The Congress on Friday claimed that “Rs 25 crore to Rs 50 crore” had been offered to its MLAs in Maharashtra to switch sides, PTI reported. This came amid a political deadlock in the state, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena failing to agree on a deal to form the government.
Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar, the leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, said some of the legislators had been approached over the phone. “We have told our MLAs to record such calls so that people of the state know about them,” he added.
Wadettiwar said the BJP had dropped to a new low in politics. Asked about the MLAs being reportedly moved to Jaipur, the Congress leader said some of them might have gone to the city in Rajasthan to “unwind after the hard work put in elections”.
Congress leader Nitin Raut also claimed one or two of the party’s legislators had been offered around Rs 25 crore. “We will do our best to stop the horse-trading pattern that started in Karnataka,” he told ANI.
In the elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single-largest party with 105 seats. The Shiv Sena secured 56 seats in the 288-member Assembly. Neither of the two parties have staked claim to form the government as they have been unable to reach an agreement on sharing Cabinet portfolios and the chief minister’s post. The government has to be formed by Saturday, when the term of the current Assembly will end. If it does not happen, President’s Rule may be imposed.
Wadettiwar on Friday claimed that the party would be open to accepting back into its fold the leaders who had resigned before the elections. “If they want to come back, we will definitely welcome them,” he told NDTV.
The BJP strongly refuted the allegation of horse-trading. The party’s state spokesperson, Keshav Upadhye, claimed that such practices were not part of its culture. Asked about Wadettiwar’s allegation that the Congress’s Igatpuri MLA Hiraman Bhika Khoskar had been offered Rs 50 crore, the BJP leader said the Congress was frustrated. “The Congress some decades back had won more than 200 seats,” Upadhye said, according to PTI. “In the last few elections, the party has not been able to perform well and this time it could not even win 50 seats. It is their frustration that is pushing them to make baseless allegations.”
Upadhye claimed the BJP and the Shiv Sena would form the government soon. State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar asked the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party to either prove the allegations of horse trading within 48 hours or apologise to the public, India Today reported.
“Congress is insulting its own MLAs and voters too by talking about poaching of MLAs,” News18 quoted him as saying.
No power-sharing deal: Gadkari
Meanwhile, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who reached Mumbai on Friday, said there was no power-sharing deal between the BJP and the Sena. “Even the late Balasaheb Thackeray had once stressed on the arrangement between Shiv Sena-BJP that the party having more number of elected legislators will have a claim on the post of chief minister,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Gadkari claimed he would not intervene in the deadlock. “I am not meeting any politician today,” he said. “I may intervene in the matter if required. I am here to attend a public function today evening.”
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to resign and advised the BJP not to misuse the provision of a “caretaker government” to remain in power.
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