2 Key Meetings In Delhi As Sena Steps Up Pressure On BJP In Maharashtra

Devendra Fadnavis will meet with his party chief, Home Minister Amit Shah. Sharad Pawar is likely to hold discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The BJP has insisted that Devendra Fadnavis will be chief minister for a full term.

Highlights

  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Amit Shah in Delhi
  • Sharad Pawar likely to hold discussions with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi
  • Sena has been demanding an equal "50:50" share in power in Maharashtra
New Delhi/ Mumbai:

Two meetings in Delhi and one in Mumbai marked Day 11 of the standoff over government formation in Maharashtra over a power tussle between the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena, who won a clear majority together last month.

At a time Delhi is shrouded by toxic, record smog that has forced schools to shut down and people to stay indoors, two top Maharashtra leaders arrived in the city for talks - Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP and opposition stalwart Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) finished third in last month's state election.

Devendra Fadnavis met with his party chief, Home Minister Amit Shah. Sharad Pawar held discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Fadvanis said his discussions with Amit Shah were on crop destruction in Maharashtra. "I don't want to comment on anything anyone is saying on new government formation. All I want to say is that the new government will be formed soon, I am confident," he told reporters.

In Maharashtra, a third meeting today was of significance; the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. "We said we are not responsible for the current confusion. We are not stalling government. Whoever has a majority will form government," he said after the meeting.

The meeting was aimed at pressuring the BJP further.

"There are no backdoor discussions. There is a deadlock and we are not responsible for it. BJP being the single largest party should claim to form government first... but if they fail, we can stake claim," Sanjay Raut had told reporters on Sunday.

The BJP with 105 seats and the Sena with 56 seats have a clear majority in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly. The BJP's hopes for a seamless transition into a second straight term with Devendra Fadnavis in charge are on hold with the Sena demanding equal power-share under what it calls was a "50:50 formula" discussed with Amit Shah earlier this year, before the national election in May. According to the Sena, the plan was for chief ministers from each party sharing the five-year term equally.

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The BJP has firmly rejected the idea and insists Mr Fadnavis will be chief minister for a full term.

The Sena, escalating tension, has said it has the support of 170 MLAs to install its chief minister.

The party is seen to have reached out to rival NCP. Sharad Pawar's meeting with Sonia Gandhi fueled more speculation of a re-alignment to keep the BJP out of power.

The NCP won 54 seats and the Congress 44 in the results declared on October 24.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar, the nephew of the party chief, claimed that he had received a message from Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut: "Namaskar mi Sanjay Raut. Jai Maharashtra".

"This is the first time after elections that he has contacted me. I do not know why he messaged me. I will call him in a while to check," said Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister.

The term of Maharashtra assembly ends on November 9 and a new government has to be in place before that. The BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar had earlier said the state might head for President's rule if there is no government by then.