NEW DELHI : The political drama in Maharashtra took another turn on Sunday with governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting Shiv Sena to form the government.

The invitation came a couple of hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which emerged as the single largest party in the assembly election, said that it lacked numbers in the state assembly and would not be able to form the government. On Saturday, the governor had invited caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to form the government.

“The Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked the leader of elected members of the second-largest party, the Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra," a late-evening statement issued by Governor’s office said.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena leaders met party chief Uddhav Thackeray and reiterated that if BJP was not ready to form the government in the state, the regional party was ready to make efforts to form a coalition government in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena leaders have also met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in the 16 days since the assembly elections results were announced.

“If no party is ready to form government in the state, then Shiv Sena can take the responsibility of forming a government in Maharashtra. Congress is not the enemy of the state and there are differences between all political parties on some issues," said Sanjay Raut, spokesperson of Shiv Sena and member of Parliament (MP) in Rajya Sabha.

Shiv Sena is hopeful that it would get the support of Pawar for the top post, but NCP is yet to reveal its cards. Both NCP and Congress have maintained that the mandate of the people of Maharashtra for the two parties was to sit in Opposition.

The day also witnessed hectic meetings of BJP leaders in Mumbai where the members of legislative assembly (MLAs) met Fadnavis twice. Later, the BJP announced that it would not be able to form government due to lack of required numbers in the assembly.

“We will not form government in the state. The mandate was given to the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena to work together, but if Shiv Sena wants to disrespect the mandate of the people and form government with the help of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) then the party has our best wishes," said Chandrakant Patil, president of BJP’s Maharashtra unit.

Shiv Sena, which jointly contested the election with BJP, had demanded that chief ministership be rotated between the two as previously agreed, but the BJP rejected the demand, saying there was no such agreement. The alliance had got a clear mandate in the elections, with BJP and Shiv Sena winning 105 seats and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member assembly