BJP high command should call me: Uddhav Thackeray
Stubborn Shiv Sena, BJP continue to run around in circles, unmindful of the fact that the House will be dissolved tomorrow
With the saffron alliance seemingly on the verge of collapse, after Uddhav Thackeray accused Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of ostensibly trying to prove him a liar, Shiv Sena insiders feel only Fadnavis and his political bosses can salvage the situation now. The Sena insiders' confidence is based on the bonhomie they have witnessed between CM Fadnavis and their party president Uddhav Thackeray in the past.
Sena leaders who are desperately wishing that this unprecedented impasse ends as early as possible, have been expecting the CM to attempt an unconditional and apologetic route to placate Uddhav.
On Thursday, Uddhav told his MLAs very firmly that the issue wasn't about who would be the CM first in a rotational system but Fadnavis's statement that the Sena was never promised the CMO for two-and-a-half years.
However, some Sena leaders, who are averse to Fadnavis continuing in the top office in the alliance government, said it was too late for the CM to reach out to the Sena chief. "As per our president's demand, the BJP's high command should approach him before the situation gets out of control," said a Sena leader, insisting a resolution would come quicker than expected if negotiations were conducted at the top level.
In Nagpur, BJP's senior leader Nitin Gadkari hoped for a positive decision, but asserted that Fadnavis, who has been elected as the leader, would be the party's CM. "I expect a decision in the interest of the people who have elected the BJP and Sena," he said. Gadkari dismissed a possibility of him replacing Fadnavis as the CM.
On Thursday, a confident Uddhav met all his MLAs and senior leaders in Mumbai and asserted that he would not deviate from his stand. "I'm not doing all this to corner the BJP. But if I'm right in reminding them of the promise made in February, the BJP high command should call me. I don't want anything less or more than what was assured. It is not about whether they get the CM's post first or us. The CM has made a wrong statement," he was reported to have told the legislators, adding that if the BJP did not keep its word then he would declare his final decision at an appropriate time.
Thursday's political development suggested an impending constitutional crisis because the BJP approached Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to discus legal remedies and ramifications of the situation that would arise when it would fail to make a stable government. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil led a delegation to the Raj Bhavan and said later that the BJP and Sena would join hands to govern the state yet again under the leadership of Fadnavis because the people have voted for the grand alliance.
BJP Leader Chandrakant Patil along with Sudhir Mungantiwar, Ashish Shelar and Girish Mahajan after meeting the governor on Thursday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Sena MP Sanjay Raut wondered if the BJP had 145 MLAs to regain the CM's seat. He said that his party had strength enough to install its CM and prove its majority on the floor of the House.
"All parties [except BJP] want the Sena CM to lead the new government," he said, implying his party's reliance on the NCP and the Congress to take its agenda forward. The Sena expects the BJP to face a bigger test in the lower house when the Speaker's election is conducted. It expects Opposition parties to vote against the BJP's Speaker candidate.
In an attempt to prove that Thackeray and Fadnavis are still at good terms, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that as the Sena chief had said Fadnavis was also a Sainik, the alliance partners should happily accept him as the Sena's CM.
Raut retorted asking whether the Sena should also treat PM Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah as the Sena's members.
A way forward
A cautious BJP seems to be aware of things going its way as it ruled out the formation of a minority government. BJP insiders said the party's top priority was to buy time to get the Sena on board as early as possible. The ruling party neither made a claim to form the government on Thursday nor did it say it would go to the Governor before the term of the lower house expired on Friday.
Predicting the events, former CM Prithviraj Chavan said the governor might recommend President's Rule if no party approached him to form the government by Friday. But a constitutional expert said the enforcement of the Delhi rule would not happen immediately.
Shiv Sena MLAs Bhaskar Jadhav, Sunil Prabhu and Pratap Sarnaik after a meeting at Matoshree on Thursday. Pic/ Ashish Raje
"There is no need to have a new government. Fadnavis's Cabinet could be asked to continue as a caretaker government till the BJP and Sena reach an agreement. The Assembly could also be kept in suspended animation," said a senior Vidhan Sabha official. It was also reliably learnt that the governor had summoned the state's advocate general to seek legal assistance and legally interpret the upcoming situation.
Fear of poaching
Fearing poaching, the Sena put up its flock at a modest hotel in Bandra West under the vigil of local heavyweight leaders. Minister of state Gulabrao Patil warned the parties interested against using allurement and force to cause defections. Congress opposition leader in the assembly Vijay Wadettiwar said his group was secured and ready to teach the BJP a lesson if there was an attempt to trick them. State NCP president Jayant Patil said the defectors should understand that their careers would miserably if they tried any shenanigans.
The day the House will be dissolved
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