New Delhi: With the Shiv Sena seeking a shot at government formation in Maharashtra, the party’s Lok Sabha MP and Union Minister, Arvind Sawant, resigned from the Narendra Modi government Monday.
Sawant tweeted his decision at 7.39 am Monday.
“Shiv Sena is on the side of the truth. Why stay in Delhi government in such a false environment? And that is why I am resigning as the Union Minister,” he tweeted, adding that he will be holding a press conference in Delhi at 11 am.
शिवसेनेची बाजू सत्याची आहे. अशा खोट्या वातावरणात दिल्लीतील सरकार मध्ये तरी का रहायचे?
आणि म्हणूनच मी केंद्रीय मंत्री पदाचा राजीनामा देत आहे. या संदर्भात आज सकाळी ११.०० वा. दिल्ली येथे मी पत्रकार परिषद (Press Conference) घेणार आहे.
— Arvind Sawant (@AGSawant) November 11, 2019
Addressing a press conference at Delhi’s Maharashtra Sadan later in the day, Sawant said the BJP and the Shiv Sena had agreed to a 50-50 power-sharing arrangement before the assembly elections.
“Before the assembly election, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and the Home Minister (Amit Shah) had discussed seat-sharing. It was agreed that there will be a 50-50 seat- sharing formula for every post, including the chief minister’s,” he added. “The BJP has refused to honour the commitment. They have broken our trust. Trust means a lot to the Thackeray family,” Sawant added.
The two-term MP, who handles the heavy industries and public enterprises portfolio, said he had sent his resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he did not think “it’s morally right to continue as minister in the government”. He added that he had sought time to meet the PM to submit his resignation but did not get an appointment.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, which he also tweeted, Sawant accused the BJP of trying to prove Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray a liar. “[Shiv Sena founder] Balasaheb Thackeray has taught all of us one value — before giving your word you should think a 100 times but once you have given your word, just abide by it till your last breath,” he said. “Our leader Uddhav Thackeray imbibes this value in his work and expects the same from his friends.”
Sawant’s decision to resign from the Union cabinet follows the souring of the BJP-Shiv Sena relationship in Maharashtra, where the alliance could not reach an agreement to form the government despite having a majority in the 288-member assembly.
His decision comes amid efforts by the Shiv Sena to form the government in Maharashtra with the support of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. One of the NCP’s conditions to ally with the Shiv Sena was that the party pull out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.
Though the NCP looks willing to join a Sena-led government, its ally Congress has been non-committal so far. The way the numbers are stacked — the Sena has 56 MLAs, the Congress 44 and the NCP 54 in the 288-member assembly — the Congress must join the government or support it from outside.
Given that Sharad Pawar has been in constant touch with the Congress on the issue, the Sena may have reasons to hope for Congress support. Also, most of the Congress MLAs are in favour of supporting a non-BJP government.
Also read: Why Nitin Gadkari could be the answer to BJP-Sena stalemate in Maharashtra
BJP in a bind
The BJP, which is the single largest party with 105 MLAs, Sunday announced that it would not form the government in Maharashtra as the Shiv Sena is not willing to join it.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil held a press conference and accused the Shiv Sena of disrespecting the mandate. “The mandate was for Mahayuti (BJP-Shiv Sena alliance) and since Shiv Sena is not ready to support government formation we have told the governor that we will not be able to form the government,” Patil said.
Following the BJP’s refusal to form the government, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari Sunday invited the Shiv Sena to form the government.
On Friday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had countered remarks and statements of BJP leaders — from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to union minister Nitin Gadkari — one after another. After media reports on BJP statements that the Shiv Sena’s demand to sit in the chief minister’s office for half of the term was never accepted by the party high command, Uddhav came out all guns blazing. “I am not a BJP walah. I do not lie. They had promised us and are now going back on their words,” he said.
Also read: Amit Shah ‘arrogance’ delaying Maharashtra govt formation — Sena leader asks RSS to step in
This report has been updated with quotes from Sawant’s press conference and his letter to the PM.
The tectonic plates have begun to move. One can not speak for the high command, but wild horses would not be able to drag Congressmen away from the stage where the new government will be sworn in. The more adventurous will be planning for which portfolios they will get.
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