Days after offering to resign as the Maharashtra deputy chief minister, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday asserted that he was not running away and had a strategy in mind.

On June 5, a day after the Lok Sabha election result, Fadnavis said he took complete responsibility for the setback his party had suffered in the state. He urged the BJP’s senior leadership to relieve him of his responsibilities in the government so that he could allocate his time to the party’s work ahead of the Assembly election, due later this year.

Addressing BJP state legislators in Mumbai on Saturday, Fadnavis said that he had not asked to be relieved of his government responsibilities out of disappointment. “Devendra Fadnavis is not a person who runs away, but is one who fights,” the deputy chief minister said. “Our inspiration is [17-century Maratha ruler] Shivaji.”

The BJP leader added: “If anyone believed that I was disappointed or that I spoke out of emotion, then it is not true. I had a strategy in mind, and I have one today as well.”

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.

Commenting on the reason for the BJP setback in Maharashtra, Fadnavis said on Saturday that the Opposition alliance got only 2 lakh more votes, but got many more seats because of electoral arithmetic.

The deputy chief minister claimed that the Opposition alliance got more seats not because of Marathi votes, but because of votes from “a certain community”, in an apparent reference to Muslims. “They themselves have admitted it,” Fadnavis said. “[Newly-elected MP from Parbhani] Bandu Jadhav even said that he was elected more because of Muslims that because of Marathas or Dalits.”

The BJP leader reiterated that his party appeared to have suffered because of a “false narrative” that the party would change the Constitution if it won by a large majority. “We only realised the effect of this narrative around the fourth phase of the election,” he said. “We could only win four out of 24 seats in the first three phases.”

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, several 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.