Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar reiterated on Wednesday that the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party must form the government in Maharashtra and his party and the Congress will stay in Opposition. He spoke to reporters in Mumbai after meeting Sena leader Sanjay Raut earlier in the day.
“Where is the question of a Shiv Sena-NCP government?” he said, according to ANI. “They [BJP-Shiv Sena] are together for last 25 years, today or tomorrow they will come together again.”
The remark came amid a standoff over power-sharing between the Shiv Sena and its coalition partner the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra since the Assembly poll results were declared on October 24. The deadline for the state government’s formation is November 9, when the term of the 13th Assembly ends. If a new government is not formed before it, President’s Rule may be declared in Maharashtra.
“I don’t have anything to say yet,” Pawar said, when asked if he sees any other options for Maharashtra to avoid President’s Rule. “BJP and Shiv Sena have got the mandate of people, so they should form government as soon as possible. Our mandate is to play the role of Opposition.”
Pawar also said that he was not interested in being in power. “I have been the chief minister four times, not keen on that post again,” the senior NCP leader said, according to NDTV.
When pointed out that Raut has said in the past that his party has the numbers, Pawar said: “Even I want to ask Sanjay Raut how he will get 170.” In the Assembly elections last month, the BJP won only 105 seats, compared to 122 in 2014. The Shiv Sena secured 56. The saffron party and the Shiv Sena’s combined tally in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly stands at 161. The Congress-NCP and other allies have a strength of 110 seats, which includes Congress’ 44 and NCP’s 54 seats.
Pawar added that the two leaders discussed the upcoming Rajya Sabha session. “There are some issues we discussed on which we can have a similar stand,” he said.
Earlier in the day, soon after meeting Pawar, Raut said they had a brief discussion. “He is a senior leader of the state and the country,” Raut told ANI. “He is worried about the political situation in Maharashtra today.”
Raut also said on Wednesday that there was “a consensus” between his party and the BJP on sharing the chief minister’s post for half of the five-year term. “Why waste time on new proposals?” Raut asked. “We want a discussion on what was agreed upon earlier. No new proposal has been received [from the BJP] or sent.”
Raut said that the Sena would “not be responsible” if President’s Rule was imposed in the state. “Those conspiring to do this are insulting the people’s mandate,” he added.
No party or coalition has staked claim to form the government in the state as the Shiv Sena wants the chief minister’s post for half of the five-year tenure and an equal division of Cabinet portfolios. However, the BJP wants Fadnavis to continue as chief minister for the full five-year term.