Ideological allies part ways over the power-sharing differences
Geetanjali Minhas | November 11, 2019 | Mumbai
The BJP’s oldest ally Shiv Sena is once again parting ways, putting their alliance behind and preparing to form government in Maharashtra with the support of the NCP and Congress.
Nineteen days after the legislative assembly elections, despite a clear mandate for the BJP and Sena, Maharashtra remained headless amid differences among the saffron allies over the sharing of top post. The BJP has now decided not to stake the claim, leaving the Sena to find support among the NCP and the Congress.
The term of the 13th assembly ended on Saturday. A day earlier, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tendered his resignation to governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who asked him to continue as caretaker chief minister. The governor asked him on Saturday to express willingness and ability to form government.
On Sunday, after two core committee meetings, BJP Maharashtra chief Chandrakant Patil announced that despite the mandate with the alliance, the BJP will not form government as it does not have the simple majority on its own. The BJP has won 105 seats, but it requires support of 40 more MLAs to form government. Fifteen independent legislators from smaller parties had come forward with their support, but the numbers don’t add up. Patil accused the Shiv Sena of insulting people’s mandate.
The governor then asked the leader of the elected members of the second largest party, Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde to form government and to reply by 7.30 pm on Monday.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackarey and senior leader Sanjay Raut reiterated that Maharashtra will have a Shiv Sena chief minister at any cost. Both allies have indulged in heated exchange of words.
Amidst hectic parleys, NCP Mumbai president Nawab Malik said that his party had called a meeting of all their MLA to discuss the course of action. Malik said that if Shiv Sena wanted their support it will have to dissociate with BJP and pull out of their alliance with NDA. On Monday morning, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant resigned from the union cabinet, thus paving the way for the NCP support.
Amidst the threat of ‘poaching’, Shiv Sena had last week moved its legislators to a beach resort in Malad, Mumbai.
All 44 newly elected Congress MLAs including senior leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat are staying at a resort in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan. Ashok Chavan is quoted to have said that the Congress does not want the president’s rule in Maharashtra and the newly elected MLAs will seek advice from the party high command on the party’s political stand in the state.
Earlier, when Shiv Sena had reached out to NCP and Congress, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had ruled out support to a government headed by Sena.
In the polls held on October 21 to the 288-member assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena 56, NCP 54 and Congress 44.
If NCP decides to ally with Shiv Sena both still need Congress for the required number of 145. Earlier both NCP and Congress had said that they were ready to sit in the opposition.
Speaking to Governance Now, former Maharashtra advocate general Shrihari Aney said that too much heated exchange of words had taken place between BJP and Shiv Sena, and due to increasing acrimony he does not see them coming together. Aney did not rule out the president’s rule in the state and said that mid-term polls were a probability given the current political situation. “Both parties have failed the people who voted for them,” he added.
The bone of contention between the two parties has been the sharing of the chief minister’s post on a rotational basis for two and a half years each. The Shiv Sena has maintained that they had arrived at 50:50 power sharing formula to fight elections together which was agreed by BJP chief Amit Shah before the May Lok Sabha elections. According to the BJP, the understanding was for equal sharing of portfolios and equal participation in the decision-making process.
While both parties have spoken of an understanding, there is no formal agreement on paper. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has been referring to his promise to his father and the Sena founder, Bal Thackeray, to have a Shiv Sena chief minister in Maharashtra.
Though both parties fought separately in the 2014 assembly elections, they decided to come together this time.
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