Governor asks Shiv Sena to form government in Maharashtra

Updated: Nov 11, 2019, 07:15 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

The state saffron party can show a majority if it manages to get even verbal support from the NCP and Congress before tonight

Uddhav Thackeray and wife Rashmi leave the Retreat Hotel after a meeting with Sena MLAs on Sunday. Pic/ Satej Shinde, Ashish Raje
Uddhav Thackeray and wife Rashmi leave the Retreat Hotel after a meeting with Sena MLAs on Sunday. Pic/ Satej Shinde, Ashish Raje

The BJP on Sunday has wished Shiv Sena all the best to form a government with the Congress and NCP after it told the governor that it was unable to garner the required numbers. Later in the night, the governor invited the Sena, the second-largest party, to form the government. Late on Sunday, the governor asked the Sena to send a proposal by 7.30 pm on Monday.

The Sena may at least need a verbal assurance from the NCP and Congress. But Sena will have to quit the NDA first. THE Sena has 56 MLAs, Congress 44, and NCP 54.

If this combine fails, the governor may also invite the pre-poll alliance of Congress-NCP. If no party or alliance is able to form government, the state will go under President's rule and there could be another election soon.

"Since the Shiv Sena has made up its mind to not join us despite people giving our pre-poll alliance a comfortable mandate, we have told the governor that we will not be making the government now," said BJP state president Chandrakant Patil at Raj Bhavan.

The BJP and Sena have been in a deadlock over the latter's demand for the CM's post. The matter escalated two days ago when the CM and Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray called each other a liar over the promise that the Sena said was made in February. Uddhav reiterated the same while talking to the party MLAs.

Sunday's development indicated that the saffron alliance, which was revived in 2014 after a brief separation, now faces another break-up, this time long-term.

"We don't want to dishonour the mandate though the Sena has done it. We wish the Sena very best to make the government with the Congress and NCP," said Patil.

DevendraCaretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis leaves Raj Bhavan on Sunday. Pic/ Ashish Raje

On a day that saw activity in Mumbai and Jaipur, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said he hadn't parted ways with the ally yet, but wanted his CM in the saddle.

"We have been carrying the BJP's palanquin for long. It's time our man sat in the palanquin and others carried it," he told his legislators at a luxury Malad resort.

However, when the MLAs demanded that Uddhav should become the CM, he turned down the request. "A sainik will be the CM, not me," he said.

The Sena president was exuberant and jovial as he drove his wife Rashmi to the hotel from their Kalanagar residence. No security personnel or personal staff sat in their car, which moved in a convoy. Son Aaditya is staying with the MLAs.

Sena insiders said the president had called a late Sunday night meeting to deliberate the future while he has expedited talks with the NCP and Congress. In fact, several rounds of talks have been held between the Sena and the NCP. Sena will get the CM and NCP deputy CM. They will share important portfolios between them. The Congress may extend outside support and get's its Speaker.

'We will have our CM'

Reiterating that his party will install its CM, Sena MP Sanjay Raut chided the BJP for backing out abruptly. "How will they have their CM if they don't make the government? They had been saying till last evening that they would have their CM. It was all about their adamant attitude," he said.

Earlier, Raut chose to praise the NCP and Congress leaders. "Their leaders aren't anti-Maharashtra. They speak against government policies. We may have our political differences, but we all are for the welfare of the people," he said.

'No word from Sena yet'

Sena's uncertainty delayed decisive action in the NCP and Congress camps. NCP boss Sharad Pawar said he hadn't received any proposal from the Sena. But the indomitable leader who has been pulling strings met his trusted aide Praful Patel for 90 minutes at his residence.

Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said the NCP will decide at a meeting of its MLAs on November 12. He said the Sena should give NCP a proposal, give up its central government positions before things can move forward.

PolicePolice officers on duty outside the Retreat Hotel in Malad, where the Shiv Sena MLAs have been holed up. Pic/ Satej Shinde

In Jaipur, where the Congress legislators are kept secured under the party's Rajasthan government, a section of MLAs demanded to go with government formation. They said the party should support the Sena-NCP from outside and if possible, be part of the government.

Party's general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Mallikarjun Kharge said the mandate was to sit in opposition, but the party high command would take a final decision.

The arrangement between the Sena and NCP, however, isn't expected to be easy. Insiders said the NCP wants the posts of Deputy CM and home department for Ajit Pawar. But the Sena might not give up its claim to the all-important portfolio. Senior leaders Subhash Desai, Eknath Shinde (legislative party leader) and Ramdas Kadam are much interested in the top job, while Sanjay Raut too seemed to have entered the race. Uddhav's son Aaditya Thackeray might not immediately make it but could be a surprise candidate if the tussle intensifies. Aaditya, the first Thackeray to successfully enter the electoral fray, could be made a minister for gaining experience in governance for making it to the top office.

56
No. of MLAs the Sena has

44
No. of MLAs the Congress has

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