Sena cancels meeting with BJP after Fadnavis denies offer to share CM post

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and BJP's Devendra Fadnavis | Photo: PTI
A breakthrough in negotiations eluded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday with Maharashtra Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis stating that the Sena had proposed a formula of rotational chief minister for 2.5 years each before the Lok Sabha polls, but no decision was taken in front of him.

Comments by Fadnavis, including that he will be the CM for the next five years and only BJP chief Amit Shah and Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray can decide on the '50-50 formula', were met by biting retorts from the Sena’s Sanjay Raut.

Raut said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray cancelled the discussions between the two parties scheduled for 4 pm after Fadnavis’ comments. “If the CM himself is saying that the '50-50 formula' was not discussed then what will we even talk about? On what basis should we talk to them? So Uddhav ji has cancelled today's meeting,” Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, said.

Independent Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Kakade, a realtor elected to the Rajya Sabha with the BJP support, said that 45 of the newly elected Sena legislators were in touch with Fadnavis and wanted a BJP-Sena alliance government. "I think some of these 45 MLAs will convince Uddhav Thackeray to form the government with Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister. I don’t think there is any other option," he said.

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said if the Sena came to his party with a proposal for government formation, it will be put up before the Congress high command and allies (the Nationalist Congress Party and others). He said the Sena is yet to make any such proposal. However, Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) Sharad Pawar as well as Congress state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat have said in the last couple of days that they do not want to form the government.

The BJP and Shiv Sena negotiations are now somewhat reminiscent of their post-election government formation negotiations in 2014. The two had fought the elections separately. The Sena had the BJP run a minority government for the first couple of months after the Assembly polls before eventually joining it in December of that year.

Raut further said that his party chief and BJP chief Amit Shah discussed the '50-50 formula'. “If he is saying that the '50-50 formula' was never discussed, then I think we need to change the definition of truth. What was discussed, regarding the issue the CM is talking about, is known by all. The media was there,” Raut said.

Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Shah and Thackeray will talk to each other on rotational chief minister to bring clarity on the issue.

The BJP has suffered a loss of 17-seats from its 2014 tally, and is 40-seats short of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly. The Sena would want some of the key ministerial portfolios in the new council of ministers, apart from at least deputy chief ministership for Aaditya Thackeray.

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