Sena, BJP refuse to blink, as battle turns into ego war

Updated: Nov 02, 2019, 17:11 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

BJP national working president expected to visit city today or tomorrow, may hold talks with Uddhav. Meanwhile, Sena's talks with NCP-Cong fizzle out

Sena has been refusing to budge on its demand to share the chief minister's post
Sena has been refusing to budge on its demand to share the chief minister's post

The stalemate between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, who have been elected with a simple majority to form a government, continued on Friday, with the exception of the development that BJP's national working president is to visit the city. The power-sharing talks are stuck despite many channels working on finding an amicable solution. Apparently, the Sena wants the BJP to take the lead in talks, concede more in terms of lucrative departments, and if possible, agree to share the CM's office between them.

As the day progressed, mid-day learned that senior BJP leader J P Nadda is expected to visit Mumbai on Saturday or the day after. His visit could be a sign of rapprochement. "Naddaji should be meeting Sena leaders, he may even visit the Thackerays," said a senior BJP leader. More than a battle for power, it has now become a war of egos between the leadership of the alliance partners. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray wants BJP leaders to restore his self-respect by withdrawing the statement "he (Uddhav) was not assured the CM's post in the month of February".

J P Nadda
J P Nadda

Sena insiders said their chief is waiting for a call from CM Devendra Fadnavis and is not interested in conducting talks through mediators who have offered the Deputy CM's post, including 16 ministerial berths – eight cabinet and eight junior, a fair share in the state-run corporations and boards, and a further share in the Union cabinet. But all that came with the condition that the party will not part with the CM's post and four important portfolios.

While Kalanagar remained the centre of subdued action, Fadnavis spent his day conferring with bureaucrats who have been asked to provide immediate relief to rain-affected farmers. Right after BJP's return, the monsoon has devastated standing cash crops in various parts of the state.

On the sidelines of the main theatrics, Sena's attempt to get the other pre-poll alliance of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party to support it seemed to be fading out as the opposition parties remained undecided, while fuelling Sena's ambitions of installing its CM. Both parties are divided over supporting BJP's pre-poll partner.

Some NCP leaders said they would prefer to be in the opposition, while others talked of options that should keep the BJP out of power. The Congress state leadership also differed with some seniors voicing concerns about going with an ideologically opposite Sena. Insiders said the leaders who met party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday were told to respect the people's verdict.

NCP boss Sharad Pawar was very specific about his party's role. "The BJP and Sena contested polls together and they have the numbers to form the government. They should go ahead," he told media persons. However, the BJP camp did not keep quiet on the prospect of implementing the 'Karnataka pattern' against them. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar threatened to enforce the president's rule if need be. But he was also very confident of the Sena and BJP coming together.

On Friday, speculations were rife that Fadnavis would be sworn in between November 4 and 6 at the Wankhede Stadium. But inquiries with the stadium authorities revealed that it would stadium would be hosting a junior league tournament on the dates required to be booked. Party seniors dismissed the gossip and said they were hopeful of ending the impasse in a couple of days.

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

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