Shiv Sena, BJP Close to a Deal in Maharashtra, say Sources

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Mumbai: The Shiv Sena and the BJP are close to sealing a deal in Maharashtra, solving the month-long stand-off over sharing of ministerial berths, sources told media.

The Shiv Sena, which had been holding out for the post of the deputy chief minister or the plum home ministry, is ready to settle for 12 posts. The break-up could be four cabinet posts and eight ministers of state. The BJP is ready to offer them the portfolios of the Public Works Department, Irrigation or Energy, the sources said.

The meeting between senior leaders of the two parties was held at Varsha, the official residence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai.

Earlier today, Mr Fadnavis had said, “We are moving in the right direction. We can say that 70-80 per cent talks have been completed where both the parties agree. Some things are left, which we are still discussing.”

Allies for 25 years, the two parties had parted ways over seat sharing ahead of the assembly polls, held in October. The stand-off had worsened after BJP’s big win, which fell short of a majority. The Shiv Sena, after repeated efforts to reach a deal, declared it would sit in the opposition.

The controversial voice vote the BJP had won – with the outside support of the Nationalist Congress Party or NCP – had not mended matters. The Shiv Sena, along with the Congress, had petitioned Governor C Vidyasar Rao for a fresh vote.

The party, however, had kept the alliance at the Centre intact.

The Chief Minister had repeatedly expressed confidence about a breakthrough in talks. Last week, he said the Shiv Sena has “always been a friend and in future, we will be friends”.

Notwithstanding the ups and downs of the seat-sharing talks, Mr Fadnavis had also reached out to the Shiv Sena on Bal Thackeray’s death anniversary, promising to build a memorial for the late leader.

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