- Sena's Sanjay Raut and Sharad Pawar met for the second time in a week
- Mr Raut had said Sena has support of 170 MLAs, more than majority mark
- Mr Pawar said his party and Congress had mandate to sit in opposition
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar today said a BJP-Shiv Sena government is the only viable option in Maharashtra and the two parties should take power instead of plunging the state into a constitutional crisis.
"The BJP-Sena have been allies for over 25 years. They should take immediate steps to give the state a new government," Mr Pawar said, speaking to reporters after his meeting with Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, the second since the BJP-Sena feud following the Maharashtra election results on October 24.
Soon after Mr Pawar's discussions with Mr Raut, Sena ministers joined a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other ministers on crop damage in Maharashtra, reported news agency PTI.
To a question on Mr Raut's claim that the Sena has the support of 170 members, more than the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, Mr Pawar made it clear that the calculation did not include his party and the Congress.
"Even I want to ask Sanjay Raut how he will get 170," Mr Pawar said.
He reiterated that the NCP and Congress had the mandate to sit in opposition.
"People have told us to sit in Opposition. We have 54, you can't form government with that," the NCP leader said.
He added that an NCP-Congress government, even with support from the Sena, was out of the question.
Mr Pawar's meetings with the Sena MP and Congress President Sonia Gandhi signaled his role in crafting an arrangement in which the opposition parties back the Sena to keep the BJP out of power.
But in his meeting with Sonia Gandhi on Monday, Mr Pawar apparently failed to get her on board on the Congress supporting the Shiv Sena.
"The Congress position on Shiv Sena is consistent," Mr Pawar said today.
The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly and the Shiv Sena won 56. Their alliance is well past the majority mark of 145 but the Sena is insisting on the "50:50 formula" it says was discussed with the BJP for rotational chief ministership and equal distribution of ministries.
The BJP has rejected any talk of Devendra Fadnavis, its Chief Minister, sharing the post with the Sena.
The opposition NCP, Congress and others have 102 seats.