BJP, Sena set to seal deal; Fadnavis leads CM race
The BJP and the Shiv Sena moved closer to sealing a deal on Wednesday over forming the government in Maharashtra following days of deadlock between the estranged allies after the BJP won the state election, but fell short of an absolute majority. The Sena is likely to get one-third of ministerial berths in the new government and may even bag the deputy chief minister’s post if the fresh proposal is accepted by both parties, sources said.
The suggestion was discussed between Uddhav Thackeray’s emissaries – Sena leaders Anil Desai and Subhash Desai – and Unions oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJP’s member of legislative council Chandrakant Patil in Delhi on Tuesday.
Pradhan and Patil have been asked by the party leadership to hold talks with the Sena and work out a power-sharing formula. The Sena has offered its support to the BJP, with one condition: the BJP’s proposal must be a “respectable” one.
Wednesday’s meeting assumes significance in the wake of a BJP faction supporting Nitin Gadkari for the chief minister’s post mounting pressure. The Gadkari camp says the Union minister is capable of handling a complex alliance if the BJP doesn’t want to reunite with the Sena. An alliance with the Sena would mean the BJP can form a stable government with more than 180 legislators, comfortably clearing the majority mark of 145. This would work in favour of state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, who is the frontrunner for the chief minister’s post.
The two parties have been haggling over a formula to form the government after the BJP ended their 25-year-old alliance days ahead of the October 15 polls following differences over seat-sharing and who would get the chief minister’s post. The Shiv Sena was forced to climb down in its negotiations after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) offered unconditional support to the BJP which picked up 122 of the state’s 288 assembly seats.
“The talks were positive and we have offered our cooperation to the BJP. We will be talking at length with them after Diwali,” Sena’s Subhash Desai said.
The next rounds of talks between the two parties may take place on Saturday morning, said sources. It is still not clear if Uddhav Thackeray will meet Narendra Modi when the Prime Minister will visit Mumbai to inaugurate a private hospital on October 25. Another, though less likely, possibility is of Uddhav attending the dinner party to be hosted by Modi the next day for members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), including the Sena, sources said.
Sena’s Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut said MPs from his party will go to the event.