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Maha govt formation: Chavan says Sonia asked for written assurance from Sena

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2020 11:58 PM IST

Mumbai: Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan on Monday said the Congress will walk out of the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) if it violates the promises made before the alliance was formed in November. He added Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was against their alliance with the Shiv Sena and asked the state party unit to get a written assurance from the Sena that the alliance government will work within the constitutional framework.

Chavan, who is the public works department minister, said that they did not take any written assurance from the Sena other than agreeing on a common minimum programme (CMP). He said chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured the party that it will follow the principle of secular governance. “When we were discussing the alliance in Delhi, we were told to have a CMP which could specify the party’s secular stand. The CMP, signed by all three parties [in the alliance], is an agreement between the three parties.”

Chavan said the Congress leadership in Delhi was sceptical about the ideological differences. “The leadership raised questions about potential differences, which could arise while running the three-party government. Congress president Sonia Gandhi even asked us to take it in writing from the Sena that it would work within the constitutional framework and should not violate the Constitution preamble. We were told to convey this to Uddhav Thackeray,” Chavan said. He added Gandhi had also told state Congress leaders that if the government does not function as expected, the party should quit it. “We conveyed the same to Thackeray. He agreed and we went to form the government,” Chavan said.

Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister in November last year. The Shiv Sena ended its decades-long alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in Maharashtra with the support of Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party

Chavan said the three parties came together to keep the BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in the 2019 assembly elections in Maharashtra, out of power. He added even the Muslim community wanted the alliance.

Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said all three ruling parties are committed to following the CMP which is according to the constitutional framework. “Our government will complete its term,” he said.

Shiv Sena leader and urban development minister Eknath Shinde said there was no separate written assurance given to the Congress.

Chavan said the Congress will not support the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act that has triggered protests against the country.

The Shiv Sena initially supported the CAA 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 Rajya Sabha for the law.

Responding to Chavan’s remarks, former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that Shiv Sena should clarify about the deals done before the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was formed. “If alliance parties do not have faith [in Shiv Sena] why is the Sena in the government?” Fadnavis asked.

(With PTI inputs)

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