Maharashtra political crisis LIVE Updates | Sixteen days after the Maharashtra Assembly election results, the unfolding events took another spin as the single-largest party and the major partner of the winning alliance, Bharatiya Janata Party, declared that it was unable to form the government.
The BJP informed Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari of its decision, after the latter had invited the party to show its ‘willingness and ability’ to form the government in state. Following procedure, Koshyari has now invited the Shiv Sena, the second largest party, to stake claim to power.
Announcing the BJP’s decision, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil accused the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, which is adamant on its demand for a rotational chief ministership, of “disrespecting” the popular mandate secured by the BJP and the Sena in the recent Assembly polls.
“The mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. Sena has, however, disrespected the mandate, hence we have decided to not stake claim to form government. We have informed our decision to governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari,” Patil told reporters outside Raj Bhavan.
He wished “good luck” to the Sena if it wanted to form the government with the help of Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
Sena, meanwhile, has maintained that it will install its chief minister at all costs.
The Congress has so far remained wary of making any concrete comments and is currently holding consultations. Senior NCP leader Nawab Malik said the party will take a decision only after the Sena walks out of the NDA and gives a formal proposal seeking support to form a government.
The Maha story so far
The BJP and the Sena had together won 161 seats in the 288-member House, well above the halfway mark of 145. However, the trouble between the allies started after 24 October when the results were announced. Upon discovering that the BJP (105) could not secure the majority (145) by itself, the Sena asserted its claim over the chief minister’s post. Sena claimed that the BJP had promised it an equal share in power before Lok Sabha election, which, it said, meant that notwithstanding its seat share (56), it was entitled to chief minister’s post for half the term of the elected Assembly. The BJP, however, denied having agreed to such an arrangement.
The Sena continued its attack on its ally of 30 years, while flirting with Sharad Pawar’s NCP. It did not hold talks with BJP even once, while Sena’s senior leader Raut visited Pawar twice and dialed up his nephew Ajit Pawar too, as per the latter’s claim. Uddhav later accepted to have suspended talks because BJP had outright denied that the parties had ever agreed upon a 50:50 power sharing formula. “We do not do business with those who make it seem like we are liars. Nobody has ever called the Thackeray family a liar,” Uddhav had told reporters after Fadnavis’ tirade against his party.
Fadnavis had accused Sena of jeopardising the alliance, stating that he was hurt and shocked by Sena’s changed demeanour after the elections. On Sena’s statement that the mandate was against Fadnavis, the caretaker chief minister subtly highlighted that his party had a better strike rate than Sena.
Fadnavis said BJP’s “strike rate” was better in 2019 than in 2014. “We contested 260 seats in 2014 and won 47 percent seats and 28 percent votes. In 2019, we contested 150 seats. We won 70 percent of seats and 26 percent votes,” he said.
Sena, which contested alone in 2014, won 63 out of 282 seats with a strike rate of 22.34 percent. In 2019, it fought on 126 seats and won 56 with a strike rate of 45 percent.
Where do other players stand?
Congress, which had been watching the show from the sidelines for the first time showed signs of the intent for an alliance.
While senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said his party did not want President’s Rule in the state, another party leader Milind Deora hinted at his support for an alliance with Sena by stating that NCP and Congress should try to form the government since the BJP has failed. An ‘attempt’ such as the one suggested by Deora is mathematically impossible without the Sena’s support to the Maha-agadhi alliance.
Sanjay Nirupam was the only voice in Congress who openly opposed an alliance with Sena based on ideological differences. Nirupam said “it seems the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has broken”, and that he would urge his party leadership not to encourage government formation with the Sena’s help as it will “not be a stable government” and both the Congress and NCP will suffer.
On its part, the NCP has also taken a cautious route. While on one hand, NCP’s national chief Pawar kept insisting that NCP is content to sit in the Opposition, party’s state president Nawab Malik dropped ample hints that if Sena was ready to sever all ties with BJP, there may be scope for an alternative arrangement. Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday met the party’s newly elected MLAs from Maharashtra, who are staying at a resort in Jaipur, to discuss the political situation in the state while NCP chief Sharad Pawar met some of his party leaders in Mumbai.
A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has deputed two observers to hold discussions with the MLAs in Jaipur on what stand the party should take in view of the impasse on government formation.
“The Congress has to decide if it wants to stop the BJP in Maharashtra or whether it doesn’t care if the BJP is able to form a government. An alternative government can be formed only with Congress’ support,” he said.
He also said that Congress General Secretary Mallikarjun Kharge held informal talks with the Maharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur in the morning.
He also brushed aside suggestions that the governor could invite the Congress-NCP for government formation as the ‘second largest’ alliance, claiming no such provision existed in the Sarkaraia Commission’s recommendations.
In another development, NCP chief Sharad Pawar also held a meeting with some of his party leaders in Mumbai. Refusing to speak on a “non-BJP alliance”, Pawar said he would react only to Congress’ official statement.
“I cannot go by news reports about the decision of the Congress. I will react only when the Congress officially informs me about its decision,” Pawar told reporters.
With inputs from agencies
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