Amit Shah breaks silence on Maharashtra deadock, says Shiv Sena knew all along CM’s post was non-negotiable
BJP chief Amit Shah has asked Shiv Sena why it did not oppose the move to project Devendra Fadnavis as the CM candidate before.
Union home minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Wednesday accused the Opposition of doing “outright politics” over the imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra, and asked the Shiv Sena why it did not oppose the move to project Devendra Fadnavis as the chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the elections.
Breaking his silence on the political deadlock in Maharashtra , Shah told news agency ANI, “…Before the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I said many times in public that if our alliance [BJP-Sena] wins, then Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister, no one objected back then.”
“Now they [Shiv Sena] have come up with new demands which are not acceptable to us,” Shah said.
In the recently concluded elections, the BJP, Sena, NCP and the Congress won 105, 56, 54 and 44 seats, respectively, in the 288-member assembly. But after the results on October 24, the Sena, a pre-poll ally of the BJP, demanded equal sharing of power and rotational chief ministership. As the BJP did not budge, it kick-started back-channel talks with the Congress and the NCP as the state plunged into a political crisis.
The Sena even pulled out its lone minister, Arvind Sawant, from the Union cabinet in accordance with a pre-condition for a possible alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), signalling deterioration of ties with the BJP.
“The honourable governor has never compromised with constitutional norms,” Shah said, reacting to the Opposition’s criticism of the imposition of President’s rule. Shah said President’s rule was necessitated so that the Opposition could not accuse the governor of running “indirect BJP rule” in the state.
The Centre on Tuesday brought Maharashtra under President’s rule after a recommendation from the governor.
“The governor invited parties only after assembly tenure ended. Shiv Sena or Congress-NCP did not stake claim and neither did we. If any party has numbers it can approach the governor even today,” Shah said.
Koshyari had invited the BJP, Sena and the NCP to form the government, but none of them were in a position to cobble together the numbers immediately. On the Opposition’s charge that the governor acted in haste and did not give them adequate time to stake claim to form the government, Shah said 18 days were provided to parties to prove their strength.
A senior Sena leader said party chief Uddhav Thackeray will respond to Shah. “He [Shah] took nearly 20 days to speak up on the matter. Even if he thought this was a new demand, he should have taken interest in resolving the issue in the state,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.
Separately, in a statement issued by the party, Shah also said the BJP did not believe in making public the issues discussed behind closed doors, but if opposition parties think they can drum up support for themselves by creating confusion then they have not grasped the ability of the voters to see through things. He said the issues being raised by the Sena on a rotational CM will be discussed by the BJP in an appropriate forum.
Back in Maharashtra, the Sena, NCP and the Congress on Wednesday began deliberations on a common minimum programme (CMP) to form the government. The CMP will state the agenda of the proposed government and the power-sharing structure.
The Sena, NCP and the Congress are looking at a common agenda focused on tackling farm crisis and unemployment in the state. The process started with a late-night meeting between Sena chief Thackeray and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Tuesday. The two sides deliberated a quick formulation of a CMP, among other things. NCP chief Sharad Pawar met senior party leaders to chalk out the course of action. Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said talks were moving in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the Sena decided to let their newly elected MLAs return to their constituencies. Congress MLAs who were in a resort near Jaipur returned to Mumbai on Wednesday. Sena also told its MLAs lodged at a suburban resort to go back to their constituencies.
On Wednesday afternoon, senior Congress leaders including Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, former chief minister Ashok Chavan and former state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre met Thackeray at a Mumbai hotel, and discussed their party’s demands.
As Thackeray emerged from his meeting with the Congress leaders on Wednesday afternoon, he said the talks had started and were moving on a positive track. “The talks have started in the right direction. It will be announced to everyone at an appropriate time,” Thackeray told reporters.
According to a Sena functionary, the meeting between Thackeray and Congress leaders was positive and the Congress showed “intent to form the government”.Thorat said the talks were on the right track.
On the other hand, the Congress and the NCP too started deliberations to finalise the CMP. NCP’s Ajit Pawar said the Congress and the NCP, who are allies, will discuss the CMP and the sharing of important positions between them and then start discussions with the Sena. The Congress and the NCP constituted a five-member committee independently to discuss the power-sharing formula.