Guv short notice to Sena is BJP’s ploy to impose Prez rule, says Raut

Shiv Sena, Maharashtra, government formation, BJP, NCP
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut addressed the media and stated that the BJP was responsible for the current political crisis in Maharashtra. File photo: PTI.

Regarding the Governor’s invite to “indicate willingness to form govt in Maharashtra,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “It would have been easy if the Governor had given us more time. BJP was given 72 hours. We’ve been given lesser time. This is a strategy of the BJP to impose President’s rule in state.”

Raut addressed the media and stated that the BJP was responsible for the current political crisis in Maharashtra. He also claimed Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray had asked Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant to step down from his ministerial post.

In a unexpected of events, Arvind Sawant — who is the Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and a Shiv Sena MP — announced his resignation from his ministerial post on Monday (November 11) morning.

The development comes a day after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Shiv Sena to form government following the BJP’s unwillingness to do the same. Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil while announcing the party’s decision on Sunday (November 10), had accused the Sena of “disrespecting” the public mandate.

Announcing his resignation on Twitter Sawant said, “Shiv Sena’s side is the truth. Why should I stay in an atmosphere of falsehood in Delhi? I am resigning as Union Minister.” He added that he would address the media at a press conference in Delhi at 11 am.

He said that before the Lok Sabha polls, a formula was worked out about sharing of power and seat. Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP agreed to it. “But now, it is shocking that the decision arrived at is being denied and the Shiv Sena is being projected as not speaking truth. This is shocking. This is a blot on the state’s pride. The BJP has parted ways by crossing limits of falsehood,” he said in another tweet.

The BJP on Sunday (November 10) had declined to form government in Maharashtra following two back-to-back meetings at former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence. Following this, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde to indicate its “willingness and ability” to stake claim to form the government in the state.

The Shiv Sena, the second largest party after the BJP, has time till 7:30 pm on Monday to stake claim. Following the governor’s communication, the newly elected Sena MLAs, who were staying at a hotel in West Malad, moved to the Bandra residence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray for a meeting.

Also read: Tie-up with Sena to be fatal for Congress, says Sanjay Nirupam

However, to prove majority in the 288-member House, Sena, which has 56 MLAs, will need support from the opposition NCP and Congress, who are yet to reveal their cards on supporting the saffron party. The party will need the support of a total of 145 MLAs, 89 more than what it currently has, to prove majority in the House.

This comes after the saffron allies, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, failed to arrive at a conclusion over their demands of equal sharing of the chief minister’s post in a coalition government. The BJP has been strictly against Sena’s demand of having a rotational chief minister as it was keen on having no one else in the top post other than Fadnavis. Fadnavis had also rejected Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s claim that BJP chief Amit Shah had agreed to the demand of equal sharing of the top post.

After Sunday’s developments, the role of the Congress (44 MLAS) and the NCP (54 MLAs), which have 98 members together, is crucial now. If the Sena decides to form a government with the support of opposition parties, the collective strength of all the three parties will go up to 154 in the House, just above the halfway mark.

Also read: In Maharashtra, the BJP is learning the dangers of riding a ‘tiger’

However, the Congress has refused to open its cards and the NCP made it clear that the Sena would have to break away from the NDA before the Sharad Pawar-led party can think of lending support to Uddhav Thackeray’s party. Meanwhile, Sena leader Sanjay Raut appeared unfazed and said his party would install its chief minister at any cost.

Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil addresses the media | PTI Photo

Announcing the party’s decision to not form government on Sunday evening, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil accused the Sena of “disrespecting” the popular mandate secured by the NDA in recent assembly polls. The governor had on Saturday invited the BJP to “indicate the willingness and ability” to form government by virtue of it being the single largest party.

Patil also wished “good luck” to the Sena to go ahead and form a government with the support of the Congress and the NCP. “The mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. However, Sena has disrespected the mandate. Hence, we have decided not to stake claim to form government,” Patil told reporters outside Raj Bhavan. “If the Sena wants to form the government with the help of the Congress and the NCP, we wish them good luck,” he said after the BJP held meetings of its core committee.

Also read: Maharashtra should teach cagey Cong to buck up and strategise better

Earlier in the day, Raut appeared sending feelers to the Congress and the NCP. When a reporter pointed out that the Sena was not criticising the opposition NCP in the wake of a possible alliance between the two parties, Raut said, “We have not criticised the BJP either. The election campaign is over and things said during the campaign are irrelevant.”

On if the Congress will support the Shiv Sena to form government, Raut said the Sonia Gandhi-led party is “not enemyof Maharashtra”. “If Congress leaders have taken any decision to ensure a stable government in Maharashtra, we welcome it,” he said. Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday informed the party MLAs that Sena will have its chief minister.

As the focus shifted to the Sena camp after BJP turned down the governor’s invitation, senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said the party didn’t want president’s rule in the state. The newly-elected MLAs of Congress are currently staying in Jaipur. “We are in Jaipur. We will discuss the issue here and will seek advice of the party high-command on the future political stand. The party doesn’t want president’s rule in the state,” Chavan told reporters. He added that he was in favour of forming a stable government in Maharashtra.

Also read: BJP trashes horse-trading charges in Maharashtra

Another Congress leader, Milind Deora, sparked a row earlier in the day with his tweet that said the governor should invite NCP-Congress alliance to form government, a proposal that was opposed by another leader, Sanjay Nirupam. Nirupam said that taking support from Sena would be fatal for the Congress.

NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik told reporters on Sunday that the Sena needs to first exit from the NDA as it has one cabinet post (in the Narendra Modi government). “Unless it leaves the NDA, we will wait and watch the developments,” he said. South Mumbai Sena Lok Sabha MP Arvind Sawant is a Union minister.

Speaking on the government formation impasse, Malik said, “We do not have enough numbers but we also do not want president’s rule in Maharashtra.” He added his party had not received any proposal from the Sena.

Also read: Feel bad we entered into an alliance with wrong people: Uddhav Thackeray

“If the Sena comes with a proposal, there will be some conditions from our side on which Sena will have to agree on. Sena leader Sanjay Raut has been stressing on the party having the CMs post. If they need support of Congress and NCP, they will have to make their stand clear on sharing power (with BJP) in Delhi,” Malik said.

The newly elected NCP MLAs will meet on November 12 after which a final decision on the party’s role in the current scenario will be taken, he added.

(With inputs from agencies)