The deadline to form government in Maharashtra only five days away and silence reigning in the BJP camp, the Shiv Sena today met the Governor for what it called a "non-political, courtesy visit". But senior leader Sanjay Raut, who represented the party, did admit that they have discussed the current political situation in the state.
The term of the Maharashtra assembly ends on November 9 and the constitution says a new government should be formed before that. But long-time allies Shiv sena and the BJP have been engaged in a bitter tussle over the Chief Minister's post. Despite the alliance having a clear majority, it has not staked claim to form government yet. The Sena claims it is not responsible fr the stalemate in the state.
"We kept our talk forward. He heard us. We just wanted to tell him that the government is not being formed, and for ensuing confusion, we are not responsible," Mr Raut told reporters after the hour-long meeting with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Under Article 356 of the Constitution, President's Rule can be declared in the state on the advice of the Governor that the Assembly is unable to elect a leader as the Chief Minister.
"Whoever has the mandate, will form the government. I cannot advise Governor. He will take his own decision," Mr Raut said today.
Along with its now customary challenge to the BJP to form government if it has the numbers, the Shiv Sena yesterday had indicated that it is also considering other options.
"If BJP fails to prove majority on the floor of the house, then Sena as the second largest party, will claim to form government," an editorial in Saamana, the party mouthpiece, 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 editorial added. The Sena had even reached out to Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar and a leader in his Nationalist Congress Party or the NCP.
The BJP has won 105 seats and the Sena 56 in the 288-member house. But the reduced margin of the BJP has emboldened the Sena to stick to its demand for a 50:50 timeshare of the Chief Minister's post.
The BJP has made it clear that it would not share the top job. But there has been no formal response to the Sena since, even after Chief Minister's Devendra Fadnavis's meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah yesterday. BJP sources say the party can offer the Sena half the ministries -- a climbdown after the Sena's threats of joining forces with the Congress and the NCP.
Today, NCP chief Sharad Pawar met with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi.
While Mrs Gandhi is believed to be against any collaboration with the Sena, the state Congress is reportedly willing to back the BJP ally.
Officially, Mr Pawar maintains he would sit in the opposition benches in view of the people's mandate.