Mumbai: With just a week left for the Devendra Fadnavis government to prove its majority in the Maharashtra Assembly, there seems to be no end to the discord brewing between the BJP and the Shiv Sena.
The two parties have so far failed to resolve their differences over Shiv Sena’s share in the BJP-led government in Mahrashtra, with sources claiming that deputy’s chief minister’s post being one of the sticking points in prolonged discussions between the two sides.
As per reports, Uddhv Thackeray-led Shiv Sena had told the state BJP that it would not support the Devendra Fadnavis government if the chief minister doesn’t induct Sena ministers into his cabinet by Saturday.
Shiv Sena’s ultimatum has been conveyed to BJP, one of its functionary said. However, BJP is in no mood to yield to its former ally’s demands, BJP sources claim.
Besides the deputy chief minister’s post, Sena has also asked for 10 ministerial portfolios, including five cabinet posts. Should there be no post of deputy CM, then Matoshree wants 12 ministerial berths, including six portfolios of cabinet rank, sources said.
BJP, however, has told Matoshree that the deputy chief minister’s post cannot be created under any circumstances and that Sena will not get more than eight portfolios, including four cabinet posts.
While both sides have been maintaining since last Friday when Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray attended Devendra Fadnavis’ swearing-in that discussions were on to sort out the differences, a Sena MP yesterday said that talks were “stuck” over deputy CM’s post.
“The talks between the two parties are stuck on the question of Dy CM’s post. We have been demanding Deputy CM’s post for our nominee which they don’t want to give. We can make adjustments with regard to portfolios but not this,” a Sena MP said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Sena has been insisting on following the 1995 formula under which BJP, being the junior partner, had got Deputy Chief Minister’s post, in the first coalition government formed by the two saffron parties.
The practice was followed by successive Congress-NCP governments for 15 years, but now BJP, which has emerged as the single-largest party with 121 seats in the 288-member Assembly, wants it to be discontinued.
He also said part of the problem was with portfolios being offered as important ones like home, finance, revenue and urban development have already been allotted to BJP ministers.
“Discussions should ideally be a two-way affair but here they want us to accept whatever they give,” he said, adding Sena, despite having 18 Lok Sabha MPs, was given just one berth in the Union Cabinet and an “insignificant” portfolio of Heavy Industries.
Another Sena MP said talks were on to “remove the irritants” and his party will wait till Saturday for a “respectable” offer from BJP before joining the government. He said the party may decide to sit in the opposition if that does not materialise.
“We will wait and see if we are offered respectable positions in the state ministry till Saturday. If they fail to give us that, we may announce our plan of sitting in the Opposition,” he said.
The three-day special session of the Assembly is scheduled to begin on November 10 and Fadnavis will seek a vote of confidence in his ministry on the concluding day.
Uddhav had attended the swearing-in of the BJP government following a last-minute call from party President Amit Shah, reviving hopes of a reunion between the ideologically compatible former Hindutva allies. The two leaders had also held brief talks after the ceremony.
Though Sharad Pawar’s NCP with 41 MLAs has already extended unconditional outside support to the BJP government, taking 63 MLA-strong Sena on board is still the best option before Fadnavis for long-term stability.