New Delhi: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has admitted that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi was against the party joining hands with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and only relented after a ‘written undertaking’ from the Sena that the new government would work under the ambit of the constitutional scheme of the alliance.
Chavan, now the PWD Minister in the coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, made this remark on Sunday at an event in Nanded to launch the MVA government’s Rs 10 Thali scheme for the poor, on Republic Day.
Detailing how the government was formed, he remarked that the Maharashtra Congress leadership had to ‘impress’ upon the interim party president to form the government in the state. Confessing that the three parties-the third being the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-came together to keep the BJP out of power, Chavan said, “Our party leadership in Delhi was not very keen on joining hands with the Shiv Sena and was sceptical about the different ideologies the two parties follow. The leadership raised questions about potential differences which could arise while running the three-party government.”
“Party president Sonia Gandhi even asked us to take a written assurance from the Sena that it would work within the framework of the Constitution,” he added. He further said that the ‘minute the constitutional framework of the alliance is violated,’ the Congress would quit the government.
“CM Uddhav Thackeray has assured us that his party would follow the principle of secular governance,” Chavan also said.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena had together won 161 seats-a clear majority-in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly Election last year. The two parties, however, went their separate ways after the BJP refused to cede to the Sena’s demand to share the Chief Minister’s chair.
The snub prompted the Sena to enter into talks with the NCP-Congress combine and eventually form the MVA government, with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray becoming the Chief Minister.
The swearing-in ceremony, however, was given a miss by both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi.