Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday night with 72 hours left till the deadline for government formation in Maharashtra, PTI reported. The BJP and Shiv Sena, which ruled the state in an alliance for the last five years, are engaged in a power-sharing dispute since the Assembly election results were announced on October 24.
Fadnavis reached the RSS headquarters in Nagpur’s Mahal locality around 9.25 pm and left after an hour-and-a-half. The details of the meeting were kept under wraps, however, reports suggested it was about the impasse in the state.
The deadline for the government formation in Maharashtra is November 9, when the term of the 13th Assembly ends. Unless a new government is formed before that, President’s Rule can be declared in the state.
The meeting came a day after Shiv Sena leader Kishore Tiwari urged Bhagwat to ask Union minister Nitin Gadkari to step in and resolve the ongoing tussle. Tiwari, known to be close to Gadkari, said the latter had been sidelined by the BJP, and alleged that the saffron party was not following “coalition dharma”.
Earlier on Tuesday, state Finance Minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungatiwar had announced that “good news” about the government formation would arrive at any moment. On the other hand, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut reasserted that the next chief minister would be from his party.
The Sena wants the chief minister’s post for half of the five-year tenure and an equal division of Cabinet portfolios. The BJP wants Devendra Fadnavis to continue as chief minister for the full five-year term. Last week, Uddhav Thackeray cancelled a meeting with the BJP after Fadnavis denied that his party had agreed to an equal power-sharing agreement before the Lok Sabha polls.
“We are willing to consider any suggestion except for sharing the chief minister’s post,” BJP leader Girish Mahajan, known to be close to Fadnavis, told NDTV. “We are even willing to come to Matoshree [residence of Shiv Sena chief] and meet Uddhav Thackeray to find a solution.”
While the Sena has hinted at the possibility of joining hands with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, reports said Sonia Gandhi has ruled out supporting them.
On Monday, Fadnavis met BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi even as Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar met interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Raut met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari but said it was a courtesy call.
In the Assembly elections last month, the BJP won only 105 seats, compared to 122 in 2014. The saffron party and the Shiv Sena’s combined tally in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly stands at 161.
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