There were signs of a rapprochement between allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra over the sharing of portfolios in the next government, but with both still struggling to agree to the question of rotational chief ministers.
The ongoing tussle between the two allies, ever since the Assembly election results were announced, has delayed the formation of a government — a Constitutional obligation that had to be fulfilled before November 9 when the term of the current Legislative Assembly ends.
After a meeting of BJP leaders called by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his official residence in Mumbai, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said: “A good news regarding government formation may come at any moment.”
BJP state unit president Chandrakant Patil, who also attended the meeting, sought to rule out speculation that Fadnavis could be replaced.
“We have extended our complete support to Fadnavis as leader of the legislative wing of the party in Maharashtra,” Patil said.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut demanded a written assurance from the BJP on rotational chief ministers for 2.5 years each. He also indicated that some deal had been reached between the two allies over the ‘50-50’ power-sharing
formula, but not on the question of rational chief ministers.
“I haven’t heard what they (BJP) leaders said. However, if they have indeed spoken about discussing the sharing of the CM’s post, then I must say it is very understanding of them,” Raut told a Marathi TV channel.
However, BJP leader and senior minister in the outgoing government Girish Mahajan said his party was not ready to discuss sharing of the Maharashtra CM’s post.
“We have decided that Devendra Fadnavis will be CM for the next five years. The BJP is ready to hold talks with Sena over other portfolios,” said Mahajan, rejecting Raut’s demand. He said a breakthrough will come in the next two days.
The editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, published on Tuesday, said the political direction of Maharashtra would depend on steps taken by the outgoing CM. On Monday, Fadnavis had met BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi.
“Government formation is being made messy. Taking advantage of such a situation, it would be unconstitutional to enjoy powers in the role of a caretaker and play games over government formation,” the editorial said, seemingly a response to reports that legislators from Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) could defect to support a BJP government.
In his comments on Tuesday, Raut — also the editor of Saamana — without taking any names, said somebody was trying to prove Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray a liar and admitted that everyone was “greedy” for power.
In a related development, Republican Party of India (A) chief Ramdas Athawale said in New Delhi that Sena should not be “adamant” on its demand for the CM’s post, as it rightly belonged to the BJP. He said senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari could resolve the impasse. Athawale added that the CM’s post was rightfully the BJP’s, given it was the single-largest party by some distance.
Earlier in the day, the NCP tried to put a stop to speculation that it might join hands with the Sena. It said a political alternative could be worked out in Maharashtra if the Shiv Sena declared that it had snapped ties with the BJP, and Arvind Sawant, the lone Sena minister in the Union government, resigned. “Sawant should walk out of the government. Only then will the NCP open its cards,” said NCP sources.
Farm activist Kishore Tiwari, who joined the Shiv Sena ahead of the Assembly polls, sent a letter to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat asking him to depute Gadkari to resolve the power-tussle between the BJP and Sena.