Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Maharashtra chief minister on Friday, The Indian Express reported. He handed over the letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Friday. The term of the current Assembly ends on Saturday. If no one stakes claim before the deadline, President’s Rule may be declared in the state.
Assembly elections were held in October, and the BJP and Shiv Sena together obtained the numbers that could help them form a government together again. The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single-largest party with 105 seats, and the Shiv Sena secured 56 seats in the 288-member Assembly. But for over two weeks, the BJP 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.
Fadnavis said there was never any talk of a rotational chief minister in his presence, News18 reported. In an address to the media after submitting his resignation, he accused the Shiv Sena and its chief Uddhav Thackeray of going back on its promises and demanding chief ministership for half the tenure of the government.
“Unfortunately, on the day of the results, Uddhav [Thackeray] said all options were open to him for the formation of government,” ANI quoted Fadnavis as saying. “That was shocking for us as people had given mandate for alliance, and in such circumstances it was a big question for us...why he said all options are open for him.”
Fadnavis admitted that there were discussions on power-sharing between the alliance partners but claimed they had broken down and never came to a conclusion. He added that senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari spoke to party chief Amit Shah and also confirmed that there was no such deal between Shah and Thackeray.
The BJP leader also accused the Shiv Sena of cutting contact with the BJP. “Uddhav Thackeray did not respond to my calls,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “It’s possible that they were upset and wanted some time to discuss things with us. But, it is unfortunate that at the same time, Sena was talking to [opposition alliance] Congress and NCP, often twice or thrice in a day.” He added that even Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had said BJP and Shiv Sena must form the government.
“I am hurt that despite the mandate, we could not form the government so far,” he said.
Fadnavis also rapped the Shiv Sena for constantly criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Balasaheb Thackeray [Shiv Sena founder] is respected by all of us, in fact we [have] never even said anything against Uddhav Thackeray,” Fadnavis said, according to ANI. “But in the past five years, and especially last 10 days, the kind of statements which were made against our top leadership, including Modi, are not tolerable.”
“I can understand if the Opposition criticises us, but Shiv Sena, being in the government [and yet] saying things about us is not acceptable,” he said, adding that the BJP was hurt by these comments. “If we have to stay together and if Shiv Sena wants to continue criticising Prime Minister Modi, then even we have questions.”
Fadnavis will continue as the caretaker chief minister till a new government is formed. Specifying the need for the stalemate to soon be resolved, he added: “We cannot create an environment to go in for another election.” He also dismissed as false all reports about horse-trading by the BJP.
The Shiv Sena earlier on Friday asked Fadnavis to resign, and advised the Bharatiya Janata Party not to misuse the provision of a “caretaker government” and remain in power amid a political stalemate. The previous day, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that the BJP should approach it only if it wanted to share the chief minister’s post.
On Thursday, the Shiv Sena had shifted its MLAs to a hotel in Mumbai’s Bandra locality amid allegations of horse-trading. The Congress also accused the BJP on Friday of trying to poach its leaders, an allegation that the BJP has denied.