Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anantkumar Hegde has claimed that party colleague Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Maharashtra chief minister so that he could save Rs 40,000 crore of the state exchequer from being “misused” by the Shiv Sena-led coalition government, ANI reported on Monday.

Hegde, who made the comments on Friday while campaigning for party candidate Shivam Hebbar ahead of the Karnataka bye-polls, was explaining why Fadnavis took oath even though he did not have the numbers in the Assembly. A video of his speech has now been shared widely on social media.

“A CM has access to around Rs 40,000 crore from Centre,” Hegde is seen saying in the video. “He [Devendra Fadnavis] knew if Congress, Nationalist Congress Party [NCP] and Shiv Sena government come to power it would misuse funds meant for development. So it was decided that there should be a drama. Fadnavis became CM and in 15 hours he moved Rs 40,000 crore back to Centre.”

Hegde claimed the money was “sent to the central government” within 15 hours of Fadnavis being sworn in. “We decided we have to do something,” he added. “Some big drama. That’s why we adjusted a bit and the CM was sworn in. In 15 hours, he sent the money to where it needs to go; sent it all to central government.”

Fadnavis refutes claim, Shiv Sena accuses him of treachery

However, Fadnavis on Monday denied transferring funds to the Centre. He said he did not take any policy decision during the 80 hours that he was the chief minister.

The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, said that what Fadnavis did, as claimed by Hegde, was treachery. Party MP Sanjay Raut said Fadnavis and the BJP were “criminals” of people of Maharashtra, PTI reported. He said the state’s chief secretary and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would clarify on the matter.

The Congress demanded an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Hegde’s claim. Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Hedge had exposed the Modi government and the BJP’s “anti-Maharashtra face”. “Has the federal structure been crushed?” he tweeted. “Was the Rs 40,000 crore earmarked for the welfare of the public and farmers withdrawn through a conspiracy?”

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said: “It is impossible for the state government to return Rs 40,000 crore to the Centre. If at all it is true, then Prime Minister Modi will have to step down from his post. He will have to submit his resignation.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to resign if there is truth in BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde’s claim that Devendra Fadnavis was made CM last month despite lacking majority only to ‘protect’ Rs 40,000 crore central funds from being ‘misused’, the NCP said on Monday.

In a surprise move on November 23, Fadnavis was sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister after support from Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar. However, both Pawar and Fadnavis resigned on November 26 after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test. Pawar has now returned to the NCP.

After Fadnavis’ resignation, the three-party alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress staked claim to form the government. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray took oath as chief minister on November 27. Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi won the floor test in the Assembly on Saturday with 169 votes. The halfway mark in the 288-member Assembly is 145. The BJP legislators had walked out in protest.

Fadnavis was elected the leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday.