The Shiv Sena on Monday started off on a confident note by breaking away from the National Democratic Alliance with its lone representative in the Union Cabinet, Arvind Sawant, submitting his resignation. However, as the day progressed, the confidence gave way to disappointment after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari refused to grant the party an extension that it desperately sought to rustle up the required support from the Congress and the NCP to form the government.
The reluctance of the Congress to enter into an alliance with the Shiv Sena was stated to be one of the reasons that the Congress and NCP failed to give the Sena letters of support within the deadline. “Congress was not comfortable with the Sena’s stand on Ram temple construction and Uniform Civil Code,” said a Sena functionary.
However, another party source said that the main issue was lack of time to obtain the signatures of all NCP legislators who were away in their constituencies, as they had been asked to be present in Mumbai only on Tuesday, November 12. The source said that it was NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s advice to Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray during their meeting today to seek more time from the Governor.
Media reports that the Congress-NCP had handed a letter of support to the Sena had set up a wave of euphoria in the Sena camp. At the suburban Mumbai hotel where the Sena MLAs have been corralled since last Thursday, sweets were distributed. However, with the Congress coming out with a statement after the CWC meeting that it would have “further discussions” with NCP, a pall of gloom descended on the Sena cadre. The decision by Koshyari to deny the party its request for an extension of 48 hours for it to rope in the NCP and Congress for support was seen as the final nail in the Sena’s two-week-long crusade to install a Sainik in the Maharashtra CM’s chair.
On Sunday, after receiving a formal expression from the BJP of its unwillingness to form the government, the Governor invited the Shiv Sena, the second largest party, and gave it time until Monday 7.30 pm to form the government. The leaders in the Sena delegation included Aaditya Thackeray, party legislative leader Eknath Sinde, and senior leaders Subhash Desai, Diwakar Raote, Anil Parab.
“After getting the letter, we started discussions with two other parties (NCP and Congress). Both of them have in principle started discussions to go with us. Since we had time till 7.30 pm, we reached here at 6.45 pm. We told the Governor that we are willing to form the government and staked our claim. While we have submitted the letter of our legislators, the two other parties, after the initial discussions and getting in principle go ahead, require two days to fulfil the process. We requested the Governor to give extension of 48 hours but he has rejected it,” said Aaditya while addressing the media outside the Raj Bhavan.
“Still, while the request for extension has been rejected but our claim is not rejected. Giving a stable government is our duty and we will do that,” he added.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Sena chief also held discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar for almost an hour at a hotel in Bandra (West). Apart from Thackeray and Pawar, Worli legislator Aaditya Thackeray and MP Sanjay Raut from Sena and legislators Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil and MP Sunil Tatkare from NCP were present at the meeting.
Subsequently, Uddhav Thackeray also spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the phone seeking support for government formation. Even senior leaders like MP Anil Desai and party secretary and Uddhav’s PA Milind Narvekar were also in Delhi to meet the congress leaders to seek their support on government formation.