Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said in February that the next chief minister of Maharashtra would be from his party
Ahead of the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, allies Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are sparring again, this time over the topic of the chief minister's post, according to reports.
A war of words started after Maharashtra's Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said on June 11 that the next chief minister of Maharashtra will be from the BJP and there is no discontent in the alliance over this.
Sena leaders in Maharashtra, however, begged to differ. For one, the secretary of Yuva Sena, Varun Sardesai, on June 11 claimed that both parties will share the CM's post for 2.5 years each. In a tweet, Sardesai claimed that BJP president Amit Shah had "approved" the decision to have rotational chief ministership between the saffron outfits.
"Shivsena Prez Uddhavsaheb and BJP Prez Amitji have decided that Maha CM post will be 2.5 years each. People who weren't present for negotiations, shouldn't spoil the alliance for their personal gains (sic)," Sardesai tweeted, referring to Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray.
"The formula that was applied before the Lok Sabha polls, that of equal share of power, will be followed during the Assembly polls as well," Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande told Moneycontrol, adding that whether or not this includes sharing the CM post will be "announced by Uddhav Thackeray".
The BJP, on its part, has maintained a similar line. "See, Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP President Amit Shah had a meeting regarding this, and they will be the ones taking the decision. Nobody knows what happened during the meeting except those three leaders," BJP leader Keshav Upadhyay told Moneycontrol.
"They have been parroting about equal sharing of power since Lok Sabha elections. Now that they think they can storm to power in Maharashtra alone, they are making these statements," a Sena leader told Moneycontrol, adding that the party is clear it wants to share power "electorally as well as administratively".
"CM Fadnavis had said so himself in February," the leader said, referring to Fadnavis' statement on February 19 when he had said that allies would "equitably share power and posts". Another Sena leader in Maharashtra told Moneycontrol that the party is indeed pushing for the CM post on sharing basis, but "nothing has been confirmed yet".
BJP leaders in the state, meanwhile, stated that what Fadnavis meant by his statement was about the seat-sharing arrangement and not specifically about the CM post.
"Whatever issue they have regarding the sharing of posts, we will sit and discuss and then let everyone know the decision. At this point, it is futile to jump to conclusions," a BJP leader in the state said.
Interestingly, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said in February that the next chief minister of Maharashtra would be from his party.
Last week, BJP minister Chandrakant Patil had stated that the Sena and BJP would contest on 135 seats each, reserving 18 of the 288-member Assembly for smaller allies.Sena had then stated that it expects to contest on 144 seats, while the BJP would provide seats to smaller parties from its quota. Moreover, the Sena had reportedly claimed that the BJP would make its other allies contest on its symbol so that it can claim the CM post.
The Sena and the BJP had contested the 2014 assembly polls separately, but the Uddhav Thackeray-led party joined the government later.
Of the total 288 seats, the BJP had won 122 and emerged as the single largest party. Sena had come a distant second with 63 seats.