Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and senior Shiv Sena leader and Minister for Transport Diwakar Raote Monday called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari separately to apprise him of the political developments in the state.
With Sena stuck on its demand for a 50:50 power sharing formula and the Chief Minister’s post, the alliance partners are yet to formally stake claim to form the government. In the 288-strong Legislative Assembly, results for which were declared on October 24, BJP won 105 seats and its ally Shiv Sena 56.
Editorial: Tall task awaits
Addressing the media after meeting the Governor, Raote said, “The Shiv Sena will not accept anything less than the 50:50 formula — this includes a two-and-a-half year tenure through rotation for the post of CM. It wants everything in writing from the BJP.” The BJP, on its part, is willing to offer the post of Deputy Chief Minister and the Revenue portfolio, an important ministry that handles all land-related issues in the state.
It has been four days since the results, but the pre-poll alliance partners continue to be engaged in the war of nerves, reaching out to independents and rebels to further consolidate their strength.
In fact, Sena leaders openly stated the party was open to other options including forming the government with the help of Congress and NCP. The Congress fared better in the polls with 44 seats, and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party bounced back with 54 seats compared with 41 in 2014. Together, the Congress-NCP alliance have 98 MLAs.
Technically, the combined tally of Sena and Congress-NCP adds up to 154, significantly above the half-way mark of 144. But both the Congress and the NCP leadership have so far stayed away from any such speculation. NCP senior leader and former Union Minister Praful Patel said, “We are not going to stake any claim for government formation. We want to play the role of effective opposition.” Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat too said, “The people have given us a mandate to play the role of the Opposition.”
A senior BJP functionary involved in government formation negotiations said, “Chief Minister Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray have mutually agreed to form the government. Both acknowledge the mandate is for a saffron alliance in the state.”
In the 2019 Assembly elections, while BJP’s strike rate has been much better than Sena’s in absolute numbers, BJP has lost more seats than Sena. BJP’s tally reduced from 122 in 2014 to 105 (loss of 17 seats) and Sena’s diminished from 63 to 56 (loss of seven seats). This has added some heft to the Sena’s part in the alliance.
BJP understands the “pressure tactics” of Sena, the functionary said. “This is not new in a coalition,” he said. The real hurdle is, however, in working out the modalities of power sharing. The two parties are likely to commence formal dialogue once the BJP State legislature party meeting is over on October 30, when the105 newly-elected MLAs are expected to elect Fadnavis as the party leader. “This will pave the way for negotiations,” the functionary said.
Shiv Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut said, “A Shiv Sena CM is our priority. BJP agreed for a Sena CM for two-and-a-half years. It was announced publicly. We want the BJP, which is going to construct a Ram temple, to speak the truth.”
The Sena also continued to attack the BJP-led government at the Centre, through its mouthpiece Saamana. “The markets have lost its shine as the sales have dropped by 30-40% due to the slowdown. After demonetisation and GST, the economic slowdown is getting worse. Industries are in danger, factories are shutting down. It has led to joblessness,” said the editorial.
The Saamna editorial said the government was forced to draw Rs 1.75 lakh crores from RBI reserves, which are maintained for war-like situations. “The domestic market is silent, but the coffers of foreign companies are filled with our country’s money through online shopping…..Itna sannata kyun hai bhai?” it asked.