Amid suspense on government formation in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to stake a claim on Monday to form the government with the support of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
A meeting took place between the Sena leaders till late night at Uddhav Thackeray's residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai. Several Shiv Sena leaders--Uddhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray, Eknath Shinde, Anil Desai, Milind Narvekar and Priyanka Chaturvedi had a meeting for three-and-a-half hours. After the meeting, the leaders didn't talk to the media. The meeting started around 11 pm and ended at around 2.30 am.
According to Zee News sources, an agreement has been finalised between the Sena and the NCP during talks held between Thackeray and Sharad Pawar. A day after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Shiv Sena, the second-largest party in the state, to indicate its willingness to form the government, Uddhav will meet him on Monday. The Congress will give support to the Shiv Sena-NCP government from outside, said a source.
"The Sena will have to inform the governor about its stand by Monday (November 11) evening 7.30 pm," a statement from the Raj Bhavan said after the BJP refused to stake a claim as the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly was too far for it.
In another development, Sena leader Sanjay Raut is likely to meet top Congress leaders and interim chief Sonia Gandhi in the national capital on Monday to seek support for his party-led government in the state.
Congress has officially said that they are watching the development closely but did not divulge their plan. It has been also maintained that any talks will only be initiated if the Sena leaves the NDA officially, according to news agency IANS.
The Zee News sources also said that as per the backchannel discussions held between Shiv Sena and NCP-Congress, Uddhav is most likely to sit on the chief ministerial post. NCP leader Ajit Pawar will be the deputy chief minister whereas Congress leader Jayant Patil is most likely to get Home Ministry. In addition, the Congress is expected to get the post of Assembly Speaker in Maharashtra.
The source further added that as per the discussion held between the two leaders, Arvind Sawant, the lone Shiv Sena minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet is most likely to tender his resignation any moment.
Elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly were held on October 21 and the results were declared on October 24. However, despite the passage of 15 days, no single party or alliance came forward to form the government.
In the 288-member assembly, BJP and Sena, which contested as allies under 'Mahayuti' won 105 and 56 seats respectively, sufficient enough to form a coalition government in the state. However, the state was caught in an impasse after the saffron allies got locked in a bitter tussle over the chief minister's post. The Shiv Sena's demand to share the post of chief minister for half the term under the 50:50 formula was turned down by BJP.
On November 8, Fadnavis submitted his resignation to the Governor, claiming that despite several attempts being made by BJP to reach out to Shiv Sena for talks, no response came from Uddhav.
The nearly three-decade-old alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena hit the rough patch after both Fadnavis and Uddhav engaged in a blame game and accused each other of betraying the mandate.