MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Maharashtra BJP Legislature Party will meet on Tuesday to elect its leader to set the ball rolling for government formation even as backchannel talks continued with former ally Shiv Sena for a possible coalition.
BJP Maharashtra unit president Devendra Fadnavis continues to be the frontrunner for the post of Chief Minister though there are some more names doing the rounds.
The meeting to elect the Legislature Party Leader and the Chief Minister designate will be held at 11 am at Vidhan Bhavan on Tuesday (October 28), senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse told reporters in Mumbai today.
Earlier, Khadse, Fadnavis and senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde had met to discuss preparations for government formation.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP in-charge of Maharashtra J P Nadda would attend Tuesday's meeting as observers.
The BJP legislature party leader would meet Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to stake claim for forming the next government, Khadse said.
"We will prove our majority in the house if the Governor desires," he said.
BJP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the elections held for the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, winning 122 seats, has already been offered unconditional outside support by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which won 41 seats. Counting of votes was taken up on October 19.
With its 63 MLAs, Shiv Sena is the second largest party in the House.
Sources said the BJP is in back channel talks with Shiv Sena over government formation and efforts are being made to settle the differences with its oldest ally with whom it snapped ties ahead of polls.
As suspense continued whether Shiv Sena will be on board, RPI Chief Ramdas Athawale, whose party is a BJP ally, said Shiv Sena is ready to support BJP.
"Shiv Sena is ready to support BJP. BJP should support Shiv Sena," he said.
All the Shiv Sena MPs were also present at the high tea hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Race Course residence.
According to a senior central BJP leader, the "final call" regarding renewing the alliance will be taken by the top leadership. Refusing to divulge details on government formation talks with Sena, Tawde said talks are on between Sena and BJP leaders. "Leadership will take a decision," he added.
Tawde told reporters in Mumbai that BJP was eager to have its former ally Shiv Sena on board in the government.
When asked about Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar's statement that state BJP leaders did not want to take along Sena, Tawde said BJP is keen to have a post-poll alliance with Shiv Sena.
Tawde said all MLAs, MLCs, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs of BJP have been asked to reach Mumbai by tomorrow night or early Tuesday morning.
"The next process of government formation will start after election of the Legislature Party leader. Apart from Rajnath Singh and J P Nadda, O P Mathur and Rajiv Pratap Rudy will be also present at the meeting (on October 28)," he said.
"Let our minds meet first without any pre-conditions. Issues of portfolio can be discussed later. People of the state want a good and corruption-free government after 15 years of misrule," Tawde added.