Saturday, 09 Nov, 7.45 pm Firstpost

Politics
Maharashtra Govt Formation LIVE Updates: Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari invites Devendra Fadnavis to form government by Monday

20:16 (IST)

Fadnavis to 'indicate willingness and ability' of his party to form govt

According to Raj Bhavan statement, as reported by PTI, the governor asked Fadnavis to "indicate the willingness and ability of his partyto form the government".

19:34 (IST)

Governor invites Devendra Fadnavis to form govt

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari has invited Devendra Fadnavis to form the government, media reports said. Fadnavis is the legislature party leader of the BJP, which is the single largest party in the state after the Assembly Election.

15:56 (IST)

SC verdict on Ayodhya case will strengthen inter-religious harmony: Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra's caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday hailed the Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya land title dispute case, saying the judgment will strengthen country's multilingual and inter-religious harmony.

"I welcome the verdict of the Supreme Court. It will strengthen our country's multilingual, inter-religious harmony. This verdict is going to solidify the general public's belief in the justice system," he told media persons.

ANI

15:25 (IST)

Private OSDs should be relieved of duties, says NCP's Nawab Malik

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik posted a statement on Twitter saying, "There is a caretaker govt in Maharashtra therefore all private OSDs appointed in their tenure should be immediately relieved of their duties."

12:03 (IST)

Shiv Sena targets BJP for 'not honouring commitment' over CM's post

'Saamana' also criticised the BJP for claiming that it will form a coalition government with the Shiv Sena. "....What about the decisions taken regarding sharing of power when the alliance was formalised? The BJP continues to say no assurances were given over sharing of power," the​ Sena said.

The Sena once again targetted the BJP for "not​ honouring" the "commitment" over sharing of the chief minister's post and ministerial portfolios. "Without Shiv Sena there will be no government in state, but you (BJP) refuse to honour the commitments. What kind of politics is this. We don't want to get involved in such kind of muddy politics," it said.

11:56 (IST)

Shiv Sen questions BJP in party's mouthpiece Saamana

The Shiv Sena on Saturday needled its warring ally BJP which has failed to stake claim to form a government in Maharashtra, apparently due to lack of numbers, even a fortnight after the assembly poll verdict.

In Goa and Manipur, the BJP had shoved away single largest parties and formed governments. It is an open secret​ that this was done with the active cooperation of governors.

But in Maharashtra, despite being the single largest party, the BJP is not staking a claim," the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece "Saamana".

The edit once again appealed for formation of a government at the earliest. Term of the current Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra ends on 9 November.

- PTI

10:22 (IST)

BJP short of 25 MLAs to stake claim

The BJP, which has 105 seats, will require additional support of 40 MLAs to form the government. Of the total 29 Independent MLAs and legislators from smaller parties, the BJP has support of 15,The Indian Expressreported. This means it is still 25 MLAs short.

09:58 (IST)

Can't work with liars, Uddhav Thackeray snubs BJP again

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday strongly countered Devendra Fadnavis's claim that BJP and Sena had not agreed on sharing of Maharashtra chief minister's post during Thackeray's talks with BJP chief AmitShah.

"I will not talk to people who call me a liar. I willnot tolerate this. The caretaker (CM) should not try to prove that I am a liar. I have never spoken lies in my life,"Thackeray said on Fadnavis's claim.

Asked about the status of alliance with the BJP, Thackeray said, "BJP should state that there was agreement on sharing of chief minister's post. It was their prerogative to refuse my demand now, but they cannot not say this was never agreed on (in the past)." "I will not have any truck with those who call me a liar. I stopped the government formation talks the day​ Fadnavis said sharing of chief minister's post was never decided," he said.

09:37 (IST)

'Situation will be clearer in one or two days': ex-CM Ashok Chavan

Former Maharashtra chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan on Friday said that the political situation will be clearer in the state in one or two days.

Speaking to ANI, Chavan said, "The situation is quite fluid now. We have discussed the matter with NCP president Sharad Pawar, who is our national ally. Since Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has resigned today, in a day or two the situation will be clearer."

