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BJP now mulls offering two key portfolios to Sena

Taking stock: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inspects damaged crops in Akola on Sunday.

Taking stock: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inspects damaged crops in Akola on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Unable to form a new government in Maharashtra 11 days after emerging as the single largest party in the Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may now offer two of the four important portfolios to ally Shiv Sena in a bid to at least bring the party to the discussion table.

BJP sources had initially said that all talks with the Sena regarding the share in State Cabinet would exclude these portfolios, namely, home, revenue, finance and urban development.

However, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who has been reminding the BJP of its pre-poll promise of sharing power equally, showed no interest in the proposal.

According to sources in the BJP, the Sena’s firm stand and the resultant deadlock in government formation has prompted the BJP to take a step backwards and come up with a new offer. “We can discuss the exchange of finance and revenue portfolios,” a senior BJP minister privy to the discussions said.

While Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Thackeray are not talking directly, the BJP leader said negotiations through other channels have been under way since the day the results were announced.

The BJP’s new offer, however, does not mention anything about the chief minister’s post. Sena leaders have been insisting that equal power shares also mean the CM post being shared for two-and-a-half years.

Mr. Thackeray has said he has received no word from the BJP camp on government formation.

The desperation of the BJP leaders, especially Mr. Fadnavis, was visible on Sunday during his tour to Akola in Vidarbha to inspect crop losses due to excessive rain.

“The problems in forming the government will be resolved soon. The government should be formed soon, which will be good for the State as there are limitations to the financial aid that an interim government can announce for farmers,” he said while speaking to reporters. This is the first time any BJP leader has admitted to problems in forming the government.

Mr. Fadnavis will meet BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi on Monday, sources in the party said.

Contrary to Haryana, where the BJP’s central leadership swung into action to form a government, in Maharashtra, Mr. Fadnavis appears to be fighting a lone battle. The BJP has rejected this perception, and said the central leadership will be in the picture once the Sena joins the discussion table. “There needs to be some basis to start discussions. The Sena leadership is not agreeing to negotiate. How can our central leaders intervene?” one leader said.

Mr. Fadnavis’s visit to the Capital will coincide with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The two are likely to discuss the Opposition’s strategy in case the BJP and Sena fail to reach a consensus.

Senior Congress leaders from the State have already met Ms. Gandhi regarding the political situation. According to State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, she has neither given her consent nor disapproved the move to extend support to the Sena if needed.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:01:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-now-mulls-offering-two-key-portfolios-to-sena/article29873375.ece

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