There is still no official word on it, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena are close to a deal to share power in Maharashtra and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is in Delhi to brief his party chief Amit Shah and put finishing touches to the proposed arrangement.
Fadnavis said the parties would disclose the power-sharing formula at “the appropriate time” and a source close to the developments said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray wanted clarity on several things before making any declaration.
After several rounds of talks, punctuated by ego clashes, the Sena is likely to get 12 berths under the deal expected to be finalized in a day or two. The Sena — desperate for a reconciliation to avoid a split in the party — has grudgingly accepted the power-sharing formula though last-minute efforts were on to convince BJP to part with at least one key department. The expansion of the state cabinet is likely later this week.
Sources said the BJP has offered the Sena four cabinet berths, which could be increased by one more on the latter’s insistence. However, the BJP is not willing to part with the post of deputy chief minister or key departments such as home and urban development. The deal, which the Sena has not yet inked, also includes 7-8 ministers of state. The Sena will get industry, public health, environment, transport/excise and state road development corporation (MSRDC).
The Sena has indicated that it will accept the deal with five cabinet berths and 7 junior ministers’ posts. It has been demanding public works department (PWD), one of the key departments related to infrastructure. It has also sought a second cabinet berth at the centre as a compensation for the “loss” in the state, the sources said.
“The talks are positive and we are close to sealing the deal,” Fadnavis told the reporters on Tuesday. Fadnavis said the cabinet would be expanded after the 3-day state mourning for ex-CM AR Antulay ends on Thursday. The additional days have given the BJP and the Sena more time to iron out differences. Sources close to the CM said not all 33 remaining berths would be filled later this week.
Sena MP Anil Desai said that the final announcement would be made once everything was finalized. “Shiv Sena chief Uddhavji is considering a proposal from the BJP. He will take a final call soon. Uddhavji and Fadnavis are holding one-on-one talks,” he told the media.