Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday offered to resign as the Maharashtra deputy chief minister and accepted responsibility for the setback his party had suffered in the state in the Lok Sabha election.

“I take complete responsibility for whatever losses the BJP suffered in Maharashtra,” Fadnavis said at a press conference in Mumbai. “I will request the BJP’s senior leadership to relieve me of my responsibilities in the government so that I can allocate all my time to the party’s work ahead of the Assembly election.”

However, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, in a statement issued to the media, said that the National Democratic Alliance’s loss of seats was a collective responsibility. He said that the BJP, the Shiv Sena group that he leads and the Nationalist Congress Party faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had worked together in the election.

Shinde added that he would speak to Fadnavis soon. “We have worked together in the past and we will keep on working in the future,” he said.

The BJP suffered substantial losses in Maharashtra in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha election, winning just 9 out of the state’s 48 seats. The National Democratic Alliance as a whole secured 17 seats in the state, with the Shiv Sena group led by Shinde winning seven and the Nationalist Congress Party faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit winning one seat.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the National Democratic Alliance had won 41 out of 48 seats. Of these, the BJP had won 23 seats and the undivided Shiv Sena had won 18.

The next Maharashtra Assembly election is expected to be held around September or October this year.

‘Narrative on changing Constitution harmed us’: Fadnavis

Fadnavis, at the press conference on Wednesday, said that the BJP fell short in countering the narrative that the party would change the Constitution if it won by a large majority.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, BJP leaders had stirred controversy with their comments about amending the Constitution.

On March 9, BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde called on voters to give a two-thirds majority to his party in the Lok Sabha to enable amendments to the Constitution and undo the “unnecessary laws introduced to subjugate the Hindu community”. BJP leader Jyoti Mirdha on March 30 also said that the party needed an overwhelming majority in Parliament to change the Constitution.

As Scroll noted in several ground reports, the BJP in many places struggled to counter the Opposition narrative that it wanted to change the Constitution and do away with reservations.

“Misinformation was spread about changing the Constitution, and about the Maratha quota, even though we provided reservation to the community,” Fadnavis said on Wednesday. “These were some of the factors in the election. Soon, we will hold meetings at the level of the party as well as the alliance.”