- People of Maharashtra want Chief Minister from Sena, said Sanjay Raut
- Mr Raut described his meeting with NCP's Sharad Pawar as a courtesy call
- Sena wants an equal shot at the Chief Minister's post in Maharashtra
The people of Maharashtra want a Chief Minister from the Shiv Sena, the party's Sanjay Raut said this morning, shooting a new dart at ally BJP after his meeting with a leader who could rearrange political equations in Maharashtra - Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.
"If the Shiv Sena decides, it will get the required numbers to form stable government in the state. People have given the mandate to form government on basis of the 50-50 formula that was reached in front of people of Maharashtra. They want a Chief Minister from the Shiv Sena," Sanjay Raut told reporters this morning.
"There is no ultimatum to the BJP. They are big people," said the Rajya Sabha MP.
Mr Raut's comments are significant after his meeting yesterday with Sharad Pawar, whose NCP placed third in the Maharashtra election with 54 seats, just two behind the Shiv Sena.
This morning, Mr Raut posted a tweet to rub it in. "Sahib, don't feed your arrogance...many Alexanders have drowned in the ocean of time...," read the tweet, roughly translated from Hindi.
The Shiv Sena is adamant on its demand for an equal shot at the Chief Minister's post in what its chief Uddhav Thackeray calls a "50:50" deal discussed with the BJP earlier this year, before the national election.
Talk of the deal reemerged after the Maharashtra election results last week; the BJP won 105 of the state's 288 seats and the Sena finished with 56. Together, they are comfortably past the 145-majority mark.
Mr Pawar's party won 54 seats and the Congress won 44, which means they can be spoilers if the Sena does make a radical move.
"It is time to remind the BJP about the formula arrived at when BJP chief Amit Shah visited my home. We had decided on a 50:50 formula," Uddhav Thackeray told the media on October 24, the day of the results.
With the BJP ending up with fewer seats than in the 2014 state election, the Sena believes it deserves an equal timeshare in power, which means two-and-a-half years for a Chief Minister from each party.
The BJP's Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who sees himself ruling for another full term, has denied such a deal with the Sena. On Thursday, Uddhav Thackeray reportedly told his party MLAs he was disappointed with Mr Fadnavis's stand.
Mr Raut describes his meeting with Sharad Pawar as a courtesy call after Diwali.
This isn't the first such "courtesy call" that has fueled speculation in the BJP-Sena feud.
Earlier this week, the Sena and the BJP held separate meetings with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, calling them courtesy visits for Diwali greetings.
Yesterday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya Thackeray led another delegation of MLAs in a meeting with the Governor. This time, it was on farmers' issues, he said.
The NCP has declared that the people's mandate is for the party to sit in the opposition, along with ally Congress and other parties.
That clarification came after reports that the NCP had conveyed to the Sena its willingness to support it in a new political configuration to keep the BJP out of power.
Mr Pawar has backed the Sena's demand. "In the 1990s also, there was a 50-50 formula for the Shiv Sena and the BJP. So they have past experience (in running the government). So the Sena can insist, nothing wrong in that," Mr Pawar had said in an interview with NDTV.
Shiv Sena's Manohar Joshi was the Maharashtra Chief Minister from 1995-1999.
With the BJP making it clear it cannot offer more than the Deputy Chief Minister's post, the Sena's attacks have become more and more acrimonious.