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Shiv Sena to join BJP govt in Maharashtra as political drama ends

The political drama in Maharashtra has finally come to an end. Shiv Sena, estranged partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in a major climb down has announced its decision to join the government. The two partners who broke their 25 year old alliance ahead of the Maharashtra legislative assembly election due to differences over seat adjustments have finally managed to arrive at a consensus over their share in the newly formed government.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is slated to expand his nine member cabinet on Friday in which 10 legislators from BJP and Shiv Sena each will be inducted. Shiv Sena has been assured of five cabinet rank posts and seven ministers of state. The remaining two will be sworn in later.

The Shiv Sena had earlier demanded Deputy CM post and the home portfolio which was not acceptable to the BJP. Shiv Sena insiders say party chief Uddhav Thackeray was worried that had it not decided to join the BJP government the party may have vertically split for as a large number of legislators were opposed to sit in the opposition for five more years. Besides, newly elected legislators in particular were mounting pressure for a reunion.

Addressing a crowded press conference, Fadnavis, accompanied by Shiv sena leaders, said that both parties decided to come together in order to respect the mandate of the people of the state, which has favoured a non Congress-NCP govt. NCP had earlier offered to support the BJP led government in case of a crisis. 

Talks are now on to induct members of the BJP allies, Rashtriya Samaj Party, Swabimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Republican Party and it is expected to be finalised by tonight.

Fadnavis informed that the BJP and Shiv Sena alliance will not only confine to government but also extend to the elections to the civic and local ahead. This paves way forward to a new poll partnership in the crucial civic body elections in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections scheduled for 2017. This apart, both the parties will fight together elections to several other municipal corporation elections and zilla parishad beginning from March 2015 across Maharashtra. A co-ordination committee will be formed to decide future course of strategy for ensuing elections.

The patch up seems to have been made possible due to BJP’s uneasiness in accepting support extended by the NCP who currently has 41 legislators. NCP had abstained during the confidence motion passed through voice vote. Furthermore, NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s recent statements that BJP should not take NCP’s support for granted had pushed the ruling party to ensure a quick settlement with the Shiv Sena.

Chief Minister Fadnavis took  the initiative and convinced the central leadership to take Shiv Sena on  board to achieve stability and further avoid criticism. After getting green signal, BJP authorised union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan and state cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil to negotiate with Uddhav. 

But it was not entirely smooth even after the green signal from the central leadership. Sena was insisting that it should get at least five cabinet rank and seven ministers of state and they should be sworn in at one go. However, BJP was ready to induct only seven. The deliberations continued and it was finally decided that 10 legislators of Sena will be inducted on Friday. 

Shiv Sena has 63 legislators in the state assembly while the BJP has 121 members supported by one member of the Rashtriya Samaj party.BJP has also claimed that they have already received support from 18 legislators belonging to the smaller parties and independents.

Sena leader Eknath Shinde had assumed the post of leader of opposition on November 12 when Fadnavis had won the confidence motion by trust vote. 

Further, despite the many days of strife, the Shiv Sena did not end its alliance with the BJP at the Centre. Sena’s lone minister Anant Gite did not resign. Despite its decision to join the state government, Shiv Sena has stuck to its demand for one more cabinet post and one most of minister of state at the Centre.

The induction of  Shiv Sena legislators will give the government a clear majority of 184 in the 288-member state assembly. The BJP has 121 MLAs while the Shiv Sena 63.

Meanwhile, NCP today declared that it will now play the role of a ”constructive opposition.”

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