'Sentiment' in BJP against forming coalition govt

 As back channel talks continued between Shiv Sena and BJP to explore the possibility of a coalition government in Maharashtra, there were strong indications today that the latter may form a government on its own with NCP's outside support in keeping with the "sentiment" in the party.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 26, 2014, 01:12 AM IST

Mumbai: As back channel talks continued between Shiv Sena and BJP to explore the possibility of a coalition government in Maharashtra, there were strong indications today that the latter may form a government on its own with NCP's outside support in keeping with the "sentiment" in the party.

"It (a coalition government) seems unlikely. The sentiment in BJP is that they want to go alone," a top party leader told PTI.

"All MLAs and grassroots workers are strictly against forming an alliance with Shiv Sena. There are high chances that BJP will form the governmet without Shiv Sena," a senior state party leader said.

Many in the party, he said, were still peeved over personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah by Sena leaders, including its chief Uddhav Thackeray.

A section of BJP leaders, including state party chief Devendra Fadnavis and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the airport to discuss government formation.

What transpired in the meeting with Modi, who was here for inauguration of a renovated private hospital and research centre, was not known, but the leaders were learnt to have conveyed to the Prime Minister the "negative sentiment" in the party over reviving its alliance with Sena.

A senior central BJP leader, however, said the "final call" regarding renewing the alliance will be taken by the top leadership.

A state BJP leader said the party was not prepared to accept any pre-condition from Sena before the two parties reunite to form government.

"The party is not in favour of accepting any pre-condition from Shiv Sena for forming the government," he said, apparently hinting at haggling by the former ally over ministerial berths and portfolios.

There were reports that Shiv Sena wanted the two parties to follow the 1995 formula under which the then junior partner BJP had got deputy chief ministership, but Sena leaders have denied making any such demands.

Despite Modi being in town, there was no meeting between him and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

"The Prime Minister came to Mumbai only to inaugurate a hospital. At a time when the PM has come for a social cause, there will be no political talks. Talks will start only from Monday," Shiv Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Vinayak Raut told reporters after meeting Thackeray at his residence.

Asked if any meeting between the two leaders was scheduled next week, he replied in the negative.

Raut reaffirmed that all Sena MPs will attend the high tea in Delhi being hosted by the Prime Minister tomorrow for NDA MPs.

On speculation that efforts to form a coalition government may not fructify, he said,"If BJP wants to form a government without our support, it will be BJP leaders' call. Uddhavji is keenly observing every development and will take a decision that will be good for Sena's future."

Meanwhile, BJP sources said the new government was likely to be sworn in on October 29 or 30.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP's central observer for election of the legislature party leader, is expected to arrive here on Monday and election is likely to take place the next day, a top BJP leader said here in an informal intreaction with journalists.

BJP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the 288-member Assembly with 122 seats, has already been offered unconditional outside support by 41-member NCP.

With its 63 MLAs, Shiv Sena is the second largest party in the House.

Though the majority sentiment in BJP was for the party forming government on its own, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha leader Mahadev Jankar, a pre-poll ally of BJP, said his party is not in favour of any tie-up with NCP.

"We want the new government to come to power without the backing of NCP or Congress against whom BJP fought the poll and highlighted their corruption," Jankar, whose party has one MLA, said after meeting state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, a frontrunner for chief ministership.