MUMBAI: A tug of war appears to have been going on between the BJP and the Shiv Sena to win over the support of Independent MLAs in Maharashtra. While two independents have declared support to the BJP, four have done so with the Shiv Sena so far.
Mira-Bhayandar MLA Geeta Jain met CM Fadnavis at his official residence Varsha on Monday to vouch support to the party. Incidentally, she had met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday, after the results were declared. She defeated sitting BJP MLA Narendra Mehta and was the first rebels in Maharashtra to be served show-cause notice by the BJP for contesting against official party candidate.
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Among others who had extended support to the BJP, is independent MLA from Badnera in Amravati district Ravi Rana. Rana’s wife is NCP supported MP and he extended ‘unconditional’ support to CM Fadnavis. Independent MLA from Barshi, Ravindra Raut, who defeated Shiv Sena’s Dilip Sopal, too called on CM Fadnavis to extend support.
On the other hand, two MLAs of Prahar Janashakti – Bachchu Kadu and Rajkumar Patel extended support to the Shiv Sena after meeting Thackeray at his residence Matoshree. Ramtek MLA Ashish Jaiswal and Narendra Bhondkar from Bhandara were the other two who have extended support to Shiv Sena.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed that 15 independent and other MLAs are in touch with the BJP.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis and senior Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote called on state Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, amid the ongoing tussle over forming the next state government. Both of them met the governor separately. The meeting was to extend Diwali wishes to the governor, they said.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, while speaking to the media after the meetings, commented that the “truth on 50:50 formula be spelled out by the BJP”.
While the Shiv Sena is firm on its demand of “equal” share of power, Raut said, “BJP evokes the name of Ram. You (BJP) are going to build the Ram temple. Ram was ‘satyavachani’ (embodiment of truth), so they should speak the truth on this (formula).”
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena pinned the government over economic slowdown while drawing attention to the ‘Silence During Diwali’.
“The silence indicates gloom on all levels,” said an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana while stating, “though the people are celebrating the much-awaited festival, on the economic front there no reason for the celebration of any sorts.”
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A BJP leader said the “caustic” Saamana editorial and Raut’s remarks have created “bitterness” ahead of Shah’s Mumbai visit on Wednesday.
The Sena had on Saturday demanded a written assurance from the BJP for implementing “equal formula for sharing of power” before holding talks on staking the claim to form the next alliance government in the state.
In the just-concluded state polls to 288-member Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, a loss of 17 seats compared to its 2014 tally.
The Sena's tally also came down to 56 seats from 63 in 2014. A resurgent NCP won 54 and the Congress bagged 44 seats.