Maharashtra alliance talks: Shiv Sena sets Sunday deadline for BJP

There is still no headway in talks between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over forming an alliance in Maharashtra.

Mumbai: There is still no headway in talks between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over forming an alliance in Maharashtra.

As per latest reports, the Shiv Sena will hold a high-level meeting on Sunday where it will take a final call on whether to join the BJP government in the state.

The party is believed to have told the BJP that if no Shiv Sena minister is sworn-in by Sunday, then it will consider not joining the government and sitting in the opposition.

Shiv Sena sources said while their leader Uddhav Thackeray took a step ahead by attending the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra CM, then the BJP needs to reciprocate as well.

Fadnavis, on the other hand, yesterday said that the Cabinet expansion will take place only after the trust vote scheduled for November 12.

"First the trust vote, then expansion," Fadnavis told media persons after a Cabinet meeting.

The remarks effectively threw cold water on the Shiv Sena's ambitions.

Among other things, the Sena has sought the coveted post of deputy chief minister and 10 ministries or 12 portfolios without the Deputy CM post.

Both the BJP and the Sena leaders claim that high-level talks are underway on the issue of power-sharing between the two erstwhile partners, having 121 (BJP) and 63 (Sena) legislators respectively.

A special three-day session of the Maharashtra Assembly begins on Monday for the swearing-in of all the 287 newly-elected legislators followed by the crucial vote of confidence.

According to Shiv Sena sources, if the party does not get its due before the special session begins, it may sit in the opposition with the possibility of the government failing to pass the confidence vote.

On the other hand, BJP sources say the party would consider sharing power with the Shiv Sena only if it votes in favour of the government and helps it pass the floor test since it (BJP) has insisted on "no pre-conditions" for joining the government.

The election last month threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party. The Shiv Sena secured 63 seats, followed by the Congress with 42, the Nationalist Congress Party with 41 legislators and the remaining 19 seats going to by Independents and smaller parties.

In order to clear the floor test, the BJP needs the support of 145 MLAs.

The NCP has already declared it would abstain from voting, thus providing a relief for the BJP to win the confidence vote and save its first government in the state.

(With IANS inputs)