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Discords put Sena-BJP alliance revival talks on hold

Estranged partners the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena (SS) temporarily have suspended talks over the revival of their alliance and the latter’s participation in the Maharashtra government due to strong differences.

BJP wanted both the parties to first work out a long term roadmap for their alliance in the elections to the civic and local bodies to avoid confrontation while Shiv Sena was keen to discuss the allocation of ministries and the number of party legislators to be inducted in the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis led council of ministers in the state.

Although BJP and Shiv Sena agreed that they should remain together on Hindutva issue, the talks did not progress further on the Shiv Sena’s support to the state government and their participation in the state cabinet due to contrary stand taken by them.

Further, a section of BJP is mounting pressure on the Central and state leadership for not to take Shiv Sena’s support. The Nationalist Congress Party with 41 legislators has already extended its support from outside to the BJP government in the state.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told Business Standard “BJP’s leadership from the Centre and the state are quite keen for Sena’s participation in the state government. However, BJP and Shiv Sena need to finalise a long term roadmap for their relationship in the civic and local bodies so  that alliance remains intact at the level of government and downwards.”

Talks had restarted on November 28 after a long gap and also after the Shiv Sena’s legislator from Thane Eknath Shinde had assumed the post of leader of opposition in the state assembly. BJP was represented by the union minister of state of petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan and state cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil while Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

They held meeting for one and half hours at Uddhav’s residence Matoshree in north west Mumbai. During the meeting, Uddhav asked Pradhan and Patil whether they have necessary powers to negotiate and commit something.

Thereafter, Sena minister Anant Gite in the union cabinet and senior party leader Subhash Desai  separately held meeting with Pradhan but failed to arrive at an understanding.

Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai, who did not take oath during the recently conducted cabinet expansion by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, disclosed there has not been any concrete offer from BJP. He admitted that there were no talks which were currently underway.

Another Sena MP Anand Adsul took aggressive stand saying that BJP should no more humiliate Shiv Sena but respect its former ally. “BJP should offer the post of deputy chief minister and provide key ministries including home in the state cabinet,” he added. Similarly, Sena legislator Ramdas Kadam alleged that BJP was not serious on Sena’s participation in the state cabinet. He added that party chief Uddhav Thackeray will take a final decision in this regard. 

The timing for the resumption of talks was crucial when Shiv Sena was stepping up its attack against the BJP government ahead of the ensuing winter session of the state legislature on a number of issues including drought in Vidarbha and Marathwada, slow pace of implementation of relief and rehabilitation measures, lapses in law and order situation.

Incidentally, Shinde today announced that Shiv Sena will sit in the opposition and grill the government on various issues in the winter session slated to begin from December 8 at Nagpur. Further, Fadnavis has indicated that he has to expand his 9 member cabinet indicating that may take place between December 3 and 5.

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