Shiv Sena not promised Chief Minister post: Devendra Fadnavis

It will be a BJP-led government for five years, Mr. Fadnavis says.

Updated - October 29, 2019 10:06 pm IST

Published - October 29, 2019 01:37 pm IST - Mumbai

Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis. File

Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis. File

A day before the meeting of newly elected MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Shiv Sena was not promised the top post for two-and-a-half years when the alliance was formalised before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Highlighting the party’s stand amid the ongoing tussle with its alliance partner over power sharing, Mr. Fadnavis on Tuesday said he will be the Chief Minister for the next five years and that the BJP Legislature Party would elect its new leader on Wednesday.

“There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that it will be a BJP-led government for the next five years,” he told reporters at his official residence ‘Varsha’.

After the election results on October 24, the Shiv Sena has been pushing for a rotational Chief Minister with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray last week reminding the BJP of the 50:50 formula “agreed upon” between himself, BJP president Amit Shah and Mr. Fadnavis ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Commenting on this, Mr. Fadnavis said, “I have confirmed with Amit Shah and he told me that the BJP has not given any assurance for the Chief Minister’s post for two-and-a-half years (each for the BJP and Sena).”

Deputy CM’s post

Asked about the 50:50 formula and the talk of giving the post of Deputy Chief Minister to the Sena, he said that an “appropriate decision” will soon be taken.

Mr. Shah will not take part in Wednesday’s meeting of the legislature party for undisclosed reasons. He is likely to visit Mumbai on November 1 or 2.

The meeting will be attended by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and BJP vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna. It is likely to pass a resolution giving all rights to Mr. Shah to elect the leader of the legislature party.

With deadlock between BJP and the Sena continues, both parties on Tuesday made contradicting claims about the first official meeting between the two that did not happen. While Mr Fadnavis said that no such meeting was planned, Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that it was cancelled over the directions of his party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

"The meeting was planned between two leaders from both the parties each. But since Chief Minister said that there was no such 50:50 formula, the meeting was left with no agenda and therefore it was cancelled," said Mr Raut, adding that Mr Thackeray must have taken the decision with bitter state-of-mind. The Sena leader added that a video clip of Mr Fadnavis talking about 50:50 formula is available. "The issue is not about getting upset over it, but the issue is whether 50:50 formula will be implemented," said Mr Raut, editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamna. 

Earlier, Mr Fadnavis had expressed his displeasure over the editorials in Saamna, which have been targeting the BJP in the aftermath of the election results, stating that its role was to derail the talks between the two parties. "Will the paper take a hard stand on Congress-NCP?" he asked. 

"We will form the government together. Reasonable demands on merit will be considered when we sit to talk government formation. There is no plan B. Plan A is successful," he said, adding that the BJP-led alliance will provide a "stable and efficient" government for the next five years. 

Mr Raut had also said that Sena has a right over the CM post and party will take it. 

When questioned about a few Sena leaders’ statements regarding Shiv Sena exploring other options, Mr Fadnavis also said that both parties had no other alternative but to ally with each other. Both parties won fewer seats as compared to 2014, with the BJP winning 105 seats and Sena winning 56. Mr Fadnavis said he was satisfied with the mandate but conceded that it was lower than expected. "We expected to be in the first merit, but got first class first. Since 1990, no political party has got a good strike rate like the BJP in 2019," he said.

Adding to the drama is a number of Independents who are openly siding with either the BJP or the Sena. Mira Road-Bhayander MLA Geeta Jain, Badnera's Ravi Rana, Chandrapur's Kishor Jorgewar and Uran's Mahesh Baldi have extended support to the BJP. On the other hand, two MLAs from Vidarbha, Bachhu Kadu of Achalpur and Rajkumar Patel of Melghat, as well as Ashish Jaiswal and Shankarrao Gadakh of Nevasa have said they are with the Sena. Interestingly, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have also indicated that they may support the Sena from the outside in case the party decides to take the lead and form the government. Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat has said that the party will speak to the central leadership about extending support if the Sena gives a proposal for the same.

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