09:32 (IST)

Devendra Fadnavis'wife praises 'decision and stance' after BJP leader resigns from CM post

Maharashtra Chief Minister​ Devendra Fadnavis' wife Amruta on Friday said she was proud of his "decision and stance" after he tendered his resignation from the top post.

Earlier in the day, Fadnavis tendered his resignation while blaming the ally Shiv Sena for impasse over government formation after the Assembly polls. He maintained the BJP will form the government again.

- PTI

09:25 (IST)

Best wishes if you think you can form govt': Sanjay Raut to Devendra Fadnavis

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday said he extends his "best wishes" to Devendra Fadnavis if the BJP leader was confident of forming the government in Maharashtra.

"If the chief minister says there will be a BJP government again under his leadership, my best wishes to them. In democracy, those who have majority form the government and get the chief minister's post," Raut said.

"I also say, on behalf of my party, that we can form government if we want and there can be a Shiv Sena chief minister," Raut told reporters. He also dismissed Fadnavis's allegation that the Shiv​ Sena leaders unfairly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

09:21 (IST)

'Alliance not over', claimsBJP leaderSudhirMungantiwar

Both the bickering partners, however, did not state categorically that there was no scope for rapprochement in the coming days. Late on Friday night, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said the alliance was not over, and the Shiv Sena should respect the mandate.

The ShivSena, which wants its chief minister in the state, countered Devendra Fadnavis' claim that there had been no agreement on sharing the chief minister's post.

Thackeray asserted he would fulfil the promise made to his father, late Sena founder Bal Thackeray, to install another Shiv Sena chief minister in the state, and does not need Devendra Fadnavis or Amit Shah for this.

09:09 (IST)

Devendra Fadnavis blamesShiv Sena for political deadlock

In a stinging attack on its time-tested ally, Devendra Fadnavis blamed the Shiv Sena for the impasse."I again want to make it clear that it was never decided that the chief minister's post will be shared. There was never a decision on this issue. Even (BJP chief) Amit Shah ji and (senior BJP leader) Nitin Gadkari ji said this was never decided," he said.​ Fadnavis said he called Uddhav Thackeray for breaking the impasse many times, but "Uddhav ji did not take my calls."

The Shiv Sena's "policy" of not talking with the BJP but holding talks with the opposition Congress and NCP was wrong, he said.

"The day poll results came, Uddhav ji said all options were open for government formation. That was shocking for us as people had given a mandate for our alliance and in such circumstances, it was a big question for us that why he said that all options are open for him," he said.

09:03 (IST)

All eyes on Governor BhagatSinghKoshyarifor next course of action

Maharashtra GovernorBhagat Singh Koshyari on Friday accepted Devendra Fadnavis's resignation and asked him to be the "caretaker chief minister" till alternative arrangements are made."The alternative arrangement could be anything, a new government or imposition of President's rule," Fadnavis said.

All eyes are now on the Governor on his next course of action that could also include calling the BJP, the single largest party, to form the government. The tenure of the existing Legislative Assembly ends midnight on Friday.

08:58 (IST)

Bitter showdown between Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray over-sharingCM's post

The three-decade-old alliance between the BJP and its oldest ally Shiv Sena appeared to be on shaky ground after Devendra Fadnavis, who quit as chief minister on Friday, and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray were engaged in a bitter public showdown over sharing the chief ministership in Maharashtra.

Fadnavis and Thackeray traded charges over power-sharing arrangement at their respective news conferences shortly after the BJP leader drove to Raj Bhavan and handed over his resignation to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, five years and a week after he assumed the state's top job.

Fadnavis blamed the Sena for rebuffing all attempts to form an alliance government and insisted no decision was taken in his presence on sharing the chief ministership while Thackeray claimed the BJP had agreed to share the post during his talks with its chief Amit Shah before the Lok Sabha polls. Thackeray also indicated that all options are open for his party information of the next government

- PTI

08:49 (IST)

Mahayutiteeters on edge of collapse afterFadnavis' resignation

There has been no headway in government formation in the state even a fortnight after Assembly poll results were announced on 24 October. TheBJPand ShivSenaare locked in a tussle over the chief minister's post, resulting in a stalemate despite the poll results giving the saffron alliance combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House.

