The BJP’s core committee will meet Sunday to decide the future course of action in Maharashtra after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday asked caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to indicate “willingness and ability” to form the government hours before the five-year tenure of the Assembly ended at midnight, a senior leader said.
But even before the BJP core committee’s meeting, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut underlined his party’s ambitions to rule Maharastra. “If no party is willing to form a government, then the Shiv Sena can take responsibility to form it,” ANI quoted him as saying.
The BJP’s core committee comprises about half a dozen members including senior ministers and the president of the party’s Maharashtra unit Chandrakant Patil.
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The BJP’s tug-of-war with its ally Shiv Sena over the post of the chief minister has so far prevented the formation of a government after the assembly election results were declared on October 24.
“We will decide the next step on whether to stake claim or not during our core team meeting on Sunday. After the meeting, we will also consult our national leaders. The Governor’s invitation was as per the laid down constitutional process,” BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said Saturday.
While the Shiv Sena welcomed Koshyari’s decision, the BJP which the largest party with 105 members in the 288-member House is woefully short of the 145 seats needed for a clear majority to form the government.
Despite a bitter showdown with the Shiv Sena over sharing the chief minister’s post, Mungantiwar said a BJP-Sena government was still the “only viable option in the current political scenario” in the state.
“There is no other option. The natural mandate is for BJP and Sena. There cannot be a Congress chief minister with its 44 legislators being supported by Sena and vice-versa. Congress has made it clear that they can’t go with Sena,” said Mungantiwar, adding that BJP was always open for discussions with the Shiv Sena.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, during his press conference on Saturday had said: “The government will be formed. There is no worry.”
But Thackeray has been unrelenting on his demand for chief ministership for his party for half the tenure of the government, even though it has roughly half the seats won by BJP and has even indicated he is willing to snap the ties with his ally if the latter doesn’t accept his demand.
A Shiv Sena leader who did not wish to be named, said the party will adopt a “wait-and-watch approach” and see what happens at the BJP’s core committee meeting.
There is no clarity yet on whether BJP will stake claim and seek time to prove majority in the House, or decline the Governor’s invitation. But many BJP leaders are still hopeful that the Shiv Sena, its oldest ally, will come around as “backchannel talks with Sena are still on.”