As the BJP prepared to form a minority government in Maharashtra with the support of smaller parties and Independents, the Shiv Sena rushed its emissaries to New Delhi to meet senior BJP leaders in an attempt to ensure it is part of any new government.
The BJP is the single-largest party in the 288-member state Assembly with 122 seats.
It needs only 23 seats more to reach a majority in the House.
The BJP played a war of nerves with Sena throughout Tuesday – the second day after poll results gave BJP twice of what Sena won. In a war of nerves with the Maharashtra party, home minister Rajnath Singh, who was appointed as observer to elect the new leader of legislature party, postponed his Mumbai visit till Diwali.
He is likely to fly to the business capital either on October 24 or October 25 to oversee the election of the new leader of BJP’s legislature party.
“We do not want Sena to dictate who should be our leader or who should not be. We are moving ahead with our plans to elect our leader and will form the government without waiting for any offer from Sena,” a BJP leader privy to the development said.
It said it had the support of 138 MLAs in all, including an ally, smaller parties and Independents.
The move was seen as an attempt to force the Sena, which has 63 seats, to offer unconditional support.
“We have no problem in forming a government. We have 138 legislators with us,” said OP Mathur, BJP’s Maharashtra elections in charge.
The NCP has already offered the party unconditional support from outside.
The strategy possibly worked.
Senior Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Anil Desai rushed to New Delhi and were expected to meet BJP general secretary JP Nadda.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray may also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a day or two, said party insiders.
The Sena was keen to get a plum share in government in line with a formula the two parties put in place when they first ruled the state 19 years ago.
However, the BJP rejected the formula.
BJP legislators are expected to congregate in Mumbai on October 26 for the legislative party meeting.
The chief minister candidate’s name will be declared after a BJP Parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi.