The Shiv Sena continued its attack on the BJP today with a scathing editorial that accuses its former ally of “horse-trading under the guise of President’s Rule” to augment its strength in the house and make a late bid for power. Published in the party mouthpiece Saamana, the editorial hit out at statements by BJP leaders like Amit Shah and state chief Chandrakant Patil, who said his party was backed by 119 MLAs (including 14 independents) and that it would be impossible for any party to rule the state without support from the BJP. The editorial reminded the BJP it opted against trying to form the government in the state because it lacked the numbers.
“Yesterday (Thursday), Amit Shah said the government that will rule the state will have a figure of 145 (the majority mark in the 288-member Assembly). This is constitutionally correct. However, those who are now saying the BJP will come have already met the Governor and stated we do not have a majority,” the article read.
Earlier this week the BJP had refused Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s invitation to form the government because it did not have a majority.
“Will the majority they did not have before emerge from the majority of President’s Rule?” the Sena publication asked.
In his remarks Mr Shah had taken a swipe at the Sena, the Congress and the NCP, telling them that they, like the BJP, had the right to try and form the government but did not have the numbers. However, should the three parties reach an agreement, they will have 154 seats and a majority in the Assembly.
The editorial also comes a day after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari compared the politically unstable situation in the state to a game of cricket and implied that government formation in Maharashtra was far from settled.
“Anything can happen in cricket and politics. Sometimes you feel you are losing the match, but the result is exactly the opposite,” Mr Gadkari said, mere days after the Governor refused to give the Sena-Congress-NCP alliance extra time to work out a power-sharing deal and form the government.
Running with the analogy, the Sena editorial said the sport today had become “less cricket and more business” and compared the spectre of match-fixing cast to its allegations that the BJP was trying to “fix” the political situation in the state.
“In cricket, the game of manipulation and fixing has begun… so there is doubt about the victory. Therefore, it is okay for Gadkari to compare the political game in Maharashtra to a thrilling game of cricket,” the editorial said.
The BJP won 105 seats in October’s elections to emerge as the single-largest party. The Sena, with whom it contested the polls, won 56. Had the Sena-BJP alliance survived post-poll power-sharing talks, forming the government would have been a formality.
However, negotiations broke down over the BJP refusing to a “50:50” deal the Sena claims had been agreed with Amit Shah, forcing the Sena to approach the Congress and the NCP, which won 44 and 54 seats respectively, to form a surprise coalition.
Both the Sena and the Congress stashed their MLAs at resorts to guard against attempts to poach them; the Congress moved its MLAs to Rajasthan, a state where it is in power.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to meet NCP leader Sharad Pawar at an undisclosed location in Mumbai today to continue negotiations. Mr Pawar is then expected in Delhi on Sunday to meet interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi. These meetings will likely decide the fate of the Sena-Congress-NCP project.