Cabinet ministers of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra attended a meeting called by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday to discuss the agrarian crisis amid a power tussle between their two parties, PTI reported. After the meeting, a Shiv Sena minister referred to Fadnavis as the “caretaker chief minister”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party wants Fadnavis to continue as chief minister for the full five-year term, but ally Shiv Sena wants the post for half of the tenure and an equal division of Cabinet portfolios. The two parties could easily have formed the government together after last month’s Assembly elections, but their disagreements have delayed it.

Shiv Sena minister Ramdas Kadam said after the meeting: “We attended the meeting on directives of [Sena chief] Uddhav [Thackeray] ji. The Shiv Sena has demanded Rs 25,000 per hectare as immediate financial assistance for farmers. The caretaker chief minister has agreed to it.”

He said crops on 70 lakh hectares land were damaged, including cotton on 19 lakh hectares and soyabean on 18 lakh hectares because of unseasonal rains.

Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said contingency funds will be used to disburse financial assistance to farmers. “The state Cabinet has decided to instruct banks not to force farmers to repay loans as most of them have been affected by the untimely showers,” he said.

On the alliance talks, Mungantiwar said, according to ANI: “You cannot separate water, no matter how much you try to. Shiv Sena and BJP are together. We had a good meeting over the farmer’s issue today. We should wait for the news, the good news can come anytime.”

Meanwhile, Union minister and Republican Party of India (A) chief Ramdas Athawale claimed that the Shiv Sena has no option but to join hands with BJP to form government in Maharashtra under the leadership of Fadnavis.

Earlier in the day, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said the BJP-Shiv Sena should form the government instead of plunging the state into a constitutional crisis.

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 BJP won 105 seats in the Assembly polls, results for which were declared on October 24. The Shiv Sena won 56 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party bagged 54 constituencies and the Congress 44 seats.

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