New Delhi: 'Who will form the government in Maharashtra?' was the question in the state’s political corridors as Governor BS Koshiari decided to exhaust all options one by one.
The day began well for the Shiv Sena who had a 24-hour deadline to stake claim to the government after the single largest party BJP bowed out, failing to get Sena support on the chief minister issue.
The Sena thought it had almost cobbled a government with support from the ideologically mismatched rival parties, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
At the centre of all negotiations was NCP chief Sharad Pawar who tried to mediate a common ground between the Congress and the Shiv Sena.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also called the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asking for support.
But the much-needed support did not come for the Sena from both the Congress and the NCP by the time the deadline for Sena to stake claim expired at 7.30 pm.
Governor Koshiari then gave the third-largest party NCP twenty-four hours till Tuesday evening to form a government.
Jayant Patil of the NCP said, "As per the procedure, Governor has given us the letter (to stake claim to form govt ) being the 3rd largest party in Maharashtra.''
The deadline for NCP to stake claim at forming government in Maharashtra is 8:30 PM on November 12.
Failing to get support from Congress and NCP on time, Sena leader Aditya Thackeray met the Governor in the evening and asked for three more days to stitch together a government.
The governor's official statement read, "A delegation of leaders of Shiv Sena met the governor and expressed their willingness to form the government. However, they could not submit the requisite letter of support. Further, they submitted a letter requesting for three days of extension of the deadline for submitting the letters of support. The governor expressed his inability to give any further extension."
Shiv Sena's Aaditya Thackeray after meeting the governor on Monday said, "We told the Governor that we're willing to form the government. We asked him for at least two days' time but we weren't given time. The claim (to form govt) wasn't denied but the time was. We'll continue to put in efforts to form govt in the state. We are in talks with both the party leaders."
He further said that the Sena can still legally form the government.
Meanwhile, Congress gave a statement that it will hold further discussions with ally NCP on the political situation in Maharashtra. It further said, "CWC held a detailed discussion on the political situation in Maharashtra. Held talks with state leaders."
Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had a brief telephonic conversation on earlier on Monday evening.
Uddhav Thackeray sought Congress' support to Shiv Sena to form govt in Maharashtra according to sources.
However, Congress did not provide the Sena with the letter of support.
Manikrao Thackeray of the Congress claimed that neither the Congress' nor NCP's letter has gone to Maharashtra Governor yet. He further said that a decision will be taken once the leaders hold discussions.
Given the stalemate between the two alliance partners, the role of the Congress with its 44 legislators and the Nationalist Congress Party with 54 MLAs is crucial.
In the 288-member House, the Sena has 56 MLAs and is the second-largest party after the BJP which has 105 MLAs. The NCP has 54 MLAs and Congress has 44 MLAs. The halfway mark is 145. On November 10, the BJP declined to form a government for want of requisite numbers in the wake of the Sena refusing to join its oldest ally.