MUMBAI: After intense political activities throughout the day, the BJP on Sunday declined to form the government. Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari then invited the Shiv Sena to form the government.
While expressing its inability to form government in Maharashtra, the BJP blamed Shiv Sena for insulting the mandate given by the people of the state.
The BJP’s stand followed by the invitation from the governor has left the Shiv Sena with little room but to seek support from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which makes the latter, the biggest gainer in the state.
Sensing that the numbers are not on its side, the BJP declined to form the government after two meetings of its core committee.
“People of Maharashtra had mandated in favour of the Mahayuti (grand alliance) that comprised of Shiv Sena, RSP, RPI(A), RKP and Shiv Sangram.
Based on the mandate Governor of Maharashtra had asked the BJP whether we wish to form the government. Since the Shiv Sena has decided to insult the mandate we conveyed the party’s inability to form government to the governor,” state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said while speaking to reporters at the Raj Bhavan in the evening.
The BJP has 105 MLAs in the house of 288 while the Shiv Sena has 56, NCP 54 and Congress 44. Other smaller parties have 16 while there are 13 independents.
However, even with the support of some of the smaller parties which were not part of the NDA and a few independent MLAs, the BJP’s strength does not go beyond 120.
Hence, the party decided to convey its inability to form government, party sources said.
The Raj Bhavan statement later said that the governor has now extended the invitation to the Shiv Sena to express its “willingness and ability to form government”.
Though the statement didn’t mention it, the Shiv Sena has been given time till 7.30 pm on Monday to decide to stake claim.
With this move, the BJP appears to still conceal its cards and consolidate its position, parties like the Shiv Sena and the Congress will have to reveal their cards in the sense that they will have to proclaim support to each other if the Sena has to stake claim tomorrow.
The Congress and the Shiv Sena have serious issues in going with each other as it involves potential political harm to them.
Hence, the NCP, which was termed to be the weakest party before the polls, appears to have emerged as the strongest party now as it holds the strings to government formation in the state.
This was clear with senior NCP leader Praful Patel’s statement. “NCP won’t form the government as we don’t have the mandate,” he said.
Mumbai NCP Chief Nawab Malik made it more clear. “Shiv Sena can not be in two opposite fronts simultaneously. They will have to withdraw from the NDA if they want to form government with the NCP and the Congress,” Malik said.
Withdrawing from the NDA means the resignation of the lone Shiv Sena minister Arvind Sawant from Modi government. The Shiv Sena leadership didn’t come clear on its further actions.
Reacting to the development this evening, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “Today, while speaking to party MLAs Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray reiterated that the next Chief Minister will be a Shiv Sainik. Since he has said so, I’ve no doubt that it shall happen so.”
He declined to name party’s CM candidate though a huge poster has been put outside Thackeray’s Bandra residence Matoshree.
Earlier in the day, BJP central observer Bhupendra Yadav attended the state core committee meeting which was being addressed by party president Amit Shah from Delhi.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray addressed party MLAs at Hotel Retreat where they have been lodged.
AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge along with leaders from the state attended a meeting with party MLAs from Maharashtra at a resort in Jaipur while NCP chief Sharad Pawar conducted meetings with party leaders at his Mumbai residence Silver Oak.