Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today emerged from a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah amidst the deadlock between BJP and Shiv Sena over government formation in Maharashtra, refusing to be drawn into a daily war of words with its demanding ally. Answering a question from the journalists, he said that Maharashtra needed a government and that it would be formed as soon as possible.
Meeting was about farmers: Fadnavis
Fadnavis said he could not stop anyone from saying anything and then tried to deflect the attention of reporters to a different issue. As the working chief minister in the absence of a new government following the Assembly election, he said he had asked Amit Shah for further help for farmers on crop wastage due to unseasonal rains.
The meeting had lasted about 40 minutes. Following the meeting, Fadnavis said he had met the home minister to discuss the issue of farmers and seek the Centre’s assistance. He said it was his job to inform the Centre about the preliminary assessment of the on-ground situation. He said he had asked for a central team to visit the State immediately to assess the extent of loss to the farmers.
In the results of the Maharashtra Assembly elections announced on 24 October, the BJP won 105 seats while Shiv Sena won 56 seats. No party got a majority in the 288-member Assembly. This led to the Sena demanding a price from the BJP for government formation, which the bigger partner is reluctant to concede.
In the meantime, if Fadnavis’s claim that his meeting with Shah was only about farmers were to be true, the only reliable news that the media has about the meeting would be the chief minister’s seeking of financial assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund to cope with the unseasonal rains.
The state government has announced a relief package of Rs 10,000 crore to the affected farmers although the Congress and NCP, along with BJP ally Shiv Sena, have described this package as inadequate. The State government has said that 52.44 lakh hectare of land had been damaged due to unseasonal rains. The term of the current Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra will end on 9 November.
If BJP isn’t impatient, Congress, NCP, Sena aren’t sitting idle
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar arrived in Delhi on Monday. He met Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi at 11 AM. On Saturday, Ajit Pawar had spoken of the meeting of the two leaders.
In the meantime, the Shiv Sena is meeting Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 5 PM on Monday. At the meeting, Shiv Sena politician Sanjay Raut will inform the governor about the political situation arising in Maharashtra after the election.
The Congress has 44 seats and the NCP has 54 MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly. Independent MLAs number more than a dozen. If all these parties come together, the figure reaches close to 170. While that would cross the majority mark of 144 seats in the Assembly, sources in all the three parties said such a coalition government could not last long because of issues like mutually contradicting ideologies of the government constituents as well as personality clashes.
The Shiv Sena is but not snapping its ties with the BJP right away. Asked if his party now had the ‘remote control’ of government formation. Raut said this was not a game. “Rather, it is a matter of trust, self-respect and truth for the Shiv Sena,” he said.
Raut said, “Maharashtra has never tolerated lies. If you do not accept what was decided, people will teach you a lesson. The hindrance is from those who lie.” He said that if the BJP president and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sat and discussed the matter, the deadlock could be resolved.
While Fadnavis did issue counter-statements on 28-29 October, sources in the BJP say he has been asked to exercise restraint. The idea of the party leadership is to “tire out” its junior partner Shiv Sena that it believes would return to the old alliance in spirit after its search for alternative ways to form the government yields no result.