Devendra Fadnavis resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra hours before the end of the assembly’s term on Friday, but was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister as the decades-old alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena teetered on breaking point.
Fadnavis met governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in the evening and was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister until an alternative arrangement is found.
The political turmoil between the two members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came out in the open after both parties accused each other of failing to honour the terms of a bargain.
Leading the attack for the BJP was Fadnavis, who said statements made by Shiv Sena leaders against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah would not be tolerated.
“I submitted my resignation to the governor and he has accepted it. The governor has asked me to continue as caretaker chief minister till the time an alternate arrangement is made. (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray is respected by all of us; in fact we never said anything against Uddhav Thackeray, but in past five years and, especially last 10 days, the kind of statements made against our top leadership, including PM Narendra Modi, were not tolerable," said Fadnavis.
He said there had been no pre-poll arrangement with Shiv Sena for rotational chief ministers and no such discussion had taken place between Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and him.
“I again want to make it clear that it was never decided that for two-and-a-half years each the CM post will be shared. There was never a decision on this issue. Even Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari said this was never decided," Fadnavis told reporters.
Soon after the statement, a war of words broke out.
“Devendra Fadnavis has taken credit for all the development but Shiv Sena was also part of the government. This is the first time that someone has accused a member of the Thackeray family of lying. Shiv Sena is not a party of liars," said Thackeray during a separate press conference.
“I had made a promise to my father that one day Shiv Sena will have a chief minister in Maharashtra. I will fulfil my promise with or without BJP," Thackeray added. Fadnavis accused the Shiv Sena chief of not responding to his calls.
“I had told Amit Shah clearly that we want division of portfolios and division of chief minister’s post," Thackeray insisted.
The two NDA partners have been at each other’s throats since 24 October, when the results of the assembly election were declared. BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena 56, the opposition Nationalist Congress Party 54 and Congress 44 seats. BJP had a pre-poll alliance with Shiv Sena and the two partners had a clear majority in the 288-member assembly.
Fadnavis’s resignation throws the role of the governor into sharp relief, as it is Koshyari who will now decide on the future course of action. Koshyari could yet invite Fadnavis to form the government in the state as the BJP is the single largest party.
The resignation also takes Maharashtra a step closer to the possibility of President’s rule, with the term of the previous legislative assembly ending at midnight Friday. “It is unfortunate that the day when assembly election results were announced, Uddhav Thackeray said all options were open for government formation. It was shocking for us as people had given mandate for the alliance," said Fadnavis.
Shiv Sena has been adamant for the past 14 days that there would be no compromise on the post of chief minister and demanded a 50:50 formula of power sharing, which was purportedly decided by both the parties before the Lok Sabha elections. But the BJP is not keen to give away the post of chief minister.