‘Why stay?’: Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant exits from Union cabinet as ties with BJP worsen

Arvind Sawant, the lone Shiv Sena minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, on Monday quit as Union minister amid political tussle with ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over government formation in Maharashtra.

Sawant’s resignation came a day after BJP gave up efforts to form a government in the state. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has asked Sena, which has 56 seats in the 288-member assembly, to indicate its ability to form a government by Monday evening .

In a tweet on Monday morning, Sawant said, “Shiv Sena has sided with the truth. In such a false environment, why should we stay in government in Delhi? That’s why I am resigning from the Union council of ministers. In this context, I am holding a press conference in Delhi at 11 am.”

Sawant said a seat sharing and power sharing formula was decided upon before the Lok Sabha elections and accepted by both parties. “Now, rejecting the formula and treating the Sena as liars, it is not only shocking, it is an insult to Maharashtra’s self-esteem. This is the limit of lying, and BJP has taken this reprehensible stand in Maharashtra,” he tweeted.

Shiv Sena is the BJP’s oldest ally and Sawant’s resignation could be seen as the two parties moving towards severing ties. Sena and BJP had a pre-poll alliance in Maharashtra but have been bickering over sharing the chief minister’s post.

Hours after the governor asked Sena to try form a government, NCP said it will offer support only if the Uddhav Thackera-led party walks out of the NDA. “If the Shiv Sena wants to have our support, they need to break ties with the NDA. They need to dissociate from the BJP. Their minister at the central government (Arvind Sawant) should resign,” NCP leader Nawab Malik said.

BJP won 105 seats in the assembly polls held last month. Shiv Sena has 56 seats, Congress 44 seats and NCP 54. BJP has the support of 15 independent legislators but needs another 25 seats to reach the majority in the 288-member House.

BJP abandoned efforts to form a government after two meetings of its core committee on Sunday. “The mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance . Sena has disrespected the mandate, hence we have decided to not stake claim to form government,” Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said.

He wished “good luck” to Sena to form the government with Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) .

Sanjay Raut, the Shiv Sena leader who was been leading the attack against BJP, had on Sunday said the regional party will have a CM of its own at any cost. He had claimed Sena had the support of 170 MLAs.

“Maharashtra will have a Sena chief minister at any cost. Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday informed the party MLAs that Sena will have its chief minister,” he said.

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