The Shiv Sena today demanded written assurances from allies BJP as power-sharing talks between the two parties delay formation of a new government in Maharashtra. A meeting of the Sena's 56 MLAs at Matoshree, the residence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, concluded with demands for a letter, on BJP letterhead and signed by senior leadership, that confirms the BJP will honour a 50:50 deal agreed between Mr Thackeray and Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.
"In our meeting it was decided that like Amit Shah-ji had promised 50-50 formula before Lok Sabha polls, similarly both allies should get chance to run government for 2.5-2.5 years. So Shiv Sena should also have Chief Minister. Uddhav-ji should get this assurance in writing from BJP," Sena leader Pratap Sarnaik, the MLA from Ovala-Majiwada, said.
"Aaditya Thackeray is the Yuva Sena president. He is a leader of the youth of Maharashtra. Today the youth are demanding that our leader should be young and he should become Chief Minister," Mahesh Shinde, the MLA from Koregaon, told NDTV.
The BJP MLAs are meeting on October 30.
On Friday Mr Thackeray reminded his party's ally to honour the 50:50 BJP-Shiv Sena deal.
"When Lok Sabha elections were held we decided on 50-50 formula. Chandrakant Patil (Maharashtra BJP chief) raised some issues... we can only tolerate so much. If the need arises Amit Shah-ji should come here to carry out what was decided earlier," he had said.
The Sena has been increasing pressure on the BJP since election results were declared on Thursday, with posters calling Aaditya Thackeray the "future Chief Minister" surfacing the following day. These were put up despite his father, Uddhav Thackeray, ruling the move out.
Aaditya Thackeray, 29, became the first member of his family to contest electoral politics when he stood from the Worli seat in south Mumbai. He was elected by a massive margin - over 66,000 votes
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah have repeatedly stated Devendra Fadnavis, who was Chief Minister in the first term will continue but the Sena wants the position for two-and-a-half years.
The Sena's stand received unexpected support from the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which won 54 seats to emerge as the third-largest party, with veteran politician Sharad Pawar telling NDTV there was nothing wrong with the Sena's demands.
The BJP has insisted that all differences will be resolved with the Sena as the parties contested the Assembly elections together and secured 161 seats in the 288-member house. The BJP won 105 seats, making it the single largest party but leaving it short of the 146-seat majority mark.
"There is no confusion in government formation. BJP and Shiv Sena fought and won election in alliance. We will once again form the government. What is decided in alliance will happen," Ashish Shelar, BJP leader and Education Minister, said, according to news agency ANI.
Devendra Fadnavis, who won his Nagpur (South West) seat, seems unwilling to relent and, in a veiled warning to the Sena, has referred to support from independent MLAs.
"15 independent MLAs have contacted me and they are ready to come with us. Others may also come but these 15 will surely come with us. Most of them are BJP or Shiv Sena rebels," he said, according to ANI.
That number is far below the level of support offered by the Sena but, Mr Fadnavis will hope, the prospect of not being part of the government, will persuade them to soften their stance.
A late twist in the tale has seemingly been ruled out by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. The 78-year-old veteran politician, who single-handedly ran the opposition campaign, has ruled out his party backing the Sena in a bid to upset the BJP's plans. The two parties together have 110 MLAs, five more than the BJP, but, in such a scenario, neither will have a majority.
The Congress has also ruled out any support to the Sena, although Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, according to news agency PTI, has said that if the party is approached by the Shiv Sena, senior leadership will take the call.
With input from PTI, ANI