Updated: October 28, 2019 9:18:15 am
Under pressure from the Shiv Sena, which has sought “equal sharing of power” ahead of government formation, the BJP is learnt to have offered the Deputy Chief Minister’s post to its ally in Maharashtra.
“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has indicated that the party is willing to concede the Deputy Chief Minister’s post to the Shiv Sena,” said a highly placed source in the BJP here.
While a formal decision is likely only after Monday, the two allies have been holding back-channel discussions.
On Thursday, immediately after the results were announced, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had reminded the BJP about the “50:50” power-sharing formula. Thackeray is reported to have told his legislators on Saturday that the party wanted the Chief Minister’s chair for half of the government’s five-year term, and would explore other options if the BJP didn’t agree.
But a senior BJP leader said this was not acceptable to the party. “The question of 50:50 is out of question. It would matter only if the BJP and Sena had won an equal number of seats. The BJP has got double the Sena’s tally. Why would it concede the CM’s post to the Sena,” he said.
“Fadnavis will definitely become the Chief Minister… There is no question of conceding the CM’s post to the Sena,” said senior BJP leader and former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
In the 288-seat Assembly, the BJP has got 105 seats, down from 122 in 2014. The Sena won 56 seats this time, as compared to 63 in 2014. The BJP also has the support of 17 independents/ rebels, taking its overall tally to 122 seats.
A BJP leader, who did not want to be named, pointed out that in 1995, the BJP had accepted a secondary role and settled for the Deputy Chief Minister’s post. BJP leaders pointed out that the party accepted a secondary role even when the difference in seat tally between the two allies was not very wide.
In 1995, the Sena, with 73 seats, got the Chief Minister’s post (Manohar Joshi); the BJP, with 65 seats, settled for the Deputy CM’s post (Gopinath Munde).
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A former Sena minister said the demand for the Chief Minister’s post was part of its “strategy to get the BJP to agree to our choice of portfolios”. “Ideally, the Shiv Sena would have insisted on the CM’s post only if Uddhav Thackeray was ready to take charge. That possibility is ruled out. Aditya Thackeray is very new to politics and has no administrative experience. Moreover, he is young and still has no hold over the organisation,” he said.
In Maharashtra, the size of the Cabinet cannot exceed 42 members. Besides the home ministry, the revenue, finance, urban, agriculture, irrigation, health and public works departments may become sticking points. The BJP, however, is unlikely to concede the home, finance and urban departments.
Meanwhile, in his column in Sena Sena mouthpiece Saamana, executive editor and party MP Sanjay Raut said the Sena now has the “remote control of power” in Maharashtra. “The Sena won less seats this time, 56 compared to 63 in 2014, but it has the remote control of power,” he said. “The dream that the Shiv Sena will drag itself behind the BJP is busted (after poll results). A cartoon showing a tiger (Sena’s identity) holding a lotus (BJP’s symbol) in its hand tells a lot about the current scenario. Not taking anyone for granted is the message,” he said.
During the first Sena-BJP government in the state, between 1995 to 1999, the term remote control was regularly used for and by the late party patriarch Bal Thackeray to explain the chain of command in the dispensation.
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