After a 30-year alliance that lasted through good and bad times, the Shiv Sena on Monday said it is breaking all ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party as the power sharing formula in Maharashtra drove an irreparable wedge between the two partners, who till before the elections said their shared Hindutva ideology had kept them together.
Often compared to a bad marriage, the Shiv Sena and the BJP’s relationship had been rocky over the last few years as both tussled to be the dominant partner in the key state, where the power axis had tilted considerably towards the latter.
Confirming the split, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said if the BJP was not willing to fulfill its promise of sharing the chief minister's post in Maharashtra, there was no point in continuing the alliance. The Sena is now moving ahead with forming the government with the support of the NCP and the Congress.
According to sources, a Sena delegation will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 2.30pm on Monday to stake claim to power and hand over a letter of support from the two parties. The saffron party is likely to ask for more time to prove its majority in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
The Sena, which is the second-largest party in the 288-member House with 56 MLAs after the BJP (105), has time till 7.30 pm on Monday to stake claim to form government. The Congress has 44 MLAs and the NCP 54, taking the collective strength of all the three parties to 154, nine clear of the halfway mark.
Sharing of power, especially the post of the chief minister on a rotational basis, was the bone of contention between the Sena and the BJP which resulted into a deadlock. The Sena and the BJP were locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of the post of the chief minister since the last 17 days after the results of the assembly polls were announced.
Fadnavis had rejected Thackeray's claims that BJP chief Amit Shah was agreed to his demand for a rotational chief ministership ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Announcing the party's decision to not form government on Sunday evening, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil accused the Uddhav Thackeray-led party of "disrespecting" the popular mandate secured by the NDA in recent assembly polls.
Raut told reporters that it was the BJP that "insulted" people's mandate by not abiding to the "50:50" formula, which, he claimed, was decided before the Lok Sabha polls.
He also said that when the BJP could tie-up with the People's Democratic Party (PDP) to form government in the then Jammu and Kashmir state, why the Sena could not do the same with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra.
"The BJP's arrogance that it would sit in the opposition but not share the chief minister's post has led to this situation...if the BJP is not willing to implement its promise, then there is no meaning in stay with the alliance," the Rajya Sabha member said.
The Shiv Sena has also exited the BJP-led NDA at the Centre as the party’s lone member in the Union Cabinet, Arvind Sawant, said he would resign as the heavy industries minister.
Reaching out to the opposition parties, Raut said the Congress and NCP should bury their internal differences to come up with a 'common minimum programme' in the interest of Maharashtra. "The Sena, NCP and Congress agree on protecting the interest of Maharashtra," he said.
Hours after the BJP declined to form government in Maharashtra on Sunday, the Governor had asked the Sena to "indicate its willingness and ability" to stake claim.