However, daggers were drawn Friday asDevendraFadnavisabandoned the subtlety and caution he had been exercising thus far andcriticisedSenafor exploring other options despite a pre-agreed alliance.Fadnavistold the press after submitting his resignation to the governor, that he was hurt bySena'sbehaviour. Meanwhile,UddhavThackeray too held a presser countering charges, saying he will not deal with a party that calls him a liar.

Maharashtra Govt Formation Latest Updates: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari has invited Devendra Fadnavis to form the government, media reports said. Fadnavis is the legislature party leader of the BJP, which is the single largest party in the state after the Assembly Election.

The Shiv Sena on Saturday needled its warring ally BJP which has failed to stake claim to form a government in Maharashtra, apparently due to lack of numbers, even a fortnight after the assembly poll verdict. In Goa and Manipur, the BJP had shoved away single largest parties and formed governments. It is an open secret​ that this was done with the active cooperation of governors. But in Maharashtra, despite being the single largest party, the BJP is not staking a claim," the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece "Saamana".

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday strongly countered Devendra Fadnavis's claim that BJP and Sena had not agreed on sharing of Maharashtra chief minister's post during Thackeray's talks with BJP chief Amit Shah.

"I will not talk to people who call me a liar. I will not tolerate this. The caretaker (CM) should not try to prove that I am a liar. I have never spoken lies in my life," Thackeray said on Fadnavis's claim.

There has been no headway in government formation in the state even a fortnight after Assembly poll results were announced on 24 October. The BJP and Shiv Sena are locked in a tussle over the chief minister's post, resulting in a stalemate despite the poll results giving the saffron alliance combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House.

However, daggers were drawn Friday as Devendra Fadnavis abandoned the subtlety and caution he had been exercising thus far and criticised Sena for exploring other options despite a pre-agreed alliance. Fadnavis told the press after submitting his resignation to the governor, that he was hurt by Sena's behaviour. Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray too held a presser countering charges, saying he will not deal with a party that calls him a liar.

Senior Maharashtra Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and Balasaheb Thorat met NCP chief Sharad Pawar as the political deadlock in the state continued.

On Friday, the contentions between alliance partners BJP and Shiv Sena, who have received the most votes in the recently concluded Assembly election, were expressed by Maharashtra caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The future of the upcoming Assembly hangs in the balance as neither of the alliance parties are willing to budge from their individual stands on the latter's demand for a rotational chief minister.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that he was "hurt" over the insinuation by BJP that the agreement over a rotational chief minister's post had not happened. He said that the alliance was based on the shared principle of Hindutva, but if the BJP was lying, then that was against Hindutva. "If there are lies, then that is false Hindutva," he said.

"It is very sad that while cleaning the Ganga their minds became polluted. I felt bad that we entered into an alliance with the wrong people," he added.

He was also quoted by India Today as saying that BJP chief Amit Shah "had time for Dushyant Chautala but not us".

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray challenged alliance partner BJP to stake claim to form the government in Maharashtra on Friday as the stalemate over the power equation continued between the allies.

"The BJP should stake claim to power. We have other options open before us. The decision about the alliance now rests with the BJP," he said.

Thackeray also claimed that the Maharashtra electorate has more faith in Thackeray family than BJP president Amit Shah or caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday reiterated the party's demand on a rotational chief minister's post and said that BJP president Amit Shah had agreed to the demand in the discussion before the Lok Sabha election.

Stating that he was "hurt" over the question over whether the talks had indeed happened or not, he said, "Whatever has been decided has to be followed through. I decided to terminate talks with the BJP after they insinuated that I was lying about the rotational chief minister demand. Because talks have to be based on trust between two allies. For the first time, someone accused Thackeray family of lying."

"Shiv Sena is a not a party of liars. I don't consider BJP my enemy, but they should not lie. The public is seeing who is lying, about 'ache din' or the promises around demonetisation. The BJP should also prove when I made statements about Narendra Modi," he added.

After Devendra Fadnavis' press conference on the power tussle with ally Shiv Sena, the party chief Uddhav Thackeray has also begun his press conference on the issue.

In an attempt to give answer-for-answer, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to address a press conference at 6 pm in response to Maharashtra caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' statements on the power tussle between the alliance partners.

