Updated: November 3, 2019 11:01:48 am
In the first sign of thaw in the BJP and Shiv Sena relationship post the Maharashtra Assembly poll verdict, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has reached out to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, indicating that his party is willing to consider the latter’s demand for equal division of ministerial portfolios.
Responding to Fadnavis’ latest overture, sources said that the Sena leadership, too, has indicated that it was ready to soften its stance regarding the demand for a rotational chief ministership. But in return, Uddhav has demanded two additional ministerial berths — one Cabinet and one MoS — in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and sought governorship roles for party veterans in two states. In Maharashtra, it has also pressed for a 50:50 share in control over state-run corporations, said sources.
The breakthrough between the two sides came late Friday, the sources added. With formal talks yet to resume between the warring allies following the poll verdict, senior BJP leaders told The Indian Express that Fadnavis had used a “backchannel” to extend an olive branch to Uddhav.
According to sources, an emissary of Fadnavis had visited Uddhav’s residence with the BJP’s latest offer. Responding to the overture, Uddhav has conveyed his willingness to hold a meeting with Fadnavis to take things forward. The meeting between the two might take place within the next couple of days.
As the BJP’s tally went down in the state elections compared to its 2014 performance, Uddhav had raised a pitch for “equal sharing” of power, reminding the BJP of the 50:50 formula “agreed upon” between himself, BJP national president Amit Shah and Fadnavis ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Fadnavis’ public denial that such a formula had ever been agreed upon had resulted in a deadlock in the post-poll talks between the two sides. Aggressive public posturing by leaders from both sides had ended up straining ties further.
With no headway made in government formation eight days after the poll verdict, senior leaders said that pressure on the chief minister to break the deadlock with Sena had been rising from within the BJP ranks, with a section of influential state leaders even blaming him for the impasse.
Sources said the massive crop loss suffered by farmers owing to unseasonal rainfall has put further pressure on the BJP to form the government at the earliest, with the Opposition targeting it over the latest farm crisis.
Initally, the BJP had indicated that it was willing to offer 13 to 15 ministerial berths and the deputy chief minister’s post to Sena, while retaining 27 to 29 berths for itself and the smaller allies. But those in the know of the latest development said that Fadnavis has now agreed to offer additional plum portfolios to Sena to get talks back on track.
While the BJP had earlier indicated that it was unwilling to give up the revenue, finance, home, and urban development portfolios, sources said that it is now willing to consider Sena’s demand for a couple of these.
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