With just a week to go before the trust motion is tabled in the assembly, the Shiv Sena has decided to adopt a wait-and-watch attitude, till the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gets back to them on the conditions put forth to form a government with them.
The Sena has demanded 10 ministerial berths and the deputy chief minister’s post, to partner with the BJP in the state. At present, the BJP has 121 seats, and needs 24 seats to prove majority. It has already sworn in 10 ministers, including the CM. Of these, eight are cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.
According to Sena sources, the BJP has been asked for a final offer by the weekend, before the assembly session begins on Monday. Although CM Devendra Fadnavis, who was in Nagpur on Tuesday, did not elaborate on the nature of the talks, he said it was headed in a positive direction.
However, sources in the BJP said the party has indicated it first wants the Sena to come on board, and then discuss seats. They added, the party would not buckle under pressure, and had kept some not-so-important portfolios with the CM and other ministers, so they could be given to the Sena.
“If it is a bargain, the Sena must also prove its sincerity. Trust should be the basis of any deal we strike,” said a BJP leader, adding that the party may even give up plum departments like water resources.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who took his 63 legislators to the family deity Ekvira near Lonavala on Tuesday, said his party was in no hurry. “Today 63 winning legislators have come here, next time it will be 180. I don’t know if we will be part of the government, but visiting Ekvira has been a family tradition,” said Uddhav.
Uddhav’s aide and Sena MP, Anil Desai, who has been negotiating with BJP leaders, said, “The Sena has given the BJP their proposal. Now, it is their turn to get back to us. The pre-poll bitterness between us is over. Now, there are only a few hiccups.”