New Delhi: BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that his party had not betrayed the mandate of the people in the Maharashtra Assembly elections and that the government could not be formed with the Shiv Sena because it had made a demand that wasn't acceptable.
Speaking for the first time on the developments in Maharashtra that led to the imposition of President's Rule in the state on Tuesday and caused a break-up with Shiv Sena, Shah rejected the Opposition's criticism and said that anyone can approach Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari if they have a majority to form the government.
"As far as giving an opportunity is concerned, I can tell that they have the opportunity today also. They can come together and go to the Governor now if they have the numbers. Numbers will have to be disclosed. If there are numbers, we can contact; they can contact. Where is the question of not giving opportunity," he said.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Shah said the BJP could not have formed the government on its own and the Shiv Sena put forward "unacceptable" conditions.
"We were ready to form the government with the Shiv Sena. But there were certain demands of Shiv Sena we could not have agreed to. We fought the elections in an alliance. We are the single largest party but we did not fight many seats, which our ally fought. When the ally tried to put a condition, which was not acceptable ... we cannot form the government on our own as we have 105 seats, what we can do," he said.
"I want to tell those who say that they have not been given a chance and their rights have been snatched that your rights are there, you do not have the numbers. If you have the numbers, you can go and form the government," he said.
Asked if the BJP had formed a coalition government with ideologically divergent PDP in Jammu and Kashmir and what was the demand of the Shiv Sena that was not acceptable, he said: "It is not the tradition of my party to make public the discussions held in a room. This should not be done. There is dignity of public life."
Shah said that nobody contradicted when it was said repeatedly during political rallies in Maharashtra that Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister if the BJP-Shiv Sena wins the polls.
"During the campaign, I said hundred times; Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) said many times. Devendra Fadnavis also said many times that if an alliance government is formed, the chief minister will be him. Nobody contradicted. Some new conditions have come; we have reservations also and will discuss them at an appropriate time," he said.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena got an absolute majority in Maharashtra Assembly polls but could not form the government due to differences over power-sharing. The Shiv Sena insisted on having the chief minister's post for two and a half years but the BJP said there was no such agreement.
BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 105 seats followed by the Shiv Sena with 56. NCP won 54 seats and Congress 44. Congress and NCP fought the polls in an alliance. Shah said the effort of Opposition parties to make a hullabaloo over the imposition of President's Rule in Maharashtra was "a meaningless exercise to gain public sympathy".
Asked about the need to impose the President's Rule, he said: "The allegation can be that you are running a temporary government of the BJP. But I definitely feel that if anyone has been at a loss due to the President's Rule, it is BJP because our caretaker government has gone," he said.
Shah said the Opposition parties have all the opportunity to form the government. "On this issue, the Opposition is only doing politics and dragging a constitutional post in politics like this. I do not think this is a healthy tradition for democracy. And anyone who wants an opportunity has it today also," he said.
Shah said the Opposition parties were asking for two days' time to form the government and they now have six months. "I feel the Governor has taken appropriate steps. The government can be formed if there is a majority," he said.
Shah also took a dig at the Congress over its allegations that the President's Rule was imposed in a hurry and its ally NCP was not given enough time to show the majority. "Probably they do not ask their allies," he said.
Shah said that between 11.30 am and 12 noon on Tuesday, the NCP expressed its inability to form the government by writing a letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari that they cannot form government till the time given of 8.30 pm.
"After that, there was no point for the President waiting till 8.30 pm," he said. Asked about the more time given for the government formation in Goa and Arunachal Pradesh, he said nowhere more time was given. He said political parties in Maharashtra had eighteen days after the declaration of results to show that they have a majority.
"After the Assembly notification, the Governor waited for 18 days," he said, adding that no party or parties came forward to stake the claim to form the government. "Any party could have approached the Governor. The time to give invitation came after the term of assembly ended (on 9 November)," he said.
He said the Governor has to take action after the term of Assembly ends and he asked different parties in writing for the record. "Once assembly is notified, any party or alliance can go to the Governor. Neither Shiv Sena went, nor NCP or Congress. We too have not formed the government. What the Governor could have done. Everyone has been given time," he said.
"Even today if someone has a majority, they can contact the Governor and stake the claim," he said. The home minister said the Assembly has not been dissolved but kept in suspended animation. He said allegations could have been made if the assembly was dissolved.
"Everyone has time. Anybody can go. Whose chance has been snatched, I do not understand. A wise lawyer like Kapil Sibal makes childish arguments before the country that our chance has been snatched. You have the chance," he said.
Shah said he does not want that Maharashtra should face mid-term elections. "I do not want there should be midterm elections. I do not think there should be midterm polls. When six months end, the Governor will proceed after taking appropriate legal opinion," he said.