The impasse on the power-sharing formula in Maharashtra continued on Saturday, even as Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray nominated his close aide and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai as the party’s second representative to be sworn in as a minister in the Union cabinet’s expansion.
In a late night meeting on Saturday, Sena sources hinted that Uddhav has asked the leaders to prepare to sit in the opposition. In this case, Union minister Anant Geete will be giving his resignation. Things will, however, be clearer by Sunday morning.
The Sena leadership has linked the Cabinet expansion to its negotiations for berths in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra.
If the state issue is sorted out, Desai will attend the swearing-in ceremony and the Sena, too, will vote in favour of the BJP during the trust vote on November 12. But if there is no headway, the Sena will stay out of the state government, and might even decide to sit in the opposition.
“I have called a meeting of Sena MLAs at Sena Bhavan tomorrow where I clarify our stand,” Uddhav told the media late on Saturday.
While the Sena responded to Modi’s offer by nominating Desai, it also requested the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah to take a call on its demands to participate in the state.
The Sena wants 12 ministerial berths, the deputy chief mister’s role or the home department. It also wants portfolios related to urban issues.
The BJP, however, is insisting that the Sena vote in the trust vote, after which portfolio allocation can be decided.
“We have conveyed our stand to the BJP. Now the ball is in their court. We have told them that we are ready to sit in the opposition in the state,” said Desai. The Sena is hoping that Modi and Shah will sort out all issues before the swearing-in ceremony.
On Saturday, there was hectic activity in both camps, with Sena sending Desai’s name to the PMO. While former minister and MP Suresh Prabhu is not actively involved in the party, the Sena is said to have agreed to field him as a consensus candidate.
The two parties were negotiating, where the Sena sought 12 seats — five Cabinet and seven ministry of state berths in Maharashtra.
Thackeray even sent Union minister Anant Geete to meet Modi to convey their stand, but the PM did not meet him, sources said.
The BJP, meanwhile, is adamant and may not give in to the Sena’s ultimatum. “We are clear that the Cabinet expansion will take place after the trust vote is passed.
The Sena should back us first. If they doubt our intentions, then they should consider why we offered them new ministerial positions in the central government,” a senior BJP leader said.