The crisis between Shiv Sena and its senior ally BJP over the government formation in Maharashtra has only deepened since the election results, declared on October 24, left the BJP in a weaker position of bargaining.
Shiv Sena leader, in an interview with NDTV on Monday, reiterated his party’s demand for a 50:50 arrangement on chief ministership, saying they will fight for it.
"This is not our demand, this is their (BJP’s) agreement with us... They should understand... they gave us their word before the national election... you can't delete what you said in front of the media," Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying.
On Monday, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena’s Diwakar Raote met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari separately, further giving a rife to speculations of worsening relations between the two parties.
Though Raote described as the meeting as "courtesy calls" for Diwali greetings, Fadnavis said he “also apprised the Governor on the current scenario”.
The BJP and Shiv Sena together won the Maharashtra state elections with a majority, but the seat share of both the parties registered a dip. The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly and the Shiv Sena won 56. The results have, contrary to the expectations of the BJP, left the Shiv Sena in a position where it can call the shots.
Soon after the results were declared, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told the media that the question of next chief minister was an important one and needed to be discussed between the two alliance partners. He also said that it was the time for Shiv Sena to grow as a party, hinting at the 50:50 arrangement, which the BJP has been denying.
"We contested less number of seats for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. I cannot accommodate the BJP every time. We also need to grow our party. I want to remind the BJP of the formula which was worked out in the presence of (BJP president) Amit Shah," Thackeray had said.
Raut said the BJP will have to honour its word.
"You can tear paper, you can make files disappear. You can set fire to the Mantralaya, like they set fire to the Mantralaya to destroy files... But this agreement on power sharing, how will you delete it," Mr Raut said.
Ever since the results have been declared, Shiv Sena has launched several attacks on the BJP, including the economic condition the country is facing.
On Monday, Raut taunted the BJP saying the party "always chants Ram's name" and Ram means truth.
The Shiv Sena is not budging from its demand of a rotational chief minister. During a party meeting on Saturday, Sena demanded from the BJP a written assurance on this arrangement.
Shiv Sena MLA’s are demanding Aaditya Thackeray, who won his debut election from Worli, to be made Chief Minister for two-and-a-half years.
"Uddhav Thackeray will decide on the chief ministerial candidate. But we want, and the people of Maharashtra also want Aaditya Thackeray for the job," Raut was quoted as saying.
On Saturday, Sena, in its mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ attacked the BJP, saying Maharashtra “does not accept power of arrogance”. On Monday, it took a dig at the BJP-led central government over the economic slowdown. Using a popular Bollywood dialogue “Itna Sanata Kyun hai Bhai”, Sena questioned the BJP’s silence over the current economic condition.
As of now the standoff between the two parties persists as none of the parties can stake claim to form the government, for none of the two has a majority on its own.
NCP has also ruled out any possibility of partnering with Sena, saying they have accepted people’s mandate and they will sit in the opposition.
In the standoff, however, it is only the Shiv Sena which is playing the hardball.