BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Nov 7 (IANS) As the political crisis in Maharashtra continued for the 15th day and 48 hours remained before the state assembly’s tenure expires on November 9, the Shiv Sena on Thursday accused ally Bharatiya Janata Party of “pushing the state towards President’s Rule”.
“It (the BJP) is the single-largest party… If it is so confident, it should stake claim to form the government and submit a list of 145 supporting MLAs. If they can’t do it, they should publicly announce it and prepare to sit in Opposition,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
“By not initiating any steps to form the government, the BJP is now allowing other options and deliberately pushing the state to President’s Rule. This is an insult to the people of Maharashtra. The times have changed. After you are out of power, the politics of ‘Saam, Daam, Dand and Bhed’ will not work,” he said in another sharp attack on BJP.
Asked about options, Raut – who claims the Sena has the support of 170 MLAs – shot back saying the Sena doesn’t speak of alternatives, and “we shall prove it on the floor of the assembly”.
“The Constitution is for the people of the country, not anybody’s private property… Constitutionally, a Shiv Sena CM should be there,” he added sternly.
In a day of fast-paced developments, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari categorically stated that he was not returning to state politics, implying he was not in the race for the post of Chief Minister, while Sena President Uddhav Thackeray addressed a meeting of all 56 party MLAs at his home and secured their endorsement for his stand and his future decisions on the issue of government formation.
“Let them call up. There can be discussions. The issue is not whether their CM or our CM will be first, it is about sharing the post for 30 months each, as per the understanding arrived earlier. We want nothing more,” Thackeray declared at the meeting amidst a resounding round of applause.
Contrary to indications, a BJP delegation led by party chief Chandrakant Patil and three other ministers called on Governor B. S. Koshyari seeking his advice on legal-constitutional aspects in the current stalemate.
Shortly thereafter, Advocate-General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni called on the Governor to discuss and advise him on the options available in the present scenario confronting the state.
Going by precedents and conventions, the Governor may invite the single-largest party – the BJP now – to explore possibilities of forming a stable government. Currently, the BJP-Sena are in a deadlock over the post of CM and equitable power sharing.
In another development, Maharashtra Congress President Balasahab Thorat alleged that the BJP was attempting to “poach” its MLAs in its desperate bid to form the government.
While the Congress has called a meeting of all its 44 MLAs, the Sena has taken a precautionary measure of herding all its 56 MLAs in a modest suburban hotel in Bandra.
The legislators, who are from Mumbai and different parts of Maharashtra, are expected to be at the Hotel Rangsharda near the Bandstand in Bandra West over the next two-three days.
Belying its image of the glamour and Bollywood hub of Mumbai, the locality where the hotel is situated is relatively quiet, unglamorous and middle-class on the southern corner of Bandra suburb.
On their part, the BJP said that the party which has 105 MLAs was not inclined to form a “minority government”, but minister Sudhir Mungantiwar assured that a government led by Fadnavis with all allies including the Sena would take office soon.
Claiming that the BJP’s stance has created political instability, Raut reinforced the party stand this evening saying that a Sena CM would be sworn-in and they would prove their strength on the floor of house.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief and legal expert Prakash Ambedkar called on the Governor and submitted a memorandum, seeking immediate steps towards government formation for avoiding a Constitutional crisis in the state.
Ranked amongst the most politically stable states in the country, in its entire 59-year history, Maharashtra has witnessed spells of President’s Rule only twice – for 112 days in February-June, 1980 and later for 33 days in September-October 2014.
Now, all eyes are on Raj Bhavan and the steps Governor Koshyari would initiate over the next couple of days before the assembly tenure ends on Saturday, to ensure a stable government in Maharashtra, as per its stellar past reputation.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)