MUMBAI: Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Maharashtra Chief Minister on Friday with no sign of a new government and his BJP and its ally Shiv Sena no closer to forming one together. Mr Fadnavis met with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to hand in his resignation hours before the midnight deadline for government formation.
The term of the Maharashtra assembly ends tomorrow.
Addressing the media, Mr Fadnavis delivered his strongest statement against the Shiv Sena since 2014, when he took over as Chief Minister. He also questioned whether the Shiv Sena, which had not spared Prime Minister Narendra Modi from its attacks, was worth continuing an alliance with.
"Given their statements, especially against the PM, we are stunned and hurt. No one from the BJP ever targeted Bal Thackeray (Sena founder) or Uddhav Thackeray. But the way the Sena relentlessly attacked Modi-ji, even our rivals didn't. We cannot accept it. It seems the Shiv Sena is not interested in continuing the alliance," Mr Fadnavis said, commenting that the BJP was taken aback by Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray's "all options are open" statement.
"People hadn't voted for BJP or Shiv Sena. In the past 15 days, the statements by the Shiv Sena or their demands, we have never promised any rotational chief ministership. There was no discussion to give the Sena two-and-a-half years to rule, at least in my presence, and I was there in the entire meeting," he reiterated.
The BJP and Shiv Sena failed to resolve a feud that began hours after they won a clear majority in last month's Maharashtra election.
On October 24, the day of the results, Uddhav Thackeray sought to remind the BJP of a "50:50" power-sharing arrangement including chief ministership for the Sena for two-and-a-half years of the five-year term.
Mr Fadnavis, hoping for his second full term, rejected such a deal, but the BJP offered deputy chief ministership and key ministries, something that failed to mollify its long-term ally.
"Uddhav Thackeray have had a very close relationship. I tried to talk to him on several occasions, I even called him on the phone but he did not speak. The Shiv Sena consciously made sure that there was no communication with BJP but with the Congress and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party)," said the caretaker Chief Minister.
"Shiv Sena will not manage to form a government in this way. BJP wants to form an alliance, not break it. The BJP will form a government with its chief minister," Mr Fadnavis said.
Over the past 15 days, the row became more and more acrimonious with the Sena shooting a barb a day at the BJP, challenging it to stake claim to power as the single largest party and prove its majority on the floor of the house.
The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member house and along with the Sena's 56, had 161 - enough and more to take power.
But the Sena refused to play along, taking the fight to the brink while the BJP waited.
In the meantime, Sena MP Sanjay Raut's talks with NCP chief Sharad Pawar propped up talk of a political reconfiguration in Maharashtra and the possibility of the Sena joining hands with the opposition to keep the BJP out.