Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Sunday asked the Shiv Sena to indicate its willingness and ability to form a government in the State, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the single largest party, announced that it does not have the numbers.
The invitation to the Sena comes against the backdrop of the BJP accusing it of disrespecting the mandate given by the people to the pre-poll alliance of the two parties. Mr. Koshyari, who was informed by the BJP about its inability to form a government, then invited the leader of the Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde. Following this, Sena leaders got into a huddle at the Thackeray residence, Matoshree.
“Yesterday, Devendra Fadnavis was called upon to express his willingness and ability to form [a] government . However, today, he has shown unwillingness. The Governor has, therefore, asked the leader of the elected members of the second largest party, Shiv Sena, Shri Eknath Shinde, to convey its willingness and ability to form the government to him,” a release from Raj Bhavan said.
Earlier, the BJP blamed its pre-poll ally Shiv Sena for not being able to form the government in spite of the mandate given by the electorate.
Announcing the decision after meeting Mr. Koshyari at Raj Bhavan, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil accused the Shiv Sena of disrespecting the people’s mandate. The decision came after day-long deliberations of the State BJP’s core committee at Mr. Fadnavis’s official residence, and last-minute attempts to contact the Sena, which is firm that the Chief Minister’s post should be shared by the two parties for 2.5 years each.
“The mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. The Sena has disrespected that, hence we have decided to not stake claim to form government. We have conveyed our decision to Governor Koshyari,” Mr. Patil announced. The BJP wished the Sena good luck, if it went on to form the government with the help of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, ignoring the mandate, he said.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, emerging as the single largest party, but falling short of the majority mark of 145. The Sena with 56 seats came second, while NCP and Congress won 54 and 44 respectively.
While resigning from the CM’s post on Friday, Mr. Fadnavis accused the Sena of cutting all communication lines, and denied that any arrangement to share the top post for 2.5 years had ever been reached in his presence. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had hit back claiming the party was turning its back on a commitment given to seal the alliance.
Mr. Thackeray told his legislators earlier in the day that the Sena would not be a palanquin-bearer any longer. A Sainik would sit in the palanquin (of Chief Ministership). Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray visited party legislators at a Madh Island resort on Saturday and stayed the night there. On Sunday morning, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray also met the legislators at the resort.
At the meeting, Mr. Thackeray reportedly told his MLAs that he had not called off the alliance and that his (party’s) doors were still open, but reiterated the stand on the CM’s post. Amid calls for ‘Aaditya as CM,’ Shiv Sainiks put up hoardings outside the Thackeray residence in support of their demands.
Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut told The Hindu, “We had given our best wishes to BJP. They were adamant on having their own CM, but could not form the government and we feel sorry about that. Today, Uddhavji has made clear that the Sena will have its own CM.” When asked if his party would ally with Congress-NCP, he said, “We are close to taking a decision, there is no need for too many meetings. We are in no hurry, the Governor now has to invite us as second largest party. But we will not keep Maharashtra in limbo now,” Mr. Raut said.
Must quit NDA: NCP
Amid reports that the Sena would tie up with the NCP to form a government, the latter has clarified that it should first quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and resign from the Union Cabinet. NCP Mumbai chief and chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the party could not take any decision until the Sena officially made a proposal and quit the NDA.
“Let us first get the proposal. If they want our support then they have to show the willingness to quit the NDA. Only then can the talks move forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress, which shifted its MLAs to Jaipur clarified that there was no question of joining the Sena to form the government. “Our high command has clarified that there is no question of supporting the Sena. We have not won the mandate and there will be no move from us,” Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge, told reporters at Jaipur.