(PTI Photo)   (PTI11_26_2019_000166B)
(PTI Photo) (PTI11_26_2019_000166B)

Mumbai: He could have shown more grace in his exit but what could one expect of someone who made his entry into the state's highest office at an unearthly hour of the day, in a hush-hush manoeuvre.

Those grapes were evidently sour and he made no bones about it as he quit three days after being sworn in. It was an Exit Devendra Fadnavis day which had begun with the Enforcement Directorate notice naming Sharad Pawar on September 24.

It turned out to be a rather turbulent Tuesday, which began with a buzz over the Supreme Court ruling. Shortly thereafter, the newly elected deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, handed over his resignation to Devendra Fadnavis, citing personal reasons.

Immediately after, the chief minister's office informed that Fadnavis was going to address a press conference at Sahyadri. This was the first press conference Fadnavis had called, after his pre-dawn swearing-in at Raj Bhavan on November 24.

The conference room in Sahyadri was brimming with media, which Fadnavis duly noted, saying, "I haven't seen so many media people in a long time."

Then, instead of simply saying he did not have the numbers required to form a government and so was resigning, he reiterated how the Bharatiya Janata Party was the party with the largest number of seats.

Then he proceeded to blame the BJP's former ally, the Shiv Sena, for spreading lies about sharing power and splitting the alliance. "We got the mandate for mahayuti and won a majority. Voters gave us 'sampurna janadesh'.

The BJP's strike rate was 70 per cent while the Sena's strike rate was 42 per cent. There was no understanding about sharing the CM term, which they raked up," alleged Fadnavis.

He accused the Sena of threatening the BJP for snatching the CM's seat. "Sena insisted that we give them the CM post for two-and-a-half years," he said and went on to allege that the Sena had been in negotiations with other parties, failing to mention that the BJP too had made offers to the same parties.

Fadnavis said, "Sena leaders threatened to walk out of the alliance unless we shared the CM position with them in rotation and proceeded to do so."

As for the stealthy manner in which he took oath as CM, he had a lamely defence. "President's rule had been revoked and that created a political vacuum, which is why I was sworn in as CM so early in the morning," he explained. Only forgetting to add that the vacuum had been created by the BJP in their rush to form a government without the required numbers.

Fadnavis also defended his party, saying it did not indulge in breaking other parties in order to form a stable government. "BJP does not indulge in horse-trading," said Fadnavis.

Naturally, he could not mention how he would have gone ahead with the floor test on November 27. The real reason Fadnavis was forced to tender his resignation was because the Supreme Court insisted on electing the pro tem Speaker before conducting the floor test, which he did not address.

The talk on the street was about the BJP appeasing Sharad Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party president. The leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena said the BJP was sending them feelers even after they had sent a letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, staking claim to form the government.

Further, Fadnavis went on to term the Maha Vikas Aghadi "a three-wheeler autorickshaw." Then he fell further in grace, accusing the Sena of being helpless in front of Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi.

"Surprisingly, those who don't descend from the steps of Matoshree, have begun taxing their feet. They went out to meet other leaders and seem helpless in front of Sonia Gandhi," said Fadnavis.

However, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was unfazed by Fadnavis's allegations and hit back. "Every preceding CM hammers a few nails as a deterrent for the next one. I have the hammer to pin those nails down," he shot back.

It was only towards the end of the press conference that Fadnavis accepted defeat and said, "I will be going to Raj Bhavan to hand over my resignation and give the next government my best wishes and hope they will run the government efficiently for five years."

The thrust of the entire conference was to speak of how the mandate had been for them and how his efforts to bring back the BJP to power had been in vain. What certainly came across was a desperate CM who wanted to make his words come true -- "Me punha yein, punha yein, punha yein (I'll be back, I'll be back, I'll be back)."

He did, only to go down in Maharashtra's history books as the CM with the shortest-ever tenure - 72 hours, after having opened his innings as one of the few to have served a full five-year term.

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