Sena wants written assurance from BJP on power-sharing

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) shakes hands with Hindu right-wing party Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray (2R) as they attend a public rally in the run up to the Maharashtra. (AFP Photo)

Emboldened by the feelers of support it received from the Opposition NCP-Congress camp, the Shiv Sena on Saturday strengthened its bargaining position by insisting on a deal in writing from the BJP for a 50-50 power-sharing ratio.

This emerged after the 56 newly-elected MLAs called on Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at Matoshree, the Bandra bungalow of the Thackeray family on Saturday.

The new MLAs demanded a 50-50 power-sharing ratio,  the terms laid down in black-and-white. 

Some MLA also backed Uddhav's son and Yuva Sena president Aditya Thackeray for the post of the Chief Minister. 

The Sena MLAs authorised Uddhav to take a final call on the modalities,  terms and conditions of the negotiations.

On Thursday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Uddhav over the phone and on Friday union home minister and BJP President Amit Shah had a telephone exchange of greetings. 

The BJP and Shiv Sena leadership has decided to start the formal process or government formation after the Diwali festivities. 

The BJP has a strength of 105 and Shiv Sena 56 in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.  Besides, Fadnavis had claimed support of 15 Independents and legislators from smaller parties. 

After the meeting,  senior Shiv Sena leader Pratap Sarnaik said that unless there is written assurance from BJP,  seat-sharing talks would not start. 

"It was decided that the central leadership of the BJP should honour the pact of 50-50 power-sharing agreement,  including sharing the post for two-and-a-half-years each...We want this in writing," said Sarnaik,  an MLA from Ovala-Majiwada.

He said that the power-sharing agreement was decided at a meeting between Uddhav and Shah ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Guhagar MLA Bhaskar Jadhav, who left NCP ahead of polls,  said that the post of Chief Minister has to be split into two terms.

Sillod MLA Abdul Sattar,  who had come to the Sena fold from Congress,  said: "We want to see Aditya Thackeray as the Chief Minister but the final call would be of Uddhav ji."

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