Maha deadlock deepens as Fadnavis quits, Sena rues over alliance

Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra Assembly election, BJP-Shiv Sena, Sanjay Raut
Devendra Fadnavis interacts with the media after his resignation from chief minister post | PTI File

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday (November 8) met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and tendered his resignation even as uncertainty continues over government formation in the state due to a power tussle between the BJP and the Shiv Sena.

However, Fadnavis will continue as the caretaker chief minister till an alternate arrangement is made. Sena leader Sanjay Raut had also asked Fadnavis to resign at the end of his tenure on November 9. The regional party also sought police protection for its newly elected MLAs.

Following his resignation, Fadnavis blamed ally Shiv Sena for the impasse over government formation and asserted that no decision was taken “in his presence” that the two will share the chief minister’s post. “I again want to make it clear that it was never decided that the CM’s post will be shared. There was never a decision on this issue,” he said.

This comes a day after the Shiv Sena moved its MLAs to a hotel in suburban Bandra over fears of poaching and horse-trading. Reports suggest that the Congress is also mulling a similar move.

Also read | Maha deadlock: BJP leaders meet Guv, Sena moves MLAs to hotel

Responding to Fadnavis’s claim, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said he feels bad that he entered into an alliance with the ‘wrong people’.

“It is very sad that while cleaning the Ganga, their minds became polluted. I felt bad that we entered into an alliance with the wrong people,” Thackeray was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on Friday. He added that the Sena stopped talks with the BJP because it tried to prove him a liar.

The Sena president added that one day he will fulfil the promise he made to his father, Sena founder Bal Thackeray, of having a Shiv Sena chief minister in the state. “I don’t need Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis for that,”he said.

Also read | Fadnavis: How the ‘new kid’ on the block upstaged Maharashtra stalwarts

The results of the October elections had declared the BJP as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 288-seat in the assembly. Its ally Shiv Sena had bagged 56 seats. In the opposition camp, Congress had won 44 and NCP 54 seats. As many as 13 Independents had also won in the October 21 elections.

The deadlock between the BJP and the Shiv Sena pertains to a hard bargain between the two parties over the latter’s demand for a rotational chief minister. The Shiv Sena has time and again recalled the 50:50 power sharing deal that the two parties had reportedly negotiated, ahead of the assembly polls, in support of their demand for equal sharing of the top post.  However, an adamant BJP has not been in favour of having anyone else in the top post than Fadnavis.

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

This could be a prestige issue for the BJP as Fadnavis was its chief ministerial candidate and was promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. Also, he has been the first non-Maratha chief minister of the state and the second Brahmin to hold the top post after Manohar Joshi.

So now in case it fails to convince the Sena, the BJP would need the support of at least 40 more legislators than what it already has, to form a majority government in the 288-member assembly. Even if it manages to gather the support of all the 13 Independents, it will fall short by 27 seats.

Also read | BJP trashes horse-trading charges in Maharashtra

In that case, if it goes on to form a minority government, it will be at the mercy of the Shiv Sena and the opposition, which may topple the government, any time, if they unitedly move a no-confidence motion.

In case no solutions are arrived at for the formation of the government any time soon, the state will head towards President’s rule for a brief period. This was also indicated by BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar, who had claimed that the state may head towards President’s rule if no party comes forward to stake claim to form the government.

The top leadership of the party at the national level do not seem to take a serious call on the matter. It could be that the leaders are too engrossed with the national affairs, like the upcoming Ayodhya verdict, which has kept the political circles across the country on its toes.

If that is the case, it may be concluded that the leaders are trying to buy time to arrive at an amicable solution to resolve the Maharashtra deadlock and retain power in the state.