Notwithstanding the recent bickering between the former allies, the BJP today announced that it will start afresh talks with Shiv Sena on the issue of the latter's joining the four-week-old government in Maharashtra.
"From tomorrow, senior BJP leaders Devendra Pradhan and Chandrakant Patil will hold talks with Sena leaders," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters here. "It is not only the feeling of BJP and Sena workers, but also that of the people of Maharashtra that Sena join the government," Fadnavis said.
"BJP also wants that Sena join the government. We fully favour this," he said. "We fought the recent Assembly elections separately, but we were also together for 25 years. Sena is also part of our government at the Centre," he said. "Pradhan and Patil will start talks with Sena. They have been given full authority to deal with any issue. If needed, they will consult me and the party leadership," he said. "I am confident that Shiv Sena will join the state government soon," Fadnavis said.
So far, there were only reports of back channel talks between Shiv Sena and BJP, but Fadnavis today formally announced that talks will be back on track. There were reports of a deal being reached between BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and of Sena likely to get 10 berths in the Fadnavis government, with at least four of Cabinet rank, but there was no confirmation of the same.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP has 121 MLAs, while the Shiv Sena is the second largest party with 63 legislators.