BJP Abandons Claim To Form Government In Maharashtra Asking SS To Stitch Alliance With NCP And Congress

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on October 10 gives up claims to form the government in Maharashtra citing the Shiv Sena’s “insult to the mandate” the party virtually challenging its pre-poll ally to stitch together a majority with the help of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after a fortnight of bickering over power-sharing in the state.

Hours later, governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked the Sena, which won 56 seats, to indicate by Monday evening its ability to form the government. The NCP said it will support the Sena’s bid for power if the regional outfit walks out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and finalises a common minimum programme.

Sunday’s political drama came a day after Koshyari asked the BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in last month’s assembly elections, to indicate its “willingness and ability” to form the government in the state.

The BJP’s surprise announcement capped hectic political activity during the day, which saw the party’s core committee meet twice in Mumbai to ascertain its stand. After meeting the governor in the evening, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said: “The mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. The Sena has, however, disrespected the mandate, hence we have decided to not stake claim to form government. We have informed our decision to governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.”

He wished the Uddhav Thackeray-led party “good luck” to form the government, if it wanted, in alliance with the Congress and the NCP. The BJP and the Sena together won 161 seats in the 288-member assembly, comfortably above the halfway mark of 145. While the Congress won 44 seats, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP secured 54 seats.

A statement by the governor’s office on Sunday night said: “The governor of Maharashtra, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari today asked the leader of elected members of the second largest party, the Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government.” The BJP’s move, seen by political analysts as a dare to the Sena, came two days after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis resigned amid a belligerent war of words between the two parties. The impasse began immediately after the election results on October 24. The two parties have squabbled over key portfolios and a demand of rotating the CM’s post.

The Sena chief alleged the BJP had agreed to a “50:50” power-sharing formula but later reneged on it. Fadnavis, on the other hand, rejected Thackeray’s claims that BJP chief Amit Shah agreed to his demand for rotational chief ministership.

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