Shiv Sena to join BJP govt in Maharashtra; no Deputy CM post

Mumbai: After an acrimonious split, BJP and Shiv Sena are together again with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today announcing that Sena will be joining his government tomorrow "in keeping with the mandate" and will get 12 ministerial berths but there will be no Deputy CM.

However, Fadnavis did not reveal the portfolios to be given to Sena, which was understood to be eyeing the key Home department, held by the Chief Minister, besides demanding the Deputy Chief Minister's post.

"It is the desire of the people of Maharashtra that BJP and Shiv Sena should be part of the government," the Chief Minister told reporters at a joint press conference with senior Sena leaders, 70 days after the two parties had snapped ties ending their 25-year-old alliance ahead of the assembly elections.

12 ministers from Sena, including five of Cabinet rank will be inducted, he said, ruling out having a deputy chief minister's post. For now, 10 Sena ministers will take oath. Also about 8 to 10 BJP ministers will also take oath tomorrow, Fadnavis said.

Uddhav Thackeray, Devendra Fadnavis
Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis

The announcement came after days of parleys between the two parties which saw hard-bargaining for portfolios.

The swearing in will take place at 4 PM at the Vidhan Bhawan premises.

At present the Fadnavis Ministry's strength is 10, including the Chief Minister. Eight of them are of Cabinet rank.

"People voted against Congress and NCP. People wanted BJP and Sena to form government in Maharashtra," Fadnavis said.

"We could not take decisions on some issues. So BJP formed government. Workers of BJP and Sena wanted both the parties to be in government. Even legislators of both the parties wanted us to be in government together," he said.

"I spoke to Uddhavji that the Sena should join the government and he responded positively. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan held talks with him and later on all of us worked out the modalities," he said.

"We will form a coordination committee and will jointly contest Zilla Parishad and Municipal polls. We are two different parties and we have our own views on various issues," the chief minister said.

"We took a stance to be in the government together keeping in view the mandate people have given. We respect the mandate. We were together for 25 years and we will continue to be together in this government and even later," Fadnavis said.

"For 25 years we have resolved issues through talks and we will do so even now," Fadnavis said, when asked about the contradictory views of the two parties on some issues.

"We will soon take a decision on including other alliance partners in the government," Fadnavis said.

Senior Sena leader Subhash Desai, who was present along with Fadnavis, said "both the parties have decided to provide a strong government to Maharashtra. Our effort will be to provide good governance. We are confident that we will respect the mandate given by people of Maharashtra," Desai said.

The 25-year-old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had ended on September 25, just two days before deadline for filing papers for the October 15 Assembly polls ended, amid continued deadlock over seat-sharing.

"We have conveyed our decision to snap ties to Shiv Sena. The decision was taken with a heavy heart," Fadnavis had then told reporters.

BJP has 121 MLAs in the 288-member House. The NCP, which has 41 MLAs, had announced outside support to the state government, which was sworn in on October 31.

A miffed Sena sat in the opposition and its leader Eknath Shinde was given Leader of Opposition status. But some in BJP were wary of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and were making attempts to rope in Sena, which has 63 MLAs.

With Sena now set to join the government, Fadnavis can breathe easy during the winter session of legislature, beginning at Nagpur on December 8.

Today's announcement was preceded by a veiled attack by Fadnavis on senior Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam last week over the latter's remarks about BJP "fooling" Sena on the issue of power sharing talks.

"Only the official interlocutors in the BJP-Sena talks should comment on the parleys," Fadnavis had said. "My request is that if only those who are official interlocutors talk (to media), then the process will move ahead," he had said.

Two days after BJP formally resumed talks with Sena on the issue of joining the government, Sena leader Ramdas Kadam had accused the estranged ally of "fooling" his party by purposefully dragging on power-sharing deliberations.

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