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Maharashtra tussle continues — BJP won’t cede CM chair, Sena says won’t settle without it

BJP and Shiv Sena have been locked in a tug-of-war since results day last week over the exact nature of their coalition government.

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Shiv Sena are struggling to see eye-to-eye on government formation in Maharashtra a week after election results were announced.

The Shiv Sena is said to be standing its ground on a 50-50 arrangement for the chief minister’s chair and is unlikely to accept the BJP’s offer for the deputy chief minister’s post. 

The BJP, meanwhile, is not ready to cede the chief minister’s chair, even for half a term. 

A senior BJP leader said the party is weighing the possibility of forming a minority government — as it did in 2014 — with help from Independents (there are 13 in the new assembly). 

However, it would prefer to take the Sena, the BJP’s oldest ally, along, the leader added. 

According to the leader, the BJP has “informally” offered Shiv Sena the post of deputy chief minister, 16 ministers and one more MoS at the Centre. However, it is yet to be accepted by the Shiv Sena.

This arrangement is similar to the one followed by the allies when they formed the government together in 1995. 

A source in the Shiv Sena told ThePrint that it was exploring the option of not taking up the post of the deputy CM immediately and “look at what the BJP can offer in lieu of that”. 

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told party MLAs at a meeting Thursday that they will not settle for anything less than the 50-50 demand. 

Shiv Sena leaders, including Eknath Shinde, who has been elected the party’s leader in the House, met the governor Thursday to discuss the issue of drought. The meeting with the governor was the second this week.

This, along with Thackeray’s statement Thursday that the party has “options, but isn’t exploring” — a hint at a possible tie-up with the Congress-NCP — is being seen as a bid by Sena to assert its position.

The BJP won 105 seats and the Sena, 56, in this month’s assembly election. Together, they have 161 seats — comfortably crossing the 145 majority mark for the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly. 

According to sources, any negotiation between the parties is likely to only fructify by 4 November since they have until 8 November to form the government. Chhath Puja concludes 4 November and neither party wants a swearing-in ceremony conducted amid the festivities. 

Also Read: Shiv Sena could ‘split and 24 MLAs join BJP’ if Uddhav Thackeray decides not to join govt

Tug of war

The two parties have been locked in a tug-of-war since results day last week over the exact nature of their coalition government. The two parties met the Maharashtra governor separately Monday. 

As reported by ThePrint earlier this week, the BJP wants Shiv Sena to settle for the 1995 formula where the CM’s post (Manohar Joshi) was held by the Shiv Sena and the BJP, a junior ally, settled for the deputy CM position (Gopinath Munde).

The Sena is the junior ally this time and contested 124 of the state’s 288 assembly seats. The BJP contested 150, with the rest of the seats going to smaller allies. 

The Sena, which was the coalition’s senior partner in Maharashtra until now, had been demanding power parity between the two parties in the run-up to the elections too. 

But BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis prevailed upon the Shiv Sena and secured a bigger share of seats for the party. However, with the BJP tally going down in Haryana (from 47 in 2014 to 40 now) as well as Maharashtra (from 122 to 105), the ally is once again pressing for an “equal sharing formula”. 

The BJP, which elected Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as the party leader in Maharashtra, is not willing to share the CM’s post. It has argued that while the Sena is questioning the BJP’s performance, its own hadn’t been that great either. 

Also Read: Why the BJP at its peak is not dumping allies


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