Samaroh at his official residence, Varsha.
Mr Fadnavis added that whatever the allies had decided would be finalised. “An appropriate decision will be taken,” he said.
Asked whether the 1995 formula would be implemented while forming the government, Mr Fadnavis replied in the negative. However, discussions can be held on posts (portfolios), he said.
“Once we will sit for discussions, we will examine what they (Sena) are demanding,” he said.
In last week’s Maharashtra election, the BJP won 105 seats and the Shiv Sena 56. Together, the two have 161 seats, but with the BJP emerging as dependent for a majority, the Sena has set its terms.
Soon after the election results, Uddhav Thackeray had said, “Before the Lok Sabha elections, Amitbhai (Amit Shah) had come to my house, and we had sat together and decided on a formula. Now the time has come to implement that formula.”
Amidst rising clamour for Thackeray’s son Aaditya, a first-time legislator, to be made the chief minister. Shiv Sena had also demanded a written assurance from the BJP for implementing “equal formula for sharing of power” before holding talks on staking the claim to form the next alliance government in the state.