Amid a deadlock between the Shiv Sena and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party over government formation in Maharashtra, Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday said his party did not consider the Congress an enemy. He also accused caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of playing “politics of fear”.
“Everyone wants a stable government in the state,” said Raut, reported The Indian Express. “Congress is not an enemy of the state. Our ideologies may be different.. that doesn’t mean that we are enemies. Many times we have attacked BJP over some issues, that doesn’t mean we are enemies. Everyone has contributed to the state.”
Meanwhile, Raut ramped up the attack on the saffron party. “When ways of threatening and seeking political support don’t work, it is time to accept that Hitler is dead and the looming clouds of slavery have disappeared,” Raut said without naming Fadnavis. In a column in party mouthpiece Saamana, Raut claimed Fadnavis had not been able to assume the top post in Maharashtra because “Amit Shah has remained aloof from developments in the state”.
Raut, however, said his party agreed with the governor that the single largest party should be invited first to form the government. “They [BJP] have 105 MLAs,” he said, according to News18. “BJP should not have waited, they should have claimed to form the government. They have done it in other states even when they did not have numbers.” He, however, added that his party will take the lead if no one is ready to form the government. Raut said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray meet the party MLAs at hotel Retreat.
On Saturday evening, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited the BJP, which had emerged as the single-largest party after winning 105 seats the state Assembly elections, to form the new government in the state. The Shiv Sena won 56 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party 54 seats and its alliance partner the Congress 44.
The BJP had formed an alliance with the Shiv Sena prior to the Assembly elections. However, the Shiv Sena cited an alleged 50:50 power-sharing formula it had agreed on with the BJP prior to the Lok Sabha elections. It demanded the chief minister’s post for two and a half years, which the BJP rejected. The BJP claimed that no such power-sharing agreement had ever been made, and because of the tussle, the alliance was not able to stake claim to form a government. With no resolution in sight, Fadnavis resigned as the chief minister on Friday with just a day to go for the end of the Assembly’s term.
BJP core committee to meet today
The BJP core committee will meet on Sunday to discuss the invitation by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to Devendra Fadnavis to indicate “willingness and ability” to form the government. The BJP’s core committee includes senior ministers and the president of the party’s Maharashtra unit Chandrakant Patil.
“We will decide the next step on whether to stake claim or not during our core team meeting on Sunday,” BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar told Hindustan Times. “After the meeting, we will also consult our national leaders. The governor’s invitation was as per the laid down constitutional process.”
Mungantiwar added that a BJP-Sena government was still the “only viable option” in Maharashtra. “The natural mandate is for BJP and Sena,” he said. “There cannot be a Congress chief minister with its 44 legislators being supported by Sena and vice-versa. Congress has made it clear that they can’t go with Sena.”