BJP, Sena in tug-of-war to get support of more MLAs in Maharashtra
In the Maharashtra poll results announced last week, Shiv Sena won 56 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, while BJP won 105 seats. In 2014, Sena had won 63 and BJP had won 122.Updated: Oct 28, 2019, 07:28 IST
Giving it their all in the tug-of-war over the formation of a new government in Maharashtra, the saffron allies — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena — are now competing to get the support of MLAs from smaller parties and independents to help them in negotiations over the power-sharing formula.
In the Maharashtra poll results announced last week, Shiv Sena won 56 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, while BJP won 105 seats. In 2014, Sena had won 63 and BJP had won 122.
On Sunday, Sena got support from the Bachchu Kadu-led Prahar Janshakti Party (PJP), an outfit which was part of the Congress-NCP led opposition front in the elections. PJP has two MLAs — Bachchu Kadu and Rajkumar Patel. Sena also got support from two independent MLAs — Ashish Jaiswal and Narendra Bhondekar — which has taken its tally up to 60 seats from 56.
The BJP has already claimed support of 10 out of 13 independent MLAs. It has won 105 seats and is short of 40 seats for a clear majority. But the saffron allies together have 161 seats.
Rajkumar Patel, PJP MLA from Melghat assembly constituency in Amravati district, said they decided to extend their support to Sena after Uddhav Thackeray promised to resolve issues of the constituency.
“My constituency is facing issues of basic amenities, which Uddhavji has promised to resolve. Hence, I along with Bachchu Kadu, decided to extend our support to the party,” Patel said. He had rebelled against BJP after the party denied him an election ticket. He is a two-term BJP MLA.
Independent MLA Ashish Jaiswal said he decided to support the party as he was always part of it. “I was a three-term MLA of the Sena and thus decided to extend my support to the party,” said Jaiswal, who rebelled against the party’s decision to give the seat to BJP as part of the seat-sharing agreement for a pre-poll alliance. Jaiswal contested as an independent and also got elected.
Sena has already demanded a written assurance from BJP leadership that the allies will share power equally, including holding the position of chief minister for two-and-a-half years each. It said that the BJP leadership had promised equal number of seats and equal share of power. But the promise for equal number of seats wasn’t followed, so now they want a written assurance for equal sharing of power before going ahead in forming a new government in the state.
The BJP has already called a meeting of all its legislators on October 30, where the leader of the party in the state assembly will be elected. The party’s national president and union home minister Amit Shah is expected to attend the meet. In Nagpur, BJP spokesperson Girish Vyas on Sunday said Shah is coming to Mumbai to attend the legislative meeting of the party. It is still unclear whether Shah will meet Thackeray during his Mumbai visit.
The next government has to be formed by November 8. Hence, the BJP is likely to go ahead with staking claim to form the governmen with the governor after the meeting.
Sena’s stance is being seen as a hardball ploy for negotiations with the BJP.
“It is nothing but posturing by Sena. Sena’s strength is almost half of BJP’s in the state assembly. However, BJP seems to go ahead with its plan by calling a meeting of the legislative party. After electing the legislative party leader, it will then stake claim to form the government, which will exert more pressure on Sena as there will be a deadline given by the governor to follow. It is more about who will blink first, nothing else,” political analyst Abhay Deshpande.
BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “We are confident that our national president [Amit Shah], chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and Sena chief (Uddhav Thackeray) will resolve the issue soon.”
Meanwhile, BJP also declared that they have got support from two independent MLAs — Rajendra Raut from Barshi constituency and Geeta Jain from Mira-Bhayander constituency — on Sunday. The claims were made on the official Twitter handle of the state BJP unit.
Earlier, Jain claimed that she has received calls from both Sena as well as BJP, asking for support. “I have received calls from both parties — BJP and Sena — asking for support. I have made it clear that I am not against PM Narendra Modi or CM Devendra Fadnavis, but was angry for being ignored by the BJP,” Jain said, who has rebelled against BJP after the party declared Narendra Mehta as its candidate from the constituency for the polls. Jain was expelled from the BJP for defying party orders.