BJP, Sena revive hopes of coalition govt in Maharashtra

BJP, Sena revive hopes of coalition govt in Maharashtra

BJP, Sena revive hopes of coalition govt in Maharashtra

After days of stand-off, Shiv Sena and BJP today struck a conciliatory note following last night's talks between their leaders in Delhi, reviving hopes of a saffron coalition government in Maharashtra.

In an apparent attempt at rapprchement, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had despatched Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai and party's leader in the outgoing Assembly Subhash Desai to the national capital last night.

"We had gone to Delhi to take forward our talks on forming the next government together. We are ready for an alliance with BJP to form government and talks were positive," Subhash Desai, who briefed Uddhav on the developments earlier in the day, told reporters.

"We just had informal talks this time and formal discussions will begin from Monday. For now, we have not given any proposal to BJP but have only decided to come together and form a government," he said.

Desai said he had not met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who has been appointed observer for the election of BJP lelgislature party leader.

Though he did not name Sena's BJP interlocutors, sources said they included Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Chandrakant Patil, an MP from Gujarat.

Uddhav is known to have good personal equation with Singh, a former BJP president.
Asked if Uddhav will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Desai said "once the formal talks start, it will be decided whether Uddhavji will go to Delhi to meet the PM or some BJP leaders will come down to Mumbai for discussions with our leader."

With Shiv Sena blinking first, BJP responded to the overture positively, with senior party leader Vinod Tawde saying the people's mandate in Maharashtra was for the two parties running a government together.

"BJP has got the people's mandate but it is not complete. We have got the largest number of seats....the mandate is for us jointly. If we talk of mandate, BJP and Shiv Sena should come together. This is what people want," Tawde, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, said.
Amid unconfirmed reports about Sena insisting on the two parties following the 1995 formula under which the junior partner got deputy chief ministership, Tawde said "the ground realities have to be taken into account for the alliance to function smoothly."

There were reports that during back-channel talks, Sena had insisted on deputy chief ministership and equal share in the government.

On former state BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar pitching for Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for chief ministership, Tawde said "why only Mungantiwar, even I and Devendra Fadnavis (current Maharashtra unit president and frontrunner for the post) have said that.

"After the demise of the state's tallest BJP leader Gopinath Munde, Gadkariji, who has the same stature, was the natural choice but he himself does not want to return to the state because of the important responsibilities he has to shoulder in Delhi," he said.

Maintaining that "there was no race and no competition" for CM's job, Tawde said "the legislature party will sit and decide its leader. The Central Parliamentary Board will then confirm that person as the leader who will be the Chief Minister."

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