“Why Stay In Delhi?” Sena MP Quits As Union Minister Amid Tussle With BJP

Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant tweeted this morning that he was quitting as Union Minister.

New Delhi/ Mumbai: 

The Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant announced this morning that he was resigning as a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, in what is seen as a precursor to the party’s severing of ties with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after a feud over government formation in Maharashtra.

“Shiv Sena’s side is the truth. Why stay in the government in Delhi in such an environment? That is why I am resigning as Union Minister,” Arvind Sawant tweeted, declaring that he would soon address the media on his decision.

The Shiv Sena was on Sunday invited by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to indicate “willingness and ability” to form government in the state after the BJP said it would not stake claim to power.

“If the Shiv Sena wants to insult the mandate of the people and form government with the support of the NCP and Congress, they have our best wishes,” the BJP said.

“The mandate of the people was for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. We cannot form the government on our own,” Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said after meeting with the Governor.

The Sena called a late-night meeting of the top leaders to discuss the governor’s invite.

Sena’s Sanjay Raut said the state will have a Sena Chief Minister “at any cost”. Without spelling anything out, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party said it would “support a stable government”.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is expected to reach out to Sharad Pawar today.

Caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigned on Friday. On Saturday, as the term of the legislative assembly ended without any resolution, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited the BJP to form government.

The BJP and the Sena, long-term allies for more than 25 years, won a majority together in last month’s Maharashtra elections. The BJP won 105 seats and the Sena 56, which placed them comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly.

However, the Sena refused to form government with the BJP without an agreement, in writing, that it would have the chief minister’s post for half the term and an equal share in ministries, in what it called a “50:50” deal discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah. As Devendra Fadnavis denied any such deal, the Sena’s attacks on the BJP became more and more vitriolic.

Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, which finished at number three and four in the polls, lack the numbers and both parties earlier said that they were ready to sit in the opposition. The NCP has 54 MLAs and the Congress, 44.

In an editorial in Saamana, the party mouthpiece, the Sena last week said: “With 54 MLAs of NCP, 44 Cong MLAs and few independents, we can reach majority. The Sena can present its own Chief Minister and for that, 3 parties with independent ideology should form policies which are acceptable to all”.

But after a meeting with Sharad Pawar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi ruled out the possibility of aligning with the Shiv Sena. Congress leaders of Maharashtra are likely to make another attempt at persuading their leadership to agree to support the Sena.

After the Governor’s invite, the Sena moved its legislators to a resort in Madh Island, two hours away from Mumbai. “We believe that the BJP will try all means to induce our MLAs,” said Sanjay Raut.

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