Will explore other options for govt formation: Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav has demanded two additional ministerial berths. Photo: PTI

Amid the ongoing power tussle in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday (November 3) said people will come to know in the coming days if his party will be in power, while replying to the reporters at a press conference in Aurangabad district.

Further, he refused to answer any political questions. He visited Aurangabad to take stock of crop losses due to the untimely rains last month. Thackeray said he interacted with farmers in Kannad and Vaijapur areas of district.

After contesting in the October 21 state Assembly polls together, the BJP and Shiv Sena are in a bitter tussle over the sharing of power in the new government and the chief minister’s post. Both the parties are yet to start formal talks over government formation.

Earlier, he added that his party will look for other options if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t fulfil Sena’s demand for 50:50 power-sharing.

There, however, are reports that the BJP, which had earlier declined to share the chief minister’s post with the Sena is now open to negotiations. Indian Express reported that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has reached out to Uddhav Thackeray, indicating that his party is willing to consider the latter’s demand for equal division of ministerial portfolios.

Sources claim that Uddhav has also suggested that the party was ready to ease its stance regarding the demand for a rotational chief ministership.

The Sena chief has also demanded two additional ministerial berths — one of a cabinet minister and one of a minister of state (MoS) — in the Modi government at the Centre and sought governorship for party veterans at the central and state government levels. In Maharashtra, it has also pressed for a 50:50 share in control over state-run corporations, said sources.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, Sanjay Raut said, “The impasse continues. There is no discussion on government formation as yet. If talks happen, it will only be on the issue of the chief minister’s post.” The party cited the numbers of the Congress and the NCP, and said with a few Independents, they can reach a majority.

Earlier, in his weekly column in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, Raut pointed out that the impasse over government formation to a “chariot stuck in the mud of arrogance”. The Sena will not “blink first”, the party added.

The senior Shiv Sena leader alleged that criminal elements and government agencies were being used to coerce newly-elected MLAs for support. He claimed his party would get the support of “more than 170 MLAs”. The Sena leader also dubbed as “mysterious” the silence of BJP president Amit Shah after the state Assembly poll results were announced on October 24.

Talking to reporters here, Raut said he would soon expose how criminal elements and government agencies were being used as a means of coercion. “I have got information that guest houses, Wankhede Stadium, Mahalaxmi Racecourse have been booked for the swearing-in. But why hasn’t the BJP staked claim yet?” the Rajya Sabha member questioned.

Pointing out the remark made by the BJP that it will not share the CM’s post, and minister Sudhir Mungantiwar’s comment that the state may head for President’s rule if the new government is not in place by November 7, Raut dared the BJP to impose President’s rule in the state, adding that such a step would be the party’s “biggest defeat of the century”.

Meanwhile, there was also speculation that the Shiv Sena may join hands with the NCP and form government with outside support from the Congress. Some state Congress leaders have said the party should back the Sena to keep the BJP out of power.

On Saturday (November 2), the Maharashtra government approved ₹10,000 crore as a special provision to provide immediate assistance to farmers affected by unseasonal rains. The decision was taken by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the meeting of a cabinet sub-committee held at his official residence to discuss the losses. Uddhav said that the ₹10,000 package announced by the Maharashtra government for crop damages suffered by farmers due to unseasonal rains was not enough.

It is to be noted that, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray on Saturday met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in Mumbai. Sources claimed that it was a brief, 10-minute meeting.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Saturday stressed that his party will sit in the opposition and the BJP-Shiv Sena should come together and form the government to provide relief to farmers hit by untimely rains.

On the other hand, Union minister and RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athawale disapproved Aaditya Thackeray for being projected by the Shiv Sena as the chief ministerial face.

His remarks came in the backdrop after he called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari along with other allies of the BJP requesting him to invite the Amit Shah-led party to form government in Maharashtra.

(With inputs from agencies)