‘Didn’t agree to 50-50 formula’: Fadnavis trashes Sena demand on CM post
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday challenged the Shiv Sena’s claim that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agreed to share the CM’s post with its partner for half the government’s five-year term as neither side budged on the terms of cabinet formation a week after the assembly election.
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Soon after Fadnavis’ statement rebutting his party’s claim, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray cancelled a planned 4 pm meeting with the BJP on government formation, likely worsening the already strained relationship between the BJP and its oldest political ally.
“Union minister Prakash Javdekar and party leader Bhupendra Yadav were supposed to attend the meeting to start discussions on formation of the next government from the BJP side, while the Sena would have been represented by Subhash Desai and Sanjay Raut,” Press Trust of India quoted a Sena leader, whom it didn’t name, as saying.
“Fadnavis should mind his words while making such statements,” the senior leader added.The Sena also released an old video clip in which Fadnavis spoke about “sharing posts and responsibilities” equally.
Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut confirmed the cancellation of the meeting. “Discussions between BJP-Shiv Sena were scheduled for today. But now if the CM himself is saying that the 50-50 formula was not discussed then what will we even talk about? So Uddhavji has cancelled today’s meeting,” Raut said.
Fadnavis said earlier in the day that the BJP never agreed to the so-called “50-50 formula” the Shiv Sena claims was agreed to by the two parties when they decided to fight the April-May Lok Sabha polls in an alliance, referring to the claim by Thackeray that he, BJP president Amit Shah and Fadnavis had finalised the terms.
“There was no assurance given to the Sena for the rotation of the post of the CM. There was a proposal by the Shiv Sena for sharing the chair for two-and-a-half years equally, but it was never admitted by our leadership. I have spoken to our party president and he has confirmed it to me,” he told reporters.
He said he had no problem in offering the post of deputy CM to the Shiv Sena, “but a formal proposal should come from them”.
Fadnavis added that the BJP legislature party will elect its new leader at a meeting on Wednesday. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced the name and the meeting will be a formality,” he said, apparently referring to Modi’s statement during the assembly election campaign that Fadnavis will lead the coalition government.
The firm rebuttal from Fadnavis, who was the BJP’s chief ministerial face, was the party’s first clear response to the Shiv Sena,whose Sanjay Raut had held out a warning to its partner that it had “other options”.
Raut was critical of Fadnavis’ statement. “I did not hear what the CM said. If he is saying that the 50-50 formula was never discussed, then I think we need to change the definition of truth. What was discussed is known by all. The media was present,” Raut said.
The BJP is the single largest party in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly with 105 seats but is 40 MLAs short of the majority mark. The Sena, a pre-poll ally of the BJP, is the second largest party with 56 seats. The Nationalist Congress Party has 54 seats and the Congress, 44.
The Sena agreed to contest fewer seats than the BJP in a seat-sharing deal ahead of the state elections, implicitly accepting that it was the junior partner in the alliance.
“Uddhav Thackerayji has said that we have other options too but we don’t want to do the sin of accepting that alternative. Shiv Sena has always done politics of truth, we are not hungry for power,” Raut was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Raut also took a swipe at the BJP’s alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jananayak Janata Party (JJP), which teamed up with the BJP to form a coalition government in Haryana. “There is no Dushyant (Chautala) here whose father is in jail. Here it’s us who do politics of dharma and satya,” he said
Dushyant Chautala’s father Ajay Chautala is serving a jail term after conviction in a teachers’ recruitment scam. On Sunday, he attended the swearing-in of Manohar Lal Khattar as Haryana chief minister and his son Dushyant as deputy chief minister after he was granted a furlough for two weeks.
Dushyant Chautala reacted strongly to Raut’s comment. “It means he knows who Dushyant Chautala is. My father is in jail since six years; he never asked about his well being. Ajay Chautalaji has not come out without completing his term. Such statements don’t add to Sanjayji’s stature,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Out of the 56 Sena MLAs, as many as 45 are keen on government formation in the state by joining hands with the BJP and want Fadnavis as the CM, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Kakade claimed on Tuesday.
“They are calling and asking us to induct them into the government,” Kakade told a TV channel. He added that the Sena MLAs were saying “do whatever, but we want to be part of the government with BJP”.
A Sena leader, requesting anonymity, said: “This is not how allies behave. There are rumours going on that BJP is attempting to break the Sena by engineering a defection; they are saying key leaders are in touch with BJP. We suffered such behaviour for the last five years. We are not asking for anything new. The chief minister himself announced it in the press conference that there will be equal distribution of power and posts.”
Meanwhile, Union minister and president of the Republican Party of India Ramdas Bandu Athawale said he met Fadnavis on Monday and asked for the Sena and BJP to hammer out an agreement on government formation. He said the Sena should agree to the deputy chief minister’s post the and the BJP should, in exchange, offer more cabinet berths to the former, which holds a single portfolio in the outgoing assembly.
BJP leaders recall that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had politely told off the Sena soon after the election results came in when he declared in his speech from the BJP headquarters that Fadnavis would be the chief minister for the next five years. That statement wasn’t an off-the-cuff statement but came in the context of Sena’s pitch that a leader from its camp should get to rule Maharashtra for 30 months.