A cornered Shiv Sena made a last-ditch effort to patch up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to be part of the new Maharashtra government as its former ally prepared to elect its chief ministerial candidate on Tuesday.
Devendra Fadnavis looks like a clear favourite for the chief minister’s job in the western state which has been gripped by political uncertainty since the BJP emerged as the single largest party but failed to get a clear majority in the assembly election.
The BJP is finalising its team of ministers ahead of the oath-taking ceremony on October 31, but it isn’t clear if the Shiv Sena will join the ministry as the BJP is not willing to accept its demands for key portfolios and an assurance to not carve out a separate state of Vidarbha.
Despite the talks with the Shiv Sena, the BJP has also prepared a plan to run a minority government instead of giving the Sena a considerable share of ministerial berths and important departments.
The first indication of the Shiv Sena softening its stand was an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana saying the party would support the BJP-led government as it has got a mandate.
“We will have to keep our political differences aside and work with the BJP chief minister for the unity of Maharashtra. We have kept ourselves together even in difficult circumstances and it will be better if it remains so,” said the editorial in Saamana, which is regarded as the opinion of Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The BJP has an upper hand in negotiations with future allies because it emerged as the single largest party with 122 seats in the 288-member assembly compared with the Shiv Sena’s 63 seats. The BJP’s strength reduced by one as one its MLAs, Govind Rathod elected from Nanded district, died of heart attack on Sunday.
It has also been in talks with smaller parties and independents, which could take its tally to around 135.
Wankhede Stadium is being decked up for the oath-taking function, expected to be attended by 30,000-40,000 BJP workers from all corners of the state.