In the countdown to the third phase of the Parliamentary elections, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in an unrestrained interaction, airing his views on a range of topics.
When questioned on the alliance with Shiv Sena even after the party had been publically speaking against the BJP in the recent past, Fadnavis responded clarifying that 'even when we were upset with each other; we were in government together'.
"See, it is not so. We have been allies for years. And in the past 30 years, we have had some disagreement only during those three years.
We have had some disagreement. But if you observe, even when we were upset with each other; we were in government together. We were taking decisions together. In my cabinet, we have never arrived at a decision after voting. We have arrived at decisions together," said the Maharashtra CM.
When asked if there was any compulsion in allying with the Shiv Sena in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2019 even after Uddhav Thackeray had once used the 'chowkidar chor hai' remark, he said:
"No, what compulsion was there? Not at all, I did everything I had set out to. Tell me about any decision I couldn't take? I took all the decisions there. Also Uddhav Thackeray clarified that he never used the jibe for the PM. I trust him because Thackeray (Uddhav) never clarifies and Uddhav Thackeray has clarified. He has come clean about this. He said that when a farmer told him that his crop's fruit is eating its own stem, it is then that (Uddhav) said 'chowkidar hi chor hai' (the watchman himself is the thief)."
When asked for his views on BSP supremo Mayawati's criticism of the alliance, the Maharashtra CM said:
''Firstly, what right does Mayawati assume to comment on this issue? Their alliance has two bloodthirsty parties who were at war with each other. She has allied with the people who had attempted to assault her. Mayawati's alliance has been brought about by Modi ji. They are so afraid of Modi ji that two people who hated the mere sight of each other and wanted to kill each other; such two parties have come together. In Maharashtra, we have always been together."
He added : "See, our ideology is not different. We are united by the idea of Hindutva. BJP and Shiv Sena have come together because of their Hindutva ideology. I do agree to this that for three years we had some disagreement because we stayed apart. But even after fighting separately we came back together. We had been together for 30 years. And we will remain together in the coming years. Because we are linked by a thread.''
When asked to comment on Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's statement in February that NDA's allies have a strong regional presence and if BJP wants to ally with these parties then you must accede to the demand of the Chief Minister being from the regional parties only, Fadnavis replied,
"There is no question of leaving. I'll tell you the reason. Firstly, you don't know the Shiv Sena. These Rauts don't make decisions in Shiv Sena. Only one person calls the shots and that is Uddhav ji Thackeray. What Raut is saying doesn't represent the Sena. We don't even pay heed to his words. Shiv Sena implies Uddhav ji Thackeray and we trust whatever he says. That is what we consider as evidence and he has never asked me for the Chief Minister's post. And why should we talk about ifs and buts. If they ask for it, we will talk about it but as they haven't asked for it at all, why should we discuss it? If they ask, then we will see. We can discuss.