BJP pushes to seal deal to form Maharashtra government
Deputy CM post for Aaditya Thackeray on table. Shiv Sena is demanding that the CM’s post be rotated with each party holding it for two-and-a-half years. Shah may visit Mumbai on Wednesday with a view to close the negotiations with the Sena brass.
If the visit materialises, Shah would also be present for the BJP legislature party meeting, where Devendra Fadnavis is expected to be formally elected the party’s chief ministerial candidate. Most of the 15 Independents — two-thirds of whom are BJP rebels — have also pledged support to BJP.
The prevailing lull was broken on Monday when Fadnavis and Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote called on governor BS Koshiyari. But both claimed the visit was not political and that they had gone to wish the governor on Diwali.
Shiv Sena is demanding that the CM’s post be rotated with each party holding it for two-and-a-half years, a proposal not acceptable to BJP. However, there are indications that BJP is amenable to giving the deputy CM’s chair to Sena.
“Whatever Shiv Sena may claim, the 50-50 formula was not discussed before the polls. Neither did it come up during the seat sharing talks. This is not acceptable to BJP,” a senior BJP leader told ET on the condition of anonymity.
“If they make Aaditya Thackeray the deputy CM, then there may be one more deputy CM in Maharashtra from our side.” said another BJP leader, speculating that Chandrakant Patil, the state BJP chief who won the Kothrud seat, could be the candidate.
Unlike the outgoing government where Shiv Sena did not have any important ministry, BJP may offer it some plum portfolios this time during bargaining, sources said. There is likely to be a tussle over the home ministry, a portfolio that has gone to the junior ally and the deputy CM in several governments in the past in Maharashtra, but BJP may agree to part with public works department, irrigation and education to Shiv Sena.
Both BJP and Shiv Sena have lost seats in the latest assembly elections and their tally has come down despite contesting as allies. While BJP has won 105 seats (122 in 2014), Sena has 56 MLAs (63 in 2014). The two need each other to form the government for which 145 is the cut-off mark in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
BJP leaders maintain Shiv Sena needs it for the forthcoming elections to Brihan Mumbai municipal corporation from where the latter draws most of its clout — as well. BJP won 16 of the 36 assembly seats in Mumbai this time while Shiv Sena got 14. In 10 of these, Sena candidates did well on the wards where BJP holds sway.
Meanwhile, Congress and NCP have been fishing in troubled waters. A sizeable section of the Congress leadership in Maharashtra has been advocating that the Sena form a government minus BJP.