The Shiv Sena today hardened its stance as its face-off with the BJP over the Maharashtra Chief Minister's post entered its 10th day, saying they will explore other options if the BJP was not ready to meet its demands. In a first, the party cited the numbers of the Congress and the NCP, and said with a few Independents, they can reach majority. The Sena will not "blink first", the party declared in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.
In the editorial in Saamana, the Sena dared the BJP impose President's Rule in the state or prove its majority on the floor of the house. "If BJP fails to prove majority on the floor of the house, then Sena as the second largest party, will claim to form government," the article read.
"With 54 MLAs of NCP, 44 Cong MLAs and few independents, we can reach majority. The Sena can present its own Chief Minister and for that, 3 parties with independent ideology should form policies which are acceptable to all," the article added. The BJP has won 105 seats and the Sena 56 in the 288-member house.
The party said in 2014 -- when the BJP and the Sena came together after a brief break-up following a split verdict by the state -- they had accepted all conditions set by the BJP.
"So everyone is expecting Sena to do the same even now. But Uddhav Thackeray made it clear within 8 hours that it won't be possible this time around. The Sena will not blink first," the Saamana editorial read.
The two parties have been on a collision course following the Sena's demand for timeshare at the top post. The BJP has made it clear that it would not accept the demand.
Over the weekend, a leader of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party had reiterated that it would take a "positive view" if the Sena is ready to form a "people's government as envisaged by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj" minus the BJP.
Though Mr Pawar said his party would sit in the opposition in accordance with the people's manadate, the veteran leader also appeared to cheer Sena on, saying there was nothing wrong with its demand. Last week, his meeting with senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had set off speculation, though the party dubbed it a courtesy call after Diwali.
"There are no backdoor discussions going on. There is a deadlock and we are not responsible for it. BJP being the single largest party should claim to form government first [patch] but if they fail, we can stake claim," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told reporters.
But the BJP is confident of getting the Sena on board and forming the government very soon.
"As per the mandate given to the grand alliance, Maharashtra will have Devendra Fadnavis as CM. And we believe our alliance partners would also accept Devendra Fadnavis as CM," party leader Ram Kadam said.