Devendra Fadnavis also claimed that he had called Uddhav many times with the intention to break the impasse, but "Uddhavji did not take my calls."

Devendra Fadnavis, who on Friday submitted his resignation as Maharashtra chief minister amid the power tussle with ally Shiv Sena, said that Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had asked him to continue as the acting chief minister of the state.

Since the results of the Assembly election were announced on 24 October, the alliance partners have been at loggerheads over their individual demands of power-sharing. Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is demanding a rotational chief minister's post based on a "previously agreed upon deal" but the BJP has denied that such an agreement was made.

As a result, there has been an impasse as the deadline of dissolving the Assembly drew near. On Friday, with a few hours to go before the tenure of the current Assembly elapses, Fadnavis submitted his resignation and said that he has been asked to continue as the acting chief minister.

Devendra Fadnavis, addressing the press conference said, "Maybe there was a prior understanding in the Shiv Sena that the party must try to join the Congress and NCP after the results. Our doors for communications have always been open, but the Shiv Sena took a stand of cutting off talks with the BJP but continuing discussions with the Congress and NCP."

"I will not say anything about Uddhav Thackeray, but the statements being made by the party leaders around him have been disappointing. We also have the ability to reply to all these statements, but that is not what the people expect from us."

"We have never said anything against Shiv Sena stalwart Bal Thackeray, even when we contested against the party in 2014, but in the last ten days they have made comments against the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that is disappointing.

"Shiv Sena is not an Opposition party, but an ally of the BJP in the Centre and the state, and such statements from them are not acceptable to us. Even Congress or any Opposition party has not criticised Modi like the Shiv Sena has in the last ten days."

Devendra Fadnavis has begun addressing the media after submitting his resignation as the chief minister of Maharashtra on Friday.

Devendra Fadnavis has reportedly resigned as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra during his meeting with the governor. The entire Council of Ministers was also present at the meeting. The tenure of the current Assembly will end on Friday night as 12 am.

Amid a protracted power tussle between alliance partners BJP and Shiv Sena, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is likely to address a press conference regarding the issue at 4.30 pm on Friday, reports said.

Currently, Fadnavis and the council of ministers have reached the Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at the Raj Bhavan. India Today also reported that Fadnavis is speculated to offer his resignation as chief minister, some hours ahead of the dissolution of the current Assembly.

Refuting claims made by Congress of poaching its MLAs by offering money, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar tells ANI, "Congress is insulting its own MLAs and voters too by talking about poaching of MLAs. Congress should prove if any such poaching attempt has been made."

Sharad Pawar said, "Government formation should happen without further delay...We both arrived at conclusion that Shiv Sena and BJP should come together." The NCP leader also said that Ramdas Athawale takes his advice and he has advised Athawale that Shiv Sena and BJP should come together to form a stable government.

He further added that President's Rule is likely but no fresh polls in should happen in Maharashtra anytime soon

Amidst the speculations of possible horse-trading of its MLAs allegedly by the ruling BJP, Congress party has decided to lodge all its legislators at one place in order to keep its flock intact. The Congress in Maharashtra on Friday alleged that attempts were being made to put pressure on party legislators to switch sides. State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said his party has not taken any decision to support a Shiv Sena-led government in the state, where there is an impasse over formation of the next dispensation.

Talking to reporters, he said, "To avoid harassment, some MLAs have gone out (of Mumbai). Legislators have told us that they are being given proposals to defect from the party."

Union minister and BJP leader​ Nitin Gadkari who arrived in Mumbai on Friday said there was no deal between his party and the Shiv Sena over equal distribution of portfolios, including sharing the post of chief minister. The assertion by Gadkari indicates the BJP is not budging firm its stand of not sharing the chief minister's post with ally Shiv Sena.

While speaking to reporters, he said, "As per my information, there was no deal between the BJP and the Shiv​ Sena over equal sharing of portfolios in Maharashtra. Even the late Balasaheb Thackeray had once stressed on the arrangement between Shiv Sena-BJP that the party having more number of elected legislators will have a claim on the post of chief minister."

Senior BJP leaders and minister are meeting with Nitin Gadkari at his residence, reports CNN-News18. This comes hours after Union minister rejected having any meeting with Uddhav Thackeray or any other party leaders, outside BJP.

