Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said he did not promise Shiv Sena - then BJP's ally - to share the chief minister's post if the alliance retained power in Maharashtra after the 2019 assembly election. Shiv Sena, which broke ties with the BJP soon after the election to form government with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, shot back, saying what took Mr Shah over a year to come out with his version on the matter.
"I don't make promises in closed rooms. Whatever I do, I do it openly. I don't do politics in closed rooms," Mr Shah said, after inaugurating a private medical college at Kankavli in Sindhudurg district.
He said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is like an autorickshaw whose three wheels were pulling in different directions. "This (MVA) is an unholy alliance and an outcome of betraying the people's mandate, which was for a BJP-Shiv Sena government led by (BJP's) Devendra Fadnavis," Mr Shah said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP after the 2019 assembly polls over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post with the BJP, and later forged an alliance with the NCP and Congress to come to power.
Mr Thackeray had claimed that Mr Shah, who was then BJP president, had assured at his bungalow in Mumbai that the chief minister's post would be shared by the two parties, and the BJP reneged on the promise.
It is being claimed that the BJP broke the promise, Mr Shah said, adding his party honours the promises it makes. "We don't speak white lies. We are the ones who honour commitments. In Bihar, we had said that even if the BJP gets more seats, Nitish Kumar will continue to be the chief minister," Mr Shah said.
He said the Shiv Sena leader addressed poll rallies with him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Maharashtra election. In the poll posters of Shiv Sena candidates, PM Modi's pictures were bigger than Mr Thackeray's, Mr Shah said. "We sought votes for the BJP-Sena alliance led by Fadnavis. Why didn't you speak out then? You just garnered votes in PM Modi's name," Mr Shah said.
Reacting to Mr Shah's remarks, Sena leader and former union minister Arvind Sawant said the fact that Mr Shah took a year-and-a-half to claim that he had not made any promise (to Mr Thackeray) on sharing the chief minister's post raises suspicion.
"Uddhav Thackeray spoke about this (promise) on many occasions - even in the state legislature - but Shah had remained silent. After the assembly election results, Shah went to Haryana for government formation talks but remained silent on Maharashtra's political developments," the Sena leader said.