Mumbai: A day after finishing as the single largest group in a hung Maharashtra Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party is busy designing strategy for government formation and deciding on the name of next chief minister.
Albeit the BJP has been offered support by the NCP, reports say the party is likely to join hands with its erstwhile ally Shiv Sena.
The BJP Parliamentary Party Board met in New Delhi last evening to discuss chief minister probables for Maharashtra. The party later announced it would send senior leader Rajnath Singh to Maharashtra to take a decision on the chief ministerial candidates. Briefing reporters after the meeting, general secretary JP Nadda said he would accompany Rajnath Singh.
In Maharashtra, the BJP won 122 seats in the 288-member Assembly, falling well short of the 145 seats required for a simple majority. Its ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha won one.
According to a news agency, government formation in Maharashtra will take place after Diwali, the Hindu festival that falls on Thursday.
The meeting of BJP MLAs in Maharashtra may be held in the next two-three days to elect their leader, who will ultimately become the Chief Minister. BJP's state president Devendra Fadnavis is the front-runner, the sources added.
Besides Fadnavis, senior state BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Eknath Khadse is also believed to be in the race for chief minister.
Khadse, who was state irrigation minister during Sena-BJP government in 1995, has been winning his constituency since the past 25 years.
His aspiration for the top job became evident when he said, "North Maharashtra is yet to get a chance to see its representative at the helm. Once the BJP-Shiv Sena comes to power, this demand should be considered."
Earlier on Sunday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari rubbished speculations of him being in the race for Chief Minister.
With the NCP, which won 41 seats, offering BJP "outside support", leaving the runner up and former ally Shiv Sena high and dry, BJP president Amit Shah said in New Delhi that his party would "form the next government" in the state.
NCP leader Praful Patel said Maharashtra needed stability and so his party was ready to prop up a BJP government.
The Shiv Sena, which ended up with 63 seats, had earlier said it was ready to make up with the BJP, a sentiment shared by some of the latter's leaders, including LK Advani, one of those who was not happy with the decision to dump its ally of 25 long years after a row over seat sharing ahead of elections.
The Congress, which, with the NCP, ruled Maharashtra for 15 years until their alliance collapsed before the elections, finished third with 42 seats.
Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray said that nobody from the BJP has approached his party for support, and his party would not approach it with any proposal.
Earlier, Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that while no discussions had taken place with the Sena, "if the need arises, we expect our friends to support us", while Sena leader Anil Desai added that the acrimony between the parties was history.
The Congress was humiliated in Maharashtra which it had been ruling for three consecutive terms.
Around 64 percent of the 8.35 crore electorate turned out in Maharashtra.
(With Agency inputs)