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Will back BJP, work out details after Diwali: Sena

PM Modi to host dinner for allies on October 26, Uddhav likely to attend.

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh , Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
October 23, 2014 1:36:35 am

The Shiv Sena on Wednesday said it would offer support to the BJP to form the next government in Maharashtra but appeared keen on getting an equitable share of power. Senior Sena leaders, who went to Delhi as envoys of party president Uddhav Thackeray, met BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan and assured him of their party’s support in government formation.

“We have decided to offer support to the BJP. We had fruitful initial discussions with the BJP leaders. We will now hold detailed discussions with the party from Monday to work out the details,” said senior Sena leader Subhash Desai.

The party top brass held a discussion at Matoshree, the residence of Uddhav Thackeray, after Subhash Desai and Anil Desai returned from Delhi on Wednesday morning after meeting top BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday night. It was decided at the meeting with Singh that further negotiations on sharing of power would be conducted after Diwali.

After emerging as the single largest party with a tally of 123 seats in the recent assembly elections, the BJP, which played second fiddle to the Shiv Sena for the past two decades, had given signals that it would not pander to its former ally’s demands, particularly after the NCP offered it “unconditional” support.

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The Sena had been split in two groups with one section wanting to support the BJP and joining the government while another wanted to stay outside and take on the ruling party. But after the talks in Delhi, the party, with a strength of 63 MLAs, decided to back the BJP.

However, the Sena leaders indicated some tough bargaining for share of power when talks resume after Diwali. “We will be happy to go along with the BJP provided the party is treated honourably and given adequate representation in the government,” said party MP Gajanan Kirtikar.

The BJP, on the other hand, has made it clear that the Sena will have to offer unconditional support. Sources said the BJP central leadership conveyed to Thackeray’s envoys: “We would expect unconditional support from Sena. Secondly, Sena will have to accept the BJP as its big brother. They will have to accept new formula based on the division of portfolios and representation in the ratio of 2:1.” The BJP is likely to push a proposal for 14 ministers and a couple of representation at the Centre in the form of ministers of state. At present Sena has a lone Union minister, Anant Geete.

Talks between the two parties will resume after a dinner meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for alliance partners supporting the NDA government on October 26. Thackeray is expected to attend the meeting. Confirming the invitation, a senior Sena leader said, “The PM has invited Sena leaders for the dinner. It is up to Thackeray to take a call.”

Meanwhile, BJP leaders met Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Wednesday and briefed him on the situation, indicating that the BJP would be in a position to form government after October 27, by when it would have elected its legislature party leader. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and party general secretary in charge of Maharashtra J P Nadda will arrive in the state to conduct the exercise of appointing a new leader.

Leader of the opposition in the state legislative council Vinod Tawde and senior organisaton secretary V Satish met the Governor at Raj Bhawan on Wednesday evening. In the morning, Union Information and Technology Minister Prakash Javdekar and Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal also met Rao.

While Javadekar said that the meeting was “related to an all-India programme ‘Run For Unity’ on October 30”, Tawde described his meeting as “a courtesy call” ahead of Diwali.

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