Maharashtra: BJP to meet governor today, but Sena isn't blinking
Locked in a tussle with ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday took a concrete step to steer the state out of the political crisis, by announcing that its leaders will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday. Despite the announcement, Sena leader Sanjay Raut reiterated the demand of having a rotational Chief Minister. Will the turmoil end soon?
Together, the saffron parties won a comfortable number of seats in the 288-seated Maharashtra. But after Sena demanded more power and a CM post, the state slipped into a crisis. Since the term of current assembly, led by incumbent Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, ends on Saturday, time is running out. If no one stakes claim to form a government, President's Rule will be imposed.
For the first time since the results were declared, the bickering allies met on Wednesday. Six Sena ministers were part of the meeting chaired by Fadnavis to discuss the agrarian crisis. Reportedly, a "formula" for government formation was also discussed. After the meeting, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said a "good news" is on its way and expressed confidence that differences will be ironed out.
"You cannot separate water, no matter how much you try to. Sena and BJP are together... We should wait for news, good news can come anytime. The government will be formed by the Mahayuti (alliance), no matter what anyone says or thinks," he added.
Separately, a senior BJP leader told HT that "back-channel" talks have begun. According to him, BJP is fine with giving important portfolios to Sena but has asked the latter to give up the demand for the rotational CMship for now. "Their demand for splitting CM's post can be discussed in six-seven months, with the Delhi leadership. Currently, our top brass is not willing to concede it," he said.
Significantly, Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray will meet elected MLAs to discuss the next steps. When asked about BJP's plan to meet Koshyari, Raut replied, "We will do what (Sena chief) Uddhav Thackeray says." He added, "If BJP leaders are meeting the Governor tomorrow to stake claim then they should form a government as they are the single largest party, we have been saying it."
On a related note, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has met Raut twice after results were declared, ruled out a possibility of forging a post-poll alliance. Saying NCP will sit in opposition, he added, "The BJP-Sena are allies for over 25 years. They should take immediate steps to give the state a new government instead of pushing the state into a constitutional crisis."