Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday told his party MLAs that he did not want to break the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, but wanted it to keep its promise on sharing the chief minister’s post, The Indian Express reported. He said the BJP had made such a promise before the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.
“They [BJP] 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 told the MLAs at a meeting in Mumbai, with just two days left for the expiry of the outgoing Legislative Assembly’s term. If the BJP and the Shiv Sena do not come up with a power-sharing agreement till then, the state may come under President’s Rule.
The two parties were in an alliance for the state government’s first term, but their bond had started seeming shaky in the months leading up to the General Elections. At one point, the Shiv Sena even ruled out joining the BJP for the national elections. However, in February, they decided to go ahead together for both the national and state polls. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had then said that the BJP should offer the chief minister’s post to alliance partners in the states if it wanted the tie-ups to continue for national elections.
State elections were held in October, and the BJP and Shiv Sena together obtained the numbers that could help them form a government together again. But for 14 days now, the BJP has refused to entertain the Shiv Sena’s persistent demand for the chief minister’s post for half the tenure and a 50:50 division of Cabinet portfolios. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has denied that any equal power-sharing agreement was formalised earlier.
“Our party has been borne out of self-respect,” Thackeray told his MLAs. “We don’t want to corner BJP. CM’s statement was entirely inappropriate...If he is trying to prove that I was lying, then this is not appropriate. If BJP does not want to keep its word as decided, then what is the point in holding discussion.”
After the meeting, Sanjay Shirsat, Shiv Sena lawmaker from Aurangabad West, told Hindustan Times: “Uddhav ji told us that if he wanted to accept anything less than the chief minister’s post, why would he waste 15 days. Uddhav ji is firm on the demand for the chief minister’s post as it was decided in front of Amit Shah.”
Meanwhile, all MLAs were shifted to a hotel in Bandra locality of Mumbai, indicating that the party feared attempts to poach its legislators, PTI reported. “It is necessary for all the MLAs to be together in the prevailing situation,” said MLA Sunil Prabhu. “Whatever decision Uddhavji takes will be binding on all of us.”
Sanjay Raut on Thursday also said the saffron party should form the government if they have the majority. “We have the numbers to make our own chief minister, we don’t need to show that here, we will show that on the floor of the House,” he said, according to ANI. “We have alternatives, we don’t speak without options and alternatives.”
“If you don’t have the numbers then admit it,” he said, pointing at BJP. “Constitution is for the people of this country, it is not their [BJP’s] personal property. We know the Constitution well. We will form CM of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra constitutionally.”
Meanwhile, a delegation of BJP leaders, including Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil and state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. “People of Maharashtra have given mandate to ‘Mahayuti’ [alliance],” Patil said after the meeting. “There is delay in government formation. Today, we met the governor to discuss the legal options and political situation in the state.”
Earlier in the day, Union Transport Minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari assured that his party will get the support of Shiv Sena for government formation in Maharashtra under the chief ministership of Devendra Fadnavis.
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