With allies BJP and Shiv Sena looking no closer to forming a government together in Maharashtra a day before the assembly's term ends, a Sena leader has thrown a fresh dare at the ruling party. The BJP should form government as the single largest party, said Sena MP Sanjay Raut, and take "not 15 days but one month" to prove its majority.
The deadline for government formation is midnight on Friday and 15 days after the Maharashtra election results on October 24, the BJP-Sena feud remains unresolved. The Shiv Sena has refused to back down on its demand for a "50:50" partnership with the BJP, including rotational chief ministership, and has moved its MLAs to a hotel in Mumbai in an apparent attempt to prevent defections to the BJP.
Sanjay Raut said it was up to the BJP to stake claim to power and prove its majority.
"The single largest party should get the opportunity to form government first. That is the BJP. They should get not just 15 days, but one month to prove their majority in the assembly," Sanjay Raut told NDTV.
On whether the Sena had an alternative, should it decide to break up with the BJP, Mr Raut said: "If the Governor calls the single largest party to form government and their Chief Minister takes oath, then they have to show their majority on the floor of the house. If they fail, then others can form government. The Sena can too. But it is only fair that the largest party get the chance first."
Mr Raut again articulated his party's dismay with the BJP, particularly Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and its refusal to acknowledge what it claims was a verbal agreement on a "50:50 deal".
"We were hoping for talks on October 24 evening, after the results. Where was the question of a new proposal when we already had an agreement before the national election for 50:50 power-sharing? Suddenly, the BJP rejected the formula and said there was no such discussion. If a BJP leader, that too someone in the chief minister's post, uses such language, then how can we accept it," Mr Raut said.
The BJP yesterday met with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and said it had discussed the legal implications of the delay in government formation.
"The Mahayuti (BJP-Sena alliance) has won a clear majority and based on that, a government should have been formed. We discussed with the Governor the implications and legal options in the circumstances," said Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.
But the BJP has also not budged from its stand that Devendra Fadnavis will be Chief Minister for a full term, with no time-share with the Shiv Sena.
Having won 105 seats in the 288-member assembly, the BJP says it has earned chief ministership. The Sena has 56 seats but insists that the BJP - with its reduced tally in the state since 2014 --needs its support more than ever to take power in Maharashtra.