Delhi to Mumbai, a roller-coaster day for Sena

first_imgIt was a day of hectic political negotiations for the Shiv Sena on Monday, though it did not bear the result the saffron party may have expected. Almost every Sena leader spent the day busy in meetings and discussions, racing against the 7.30 p.m. deadline set by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for the party to indicate its willingness and ability to form a government in the State.The day began with Sena MP and Union Minister of Heavy Industries Arvind Sawant announcing his resignation through a tweet around 7.30 a.m. He sent a letter to this effect to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the day. The letter blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for going back on its promise to share the chief minister’s post with the Sena and attempting to call Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray a liar by saying this was never the deal. “That is why Uddhav Thackeray has decided not to stay with those not following the truth and promises. I don’t think it will be right and ethical to be a minister here,” Mr. Sawant said in his letter.‘BJP can’t blame us’As this development unfolded in Delhi, senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut held a press conference around 10 a.m. in Mumbai. “The Governor has given us 24 hours’ time while the BJP was given 72 hours. It is our responsibility to form a government, but when many people are taken together, it requires time. Some people are working to push this State towards President’s Rule. But we are trying until the last moment to give this State a stable government. Had the Governor given us more time, it would have been easier. But we are not complaining,” Mr. Raut said.He asked how the BJP could blame the Sena for not being able to form a government. “In fact, the BJP was so determined not to share the CM’s post with us, as pre-decided, that it decided to sit in the Opposition. This is ahankar (ego) and dwesh (hatred).”He further said, “I appeal to the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP): this is the moment to prove they will do what it takes to keep the BJP out of power. The Shiv Sena is forming the government, and the CM will be from the Sena. We want to build this government on a common minimum programme of farmers’ welfare, unemployment, inflation, education, health and development of the State. All political leaders need to come together to create a common minimum programme.”When asked about ideological differences with the non-saffron Congress-NCP, the MP cited examples of the BJP and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP aligning in Kashmir. “Forget that. These parties are not seditious parties, they were formed on Indian soil and have contributed to the country. We have had differences with the BJP also,” he said.An editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Monday praised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his “maturity” in welcoming the Ayodhya verdict. “It would have helped if political leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi had shown the same maturity,” it said.Later in the day, the seniormost Sena leaders met at the Thackeray residence, Matoshree. At the same time, party leaders Anil Desai and Mr. Sawant also met senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in New Delhi. Talks with PawarMeanwhile, Mr. Thackeray and Mr. Raut met NCP chief Sharad Pawar at a five-star hotel in Bandra. Mr. Raut became indisposed later in the day and could not be a part of further parleys.Speaking during the day, Mr. Desai said, “The Governor has invited us, that is why we are going to meet the him to stake a claim for government formation. We have 118-120 [legislators]. But a crucial meeting of the Congress is under way. On the face of it, we feel the Congress is positive.”Another senior Sena leader, on condition of anonymity, said the Congress seemed to be divided on offering support to the saffron party. “That is why, today we are only going to express ability to form government while requesting for more time,” he said.As the 7.30 p.m. deadline grew closer, the seniormost party leaders, including legislative party leader Eknath Shinde and Worli MLA Aaditya Thackeray, reached Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor. Around the same time, the Sena legislators staying in a resort at Madh island started celebrating, shouting slogans hailing the party, its founder Bal Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray. They also distributed sweets and spoke to news channels about the late Sena founder’s dream of a Sena CM being fulfilled.‘Time not enough’Outside Raj Bhavan, however, Aaditya Thackeray announced that the Governor had refused to grant the Sena an extension. He said the State deserves a stable government and leadership that does not lie to the people. Senior leaders said the party has the capability of providing that government, but the time given to it to complete the process was too less.The Sena delegation had informed the Governor it had in-principle support of 162 MLAs, including those of the Congress, the NCP and about 15 Independents. The delegation included seven Independent MLAs. “If formed, this will be a government of farmers and labourers and the chief minister will be whoever Uddhav Thackeray wants to be,” said Independent MLA Bachhu Kadu. Sena leader Anandrao Adsul said, “We have the support of 160 legislators but could not produce letter of support from the Congress and NCP.” He said the party was confident of proving it had the numbers, soon.“The time given to us is not enough, but our claim still stays,” Aaditya said.last_img

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