The end to the impasse over government formation in Maharashtra is in sight with a delegation of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders scheduled to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 10.30 a.m. on November 7 to stake claim.
Senior leader and a member of the BJP core committee Sudhir Mungantiwar said on November 6 after the second round of meetings at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence, “You cannot split water, no matter how much you try to. Shiv Sena and the BJP are together. We had a good meeting over the farmers’ issue today. We should wait for the news, the good news can come anytime.”
The Governor’s office has been informed of the visit by the BJP delegation. “We are hoping for the deadlock to end tomorrow,” said a person familiar with the matter in the Governor’s office. Sources said a Sena delegation led by Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai also met BJP leaders on the sidelines of a meeting held to review the unseasonal rains in the State. Mr. Fadnavis chaired the meeting with all Ministers who have toured affected areas to take stock of the situation. These included the Sena Ministers as well, sources said.
Meanwhile, a meeting between Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in New Delhi set off speculation as it came amid political uncertainty over government formation in Maharashtra.
In recent days, there has been much speculation over why Mr. Gadkari has not been playing an active role in bringing the warring allies together.
The Congress leader, however, maintained that he met Mr. Gadkari to discuss road and infrastructure projects in Gujarat and that government formation in Maharashtra did not figure in their talks.
In a related development, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said at a press conference in Mumbai that he was waiting for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to form the government so that the NCP-Congress could begin working as an “effective Opposition.”
“Shiv Sena and BJP have been in alliance for 25 years. There is no question of anyone else forming the government in Maharashtra. They will come together sooner or later. The people have given us the mandate to sit in the Opposition and we will do it effectively,” Mr. Pawar said at a press conference.
The party had on Tuesday said it was ready to give an alternative government if the Sena decides to do so. The State has been in a political deadlock since October 24 when the results to the Assembly polls with the BJP not staking claim to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party.
Asked whether the NCP would take the lead in forming the government with the help of Sena and Congress, Mr Pawar said, “If we had the numbers, we wouldn’t have waited for anyone. The Congress and NCP together have not crossed the 100 mark. We will work as a responsible Opposition.”
“They (BJP-Sena) should form the government at the earliest and not allow the state to slip in a constitutional crisis. They should allow us to fulfil the mandate assigned to us by people,” he added.
When asked about BJP president Amit Shah who has led the party to form many state governments despite having no majority in those states, Mr Pawar said that he too is waiting to see Mr Shah’s skills in Maharashtra.
On his discussion with Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the issue of supporting the Sena, he said, “The Congress and NCP fought the election in alliance. We want all decisions about the political situation to be taken by consensus. I am not aware what is the decision of the Congress.”
Asked about senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s meeting with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Wednesday, Mr Pawar said, “It must be about some road work as Gadkari does works related to roads only.”
Commenting on the upcoming Supreme Court verdict in Ayodhya case, Mr Pawar said, “Whatever be the verdict, no one should take law into their hands. The situation which prevailed after the Babri Masjid demolition should not be repeated. I would like to urge state governments, too, to remain alert,” he said.
(Inputs from Sandeep Phukan in New Delhi)