Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan has claimed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was “apprehensive” about joining hands with the Shiv Sena to form the coalition government in Maharashtra and her condition was that the party should put in writing that it will function within the ambit of the Constitution.
“Our leader Sonia Gandhi asked us to take it in writing that this government should function within the ambit of the Constitution. They can’t overstep the bounds of the Constitution and if that happens, we should step out of the government,” the former chief minister said at a gathering in Nanded on Sunday.
Chavan said senior leaders were apprehensive about joining hands with the Sena and had raised questions over whether a government of three parties will survive.
“We got strict directions before the government formation. We informed Uddhav Thackeray, who said he had no issues with this and he won’t go beyond the ambit of the Constitution. He took the stand that the Constitution was supreme and he would ensure that the government worked within its bounds,” Chavan added.
Chavan’s statement sparked a controversy, with the BJP attacking the Maha Vikas Aghadi government over the claims. Reacting to Chavan’s statement, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Sena should clarify all the “deals” made before the government was formed. “If alliance parties don’t have faith (in Sena), why is the Sena in the government?” he asked, adding that this shows how “desperate” Sena was to form the government.
When contacted, Chavan told The Indian Express on Monday, “I don’t know why a hue and cry is being raised over my statement. What I actually said was that the government was formed on a common minimum agenda. And that is what the Sena, NCP and Congress have committed themselves to. That is the undertaking I spoke about, but the issue is being blown out of proportion.”
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the Sena does not want to rake up any controversy. “I am not sure what comment has been made... I have not seen it.”
“Our Maha Vikas Aghadi government is determined to resolve the problems of farmers, labourers, youngsters and take the state on the path to progress...” he said.
Responding to the controversy, state Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwari said, “I think all senior leaders of the party should speak with responsibility. We should not give an opportunity to the BJP to criticise the government and unnecessarily deflect its attention from people’s problems,” said Tiwari.
Earlier, senior Congress leader and former CM Prithviraj Chavan had said that the Sena wanted to form a coalition government with the Congress and NCP after the 2014 state elections and set off a political storm in the state.