Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met BJP’s boss and master strategist Amit Shah on Monday in an effort to come up with a workable formula to end the impasse in Maharashtra. The BJP-Shiv Sena combine won state elections 11 days ago but the two alliance partners have not been able to decide on forming the government after the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena insisted that one of its leaders also get a chance to sit in the chief minister’s chair over the next five years.
Sena and BJP, who have been allies for the past 30 years and contested last month’s state election as a coalition, have been sparring since assembly election results were announced on October 24. While the BJP and Sena fought the elections together and secured 105 seats and 56 seats respectively, they have had trouble coming to an agreement about portfolios and sharing the chief minister’s post by rotation. The NCP bagged 54 seats and the Congress 44. The majority mark in the legislative assembly is 145.
Monday’s noon meeting between Fadnavis and Amit Shah comes hours before Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss political developments in the state later in the evening.
Emerging from Amit Shah’s North Block office in the national capital, Fadnavis suggested that his Delhi visit was all about getting relief from the Centre for farmers back home impacted due to the unseasonal rains. Pressed for a response on the delay in government formation, Fadnavis said he was confident that Maharashtra, which needs to have a new government, would get one soon.
“I or anyone from BJP will not give any reaction on the ongoing speculation and comments being made about government formation in Maharashtra. We are completely assured and a new government will be formed in the state,” said Fadnavis. He did not elaborate on the details of this arrangement.
It was after Fadnavis had contradicted the Shiv Sena claim about the existence of a 50-50 power sharing pact that Uddhav Thackeray had dug in his heels and even reached out to the Sharad Pawar’s NCP with a Plan B. Thackeray’s party has, since then, also warned its ally that it could get the numbers to form the government on its own, widely seen as a reference to the Sena getting support from the NCP- Congress alliance. Sharad Pawar is expected to discuss the alliance’s response to this Sena plan with Sonia Gandhi at their meeting later this evening.
The Maharashtra BJP believes it would be an exercise in futility, particularly since Fadnavis would come back to Mumbai with a plan vetted by Amit Shah. The two BJP leaders are believed to have discussed how the BJP could get its recalcitrant partner to join the government that it intends to lead.
“We are hopeful that things will be resolved soon and BJP along with Shiv Sena will form the government in Maharashtra once again,” Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye told HT as Fadnavis walked into his meeting with Shah.
“Our talks are on and we are expecting the impasse will be resolved in a day or two,” said a BJP functionary wishing not to be named.
For now, the Shiv Sena has given no indication that the BJP has been able to mollify its brass.
Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut has already scheduled a meeting with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari – the third big political meeting of the day – later for the evening. Raut hasn’t indicated the agenda for his meeting with the Governor.
His party is expected to closely track Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi in Delhi that NCP leaders say could prove to be significant.
“This meeting between both the leaders (Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar) is important… New political equations can also come up,” senior NCP leader and MP Sunil Tatkare said, adding that his party and the Sena were in touch.
It was on Sunday that the NCP, for the first time, acknowledged that the NCP and Sena were in touch on the political situation in the state. Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said he had received a message from Sena leader Sanjay Raut and would be calling him back. According to people familiar with the development, one arrangement being explored includes getting smaller parties and Independents on board and forming a government with the support of the NCP. The Congress may not be part of the government directly as its leaders are wary of the reaction of its supporters who are opposed to the Sena.