‘Get it in writing from Shiv Sena’: Ashok Chavan on how Sonia Gandhi decided
Senior Congress leader and a minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, Ashok Chavan, admitted that party president Sonia Gandhi was against the party joining ranks with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
Chavan, a former chief minister, further added that the state party leadership had to impress upon the party president to agree to join the government in Maharashtra after the BJP and Sena could not reconcile their differences.
Detailing how the alliance came about, Chavan, who is the PWD minister, said that the party president asked the state Congress leaders to get a written assurance from the Sena that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance will work in line with the constitutional scheme.
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Chavan, while speaking at an event to launch MVA’s ambitious project Rs 10 thali for the poor on Republic Day in Nanded, said that the three parties came together to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power.
“Our party leadership in Delhi was not very keen on joining hands with the Shiv Sena and was sceptical about the different ideologies the parties follow. The leadership raised questions about potential differences which could arise while running the three-party government. Party president Sonia Gandhi even asked us to take it in writing from the Sena that it would work within the constitutional framework,” he said.
Chavan also underlined that the minute the alliance violates the constitutional framework, the Congress will walk out of the government. Chavan said that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured the party that it will follow the principle of secular governance.
Chavan also said that the Congress joined the government just to keep the BJP out and on the insistence of the Muslim community. He said that the party would not support Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
According to party leaders, the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), prepared by three parties — Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress — has the agreement of the parties to work within the confines of the constitutional framework.
Congress leaders say that the CMP was an agreement to live up to the secular ideals of government and there was no separate agreement between the Congress and the Shiv Sena.
The CMP, however, has not not prevented the two parties from differing with the other publically over the past two months.
The Shiv Sena had initially supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha which was opposed by the Congress. After the Congress expressed its concerns, the Sena leadership changed its stand and abstained from voting in the Rajya Sabha. The Sena has been strongly backing the Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar, while the Congress’ stand on Savarkar not to Sena’s liking.