A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil and state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, is likely to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday, the Hindustan Times reported. The deadline for the government formation in the state, which has been delayed so far as the BJP and Shiv Sena are locked in a power-sharing dispute, is Saturday, when the term of the 13th Assembly will end.
“In the polls, the mandate was for BJP, Sena, Republican Party of India and other smaller parties,” said Mungantiwar, following a meeting with party leaders and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his residence in south Mumbai, according to the Hindustan Times. “We want to respect this mandate and all our future steps will be to ensure a saffron alliance government is formed. We will meet the governor tomorrow [Thursday] to apprise him of our plans to form the new government in the state.”
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.
There has been no headway in government formation since the results of the Assembly elections were declared on October 24. The Sena has demanded an equal division of Cabinet portfolios, and the chief minister’s post for half of the government’s five-year term. The BJP has refused to acquiesce to the demand. However, if a new government is not formed before the deadline, President’s Rule can be declared.
While the saffron party planned to meet the governor, Thackeray called for a meeting of the party’s MLAs on Thursday.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, meanwhile, said the party’s president, Uddhav Thackeray, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat have had no discussions on the government formation in Maharashtra, PTI reported.
Raut said that legislators of his party and those in the Opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party would “not cross sides”. When asked if he represented the party’s views, the Shiv Sena leader said: “I put forth views of Uddhav Thackeray.”
Back-channel negotiations between the two parties were reportedly being conducted through two mediators. The BJP has asked the Sena to join the government for now as the former had a “clear mandate for the alliance”, an unidentified leader of the BJP said. “Their demand for splitting chief minister’s post can be discussed in six-seven months, with the Delhi leadership,” the leader said. “Currently, our top brass is not willing to concede it.”
Fifteen ministers from the Shiv Sena, who are part of the outgoing government, reportedly met Fadnavis on Wednesday purportedly for a meeting of district guardian ministers over the farmers’ crisis. An unidentified Sena leader said that the party president was firm on the demands and negotiations would begin only if the “BJP is ready to honour what it had promised to us”.
Mungantiwar on Wednesday claimed there would be “good news” within the next two days. “Being the single largest party with 105 MLAs, it is our duty to apprise the Governor of the political developments,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “There is absolutely no ambiguity in the BJP about forming a coalition government with ally Shiv Sena.”
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition should form the government instead of plunging the state into a constitutional crisis.
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