Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday described his teaming up with Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar to form a short-lived 80-hour government in the state in 2019 as a “mistake”, adding he “does not regret it”.
“I don’t regret it but we should not have formed such a government. This was a mistake,” the BJP leader said during an online interaction with editors of Marathi daily Loksatta.
On November 23, 2019, amid hectic parleys between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress to form a non-BJP government in the state after the polls threw up a hung Assembly, Mr Fadnavis and Mr Pawar were sworn-in at dawn in a ceremony at Raj Bhavan.
“Even if this (forming the government with Ajit Pawar) was a mistake, when you are stabbed in the back, you have to stay alive in politics,” Mr Fadnavis said, referring to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray ”reneging” on the pre-poll alliance with the BJP.
“To stay alive in politics you have to do whatever is needed to be done. So when you have been stabbed in the back, you have to give a befitting response,” he said.
The decision to form the government with Mr Pawar was a result of “mixed feelings” which included anger, he said.
“So when an opportunity arose, we seized it. Now I can say that what we did was not at all liked by our supporters and the BJP supporters,” said Mr Fadnavis, who is now the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.
“I also agree that my image among our supporters got substantially dented. It would have been better had we not attempted what we did (forming the government with Ajit Pawar) but at that time I thought that was the right decision,” Mr Fadnavis said.
In November 2019, Mr Fadnavis resigned as the Maharashtra chief minister, three days after he took oath along with Ajit Pawar, who was sworn-in as the deputy chief minister.
Mr Fadnavis had then said he resigned as Chief Minister after Ajit Pawar informed him he was quitting due to personal reasons. The NCP leader was back as the deputy chief minister soon after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance came to power.