Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday warned that any attempt by the Fadnavis government to retain power under the garb of a caretaker government in Maharashtra will not be right. The statement came amid reports that the Bharatiya Janata Party was exploring the possibility of the governor asking Devendra Fadnavis to continue as the caretaker chief minister till the new government is in place.
“If there are attempts to keep a caretaker chief minister and keep the reins of power in hand, it will not be right. The chief minister, whoever he is, has to resign as per the Constitution,” Raut told reporters in Mumbai.
The two allies are locked in a power-struggle as the Sena is demanding chief minister’s post for half the term, which the BJP has rejected. The BJP is hoping to convince the Sena leadership to get on board in the few hours left before the tenure of the existing Assembly ends on midnight of November 9.
Amid speculations that senior BJP leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari could meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to convince him to form the government, Raut said that he should intervene only if he has a written assurance on giving CM post for half the term to Sena.
“Nitin Gadkari is a Mumbai resident, doesn’t need permission to come here… If he has a letter authorizing CM post to Shiv Sena for two-and-half-years, then I will inform Uddhav Thackeray,” he said on a query if Gadkari will meet Thackeray at Matoshree. Raut reiterated that Thackeray is firm on the demand of the chief minister’s post.
Raut also added that no “third party” should try to mediate between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. He was probably referring to the Thursday evening’s attempot by Hindutva ideologue Sambhaji Bhide to meet Thackeray. But did not get an appointment.
Once again expressing apprehension about horse-trading of legislators, amid news that 44 Congress MLAs could be shifted to Jaipur, Raut said, “Is there a Karnataka pattern being repeated here? But it won’t work in Maharashtra as we are one here.”