The fate of a probable Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra is likely to be sealed in the next 24 hours. While the Sena is demanding one-third ministries, with at least two of their ministers being sworn in on October 31, the BJP continues to play hardball with its former ally.
While the Sena has decided to wait for a day to see if the BJP budges and makes a “respectable offer”, sources said party chief Uddhav Thackeray has already started working on a Plan B. It would include the Sena contesting the Assembly speaker’s poll, which could make the BJP uncomfortable. The party has also zeroed in on names of legislators for the leader of opposition position.
“Senior Sena leaders discussed all possibilities with Uddhavji. Talks are still on with the BJP. The picture will be clearer tomorrow [Thursday],” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut, after a meeting at the Thackerays’ residence, Matoshree, on Wednesday. Party MPs Anil Desai and Subhash Desai, and actor-turned-politician Aadesh Bandekar were also at the meeting.
According to Sena leaders, the BJP is asking them to be part of the government without any concrete proposal, and that is unacceptable to Uddhav. “If we are going to be part of the government, then we should know how many ministries we will get. We need our ministers to be sworn in along with the BJP ministers. Right now, all the BJP has said is come on board and then we will decide. The Sena doesn’t want to seem like a beggar. It has been conveyed to Uddhavji that we are ready to sit in the opposition,” said a senior Sena legislator, adding that the Sena chief did not want to seem as being “unreasonable” by refusing to speak with the BJP.
Another legislator said the BJP must realise that before proving majority in the Assembly, they will have to elect a speaker. The Sena is in talks with the NCP and Congress to support a Sena candidate for the speaker’s post. The BJP will then be forced to deal with the Sena for all decisions in the House, including passing important bills. “If that happens, things will get difficult for the BJP on the floor of the House,” said the MLA.