The BJP and Shiv Sena’s stalemate over power sharing in Maharashtra continued till late on Monday night. Issues about the number of cabinet berths and departments were being worked out and both parties were adamant on their stand.
At the time of going to press, a high-level meeting between the two parties was being held at chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ official residence, Varsha.
The mood in both the camps seemed positive as they held three successive meetings in less than 24 hours after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and the BJP high command approved the final talks. If the Sena comes on board, Fadnavis will expand his 10-member cabinet ahead of the winter session of the state legislature, which will begin on December 8. The swearing-in ceremony could take place by Thursday.
The Devendra Fadnavis government requires at least 32 ministers (both cabinet and junior rank) to manage the floors in both houses.
Getting the Sena on board is important for the BJP, as this will ensure a stable government in the state. Although the BJP won the trust vote on November 12, it was criticised for having a tacit understanding with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Sources said the BJP initially wanted to part with three cabinet berths, but was willing to increase it to four. The Sena, however, want at least five berths. According to Sena insiders, the fifth berth has been demanded to accommodate senior leader Subhash Desai, who will be made a member of the upper house within the next six months. The Sena is also rallying for a Union cabinet berth for MP Anil Desai and another MoS berth with an independent charge at the Centre.
In the state, BJP has made it clear that they will not part with portfolios such as home, housing, urban development, which the Sena has been eyeing. For now, the BJP seemed willing to give away departments such as public health, PWD and MSRDC, energy, irrigation and water supply, environment, among others.