In the BJP-Shiv Sena power tussle that has stalled government formation in Maharashtra despite a majority for the alliance, a Sena leader today delivered a stinging attack with a reference to Haryana.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, when asked about the delay despite its pre-poll alliance with the BJP, told news agency ANI: "There is no Dushyant (Chautala) here whose father is in jail. Here it's us who do politics of 'dharma and satya' (ethics and truth) Sharad (Pawar) who created an environment against BJP and the Congress who will never go with BJP."
He added: "If someone wants to keep us away from power, then it is an honour for us. A decision will be taken soon. We are currently observing that to what lows people can resort to. As decided before the Lok Sabha elections, our only demand is that things should work according to what has been decided earlier."
The BJP, which fell short of a majority in Haryana, has formed government with support from Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), with the post of Deputy Chief Minister for its chief Dushyant Chautala, whose campaign was built on criticism of the BJP.
The opposition has accused the BJP of using Dushyant Chautala's father Ajay Chautala in its negotiations. Ajay Chautala is serving time in jail for corruption; a day after the BJP announced its tie-up with Dushyant Chautala, his father was granted furlough from prison.
Dushyant Chautala reacted sharply to the dig. "It means he knows who Dushyant Chautala is. My father has been in jail for six years, he never asked about his well-being. Ajay Chautala ji has not come out before term. Such statements don't add to Sanjay ji's stature," said the new Haryana Deputy Chief Minister.
Sanjay Raut, who has been consistent and relentless in his attacks on the BJP, also said: "Uddhav Thackeray ji has said that we have other options too but we don't want to commit the sin of accepting that alternative. Shiv Sena has always believed in the politics of truth, we are not hungry for power."
Sources say the BJP leadership is upset at the continuous digs from the Sena, especially Sanjay Raut. Yesterday, the two parties had separate meetings with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, reinforcing speculation that their partnership is badly strained.
Allies for three decades, the two parties are locked in a feud over the Sena's demand for a 50:50 arrangement involving rotational chief ministership for the two parties.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray reminded the BJP of what he said was a 50:50 deal talked about before the national election earlier this year. 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.
In last week's Maharashtra election, the BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly and the Shiv Sena ended up with 56. With the BJP's tally dipping from 122 in 2014, the Sena believes it has enough leverage to insist on an equal share. Together, the two have 161 seats, way past the half-way mark of 144. The Sena claims its tally is now 61 with the support of five more MLAs.
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