No Truce With BJP Yet, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut Meets NCP Chief Sharad Pawar Again

Uddhav Thackeray raised the 50:50 arrangement with the BJP after the election results.

The Shiv Sena, two days to the deadline for government formation in Maharashtra, doubled down on its demand for the Chief Minister’s post and said no new options would be discussed with ally BJP. “There is no need for a new proposal now,” said Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Wednesday.

The BJP had yesterday said its door was “open 24 hours” to discuss a formula with the Shiv Sena but Devendra Fadnavis would be Chief Minister and that was non-negotiable.

“Our alliance was formed on the basis of an agreement over the chief minister’s post. It was a one-line agreement that was decided before we fought elections together…why waste time talking of a new proposal,” Sanjay Raut questioned, speaking to reporters.

“Talks will only be on the proposal that was already discussed. If there is President’s Rule in Maharashtra, it will be unfair to the people. We will not be responsible for President’s rule,” Mr Raut said, showing no softening of the Sena’s stand with time running out. “Those conspiring to do this are insulting the people’s mandate,” he added.

The Sena has been adamant on what it calls a “50:50 formula” it says was discussed with the BJP for rotational chief ministership and equal distribution of ministries. The BJP has rejected any talk of Devendra Fadnavis, its Chief Minister, sharing the post with the Sena.

An editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana said yesterday: “When the outgoing chief minister of Maharashtra lands in Mumbai after visiting Delhi which is witnessing worst smog, he will have to take some steps. The direction of Maharashtra (politics) will depend on the steps to be taken by Fadnavis.”

The editorial referred to Mr Fadnavis’s trip to Delhi to meet with BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, a senior leader of the party in Maharashtra.

Mr Fadnavis also travelled to Nagpur to meet Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Over the weekend, a Sena leader wrote to Mohan Bhagwat, asking him to intervene and resolve the deadlock. Kishore Tiwari, a farmers’ rights activist, even suggested that Nitin Gadkari, be asked to resolve the crisis.

The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly and the Shiv Sena won 56. Their alliance is well past the majority mark of 145 but the Sena sees an opportunity with the BJP’s tally dropping from 122 in 2014.

The BJP says it has the support of 115 MLAs. The Sena claims it has the support of 63 along with independents. Its attempts at an arrangement with the rival Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress alliance appear to have fizzled out with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi reportedly ruling out supporting the Sena.


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