On Tuesday, Maharashtra state chief Devendra Fadnavis and his deputy chief Ajit Pawar resigned from their respective posts after being in office for a mere three days.
Addressing media in Mumbai shortly after breakaway Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar had handed over his resignation, Fadnavis announced that he also had to resign on moral grounds.
Fadnavis has blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) erstwhile ally Shiv Sena for creating the political crisis in the region by bargaining for a better deal immediately after the 21 October polls.
“We kept clarifying that we never promised the state chief’s post to them (the Shiv Sena). We (the BJP) were asked to form the government first, but we refused, saying the Shiv Sena is not with us. The Sena made fun of itself by claiming it had figures,” Fadnavis said.
"The BJP had the people's mandate. We tried to form a government according to the people's mandate, but the Shiv Sena realised it was a numbers game and we realised their bargaining power could increase," he added.
He was referring to the BJP and the Shiv Sena breaking their 15-year-old alliance immediately after the election results were announced over differences over who would occupy the chief minister’s chair and who would be inducted into the state cabinet.
As both parties reached an impasse, Shiv Sena decided to join hands with the NCP and the Congress to stake a claim to form a government.
On Saturday (23 October), the people of Maharashtra and the rest of the country woke up to the surprising news of State Governor B.S. Koshyari appointing Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as state chief and deputy chief respectively.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine challenged this move in the Supreme Court, claiming that the governor was in violation of established Constitutional norms and was "duty-bound" to study Fadnavis’ claim before inviting him to form the government.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine expressed its determination to stake its claim to form the government.
Countering this claim on Tuesday afternoon, Fadnavis told media: “The BJP had decided from the first day that we will not indulge in horse-trading. We only decided to form a government because the NCP was with us. Since he (Ajit Pawar) has resigned, I will also resign."
His resignation came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah met in New Delhi to discuss the Supreme Court order that Fadnavis face a trust vote by Wednesday evening.
It may be recalled that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had secured an absolute majority in last month’s elections by winning 161 seats in the 288-member assembly.
As per the Election Commission of India, the BJP secured 105 seats, the Shiv Sena 56, Congress 44 and the Nationalist Congress Party 54. It was therefore ironic that the majority group parted ways and opted to seek separate tie-ups with other opposing parties, namely the NCP and Congress.