Seventeen days after the Assembly election results were declared, the two main pre-poll alliance partners – the BJP and the Shiv Sena -- are bitter rivals and not even on 'talking terms,' even as the Opposition parties maintain a deafening silence of 'wait-and-watch' on the issue of government formation in Maharashtra.Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari on Saturday evening asked the BJP -- the single-largest party -- to indicate its willingness and capacity to form the next government.
The feeler came barely four hours before the tenure of the state Assembly expires at midnight. The buzz now is whether the Ram Temple will bring the two sparring parties on a common platform yet again.
According to highly placed sources in the BJP, it may politely decline to from the government if the Sena does not agree to support it. The BJP core team is meeting on Sunday and will discuss this issue. ‘‘The Governor’s feelers are just a part of the process. The problem is that Sena is not ready to support us,’’ said senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
But Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is not hinting at softening his stand. He welcomed the judgement in Ayodhya case and announced that he will personally visit the city on November 24. He also announced his plan to visit Shiv Neri, the birth place of Shivaji Maharaj, which may be construed as a signal that he will not bow before the Delhi-based leadership of the BJP.
The Sena Member of Parliament and spokesperson Sanjay Raut told the Free Press Journal, they have nothing to do with the Governor sending feelers to the BJP because he is merely going through the motions. “We welcome the Governor’s initiative. It is something which should have been done on day one and we have been saying this from the beginning. It is a constitutional provision that the single largest party should stake claim to form the government,” said Raut. “Amcha sambandha kay? (We have nothing to do with this decision),” he quipped when pressed further.
In the past few days, the Governor has held at least two meetings with the state Advocate-General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni on the legal and constitutional aspects of the political impasse.With 105 MLAs in its kitty, the BJP has confidently claimed it will form the next government, but the Sena has dared the BJP to stake claim and form the government with their inadequate numbers in the 288-member house.
The Sena has maintained that it is ready to join hands with the BJP - provided it was willing to honour its commitment on sharing the post of Chief Minister and other portfolios on an equitable basis.Curiously, both parties claim that "the partnership is very much on" and they would maintain their side of 'alliance-dharma' till the end, before the other side snaps it.