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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Shiv Sena, BJP trade barbs amid deadlock in Maharashtra

In the Opposition camp, it was a day of frantic developments as a section of the state Congress unit looked to get Gandhi’s go-ahead to support a Sena-led government in the state.

assembly-elections Updated: Nov 02, 2019 02:14 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis & Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis & Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.(Ht Photo)
         

The political impasse over a power-sharing pact betw-een saffron allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena continued on Friday, even as a state Congress delegation met party president Sonia Gandhi to discuss an alternate scenario in Maharashtra.

Until late on Friday, BJP had taken no initiative to placate Sena, with leaders, who did not wish to be named, saying the party was in “no rush to please” its ally. Despite speculation that Union home minister and BJP chief Amit Shah may visit Mumbai to resolve the logjam, the leaders denied any such move.

In the Opposition camp, it was a day of frantic developments as a section of the state Congress unit looked to get Gandhi’s go-ahead to support a Sena-led government in the state. The state’s Congress leaders had earlier met NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who reportedly asked them to first get a go-ahead from their party high command.

“It’s about who will blink first. We [BJP] are in no mood to do so. It is evident that Sena’s so-called other options of forming a government [with NCP-Congress support] are unviable. Sena must think about how sensible it is to delay government formation in the light of farmers’ distress [owing to unseasonal rain] and the Ayodhya verdict,’’ said a senior BJP leader, who is close to CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Meanwhile, as a Plan B, BJP is mulling stake claim to form the government on its own, if Sena continues to flex its muscles.

“We will get our ministers sworn in and then face a floor test in the Assembly. We are the largest party, with 105 MLAs, and we have the support of another 15 independent MLAs,” said a BJP state functionary, on condition of anonymity.

However, even after support of independent MLAs, the ruling party will need another 25 legislators to reach the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member House.

This plan will require the BJP to break a group of 25 Opposition or Sena MLAs, which is a long shot, but the chances of it happening cannot be entirely ruled out.

In 2014, BJP had formed the government without Sena’s support. It had then got unexpected outside support of the NCP.

Earlier on Friday, Sena stepped up pressure on the BJP, with party MP Sanjay Raut saying they can get the required numbers to form the government without BJP’s support.

“If the Sena decides, it will get the required numbers to form a stable government in the state,” Raut had said, reiterating that the CM of the state will be from Sena.

He added, “We want talks to proceed on the lines that was decided before the Lok Sabha elections to form a stable government for the state.’’

The BJP retorted by cautioning its ally and saying that President’s Rule could be imposed in the state if they fail to get their act together by November 8, when the tenure of the outgoing government ends.

“The mandate is for a saffron alliance. We have time until November 8 to form the government. If not, President’s Rule will have to be implemented. This has never happened in Maharashtra,’’ said BJP leader and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

“Everything can be resolved through talks. This is a minor hurdle. We are willing to take initiative to resolve this.’’

However, through the day, talks did not resume between the allies.

Meanwhile, after the meeting in Delhi, it was clear that Congress would prefer to wait and watch developments unfold in the saffron camp before taking any stance on the issue.

State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said, “We have explained the post-poll scenario in Maharashtra to the Congress high command. Right now, there is no Congress strategy to support a Sena-led government. The meeting was to discuss poll results.’’

Another senior state Congress leader said the party would only play a “passive role’’ in any post- poll scenario in the state.

“Unless Sena comes out and says it wants to form government with help of NCP, we have no role in this. Even then, we cannot directly support, but will consider giving outside support,’’ he said.

A senior Sena functionary also admitted the party was still waiting for the next BJP offer and there was no active discussion on seeking help from NCP. “The BJP is yet to come up with a renewed offer. We are waiting for it,” the functionary said.

While a section in the NCP is keen on forming a government with the Sena, Pawar, who spoke to TV channel CNN News18 on Friday, said he had not received any such proposal from the Sena. “They [Sena] have not spoken to us on this matter. Both the BJP and Sena have contested the polls together. Going by the numbers, they have enough to form the government,’’ said Pawar.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis held an inter-departmental review of farm losses owing to unseasonal rain in Maharashra, while Thackeray announced his plan to tour Marathwada on Sunday to meet farmers impacted by this calamity. Pawar has already started his tour of affected areas on Friday.

“It is unlikely that the Sena will go with the Congress-NCP to form the government. It will be an unstable government. Also, Pawar is not likely to support a Sena-led government given that numbers are not favouring them. This seems to be pressure tactics of the Sena. We will have to wait and see how the BJP reacts to it,” added Prakash Bal, political analyst.

Meanwhile, leaders of smaller parties in the saffron alliance — Ramdas Athawale, Mahadev Jankar, Vinayak Mete, Dada Bhai Khot — will be meeting the governor around 11.30am on Saturday