A day after senior BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan and Chandrakant Patil met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, there was no real advancement in the power-sharing talks between the estranged allies on Saturday.
The Sena said it was waiting for the BJP to come forward with a formal proposal, even as the BJP remained non-committal throughout the day. Sena MP Anil Desai said that till Saturday afternoon, there was no formal proposal from the BJP. “As and when a proposal comes, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take a call,” he said.
There was also speculation that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will meet Thackeray, but sources close to the CM said he had no such intention at the moment.
However, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy met Thackeray on Saturday and asked him to join the BJP government for the sake of Hindutva. Sources said talks were going on through backdoor channels.
“I will meet BJP president Amit Shah, PM Narendra Modi and Nitin Gadkari. It is necessary to take the Sena with us for a stable government and for the cause of Hindutva,” Swamy told the media.
BJP insiders said the party wants the Sena to commit to certain conditions: apart from asking for the Sena’s cooperation in civic and local self-governments in Mumbai and elsewhere, the BJP made it clear they will not part with the home portfolio or give the Sena the post of deputy CM. However, sources said the party is willing to give the Sena 10 ministerial berths, of which five will be in the cabinet and the rest, minister of state positions.
The Sena will also get one Cabinet post in the Union ministry, and about half of the positions in the 43 corporations in the state.
The CM also wants both parties to come up with a long-term policy to keep their relationship intact, in view of the elections to civic and local bodies. Sources said the CM does not want a relationship like the one between the Congress and the NCP, where the parties fought against each other despite being together in the government.
“We will decide on a long-term plan with the Sena,” said Fadnavis, adding there were many things to be discussed before finalising the alliance.
The cabinet is likely to be expanded any day after December 3, with or without the Sena, so that the winter session of the state legislature is conducted effectively, sources said. Ideally, the Fadnavis government requires at least 32 ministers (both cabinet and junior rank), to manage the floors in both houses from December 8 in Nagpur.
Swamy’s visit to Matoshree, the Sena chief’s residence, was in a personal capacity. Swamy said he has a special relation with the Thackeray family and has known Uddhav since the time he was a small boy.
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.