Maharashtra may have new govt soon; BJP to meet governor tomorrow

The BJP and the Sena are locked in a standoff over the post of CM in new govt and sharing of ministerial portfolios.

Mumbai: A fortnight after announcement of Assembly poll results, prospects of a new government being formed in Maharashtra brightened on Wednesday, with the BJP leaders slated to meet the governor on Thursday and the NCP making it clear that it will prefer to sit in opposition.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, whose party has refused to give up claim on rotation of CM's post, said his party chief Uddhav Thackeray is yet to get any proposal from the BJP.

The tenure of the present Assembly ends in two days and a special three-day session of the House may be convened next week to swear in the new MLAs, sources told PTI.

A resolution to the BJP-Shiv Sena stalemate over government formation is expected and a new dispensation may take office before the term of the outgoing Assembly ends, sources said.

Sources from both parties said back channel talks are on between the two old but often-feuding Hindutva allies and a breakthrough is expected. "We expect a breakthrough. If all goes well we can have a government by November 9," a source, who did not wish to be identified, said.

However, it was not clear as to what will be the concession offered by the BJP to the Sena if the Uddhav Thackeray-led party decides to bury the hatchet. A senior BJP functionary asserted the party will not compromise on the post of chief minister.

The BJP and the Sena are locked in a standoff over the post of chief minister in new government and sharing of ministerial portfolios. In the recent assembly polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats in the 288-member House.

The Sena won 56. Claiming that the BJP had agreed to a "50-50" formula on power sharing in the state, the Sena has demanded that the top seat should be shared between the two.

Pawar said on Wednesday that the mandate for his party and its ally Congress is to sit in opposition. It is for the BJP-Sena to form the government, he added.

A delegation of the BJP, the single largest party in the House, would meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday "with a message approved by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis," senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said.

The BJP and the Sena are locked in a stand-off over the post of chief minister in new government and sharing of ministerial portfolios.

In the recent assembly polls, the BJP won the maximum 105 seats in the 288-member House. The Sena won 56 seats, NCP 54 and Congress 44 seats.

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday asked the BJP and Sena to form government in Maharashtra at the earliest, and asserted that his party and its ally Congress will work as a "responsible opposition".

Addressing a press conference here after meeting Raut, Pawar ruled out joining the Uddhav Thackeray-led party in government with the outside support of the Congress, an idea making rounds in political circles for the last few days. "Where is the question (of a non-BJP government)?" he asked, saying the BJP and the Shiv Sena have been in alliance for 25 years, and they "will come together sooner or later". "If we had the numbers, we wouldn't have waited for anyone. The Congress and NCP didn't cross the 100 mark...we will work as a responsible opposition," Pawar, 78, said.

Noting that the BJP and Shiv Sena have got the mandate to rule, he said, "They should form the government at the earliest and not allow the state to slip in a constitutional crisis."

On senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel's meeting with Union Transport Minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Wednesday, Pawar declined to attach any political significance to it, saying, "It must be about some road work." Asked if the Maharashtra Assembly poll have changed the perception that BJP chief Amit Shah ensures formation of government in a state whether or not the party has majority, Pawar said, "If he is an expert, then like you (the media), we are also waiting to see the skills of the expert."

Responding to Pawar's statement asking the BJP and Shiv Sena to form government at the earliest, Raut said, "He is right. The party with 105 MLAs should form the government." Raut also claimed there was a "consensus" between the BJP and his party before the Assembly elections on sharing the chief minister's post. No fresh proposal has been received from the BJP or sent to it from the Sena, he added.

To a question on when would there be a consensus on the chief minister's post, the Rajya Sabha member said, "There was a consensus on the post before elections." Congress Rajya Sabha member Hussain Dalwai met senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Dalwai later told PTI he had a "positive discussion" with Raut, and that the Congress and NCP should work to keep the BJP out of power. Six Shiv Sena ministers on Wednesday attended a meeting over agrarian crisis in the state, called by Fadnavis here.

The BJP has also decided to initiate the procedure to select a new state unit president, Mungantiwar said, adding the present state unit chief Chandrakant Patil will remain in the next Cabinet.

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