Devendra Fadnavis to be CM next week; no deputy CM or big berths for Sena

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 22 Oktober 2014 | 22.23

NEW DELHI: BJP's Devendra Fadnavis is likely to take over as chief minister of Maharashtra on Monday, that is, immediately after Diwali, irrespective of whether Shiv Sena comes on board.

Sources said the central BJP leadership has decided to go ahead with government formation in the state without waiting for Sena to offer support because of the yawning gap between their estimate of the conditions on which Uddhav Thackeray may agree to support a BJP-led government, and what they could offer.

BJP feels that although it is short of the majority mark of 145 (with allies, it has 123 now), the deficit cannot be an impediment because the 41-member-strong NCP, after having extended unconditional support, is unlikely to oppose the trust vote. BJP has also reached out to Independents and smaller parties and reckons that 15 MLAs might agree to support a BJP government.

READ ALSO: Maharashtra govt formation: Uddhav blinks, to visit Delhi for talks with BJP top brass

As per Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha, which applies also to states, a government which clears the numbers test can be made to take another one only after a gap of six months.

BJP strategists feel this window will be big enough for it to find the missing numbers.

The presence of NDA appointee C Vidyasagar Rao in Raj Bhavan can only be a help, feel BJP tacticians.

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis with supporters after party's victory in the Maharashtra Assembly election in Mumbai.

Sources said BJP, at least at this point in time, is in no mood to offer Sena the deputy chief ministership, the post of Speaker or any of the eight "heavyweight" portfolios and recognizes that its offer might fall way short of expectations.

BJP sources said the party would like to keep eight portfolios — home, finance, revenue, urban development, agriculture, irrigation, public health and public works — which will be crucial for its ambition to provide "good governance" but which have for decades been seen as "money-spinners".

Although there have been no formal power-sharing negotiations between the two sides, sources in BJP spoke of a stalemate in terms of attitude. They said Sena, which relished playing 'Big Brother' for 25 years, has not yet reconciled to the new reality where it cannot hope to have the upper hand any more.

BJP itself, which smarted under the humiliation of having been reduced to an adjunct to Matoshree, is now unsentimental about leveraging its superior numbers and just-acquired status as the dominant political formation in Maharashtra.

READ ALSO: Gadkari in race for Maharashtra CM's crown

BJP sources asserted that a rapprochement with Sena can only be on BJP's terms and ruled out the possibility of the party giving in to Sena's "gunboat politics."

Sources said BJP is giving the impression that it is engaged with Sena as it doesn't want to come across as being unreasonable. It also doesn't want to take the blame for failure of the political detente effort because it feels there is a constituency, a Hindutva-minded section, to be tapped even among Sena supporters.

The realization about the deadlock appears to have led BJP to plan for Fadnavis to be sworn in as CM by October 27. BJP's decision to act only after Diwali is also clear from the postponement of the Mumbai visit of Union home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP general secretary J P Nadda, who have been appointed observers for the meeting of the party's legislature group where Fadnavis is likely to be "unanimously" elected the leader. Singh and Nadda were set to leave for Mumbai on Tuesday.

Another indicator of BJP's decision to sit tight until Diwali came when the party leadership sanctioned "leave" to Om Prakash Mathur and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the party observers who were stationed in Mumbai all through the poll campaign.

Meanwhile, agencies quoted Om Mathur as saying on Tuesday that BJP was the new "big brother" in the state and others should not think themselves bigger when "the people's verdict is otherwise".

Union minister and senior party leader Arun Jaitley told a TV channel on Tuesday, "We have two proposals at hand. Sena has been a natural ally, NCP has announced unconditional support... For BJP and Sena to become allies in the Maharashtra government could be a matter of course but if there is some difficulty that arises, you also have the unconditional offer as far as NCP is concerned."

He said there has been "not much" talk with Sena but said the parties are still together at the central level as well as in the Mumbai civic body. "Surely, in two out of the three tiers of government, we are allies... the fact that we are congratulating each other itself is a signal," he said. Thackeray,Shiv Sena,Dy CM,Devendra Fadnavis,BJP

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