Shiv Sena invited to form Maharashtra govt after BJP pulls out of race

Maharashtra crisis, Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress, NCP, Governor's invitation, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, prove majority, Sanjay Raut, Arvind Sawant's resignation, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Sharad Pawar
A Sena delegation is slated to meet the governor at 2.30 pm on Monday, to ask for more time to prove their majority. Photo: PTI.

Maharashtra Governor BS Koshiyari on Sunday (November 10) invited Shiv Sena to form the government in the state after BJP pulled out of the race, citing lack of numbers and support from the Uddhav Thackeray party. The Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde has been asked to indicate willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra.

The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier announced that it will not form government in the state and that Sena may go ahead and stake claim for the same.

The announcement came from BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil after he met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari following two core committee meetings of the saffron party at caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence.

Addressing a media briefing after the meeting, he said, “We will not form government in the state. The mandate was given to us (BJP-Shiv Sena allince) to work together. If Shiv Sena wants to disrespect it and form government along with the Congress-NCP combine then all our best wishes are with them.”

Fadnavis along with others BJP leaders including Patil arrived at the Raj Bhavan to meet the governor after the party’s state core committee held two meetings on Sunday to decide on Koshiyari’s invitation to form government.

Meanwhile, BJP ally Shiv Sena’s president Uddhav Thackeray reiterated the party’s demand for the chief minister’s post after he visited Hotel Retreat to meet the party’s newly elected MLAs who were last week huddled in the Malad West hotel due to fears of horse-trading and poaching by the BJP. According to a report by Indian Express, the Sena chief said that they have carried the “palanquin” (referring to the CM post) for other leaders, and this time he will ensure that a member of his party sits in it.

Before the evening meeting, the BJP core panel met once earlier in the day at caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence, following which, party leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the members will hold another meeting at 4 PM. “Governor has invited the BJP to form the government because we are the single largest party. We’ll meet at 4 pm again today and take a decision on his invitation,” he said.

However, the BJP’s unrelenting ally Shiv Sena has welcomed the governor’s invitation to the BJP to form government. Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said his party would declare its next strategy once no one else is able to form government in the state.

Also read: Maharashtra should teach cagey Cong to buck up and strategise better

“Now, with the governor’s intervention, we hope the state will get a government. The single largest party had to be called. We fail to understand why the BJP did not stake claim in 24 hours (after results) if it was confident that it had the majority,” the Rajya Sabha member of the Shiv Sena added.

The Sena leader also praised the Congress in another statement. “There may be some differences with the Congress on national issues, but we agree on some issues too. Congress is not our enemy. If Congress leaders are positive about supporting the Shiv Sena, the people of Maharashtra will welcome it whole-heartedly,” he was quoted as saying.

On posters put up by Sena workers near Thackeray’s residence in Mumbai demanding that he be the chief minister, Raut said, “Uddhav Thackeray is the Shiv Sena leader and he will take an appropriate decision at the right time. He has already said he will make a Shiv Sainik the chief minister.”

Earlier in the day, Raut hit out at Fadnavis,  and accused him of playing politics of fear, while making a reference to German dictator Adolf Hitler. Without naming Fadnavis, Raut, in a fresh attack on the BJP leader amid the ongoing war of words between the saffron allies, said, “When ways of threatening and seeking political support don’t work, it is time to accept that Hitler is dead and the looming clouds of slavery have disappeared.”

Also read: In Maharashtra, the BJP is learning the dangers of riding a ‘tiger’

In his column Rokhthok in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, he said Fadnavis, despite being blessed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to become chief minister for the second time, has not been able to assume the top post in Maharashtra. “He could not take oath because BJP chief Amit Shah has remained aloof from developments in the state,” Raut said.

In the October 21 polls, the BJP won 105 seats while ally Sena won 56 seats. The majority mark in the 288-member state Assembly is 145. Since the poll results were announced on October 24, both the parties have been bickering over the chief minister’s post, resulting in a stalemate over government formation.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on the other hand is employing a wait and watch approach. Party leader Nawab Malik on Sunday stated that the NCP with its ally the Congress will mull over an alternate government if the BJP and the Shiv Sena fail to form the same.

“If BJP-Shiv Sena form the govt, we will sit in the Opposition. If they don’t form the government, then the Congress-NCP will try to form an alternate government. We have called a meeting of all our MLAs on November 12 to discuss the political situation in the state,” ANI quoted Malik as saying.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar a few days ago had ruled out any possibility of stitching an alliance with the Shiv Sena, clarifying that his party is interested to sit in the Opposition instead. He had also goaded the BJP and the Sena not to delay government formation in the state.

(With inputs from agencies)