Fadnavis hints at mending ties with Sena

As the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sent mixed signals on supporting the BJP government in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday described estranged ally the Shiv Sena a friend and dropped hints of a rapprochement.

The Sena has occupied the opposition benches in the Assembly after the BJP walked out of the three-decade-old coalition.

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Fadnavis admitted that he never faced as much criticism in his 22-year political career as he had during the first three days after winning the trust vote in the Assembly.

The NCP, which was the recipient of choicest of abuses from the BJP during the election campaign, bailed out the Fadnavis government by announcing unconditional outside support.

The BJP has 122 members in the 288-member Assembly. It enjoys support of seven independent MLAs and some from other smaller parties, but is still short of a majority.

Fadnavis won the trust vote on November 12 by a voice-vote in the Assembly. The opposition Sena and the Congress claimed that the Speaker rejected their demand for a vote by division.

“The Shiv Sena has always been a friend and in future, I think and I hope, we will be friends,” he said. Fadnavis refused to divulge details of the ongoing talks between the two erstwhile allies and merely said the dialogue was moving in the “right direction”.

Fadnavis said the NCP had unilaterally declared its support, and his party neither denied nor accepted the support. “Somethings had to be done,” he remarked, when asked about taking support from the NCP.

Earlier this week, state Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse had claimed that at least eight MLAs from different political parties were in touch with the BJP to crossover.

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