The meeting between the BJP and the Shiv Sena went on late into Friday and was more of an ice-breaker. This is the first time after the two parties ended their 25-year alliance that any BJP leader visited Matoshree.
The meeting between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena went on late into Friday and was more of an ice-breaker. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Maharashtra cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence, Matoshree.
This is the first time after the two parties ended their 25-year alliance that any BJP leader visited Matoshree. Sources said there was no breakthrough on the issue of power-sharing, even though the BJP needs the Sena’s support in the government ahead of the winter session of the state legislature, which begins on December 8.
“We will meet Shiv Sena leaders with an open mind. We have been allies in the past and the Sena is a part of the BJP-led government at the Centre,” Pradhan said before the meeting, where Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Union minister Anant Geete were also present. Sources said Uddhav has nominated Desai and Geete, who met Pradhan on Friday night. At the time of going to press, both had returned to Matoshree to report the developments to Uddhav.
If the talks between the parties succeed, Sena leaders will take oath along with their BJP colleagues during the state cabinet expansion that will take place after November 30. Sources said the BJP was likely to give Sena one more Cabinet berth in the Union government and eight or 10 berths in the state. However, talks may sour if the Sena insists on getting the home minister’s post, which Fadnavis wants to retain.
The BJP wants the Sena on board to stabilise its government, which won the trust vote on November 12, but drew criticism from both the people and the Opposition for having a tacit understanding with the Nationalist Congress Party that supports it from outside.
The NCP’s flip-flops have added to the government’s problems. The Sena’s 63 MLAs along with its 122 (including an ally) will completely secure the government.
Sources said the two BJP leaders did not put forth any proposal, instead only broke the ice with Uddhav and explained their stand on government formation in Maharashtra. “They told Uddhavji how they were committed to the idea of keeping the Congress and NCP at bay, and establishing a stable government in the state. There were no specifics discussed on the issue of berths. They were trying to judge Uddhavji’s mood and told him they will come back in a day or two for taking the talks to the next level,” a Sena source said.
After the meeting, Uddhav, Desai, Geete and a few other senior leaders met at the Mayor’s bungalow at Dadar. “Uddhavji goes for an evening walk after his dinner to the lawns and he had an informal exchange of ideas with senior Sena leaders there,” a Sena leader said.