Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday ended his silence on the Maharashtra impasse and his party’s breakup with the Shiv Sena that eventually contributed to the state being placed under President’s rule on Tuesday. Shah insisted that the demand for a rotational chief minister was a new one which was not acceptable to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Shiv Sena this week pulled out its lone minister Arvind Sawant from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, signalling the end of partnership between the two parties in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena has since then opened negotiations with the rival alliance comprising Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi. The Sena’s darts at its former ally BJP, however, haven’t stopped. Uddhav Thackeray had broached the topic again at his media briefing yesterday, accusing BJP leaders of trying to prove him to be a “liar” for claiming that there was a deal between the BJP and the Sena to share the chief minister’s post.
Amit Shah shot back on Wednesday, wondering why, if this was true, the Sena never objected to the BJP projecting its presumptive chief minister during campaigning for the election.
“Before the elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I said many times in public that if our alliance wins then Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister, no one objected back then,” Shah, who is also the BJP president, told news agency ANI.
“Now they (Shiv Sena) came up with new demands which are not acceptable to us,” Amit Shah said.
Shah also brushed aside the howls of protest from the Congress and other rivals after President Ram Nath Kovind signed off on the order placing Maharashtra under central rule.
The presidential order was issued on the recommendation of Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari who told the Centre that he was satisfied that it was impossible to constitute and form a stable government in the state for now.
Koshyari’s recommendation was sent to the Centre before the expiry of his deadline to the NCP. When the BJP, the single largest party in the 288-member assembly, declined to try to form the government, the governor had asked the Shiv Sena to stake claim. The Sena said it was interested but could not prove its majority within the 24-hour timeline outlined by Raj Bhavan.
The ruling party and government officials have rebutted the opposition charge that the governor acted in a hurry and had waited for parties with the numbers to stake claim for a fortnight. Election results were announced on October 24.
Shah echoed this point, and then explained.
“Before this, in no state was so much time given, 18 days were given. Governor invited parties only after assembly’s tenure ended,” Shah said. But during the first fortnight or so, the BJP president said none of the four lead players in the state politics – Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP or BJP – staked claim to form the government.
Shah also underscored that imposition of central rule and placing the assembly in suspended animation was a reversible process. “Even if today any party has numbers, it can approach Governor,” Shah said.
The BJP has 105 MLAs in the assembly and had the support of 15 independent legislators. But it needed another 25 seats to reach the majority mark.Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena won 56 seats in the state polls and is in talks with the NCP and Congress, which had 54 and 44 seats, respectively.