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Maharashtra trust vote: Will BJP be able to prove majority?

The BJP will be in a catch-22 situation when it goes to the state assembly on Wednesday to prove majority, as its preferred ally Shiv Sena did not declare its support to the minority government till late on Tuesday.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2014 09:19 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Maharashtra-BJP-president-Devendra-Fadnavis-during-an-election-campaign-HT-photo
Maharashtra-BJP-president-Devendra-Fadnavis-during-an-election-campaign-HT-photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party will be in a catch-22 situation when it goes to the state Assembly on Wednesday to prove majority, as its preferred ally Shiv Senadid not declare its support to the minority government till late on Tuesday, and the ‘unwanted’ Nationalist Congress Party is ready with a bailout package.

The BJP’s first-ever government in Maharashtra needs the support of at least 144 MLAs to win the trust vote in the 287-strong house. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed to have 140 legislators on his side, but maintained his party was still in talks with the Sena and expected to join hands with the ex-ally before the trust vote on Wednesday.

Fadnavis said the BJP would win the trust vote, even without the NCP’s support.

Meanwhile, the party’s backroom boys worked overtime to ensure the success of its plan B — getting the support of smaller parties and independents. They were being wooed till late on Tuesday.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena tried yet another trickto get the BJP to yield at least 2/3rd of the total ministerial berths and plum portfolios, in exchange for its support. It fielded a candidate for the Speaker’s post, but avoided taking a clear stand on whether it would support or oppose the government on the eve of the trust vote.

On Monday, it had staked claim on the Opposition leader’s post. Sources said Thackeray was still waiting for a response from the BJP, which said its national leaders would take a final call. The Sena wants the post of the deputy chief minister or the home portfolio, among other cabinet berths.

Senior BJP leaders in Delhi have been talking with Thackeray’s close aides, but no solution has been worked out yet, sources said.

“The efforts will continue till Wednesday morning,” said a senior BJP functionary, on the condition of anonymity.

While Fadnavis refused to comment on the talks between the two parties, in an attempt to woo Thackeray, he assured the BJP will not cause cross-voting from the Sena.

On Tuesday evening, he even called up Thackeray with a request to withdraw a Sena candidate from the Speaker’s contest, for which the Sena issued a whip to all its legislators on Tuesday evening. The Sena, if convinced, would pull out Wednesday morning.

However, BJP’s national general secretary and Union minister of state, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, kept the Sena under pressure, and said his party would accept support of anyone who is in favour of development of Maharashtra.

But, Rudy ruled out any rift with the party that has been BJP’s ally for 25 years.

The two parties split 15 days before the October Assembly polls, in which the BJP emerged as the single largest party (122), followed by the Sena (63). There were many roadblocks in the talks between the Sena and the BJP, the biggest being Sena’s refusal to participate in the Union cabinet expansion on Sunday.

The development hurt the BJP as it had taken Sena’s move as a humiliation of PM Narendra Modi.

Even as the BJP and Sena intensified their behind-the-scene activities a day before the trust vote, other parties also had their share of politicking.

The Nariman Point precinct was abuzz with all-party meetings. The BJP hosted a sumptuous dinner for its legislators at YB Chavan Centre, while the NCP and the Sena had gatherings over high tea at their offices.

Congress legislators met at their party office in Vidhan Bhavan, while the small parties and independents were holed up in several hotels in the area.

All the parties have asked their legislators not to leave the city until the trust vote is over.