BJP calls Sena for talks on all demands, warns it will form Govt; Sena wants written promise on 50:50 before parleys
With no clarity in still muddled political atmosphere in Maharashtra, the BJP on Tuesday sent mixed signals to the Shiv Sena saying that Devendra Fadnavis-headed Government would be formed, that it had still not received a power-sharing proposal from its ally and that it was prepared for talks with the Sena on all issues, including the issue of rotational Chief Minister.
However, the Shiv Sena snubbed the BJP, slamming the door on talks till such time it received a written undertaking from the latter about the sharing of Chief Minister’s post for a period of two and a half years each.
The hither-to reticent BJP appeared to be dictating terms, by making a “take it or leave it” offer to the Shiv Sena. In the process, the single largest party sent a clear-cut message to the Sena that it would go ahead with the formation of a new Government under the chief ministership of Devendra Fadnavis and put the onus of coming up with a power-sharing proposal on the Sena.
After initially welcoming the BJP’s offer for talks on rotational chief ministership, the Shiv Sena reiterated that it would not hold talks with its senior ally unless and until the latter gave it in writing that it would comply with the “agreement” reached between the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls that they would share the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis.
Interacting with wet drought-affected farmers at Khandali village in Ahmedpur taluka of Latur district in Marathwada region, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said, “God willing, the Shiv Sena will form the next Government in Maharashtra. The Sena man will be the next Chief Minister. Once the Sena Government comes to power, the first thing that my Government would do is to write off all loans of farmers.”
In effect, the political situation in the State was back to square one, with neither the BJP nor the Shiv Sena budging from their respective positions on power-sharing.
The only new thing that happened during the day was that the BJP sought to create a perception that it was ready to accommodate the Shiv Sena in the new Government and it was for the latter to join the talks with its leaders and formalise the power-sharing deal.
Notwithstanding confidence expressed by the BJP about forming the next Government in the State at a time when the Shiv Sena has not yet agreed to go with it, it is to be seen as to how the BJP – which has a strength of 105 MLAs and claims the support of another Independent MLA – will muster another 25 MLAs to attain the simple majority figure of 145 in the 288-member State Assembly.
If the BJP chooses to go in for a minority Government, then the Government thus formed may not last long. Or has the BJP lined up for some action plan to poach MLAs from the Shiv Sena or the parties like the Congress and NCP? Given the BJP’s confidence of going through the exercise of forming a Government even without the support of the Shiv Sena, it looks like the BJP has something up its sleeves.
After his return from New Delhi where he had confabulated with BJP’s national president Amit Shah, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis confabulated with the State party’s core group members, including State unit president Chandrakant Patil and senior Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, on the Government formation in the State.
Talking to mediapersons after the core group meeting, Chandrakant Patil said that as per the mandate given by the people to the BJP and Shiv Sena, a new Government would soon be formed. “For the formation of the Government, the Shiv Sena has so far not given its power sharing proposal. We expect the Sena to give us the proposal soon. Our doors are open all 24 hours for talks with the Sena. The BJP’s central party as well as the party’s legislature wing have given a go-ahead for the formation of a new Government under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis,” Patil said.
Queried about the demand for rotational chief ministership made by the Shiv Sena, Mungantiwar said: “We are awaiting a proposal from the Shiv Sena. But, we will form our Government… When we have said that the new Government would be formed under Devendraji’s leadership, we have brought so much of clarity to the issue that our Government will be formed. There are no ifs and buts, our Government will be formed. You will get news any time from now that we will form the Government”.
Later talking to a leading Marathi television channel, Mungantiwar claimed that his party had a proposal to the Shiv Sena and was awaiting a response from the latter. “Clouds will soon get cleared and Sun will come out. The Government will be formed…. The Shiv Sena might have told you (media) that it has not received any proposal from us. Tell them that the BJP is prepared to give the proposal once again”.
Asked if the BJP was prepared to hold talks on the Sena’s demand for rotational chief ministership, Mungatiwar said: “We are prepared to hold talks on all issues. That being the case, the question of our not talking with them about the issue of rotational chief ministership does not arise. But, the Shiv Sena has to initiate talks with us”.
Queried about the nature of the proposal that the BJP had given to the Shiv Sena, Mungatiwar said: “I do not want to talk about the proposal. We have decided not to talk about our proposal in public”.
Asked to comment on whether the BJP would go ahead with the Government formation in the absence of power-sharing deal with the Shiv Sena, Mungantiwar said: “No comments”. He, however, said that his party would begin preparation for the formation of a new Government from Wednesday.
Asked whether the BJP would share the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan clarified to a television channel that his party had decided that Devendra Fadnavis would be remain the Chief Minister for full five years. “We have decided that the BJP would hold the Chief Minister’s post for five years. But, we are prepared to talk with the Shiv Sena on this issue”
Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut initially welcomed Mungantiwar’s comment that the BJP was prepared to hold talks with the Shiv Sena on the issue of rotational chief ministership. “This is the first sensible comment that any BJP leader has made during the last 12 days since the declaration of the State Assembly poll results. If the BJP had taken the stand of sharing the chief ministership on a rotational basis with the Shiv Sena, there would not have a stalemate between the two parties,” Raut said.
Raut later dismissed the BJP’s stand that it was awaiting a proposal from the Shiv Sena on the sharing of power. “Where is the need for a new proposal? We are only asking the BJP to implement the agreement reached with BJP president Amit Shah that the two parties would share the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis. It is a one-line proposal. Let the BJP give it in writing that it would abide by the promise of sharing the chief ministership with us. It is only then, we can hold talks with the BJP”.
Raut blamed the delay in the Government formation at the BJP’s door. “Why there is a delay in the Government formation? Who has delayed the Government formation? Why is there no implementation of the agreement reached between the two parties?. We are not responsible for any of these things. Once he returns from the wet drought-affected affected areas, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will take a final call on the issues with the Shiv Sena,” Raut said.
Wednesday, 06 November 2019 | TN Raghunatha | Mumbai
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