The BJP's Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister like a "thief on the run", the Shiv Sena said this morning in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana. The latest in a series of searing attacks on its former ally, the article also criticised NCP leader Ajit Pawar and his failed rebellion and completed a trifecta of attacks by questioning Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for his acceptance of "stolen" letters of support. "It is (the) height of cheating as the governor accepted a letter of support submitted by Ajit Pawar which he had stolen from his party office. We don't want to insult this institution by calling it 'shamelessness'," the editorial raged.
Pandemonium broke out in Maharashtra on Saturday morning after Ajit Pawar led a breakaway faction of 10-11 MLAs to back the BJP in its audacious bid to form the government. In a series of secretive manoeuvres President's Rule was revoked at 5.47 am and, by 8 am, Chief Minister Fadnavis was sworn in and Ajit Pawar became his deputy.
Ajit Pawar, who is NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew, has been heavily criticised by Sena - Sanjay Raut declared Pawar junior had stabbed his party in the back - amid claims that he has been "blackmailed" by the BJP. He was named in the alleged Rs 25,000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd. scam in September, after being repeatedly targeted by Devendra Fadnavis, in his first term, for corruption.
The Sena editorial was quick to point out that fact - that Devendra Fadnavis, who once promised to put Pawar junior in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail, had now accepted him as a Deputy Chief Minister.
The Sena-BJP alliance, one of the oldest in Indian politics, broke up in spectacular fashion after the results of last month's election, with each side accusing the other of insulting their relationship.
To accusations, from Maharashtra BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, that it had committed a "sin" by abandoning the ideology of party founder Bal Thackeray, the Sena responded today by alleging the BJP had cheated the state.
"The people who did not respect the 25-year-long friendship with the Shiv Sena will one day throw away Ajit Pawar as well. Those who think power is above all, are in their last lap. The people of the state need to just wait for some time (to see it)," the Sena said.
The Sena editorial also took aim at the BJP for "deceiving and (its) culture of brokering", amid attempts by the Sena-Congress-NCP alliance, which was believed to be inches away from forming the government, to guard its MLAs from poaching.
"First they lost a friend like the Shiv Sena and now they are committing crime like a seasoned criminal," the article said.
A furious Sena-Congress-NCP trio approached the Supreme Court on Sunday demanding an immediate floor test - a test, the Sena article today said was "impossible" for the BJP to win. "It is like milking a bull," it added.
The BJP, which emerged from last month's election with 105 seats in the 288-seat Assembly, needs around 40 more to reach the majority mark.
"The entire state is ridiculing the BJP. The party otherwise likes to take a high moral ground, but it has been unmasked now. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be uncomfortable with such backlash," the piece declared, adding that it was "an insult of Chhatrapati Shivaji's Maharashtra".