Mumbai: The deadline for government formation in Maharashtra around 72 hours away, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made a beeline for Nagpur to meet Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Since the assembly election votes were counted on October 24, the BJP and the Sena have been eyeball to eyeball over the latter’s demand for a 50:50 power share, that translates to half the ministerial berths and a rotational system for the Chief Minister’s post. Neither has been ready for a climbdown. The Sena has asserted that though it accepted the BJP’s conditions in 2014, it would not “blink first” this time.
Over the weekend, a Sena leader wrote to Mohan Bhagwat, asking him to intervene and resolve the deadlock, since the BJP was not following “coalition dharma”. Kishore Tiwari, a farmers’ rights activist, even suggested that senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, be made part of negotiations to resolve the crisis.
The BJP’s shrinking numbers in the assembly elections – down from 122 to 105 – has given an upper hand to detractors of the Chief Minister, party insiders say. It has also played into the hands of the Shiv Sena, which is unwilling to negotiate with Mr Fadnavis since his denial of a 50:50 power share agreement.
Mr Fadnavis met Mr Gadkari in the national capital yesterday after his meeting with BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Earlier on Tuesday, the BJP said its door was “open 24 hours” to discuss a formula with the Shiv Sena. But the party also underscored that it would form a government under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Hours before, the Sena, upset over the lack of response from the BJP, had asserted that the Chief Minister would be from their party and that they were ready to consider other options if the BJP was not ready to cede space.
The BJP says it has the support of 115 MLAs. The Sena which won 56 seats, says it has the support of 63 along with independents but its chances of working out an arrangement with the Congress-Sharad Pawar alliance looks bleak, with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi reportedly ruling out such a possibility.
After a meeting on Tuesday evening at the Chief Minister’s house, senior leader and state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar hinted at a possible breakthrough, saying “good news” was expected any moment.