Amit Shah rubbishes Uddhav Thackeray's claim, puts Shiv Sena in a tight spot

Updated: Nov 14, 2019, 07:12 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

With BJP boss virtually calling Thackeray a liar, Sena finds its bargaining power with Congress-NCP diminishing

Amit Shah. Pic/ AFP
Amit Shah. Pic/ AFP

Talks between Shiv Sena and the Democratic Front (DF) of Congress and NCP seem to have run into rough weather at a nascent stage. On Wednesday, the message from the two camps seemed to be at odds with each other, with Sena firm that it wants its CM for a full five years, and the NCP pitching for shared terms of 2.5 years each.

The Congress, meanwhile, is still trying to find an acceptable explanation to justify an alliance with a hard-right party, especially keeping in mind its future national prospects.

The state is under President's rule, imposed after the Sena – in its quest for the CM's Office – first turned against its pre-poll ally BJP, and later failed to present letters of support from the DF parties.

NCP insiders said Ajit wanted a 30-month stint in the CM's chair, even if it was after the Sena. But the Sena has not responded to this proposal, indicating that it is still aiming for a full term on the sixth floor of the Mantralaya.

MahaUddhav addresses the media at BKC on Wednesday. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

While the three ostensibly hammer out a common minimum programme, the Congress has an added concern of how to handle the repercussions of the pact on its secular credentials outside Maharashtra.

With Sonia Gandhi's emissaries meeting Thackeray last night, the latter may scale down the party's Hindutva rhetoric, especially since his primary aim is to deny BJP power in the state.

Shah jolt for Sena

Earlier on Wednesday, BJP president Amit Shah hit the final nail in the coffin when he told news agency ANI that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he had said several times in public before the elections that Devendra Fadnavis will be the CM.

"No one objected back then. Now they have come up with new demands which are not acceptable to us," he said. "And about President's rule, even today if someone has the numbers, they can approach the governor. The governor has not denied chance to anyone."

MahaAjit Pawar. Pic/ Ashish Raje

Shah's remark virtually shut the doors on the Sena and shrunk its bargaining power further with the seasoned negotiators of the NCP and Congress. If the three are unable to work out a deal, President's rule will continue even after six months, as Shah suggested while talking to a private news channel.

The state BJP, meanwhile, has already gone into election mode, with the newly-elected MLAs expected to meet for three days later this week. The party will start reaching out to the public, and accuse the Sena of disregarding the people's mandate.

Congress concerns

Congress insiders said even if Thackeray agreed for a CMP largely around current issues concerning farmers, governance, economic and infrastructure development, the very demand for a CMO and lucrative posts in the government might prolong the talks between them.

BalasahebCongress leader Balasaheb Thorat along with other party leaders address the media after their meeting with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the Trident in BKC on Wednesday. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

It is also understood that the Congress would want a bigger pie in the three-party government because it cannot let the NCP have all the power and perks before the parties face another election, either mid-term or full term.

MahaAjit Pawar addresses the media at Y B Chavan Centre on Wednesday. Pic/ Ashish Raje

Ajit Pawar made it clear that his party and the Congress will first hammer out all details before taking things to the Sena's table. Congress leaders who want the party to be in government were confident of striking a good deal.

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