Amid speculation reports claiming that Union minister Nitin Gadkari has offered to be a mediator between Shiv Sena and BJP, Gadkari tells CNN-NEWS18 that he is not going to meet any politician today and is in Mumbai to attend an event, rejecting all speculation over meeting with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has offered to mediate between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, 'in the interest of forming the government' in Maharashtra, reports India Today. The minister has denied horsetrading by Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena on Friday remained firm on its demand for sharing the chief minister's post in Maharashtra and asked the BJP not to misuse the provision of "caretaker" government to remain in power in the state.​ Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the BJP should approach the Uddhav Thackeray-led party only if it agrees to share the chief minister's post with the junior saffron ally.

Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar on Friday alleged that sums of "Rs 25 crore to Rs 50 crore" were being offered to MLAs to switch sides in Maharashtra. He claimed Congress MLAs, too, have been contacted over the phone with such offers.

The Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly said the Shiv Sena has claimed one of its MLAs was offered Rs 50 crore to switch sides. "Our MLAs are also being contacted. Attempts are being made to lure away MLAs with offers of Rs 25 to Rs 50 crore," he alleged while talking to reporters.

"We have told our MLAs to record such calls so that people of the state know about them," he said. The Congress leader accused the BJP of taking politics to a new low. However, the BJP has denied allegations it was trying to wean away MLAs from other parties.

Vijay Wadettiwar, Congres leader of opposition in Maharashtra Assembly rubbishes claims of Congress MLA's being sent to Jaipur, says "We have not moved our MLAs anywhere, all our MLAs are at their locations. If some of our MLAs have gone to any place it might be a personal visit."

Shiv Sena MLAs were on Thursday shifted to Rangsharda Hotel in suburban Bandra amid the ongoing uncertainty over government formation.

The stalemate over the power equation in Maharashtra continues as the deadline of the current Assembly ends by Friday midnight. Citing sources, CNN-News18 reported that Union minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai on Friday to iron out differences between the alliance partners. Thackeray had on Thursday toughened his stand saying he would only talk to the BJP if it agrees to share the chief minister's post for 2.5 years.

The Congress has also convened a meeting of its newly-elected MLAs here on Friday amid speculation that they may be shifted to Jaipur. State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat and other senior leaders will be present at the meeting which will take place around 10.30 am, party sources said.

They said all the 44 Congress MLAs will attend the meet, which is expected to discuss the prevailing political situation in Maharashtra where there is no sign of the new government even two weeks after the declaration of polls results.

The party is exercising caution due to the possibility of defection from its legislative wing, the sources said. Speculation is rife that the Congress legislators may be shifted to Jaipur, but the sources did not confirm any such move.

The Congress on Thursday questioned the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance's "moral right" to form government in Maharashtra if the Sena apprehends poaching of its MLAs by its senior ally.

The Nationalist Congress Party, the other prominent opposition party, claimed that MLAs were being approached with inducements for switching camps. "The Shiv Sena is an alliance partner of the BJP and part of 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance). If it is afraid that the BJP will poach its MLAs, then we can very well understand how much morally corrupt the BJP is, and why we must save Maharashtra from them," said state Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant.

"Does Mahayuti have the moral right to form government now?" Sawant tweeted. He was apparently referring to the Sena's decision to shift its legislators to Rangsharda Hotel in suburban Bandra amid the ongoing political uncertainty. The saffron allies contested the 21 October Assembly polls together along with smaller allies. However, despite winning a comfortable majority, the two parties are now warring over the chief minister's post.

Some independent leaders, who are close to the BJP, had claimed that a section of Shiv Sena MLAs was in touch with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Congress's national spokesperson Sanjay Jha said resorts in tourist spots near Mumbai such as Khandala and Matheran may soon get booked (for shifting MLAs there to guard them from poaching attempts).

"But given the money they have, the BJP should also consider the Maldives, Bahamas, Bermuda and Pattaya," he quipped. Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil, without naming any party, claimed some MLAs were being offered inducements to cross over. "Some MLAs are being lured now. But in case anyone defects (to the BJP), other parties will come together and defeat him/her (in bypoll)," Patil told reporters.

