MUMBAI: The BJP's Devendra Fadnavis said today that no rotational formula was agreed upon with the Shiv Sena, as it has insisted while demanding an equal share of power in Maharashtra. "There is no doubt in my mind that I will be Chief Minister for five years," he said to questions about the Sena's hard bargaining stalling government formation in the state.
He said there was no formula to split the Chief Minister's post between the two parties for terms of two-and-a-half years each, as claimed by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray - and he had it from his top leadership. "Amit Shah (BJP president) indicated to me no formula had been discussed for chief ministership," Mr Fadnavis said. He also said the Shiv Sena had made no demands.
Sanjay Raut, who has been the Sena's most vocal arbiter in the feud, delivered an instant retort. "If Devendra Fadnavis has the support of145 MLAs (majority mark in assembly), he can form the government," he said.
Mr Fadnavis, the only Chief Minister to complete a full five year term in Maharashtra in over 50 years, also asserted that neither BJP nor the Shiv Sena was exploring other options.
"We don't need a plan B," he said.
In last week's Maharashtra election, the BJP won 105 seats and the Shiv Sena scored 56. Together, the two have 161 seats, way past the half-way mark of 144, but with the BJP's dependence for numbers higher this time, the Sena has set its terms.
Soon after the election results, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said: "Before the Lok Sabha elections, Amitbhai (Amit Shah) had come to my house, and we had say together and decided on a formula. Now the time has come to implement that formula."
The BJP is emphatic about Devendra Fadnavis staying Chief Minister for the entire term and says there was no such deal before the assembly election. It is widely believed the Sena wants Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya Thackeray to do a stint as chief minister.
The feud between the long-term allies has been marked by daily reminders from the Sena, publicly and unsubtly, in the form of digs, attacks and pungent editorials in the Sena mouthpiece Saamna.
"The Saamna derails talks," he said, also confirming that the publication's editor Sanjay Raut had upset many BJP leaders.
"We don't give Sanjay Raut importance but people wonder why they fight elections together and then say such things," said the Chief Minister.
Yesterday, Mr Raut had gone as far as to warn the BJP, "Don't compel us to commit the sin of tying up with the NCP (Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party) and Congress". This was based on reports that the NCP and the Congress were ready to back the Sena to keep the BJP out of power.
Mr Fadnavis, in response, remarked: "Sharad Pawar hasn't said he will support Shiv Sena. Everybody has made their position clear."