Saffron allies on warpath, Fadnavis and Thackeray accuse each other of lyingUpdated: Nov 09, 2019 01:24 IST
The three-decade-old saffron alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena stands on the brink of collapse, with Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray accusing each other of lying over the agreement to share the chief minister’s post, on Friday.
While both, Fadnavis and Thackeray, did not spell out the alliance was over, keeping some elbow room for a compromise, a retreat by both parties seems difficult. The BJP (105 seats) and Sena (56 seats) together have a clear majority in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
While Fadnavis expressed confidence that the next government will be headed by BJP, Thackeray did not talk about his future course of action. The Sena, however, has an option to go with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and seek support of Congress to form the government.
Fadnavis, who handed over his resignation to the Governor, blamed Sena for the inability of the allies to form a new government. “On the issue of sharing the CM’s post for 2.5 years, no such decision was made in front of me… I also asked our party president Amit Shah whether such a decision was made when I was not present, but he, too, denied it,” said Fadnavis, who is currently the state’s caretaker chief minister, at a press conference.
Thackeray hit back and expre-ssed disappointment at the way BJP had treated Sena, including being given an “inconsequential portfolio” in the Union cabinet repeatedly. He accused Fadnavis and BJP president Amit Shah of lying and said they had tried to end Sena through “sweet talk”.
Recounting how the parties had formed the alliance before the Lok Sabha polls, Thackeray said he had been approached for talks by Shah and Fadnavis and after he rejected their initial proposal of giving Sena the deputy chief minister’s post, Shah called him again to take the talks forward. “I told Amit bhai, I want equal distribution of seats and power sharing, including chief minister’s post for 2.5 years. Then he came to Matoshree, we sat in [the late] Balasaheb’s room. He said he wanted to improve ties between the two parties. I told him that what has been decided between us should be conveyed to other BJP leaders. It was conveyed to Devendraji, who said if we announce that CM post has been distributed in two equal terms, he would face issues within the party. He said we will equally share powers and responsibilities. Now I know how word play can go against you,” said Thackeray, adding that he is firm on his demand for the CM’s post as he had promised his father that he would “install a Sena chief minister”.
Fadnavis, on his part, blamed Thackeray for “shutting down communication channels” and slammed Sena for the way it had been critical of BJP’s senior leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over the past five years despite being an ally.
“I personally called Uddhavji, but he did not take my calls. We did not stop the discussions. I can understand that they were upset and wanted to take some time before resuming talks. But, unfortunately, at the same time, they were talking to NCP and Congress, often even twice or thrice in a day,” said Fadnavis.
Thackeray admitted he had stopped communication with BJP, but said it was only after he was termed a “liar”, when Fadnavis in an informal chat with the media said no promise to share CM’s post was made to Sena.
“I’m saying it again, we were open to dialogue. But if someone calls Balasaheb Thackeray’s son a liar, my conscience doesn’t allow me to talk to the person. If they call me a liar, in future, too, I will not keep any relationship with the BJP,” Thackeray said.
“Today you are claiming to form the government without adequate numbers and without horse trading. If I think about my party, then they set out to prove me wrong,” Thackeray said, responding to Fadnavis’ claim that the Sena chief said that he would explore all options to install their CM.
“We have always been critical of government policies or programmes. After the Lok Sabha alliance agreement, I thought it would be a new beginning. I went to Ahmedabad, when Amit bhai filed his nomination papers. Prime Minister has twice called me his younger brother,” said the Sena chief.
SHIV SENA MLAs MOVE TO MADH
Meanwhile, in a related development, Sena MLAs, who were put up at Hotel Rangsharda in Bandra West, were shifted to Hotel Retreat in Madh, Malad, on Friday evening after the legislators complained of poor facilities at the hotel.
A Sena legislator said the hotel was almost defunct and was chosen as the party did not want to face criticism of splurging on a five-star hotel.
“Around 30 rooms were booked at Hotel Rangsharda and two people were sharing each room. Room service and other facilities were not up to the mark. Apart from that, the hotel management did not provide more rooms owing to unavailability,” said a Sena legislator, who did not wish to be named.
Milind Narvekar, Shiv Sena secretary and close aide of Thackeray, wrote to Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Barve on Friday, seeking security for their legislators and Independent MLAs, who are supporting the party.
In the letter, Narvekar wrote that the legislators will stay at The Retreat Hotel in Malad from November 8 to November 15. “The Sena MLAs and Independent MLAs are being kept together as they may meet the Sena chief several times during their stay,” the letter stated. Narvekar had also written a similar letter on Thursday seeking security for legislators staying at Hotel Rangsharda.