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BJP, Shiv Sena eye support of MLAs from smaller parties, Independents as deadline for govt formation draws close; both parties likely to meet Maharashtra governor today

Three Independent MLAs from Maharashtra have announced their support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while two other elected representatives lent their support to the Shiv Sena.

The three Independent MLAs who have announced their support to the BJP are Geeta Jain, Rajendra Raut and Ravi Rana. Jain, a BJP rebel who won Mira Bhayandar seat in Thane district by defeating the party’s official nominee Narendra Mehta in the 21 October elections. She had also met the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) chief and Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur on Saturday to express her gratitude for helping her in the election campaign. Jain’s visit to Thakur, who was supported by the Congress and NCP during polls, had raised speculation about her future political move.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

Rajendra Raut, also a BJP rebel, defetaed Shiv Sena’s official candidate Dilip Sopal from the Barshi constituency, while Rana was elected from the Badnera seat in Amravati district.

Meanwhile, in a boost to Shiv Sena’s say in the government formation, Achalpur MLA and Prahar Janshakti Party (PJP) chief Bachchu Kadu and his colleague Rajkumar Patel, legislator from Melghat, offered support to the Shiv Sena. On Kadu’s support, a Shiv Sena leader told PTI, “We adjusted with the BJP between 2014-19, now it is time to have our share,” he said.

Shiv Sena also got support from two independent MLAs — Ashish Jaiswal and Narendra Bhondekar — which has taken its tally up to 60 seats from 56, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

After results for the Maharashtra Assembly elections were announced on 24 October, Uddhav Thackeray had reminded the BJP of the 50:50 formula “agreed upon” between himself, BJP chief Amit Shah and and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “I contested less number of seats for Lok Sabha and assembly elections. I cannot accommodate the BJP every time,” Uddhav Thackeray had said.

On Saturday, the Shiv Sena demanded a written assurance from the BJP that it will implement the formula for equal sharing of power. Uddhav Thackeray had also told MLAs from his party that though “other options” were open for him, he didn’t want to explore them given that the alliance of the BJP and Shiv Sena is bound by the “Hindutva ideology”.

In his write-up for party mouthpiece Saamana, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday said the party now had the “remote control of power” in Maharashtra despite getting fewer seats in the assembly polls when compared to 2014. On Friday, Raut tweeting a cartoon showing a tiger (the party symbol) wearing a clock locket (the symbol of the opposition NCP) sniffing a lotus (BJP’s party symbol). Sanjay Raut’s cartoon post was captioned “bura na maano Diwali hai” and was carried with a column in Saamana.

Uddhav Thackeray since raised his pitch for “equal sharing” of power, which apparently entails chief ministership for his son Aaditya Thackeray and allotment of plum portfolios to Shiv Sena MLAs in the next state government.

The BJP has called a meeting of all its legislators on 30 October in Mumbai, where the leader of the party in the state assembly will be elected, which is likely to be attended by Amit Shah. Shah may also visit Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on the same day, according to PTI. BJP leader Ashish Shelar told ANI that the two parties fought together and will form the government.

Senior BJP functionaries told The Times Of India that since the saffron party had emerged as the single largest, governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari would have to invite the leader of its legislature party to form government. “The BJP thinks it can establish its majority by voice vote,” sources said. The next government has to be formed by 8 November.

Fadnavis and senior Shiv Sena leader and transport minister Diwakar Raote will separately meet the governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday, according to The Times Of India. “Although no agenda has been fixed, government formation will certainly be discussed. The CM may brief the governor on the current political situation, particularly the possibility of staking claim to form the next government. Raote too will present his party’s views, particularly the decision taken at the meeting of Shiv Sena legislators,’’ a senior BJP leader said.

Fadnavis had said in rallies before the polls that he would return as chief minister. In their poll rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had also endorsed Fadnavis.

In the elections held for the 288-member Assembly, BJP garnered 105 seats, while Shiv Sena won in 56. While the BJP had won in 122 seats in the 2014 state polls, Shiv Sena’s tally reduced by seven seats.

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