NCP MLAs were not being targeted, he added. "Those who wanted to switch sides, left before the election. Those elected (on NCP tickets) have people's faith in them and we are ready to sit in the opposition," he said.

Patil also said the Shiv Sena had not approached the NCP seeking support to form government. "Nor we have had any discussion within the NCP on supporting the Sena," he claimed.
If the BJP agreed to the Sena's demand of sharing the chief minister's post on rotation and equal distribution of other ministerial berths, there will be no question of
President's rule in the state, the NCP leader said.

Another NCP leader Dhananjay Munde also said nobody from the Sharad Pawar-led party will defect. Munde, one of the newly-elected MLAs, accused the BJP and the Shiv Sena of committing a "sin" by not forming government despite having the mandate.

Lack of initiative on their part may lead the state towards the President's rule, he said. "The Mahayuti has the mandate. But they are bickering over the chief ministerial post. Only few hours are left to form government...if they are not going to form government, then it hints at the President's rule. That sin they are committing," Munde told a Marathi news channel.

In the last month's polls to the 288-member Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats followed by the Shiv Sena-56, the NCP-54 and the Congress 44. The majority mark in the house is 145.

The current Assembly is set to expire on 9 November.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday,

for the post of the chief minister in Maharashtra, said, "The Constitution belongs to the people. The Constitution is not their inheritance, if they (BJP) go down that road then they need to know that we can also use the Constitution. I am sure that we will have our chief minister in Maharashtra."

A deadlock has prevailed in the state since the declaration of results of the Assembly election in October, with the two allies refusing to budge on their individual demands regarding the power-sharing equation in the state government. However, the current Assembly expires on Friday, after which President's Rule will be imposed if the impasse is not resolved.

On this, Raut said, "Looks like BJP is trying to impose President's rule in Maharashtra. This is against the mandate that the people have given us. If you can form the government then make it clear."

"We will hold discussions with BJP provided they agree to what was decided during the Lok Sabha polls. They can call me up if they decide to give us Chief Minister's post for 2.5 years, otherwise don't call me up," The Indian Express quoted Uddhav Thackeray, as saying. Shiv Sena is adamant on getting the CM post, however, the party said it will not break alliance with the BJP.

Shiv Sena has reportedly booked rooms at a five-star hotel in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex amid reports that a faction could break away to support its ally BJP. However, party leader Sanjay Raut has rubbished such reports saying, "Our MLAs are committed to the party and do not need sequestering to keep them from defecting. No party will break in Maharashtra."

A fortnight after the announcement of Assembly poll results, the prospects of a new government being formed in Maharashtra remain as elusive as ever. The BJP, which won 105 seats, and the Shiv Sena, which bagged 56 seats, are locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of the chief minister's post and ministerial portfolios in the new government, even 13 days after the Assembly poll verdict handed them enough seats to stitch together a coalition government.

They won 161 seats together in the 288-member House, well above the halfway mark of 145; however, the stalemate continues as neither party got absolute majority and both are claiming the chief minister's post.

Representational image. PTI

Today, BJP leaders are slated to meet the governor while Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is set to meet party legislators at his residence, Matoshree to decide on the party's stand regarding government formation. Congress and NCP meanwhile, have snubbed Sena's flirtation. Sharad Pawar clarified on Wednesday that he was not interested in propping up a Sena-led government by upsetting the pre-poll coalition arrangements, when it clearly got the mandate to sit in Opposition.

Unconfirmed reports had suggested that the Sena, which has been bargaining hard for chief minister's post with BJP, had sent feelers to the Opposition camp to see if they are willing to accommodate its demand. This came after the Congress had announced unconditional support to the Janata Dal (Secular) just to keep the BJP out of power, even relenting the chief minister's post to the junior alliance partner.

However, reports claimed that Sonia Gandhi firmly put her foot down on the issue, clarifying that Sena's ideological position would never allow for an alliance between Maha-agadhi partners and the Maratha party.

Besides, the Opposition NCP won 54 seats while the Congress got 44 seats; in order to prop up a government excluding the BJP, Sena, Congress and NCP would have had to come together to form a government.

