Hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declined to form a government in Maharashtra on Sunday night, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked the Shiv Sena to “indicate the willingness and ability” of the party to stake claim, mounting suspense over formation of government.
The Sena, second-largest party in the 288-member House after the BJP (105), has time till 7:30 PM on November 11, to stake claim. Koshyari asked Sena legislative party leader Eknath Shinde to “indicate willingness and ability” of the party to form government, a Raj Bhavan statement said.
After the governor’s communication, newly-elected Sena MLAs, staying at a suburban hotel in Mumbai, went into a huddle. They later moved to Matoshree, the Bandra residence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, for another meeting.
The developments seem to have increased the bargaining power of opposition Congress and NCP, as the Sena, which has 56 MLAs, is far away from the halfway mark of 145.
A day after the governor asked the BJP to indicate its willingness and ability to form government, caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed him about the party’s inability to do so due to lack of enough numbers. The role of the Congress (44 MLAS) and the NCP (54 MLAs) which have 98 members together, is crucial now.
If the Sena decides to form a government with the support of opposition parties, the collective strength of all the three parties will go up to 154, just above the halfway mark. While the Congress is holding up its cards, the NCP made it clear that the Sena would have to break away from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance before the Sharad Pawar-led party could think of lending support. However, Sena leader Sanjay Raut said his party would install its chief minister at any cost.
Sharing of power, especially the post of chief minister on a rotational basis, was the bone of contention between the Sena and the BJP. Fadnavis had rejected Thackeray’s claims that BJP chief Amit Shah was agreed to his demand for a rotational chief ministership ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
Announcing the party’s decision to not form government on Sunday, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil accused the Thackeray-led party of “disrespecting” the popular mandate secured by the NDA in recent assembly polls. In fact, Patil wished “good luck” to the Sena to go ahead and form a government with the support of the Congress and the NCP. “We contested together but the Sena does not want to come with us to form government. The mandate was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. Sena has, however, disrespected the mandate, hence we have decided to not stake claim,” Patil said.
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said the party didn't want President's rule in Maharashtra.