Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis could not stop grinning when he saw Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray enter the Wankhede Stadium for his swearing-in ceremony on Friday.
Reason: Uddhav and his legislators had on Thursday said they wanted to boycott the function because there was no headway in the government formation talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Running a government backed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and a revolt from the Sena was not something 44-year-old Fadnavis was up for.
But after a 10-day standoff between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, a few phone calls and the realisation that not being together will be a losing proposition, the two parties seem to have decided to move in a positive direction.
For the Sena, sitting in the Opposition would have multiple repercussions, which would begin with the civic elections in 2017.
According to sources, the two sides will now start negotiations for ministerial berths from Saturday. So far, the Sena has been demanding a “respectable” deal, which is about one-third of seats and important portfolios such as home, revenue, finance, industry and public works department.
The Shiv Sena had insisted that they should be given a respectable deal if they have to lend their 63 seats to the BJP, which has 123 seats and needs 22 more for a majority. But, the BJP hasn’t made any promises as yet.
Sena MP Anil Desai, who is part of the negotiating team, said, “Both Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley have spoken to Uddhavji. He attended the function. The next round of talks will be smooth. There was no elaborate discussion on ministerial berths, but it will happen in the next few days.”
Uddhav who met Shah after the swearing-in function at the club room at Wankhede stadium, is said to have told Shah that the Sena is ready to discuss a fair amount of berths and seal the deal. Shah, too, is said to have agreed.
“The Sena is clear that it should get about one-third of seats, considering they have 63 MLAs. It seems the BJP may offer them between 5 and 10 seats, depending on the Cabinet and Minister of State posts,” a BJP source said.