Prospects of President’s rule being invoked in Maharashtra increased on Thursday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena failing to break the deadlock on government formation, with the term of office of the previous assembly ending on 9 November.
The two parties, who are partners in the National Democratic Alliance, should reach an agreement by the midnight of 8 November and the newly elected members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) have to meet before the deadline. If the two parties fail to ensure this, Maharashtra could come under President’s rule, though the final decision on this rests with governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
The central leadership of the BJP is hopeful that a breakthrough in the talks would happen soon. However, senior party leaders in Maharashtra met the governor on Thursday. Though the reason for this meeting is not confirmed, it could possibly be to discuss the impending constitutional crisis.
“There will be a decision soon. The government in Maharashtra should be formed under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. We will get Shiv Sena support. We are in talks with them," said senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari. He also rejected talk about him becoming the consensus chief ministerial candidate in Maharashtra. “There is no question of me returning to Maharashtra. I will continue to work in Delhi," Gadkari said.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena have been fighting over the chief minister’s post. Shiv Sena leaders on Thursday reiterated their demand for the post of chief minister and said the 50:50 power-sharing formula, which had been agreed upon by the two parties before the Lok Sabha elections were held, should be implemented.
“When you (BJP) say the mandate is for Mahayuti (alliance), the mandate is also for what was agreed upon when the alliance was formalized. The mandate is for having a Shiv Sena chief minister. Why did the BJP leaders who met the governor today not stake claim? Why did they return empty-handed? They want to create a situation for the imposition of President’s rule. The BJP does not have the numbers," said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, the national spokesperson of the party and a member of Parliament (MP).
The Shiv Sena has the numbers to prove its majority on the floor of the House, the party leader claimed. “You will know on the floor of the House. We have the numbers," he said.
During the day, Shiv Sena MLAs also met party chief Uddhav Thackeray to discuss the prevailing political situation in the state. After the meeting, Sena leaders said Thackeray was annoyed that the BJP was not willing to share the chief minister’s post. The Shiv Sena is keen to have Aaditya Thackeray as the chief minister of the state.
“It is necessary for all the MLAs to be together in the prevailing situation. Whatever decision Uddhavji takes will be binding on all of us," Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu said after the meeting.
After the meeting at Matoshree, Uddhav Thackeray’s residence, the Shiv Sena MLAs passed a resolution authorizing him to take the final decision on government formation in Maharashtra. All Sena legislators were subsequently shifted to a nearby hotel in suburban Bandra, raising concerns over attempts to poach legislators by the BJP.
“Our MLAs are firm in their resolve and committed to the party. Those who are spreading such rumours should worry about their MLAs first," Raut said.
PTI contributed to this story.