The tenure of the present Assembly ends in two days and the Constitution warrants the imposition of President's Rule if no coalition/party comes to stake claim for government formation in case of a hung Assembly. The Constitution does not state any provision for an extension of term of the current Assembly. Hence, Maharashtra will see one of the following scenarios play out.

Option 1: A BJP-Sena government

This is the most simplistic and morally appropriate choice left before the political parties in Maharashtra, as notwithstanding the post-election bickering, the Mahayuti was the alliance that got voted to power. It is still widely believed that the cat-and-mouse game between the two alliance partners is a hollow attempt at one-upmanship and Shiv Sena will eventually settle for an agreement with the BJP in a give-and-take pact for power-sharing. This gains currency from reports about Shiv Sena approaching the RSS and demanding Union minister Nitin Gadkari as an interlocutor.

Sources from both parties say a special three-day session of the House may be convened next week to swear in the new MLAs.

A resolution to the BJP-Shiv Sena stalemate over government formation is expected and a new dispensation may take office before the term of the outgoing Assembly ends, sources said. Sources from both parties said back-channel talks are on between the two old but often-feuding Hindutva allies and a breakthrough is expected.

"We expect a breakthrough. If all goes well we can have a government by 9 November," a source, who did not wish to be identified, told PTI.

However, it was not clear as to what will be the concession offered by the BJP to the Sena if the Uddhav Thackeray-led party decides to bury the hatchet. A senior BJP functionary asserted the party will not compromise on the post of chief minister.

But Sena as of now appears unlikely to yield.

, Sena leader Sanjay Raut for the

time reasserted that the chief minister will be from his party. Claiming that the BJP had agreed to a "50-50" formula on power sharing in the state, the Sena has demanded that the top seat should be shared between the two. Meanwhile, PTI quotes BJP sources as saying the party will not compromise on the post of chief minister, which brings us to our second option.

Option 2: Minority government for the time being

It is possible for the governor to use the power entrusted to him and invite a person, who he feels is the most likely to command the confidence of the House. In this case, the leader of the single largest party, who was also the past chief minister with the support of his current ally, may be invited by the governor. However, he must prove his majority within a span set by the governor on the floor of the House.

According to a website that documents Constitutional conventions and Supreme Court judgments, in a letter dated 17 May, 1967 to three former Chief Justices of India, Justices Mahajan, Sarkar and Gajendragadkar and eminent constitutional experts like MC Setalvad and HM Seervai, the then home minister YB Chavan mentioned three views on the appointment of the chief minister and sought their legal opinion on it.

The three views were: (i) The leader of the largest party in the legislature should be invited to form the government irrespective of whether or not such a party commands a stable majority. (ii) If the party in power failed to secure an absolute majority in the newly- elected legislature, the leader of that party should not be invited to form the Government because the electoral verdict should be regarded as, in effect, disqualifying the party from holding office for another term. (iii) The governor should make endeavour to appoint a person who is most likely to command a majority in the legislature.

There was complete agreement on the third point.

Option 3: President's Rule

Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, in the event that a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery.

Based on the report of the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations(1988), the Supreme Court in SR Bommai versus Union of India case (1994) enlisted the situations where the President's Rule can be imposed on a federal state under Article 356. Amid other conditions laid down, the first three pointers deal with the scenarios where a majority government is absent in state.

  • When after general elections to the Assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, Hung Assembly
  • When the party/ coalition having a majority in the Assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition/ party commanding a majority in the Assembly.
  • When a ministry resigns after its defeat in the Assembly and no other party is willing or able to form a ministry commanding a majority in the Assembly.

Arguably, any of the three pointers aren't unimaginable in the Maharashtra scenario, if the pre-poll alliance between Shiv Sena and BJP fails to take shape despite negotiations.

Option 4: Sena, NCP and Congress combine comes to power

This is highly unlikely (and virtually impossible), given the fact that Pawar has shown no inclination to support Sena so far. However, purely dealing with a mathematical possibility, it is possible for Sena (now 60 after the support of Independents), NCP (54) and Congress (44) to cobble up a coalition government. The most likely power-sharing agreement could be under a Sena chief minister and a council of ministers including MLAs from all three parties. However, such an alliance will be unsteady because of obvious ideological clashes between the hardline Sena and secular Congress and NCP.

With inputs from PTI

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