Shiv Sena, BJP tussle over Maharashtra CM post begins

Who gets the chief minister’s post after the state Assembly elections later this year?

Four months after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena announced their alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, this question could be putting ties on shaky ground once again.

Late on Monday, Yuva Sena’s general secretary Varun Sardesai said on Twitter that the chief minister’s post will be shared between the allies.

Sardesai was reacting to a statement by senior BJP leader and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in Nasik earlier on Monday, when he had said the next chief minister will be from the BJP. It was also a reaction to reports that BJP’s core committee, in a meeting in Delhi with party president Amit Shah, said the CM’s post would stay with them.

“Shiv Sena Prez Uddhavsaheb and BJP Prez Amitji have decided that Maha CM post will be 2.5 years each,” Sardesai tweeted.

“People who weren’t present for negotiation, shouldn’t spoil the alliance for their personal gains,” said Sardesai, who is Aaditya Thackeray’s cousin.

Earlier, Mungantiwar told reporters, “The next chief minister will be from the BJP. There is no discontent in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance over this. We will even cross 220 Assembly seats, in the 288-member House, this time.”

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s media advisor, Harshal Pradhan, also responded: “Whatever has been said by the chief minister while announcing the alliance, there will not be any change in that.”

The BJP, meanwhile, refused to react to Sena’s tweet. “Why should we react to a tweet by a general secretary of the Yuva Sena?” asked a senior party minister, who did not wish to be named.

The ambiguity over sharing the CM’s tenure has continued since February 18 this year, when the BJP and Sena announced their alliance for the Lok Sabha polls. The two parties agreed to tie up after the BJP agreed to demands made by the Sena. These included equal seat-sharing and power-sharing deals for the Assembly elections.

While announcing the alliance four months ago, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis described the equal power-sharing deal as “equitable sharing of posts and responsibility”. However, it was not clarified if this would include sharing the top post, too.

After the press conference in February, the Sena leaders claimed Fadnavis’s statement meant the CM’s post would be shared equally, for 2.5 years each. However, even then, BJP leaders had maintained the Sena would be given the deputy chief minister’s post.

Recently, in an interview to HT, when asked to clarify the sharing formula, Fadnavis said: Alliances don’t work on speculations. We have decided amongst ourselves how to share responsibilities and how to go forward to give good governance to the state of Maharashtra. Please wait for things to unfold.”

On Tuesday, when asked to comment on the BJP leaders’ claim to the CM’s post, Sena deputy leader and party spokesperson, Neelam Gorhe, said, “Such matters come under the purview Uddhavji, Amitji and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. They would decide whatever is best for the state.” She added that when the CM announced the equitable sharing of posts and power, it included the post of CM.

Last week, another senior BJP leader and state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said Sena and BJP would contest on 135 seats each. The statement has not gone down well with the Sena, as it wants to contest 144 seats and expects the BJP to give seats to smaller allies from its quota. The tussle over the CM post points to more bickering and posturing between the allies ahead of the Assembly polls.

First Published:
Jun 12, 2019 00:29 IST

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