Now playing in Maharashtra: Pawar speaks to Thackeray, BJP warns of President's rule
The BJP appeared to be preparing for a 2014 like situation wherein it had formed a minority government without taking the Shiv Sena along and the latter had joined the government about a month later.
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday formally established contact with Nationalist Congress Party strongman Sharad Pawar, provoking the Maharashtra BJP to warn about the possibility of President’s Rule if the BJP-Sena alliance fails to form the government by November 7.
Thackeray’s overture came hours after Sena leader Sanjay Raut said there was no softening of its stand on rotational chief ministership, adding the BJP was yet to establish formal contact with it on government formation or power sharing. “The CM will be from the Shiv Sena alone,” he insisted.
NCP leaders in Mumbai indicated Pawar lined up a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi soon after Uddhav’s call. While there was no immediate confirmation at the Congress headquarters on Pawar’s visit to Delhi, Maharashtra Congress leaders including Manikrao Thackeray and Vijay Namdeorao Wadettiwar briefed Sonia on the emerging situation.
The Congress is clearly divided on extending support to the Sena. Those who don’t want any truck with the Sena include Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, organisational in charge K C Venugopal, AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge and former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam. But former chief minister Ashok Chavan and a few others are pushing for offering outside support to the NCP if it does a deal with the Sena.
For the record, Chavan said: “It is the BJP which is responsible for the entire situation. As of now, we have no proposal from the Sena. We will wait and watch. The party president will take a call.”A Congress leader who was part of the meeting with Sonia, said: “The Congress is ideologically opposed to the Sena. However, if the NCP decides to back the Sena, we may think of a principled outside support to the government. That, however, would depend on a consensus within the party.”
Another leader from Maharashtra, who was election in charge for one of the regions, said there are two views in the party on the issue. While the Congress president said the mandate for the party is to sit in the Opposition, senior leaders from Maharashtra feel that the party can support the Sena-NCP alliance from outside to keep the BJP out. Earlier, NCP’s Nawab Malik backed the Sena’s idea, saying "If it decides to go ahead with government formation, the NCP would support it."
BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar pushed back saying, "The new Assembly has to be formed by November 7. If that doesn’t happen, the state might face President’s Rule."
The new math
Sena’s 56 plus NCP’s 54 equal 110, five more than BJP’s 105. With the halfway mark at 144, Cong’s 44 could make it the kingmaker in Sena-NCP alliance.