The Fadnavis government on Tuesday found itself in an unenviable situation with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose party had declared outside support doing a U-turn, saying the stability of the 18-day-old dispensation was not its responsibility and asking his party workers to be ready for a snap poll.
“Having a stable government in Maharashtra isn’t NCP’s responsibility. We have to be ready to face snap polls in Maharashtra,” Pawar said addressing a two-day meeting of the party which got underway on Tuesday at Alibaug in Raigad district.
“The present situation in Maharashtra is not of long term political stability. If the political instability continues, then in four to six months the state may have to face polls and that will not be good for Maharashtra,” the Maratha strongman said.
After declaring unconditional outside support to the minority BJP government the day Assembly poll threw up a hung verdict, NCP has been showing signs of a rethink in the party over continuing support to the Devendra Fadnavis government.
Pawar’s remarks come within a week of Fadnavis securing a controversial trust vote in the Assembly where the confidence motion was passed by a voice vote in complete chaos. NCP MLAs were reported to have remained seated quietly in their seats when the motion was put to a voice vote and declared passed.
Shiv Sena and Congress had disapproved of the procedure and petitioned the Governor to direct the government to seek a trust vote afresh.
“Pawar’s statement isn’t unexpected. People in Maharashtra who have seen Pawar’s politics from close quarters won’t be in the least surprised by his statement today,” BJP’s state chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari told.
“We did not seek support from NCP or appealed for help. Despite this, Pawar on his own declared unconditional support.
Fadnavis had on Sunday said his nascent ministry would be expanded ahead of the Winter Session beginning on December 8 and that the door was still open for talks with Shiv Sena for its participation in the government.
“The doors for talks with Sena are not closed. In politics such a thing never happens. Talks are possible,” Fadnavis had told reporters in Nagpur.
Amid the flip-flop by NCP, BJP had reached out to Shiv Sena on Monday, the second death anniversary of its founder Bal Thackeray, promising to fulfil the party’s demand for a befitting memorial to the late leader, an architect of the saffron alliance that weathered vicissitudes to last 25 years before coming apart ahead of the Assembly election.
While Fadnavis paid respect to Thackeray’s makeshift memorial at Shivaji Park, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Australia, tweeted: “On Pujya Balasaheb Thackeray’s Punya Tithi, I salute the great man who always lived for the people & stood for their well-being.”
Sniggering at the discomfiture Pawar’s statement may have caused in BJP, Shiv Sena said the “keys” to the survival of the government was now in its hands.
“I am sure there won’t be fresh polls in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena has the ‘keys’ to keep the government stable or unstable,” Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut said.
“We have not taken any decision as of now about joining the government. We will decide according to the situation at that time. For now, I can only say we are ready to be a strong opposition party,” Uddhav said when asked if Sena will be a part of the government when the Cabinet is expanded.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ on Monday, Shiv Sena had indicated it would continue to maintain distance from BJP.
“We do not need to sit and think over what went wrong (with BJP) during the Assembly elections and what happened thereafter. But whoever has brought Maharashtra to the state it is now has to repent for the misdeeds. They should not look to Sena with hope in the future,” it had said.