With the magic figure of 145 seats not in its sights, the BJP may to have to seek support from estranged ally Shiv Sena to form the next government in Maharashtra.
Trends indicate the BJP may not get beyond 120 seats, but it could still claim power by reviving its alliance with the Sena, which may get 60 seats. The BJP will need 145 seats to guarantee the next Maharashtra chief minister will emerge from its ranks.
Sources said that Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, equally keen on the chief minister’s post, may explore other options like seeking support from parties other than the BJP in a bid to keep its former ally out of power.
Political experts did not rule out a possibility of the NCP supporting the BJP from outside.
The Congress and the NCP were both inching towards 50 seats.
The BJP-Sena had formed the first non-Congress government in Maharshtra in 1995, but the alliance broke ahead of the assembly polls this year. The bone of contention was the CM's post, which may again play a pivotal role in negotiations between the two ex-partners.
BJP state chief Devendra Fadnavis said from Nagpur that the Sena wasn't his party's enemy. But he said the language the Sena used against the BJP in campaigning had hurt his party.
The Sena did not rule out a tie-up. Party spokesperson Nilam Gorhe said it was too early to commit anything. "Our top leadership will decide it after results are out," he said.