A war of words has ensued between ruling Shiv Sena and its former ally, the BJP after the union home minister Amit Shah said he did not promise Shiv Sena – then BJP’s partner – to share the chief minister’s post if the alliance retained power in Maharashtra after the 2019 Assembly polls.
The Sena, which ditched the BJP soon after the polls to form the government with the NCP and Congress, shot back, wondering what took the former national BJP chief over a year to come out with his version on the much-discussed topic in the state politics.
Uddhav Thackeray had claimed that Shah, who was then BJP president, had assured at his ‘Matoshree’ bungalow in Mumbai that the CM’s post would be shared by the two parties, and the BJP reneged on the promise. The Sena Rajya Sabha member and party spokesman Sanjay Raut responded to Union Minister Shah’s attack on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about promises made in a ‘closed room’, saying that the same closed room has benefited the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. “In the same ‘closed room’ that Shah is talking about, Balasaheb ji gave his blessings to the BJP and many senior leaders for Hindutva… PM Modi and Amit Shah have benefitted. Everyone knows this,” Raut claimed.
The vocal Sena leader who was instrumental for isolating BJP from Sena and forming an alternative government with NCP and Congress said, “Why should we (Shiv Sena) lie about anything? For power? Shiv Sena was not born for power,” he said, adding that for them, it was a temple, not a ‘closed room.’
Raut claimed that there was a closed door meeting between Shah and Thackeray and pointed out, “If we’re talking about ‘closed rooms’, the Home Minister should listen to the press conference that Devendra Fadnavis addressed in Hotel Blue Sea once again. He clearly said that in talks that took place in a ‘closed room’, Amit Shah and Uddhav ji were there. After that, it was decided that power-sharing and seat-sharing would be 50-50.”
While addressing a meeting at Kankavli in Konkan region on Sunday, Shah said, “I don’t make promises in closed rooms. Whatever I do, I do it openly. I don’t do politics in closed rooms.”He said the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government in Maharashtra comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress is like an auto-rickshaw whose three wheels were pulling in different directions.
This MVA is an unholy alliance and an outcome of betraying the people’s mandate which was for a BJP-Shiv Sena government led by BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, Shah said, adding the MVA alliance is a result of the lust for power.
The Thackeray-led Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP after the 2019 Assembly polls in over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post with the BJP, and later forged an alliance with the NCP and Congress to come to power.
It is being claimed that the BJP broke the promise, Shah said, adding his party honours the promises it makes. “We don’t speak white lies. We are the ones who honour commitments. In Bihar, we had said that even if the BJP gets more seats, Nitish Kumar will continue to be the CM,” Shah said. Slamming Thackeray, Shah said the Shiv Sena leader addressed poll rallies with him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Maharashtra Assembly election.
In the poll posters of Shiv Sena candidates, Modi’s pictures were bigger than Thackeray’s, Shah said. “We sought votes for the BJP-Sena alliance led by Fadnavis. Why didn’t you speak out then? You just garnered votes in Modi’s name,” Shah said. Reacting to his remarks, Sena leader and former Union minister Arvind Sawant said the fact that Shah took a year and half to claim that he had not made any promise (to Thackeray) on sharing chief ministers post raises suspicions.
Another Sena MLA Manisha Kayande said that why was the union Home Minister raising the issue of ‘Shiv Sena claiming votes in PM’s name’ after one and half year.