BJP warns Shiv Sena to get in line, elects Devendra Fadnavis as legislative leader

Updated: Oct 31, 2019, 07:53 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

As he is chosen BJP legislative party leader, Fadnavis hints that he will go ahead and form government even if Sena doesn't come around

Devendra Fadnavis was elected the BJP's legislative party leader at Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Devendra Fadnavis was elected the BJP's legislative party leader at Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

As expected, CM Devendra Fadnavis will get yet another term. By electing the 49-year-old as the leader of the legislative party, the BJP sent warring ally Shiv Sena a strong message that it would bulldoze its way and not wait for more than two days if the Sena does not settle for what has been offered in power-sharing.

Sources in the BJP said that the ruling party might go ahead with the swearing-in ceremony alone if the Sena doesn't reach an agreement and persists for a bigger pie. The BJP has shown the willingness in giving Sena at least three more ministerial berths, including deputy chief minister, in addition to what it had been handling between 2014 and 2019. Fadnavis would stake claim to form the second consecutive government to be led by him. In 2014, the BJP's first team was put in the government on October 31. Since the current house dissolves on November 9, the allies have ample days to decide on the power-sharing, but sources said that the inordinate delay would send negative signals to the voters who chose an alliance with a simple majority.

BJP leader Chandarakant Patil (left) greets Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday
BJP leader Chandarakant Patil (left) greets Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday

"The Sena may take a call in two days, act appropriately and join us. If not willing, then, it should try to oppose the government once our team is in," said a senior BJP functionary. The talks between the partners had a troubled start on Tuesday when the first formal round of negotiations was cancelled following the CM's statement that the Sena was neither promised the CM's post nor a 50-50 formula for sharing of power. However, insiders said the talks were being held through back channels and that the allies would reach an agreement in a day or two. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has convened a meeting of his MLAs on Thursday in which he will inform them about his stand.

Sena offered DCM, 16 ministerial berths Sources said the Sena has been offered 16 ministerial berths including the Deputy CM's post. However, Sena would not get lucrative and powerful portfolios that it is demanding as per the 1995 formula under which the Home and other major departments were given to the BJP when the Sena had its CM in office. Under pressure from party workers to get the CM's post, Sena has tried mounting pressure on the BJP, but the ally is unrelenting.

The BJP wouldn't part with the Speaker's post either. It maintained that the ratio of the MLAs of the two allies was 2 (BJP):1 (Sena) which was similar to the previous regime and yet the BJP was willing to offer more this time. Addressing party MLAs on Wednesday, Fadnavis maintained that the alliance would form the government. "Don't worry about things that are being said here and there. Everything shall fall in place and we together (with Sena) will work for good governance," he told the legislators that included independents who endorsed his leadership at the Central Hall of Vidhan Bhavan.

"This is a big win since 1995 because no party had more than 75 seats thereafter. But in 2014 and 2019, we won more than 100 seats. We asked votes for Mahayuti, and the government will be formed by Mahayuti only," said Fadnavis. There was no immediate response from the Sena which would seek its MLAs' feedback on Thursday. But the party chief asked all MLAs to gather in the city. Newly elected MLA Aaditya Thackeray cancelled a trip to the Konkan region where he was to meet farmers who have lost standing crop to heavy rains. Meantime, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) elected Ajit Pawar as the leader of its legislative party. He may also be the Opposition leader in the Assembly if there is no agreement on other names.

No. of ministerial berths BJP is offering Shiv Sena

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BJP and Shiv Sena's battle for Maharashtra's CM post continues

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