Fadnavis quits, to stay as caretaker CM; BJP, Sena call each other liars
Maharashtra plunged into a state of political uncertainty on Friday, as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigned at the end of his five-year term after laying the blame for the breakdown of power-sharing talks between the saffron alliance partners on the Shiv Sena, and the BJP in its capacity as the single largest party failed to stake claim for the formation of a new Government in the State.
On a day when the single largest party lobbed the ball in Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s court, necessitating him to explore the possibility of formation of a Government in the State, the longest-surviving saffron alliance (Mahayuti) faced a severe threat of a breakdown, after Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray virtually called each other “liars” on the contentious issue of the two parties sharing the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis.
As the chances of the BJP and the Shiv Sena coming together to form a Government in the State became slimed, the Congress and NCP leaders went into a huddle at Sharad Pawar’s residence “Silver Oak” in south Mumbai and discussed the various issues, including the possibility of extending their support to the Shiv Sena in forming a Government. However, the two parties decided to “wait and watch” as to what steps the Governor would take in the coming days towards ensuring the formation of a new Government.
The Governor had his task cut for him in the coming days, as he accepted Fadnavis’ resignation as the Chief Minister and asked the latter to continue in the office as a caretaker CM pending an “alternate arrangement” in the State.
In the normal course, the Governor should by now have gone through the motions of exploring the possibility forming a Government either by inviting the single largest party to take the lead and give it a try or by holding consultations with the second single-largest party Shiv Sena and two other major political parties — the NCP and the Congress.
Since he did not initiate the process of Government formation exercise in the real sense and waited till the end of the current Assembly for reasons best known to him, the Governor will have no option but to start the process from Saturday. First, he will have to invite and obtain a formal say from the single largest party whether or not it intended to form the Government.
Later, if the BJP responds to him in the negative, the Governor — as is the practice and precedents — will have to invite the second largest party, Shiv Sena, to try and form a Government in the State. If the Sena is able to muster support from the NCP and the Congress, then Sena can form a Government. Alternatively, the Sena can support the NCP-Congress-led alliance in forming a Government — a possibility that looks remote given Sena’s desperation to head the Government and have its man as the next Chief Minister.
Earlier in the evening, a bitter war of words broke out between the saffron alliance partners, as Fadnavis and Uddhav — at Press conferences — traded barbs over the sharing of the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis.
Fadnavis and Uddhav virtually called each other “liars”.
Fadnavis reiterated that the BJP had not “agreed” to give the Chief Minister’s post to the Shiv Sena for two-and-a half year period as was being claimed by Uddhav.
“No decision about the BJP giving the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis to the Shiv Sena was taken in front of me at the meetings held between the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. I don’t know if such a decision had been taken during the interactions between Uddhav Thackeray and Amit Shah. I checked with Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari whether such a decision had been taken between the two parties. Both Shah and Gadkari told me that no such decision had been taken,” Fadnavis said.
Laying the blame for stalling the talks between the two parties, Fadnavis charged that the Sena president did not take his telephone calls.
Taking serious exception to the serious criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi made by the Shiv Sena during the last five years and also during the last one fortnight, Fadnavis said, “We could have understood that if the Opposition leaders had made such statement. But, the leaders belonging to the Shiv Sena who shared power with us in the State and at the Centre were criticising Modiji. We can’t tolerate this kind of criticism.”
Fadnavis kept the door open for revival of power sharing talks between the BJP and Shiv Sena. “ I do not say that the alliance between the BJP and Shiv Sena has broken down. If our concerns are addressed by the Sena, the two parties can still have talks between them”.
Uddhav said he called off talks after Fadnavis “lied” that the BJP had not given any assurance on 50:50 on sharing the CM’s post.
“People across the State know all about Thackeray family. For the first time, someone accused of a Thackeray family member of having lied. Using the words of Amit Shah, Fadnavis has lied. Whatever false allegations that Amit Shah and Co may make, the people in the State can distinguish who is actually lying”.
“Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, I had discussed the issue of sharing the Chief Minister’s post with Amit Shah. At that time he had offered me the Deputy Chief Minister’s post which I had refused. At that time, Shah had said that we will make Chief Minister from the party that gets more number of seats which I had refused. I had told him that I had promised my late father Balasaheb I would make a Sena man a Chief Minister. At that time Shah asked what do you want: I told him I want equal sharing of power responsibility. Shah agreed for 50:50 power sharing formula,” Uddhav said.
“At a meeting held later, Fadnavis requested me that let us not announce the sharing of the Chief Minister’s post for two and a half years each as such announcement would create problems within the BJP. He had told me that he would convince his State party in his own way. In good faith, I had accepted Fadnavis’ suggestion,” the Sena president said, as slammed Fadnavis for not going back on his words but coming up with a lie after the State Assembly results.
Saturday, 09 November 2019 | TN Raghunatha | Mumbai