Shiv Sena softens stand on government formation, says will adhere to coalition dharma

Amid speculations regarding probable political permutations and combinations vis-a-vis formation of the next government in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said it would adhere to the “coalition dharma”, a remark being viewed as softening of its stand towards the BJP.

The Sena and the BJP are locked in a battle of nerves over sharing of power.

Both the parties, who were partners in the outgoing government, have not even started formal discussions even though the tenure of the current Legislative Assembly ends on November 8.

“The Sena contested the assembly elections in an alliance and we would adhere to the coalition dharma till the last moment,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut told reporters.

He also welcomed Congress leader Hussain Dalwai’s move to write a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi recommending support for the Uddhav Thackeray-led party in forming the new government.

Interestingly, Raut said on Friday the Sena can get desired numbers to form a stable government.

“Considering the prevailing political situation in the state, every one is talking to each other except the Sena and the BJP. The Sena did not stop talks of government formation..

the talks never began,” he said.

Raut also appeared to play down his recent meeting with NCP president Sharad Pawar amid speculation that a new political equation might emerge in the state to keep BJP away from power.

“There are several issues concerning Maharashtra on which leaders of different political parties talk to each other,” he said.

“Were PDP and BJP in Kashmir and TDP and BJP in Andhra Pradesh of similar ideology?” he questionned.

When asked about a speculation that Devendra Fadnavis will take oath as Chief Minister for a second term early next week, Raut pointed out that the governor invites the single largest party to form the government as per convention.

“What is important for government formation is the support of 145 MLAs (in the 288-member House). Whosoever has this number, we wish them well,” he said.

When asked about NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that his party and Congress would sit in the Opposition, Raut said, “What is wrong in that statement”? On Dalwai’s letter to Gandhi suggesting that the Congress can support the Sena in formation of government, Raut said, “Dalwai belongs to the socialist ideology. He comes from a family of progressive muslims. We welcome his stand. But, Sena fought the elections in an alliance and we will adhere to the coalition dharma till the end.” The Uddhav Thackeray-led party has been demanding the CM’s post for 2.5 years and 50:50 division of portfolios, as the BJP’s tally took a beating in the polls.

Both these demands have been rejected by the BJP which has insisted that Fadnavis will continue to be the CM for the next five years.

Thackeray had reportedly said that other options (read NCP and Congress) are available for his party.

Top Congress leaders from Maharashtra on Friday held meetings in Delhi and discussed the situation with party president Sonia Gandhi.

In the October 21 assembly polls, the BJP failed to perform up to the mark though it emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats, 17 less than the 2014 tally, in the 288-member House. The ally Sena won 56 seats, 7 less than its 2014 performance.

The halfway mark in the Legislative Assembly is 145.