Sonia Gandhi Rules Out Supporting Shiv Sena In Maharashtra; Uncertainty Lies Ahead

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NEW DELHI: Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi has reportedly ruled out extending support to Shiv Sena to form government in Maharashtra.

Sonia’s refusal to back Shiv Sena comes after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar met her on Monday evening amid the impasse between BJP and its ally Sena over a power-sharing arrangement in Maharashtra.

Maintaining suspense over the issue, Pawar said that he briefed Sonia Gandhi on the political situation in Maharashtra. He, however, said that they did not discuss exactly the formation of government in the state.

Pawar reiterated his earlier stance that the people have given them the mandate to sit in the opposition, and added that his party has had no talks with Shiv Sena.

It is learnt that the Shiv Sena had reached out to the NCP for support.

Earlier on Monday, Sena leaders Ramdas Kadam and Sanjay Raut met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, a day after the party claimed to have the support of 170 MLAs.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sanjay Raut said that the Shiv Sena was “not responsible” for the standoff.

We kept our talk forward. He heard us. We just wanted to tell him that the government is not being formed, and for ensuing confusion, we are not responsible,” Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying by NDTV.

“Whoever has the mandate, will form the government. I cannot advise the governor. He will take his own decision,” he added.

The meeting came on a day when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met BJP President Amit Shah in Delhi.

While Raut continued taking sharp barbs at the BJP, Devendra Fadnavis exuded confidence that the impasse will end soon and a new government will be in place.

The Sena and the BJP are locked in a tussle since the Uddhav Thackeray-led party raised demand for the chief minister’s post on a rotational basis and implementation of a “50:50 power-sharing” formula, which entails equal allocation of ministerial portfolios.

The BJP has rejected both the demands, which resulted in the formal power talks, which are yet to take off, hitting a wall. In a column published in Sena mouthpiece “Saamana” on Sunday, Raut indirectly blamed the “arrogance” of the BJP for the current political scenario.

Switching Loyalties Not Ruled Out:

Independent MLA Ravi Rana, who has extended support to the BJP in Maharashtra, on Monday claimed that “some 25 MLAs” of the Shiv Sena were in touch with him over the formation of the next government.

The MLA from Badnera in Amravati district dubbed the Sena as “very arrogant” and claimed the Uddhav Thackeray-led party will split and nearly two dozen MLAs will join the BJP if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis forms the next government without its saffron ally. The Sena has 56 MLAs.

Rana also came down hard on senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who has been at the forefront of vociferously articulating the demand for equal distribution of power and sharing the chief minister’s post.

“No matter what Raut says, Uddhav Thackeray should understand that the mandate is for the ‘Mahayuti’ (BJP-Sena alliance) and not any one party. Uddhavji should control Raut as he is making strong statements,” he said.

Fresh Elections Too An Option For The BJP:

State Tourism and FDA Minister Jaykumar Rawal told a television channel that some of his party leaders are willing for re-election in the state. The BJP leaders expressed this view during a review meeting held in Dhule district on Sunday.

The party workers said senior leaders of the BJP should not have forged an alliance (with the Sena)…give us a chance again, we will contest again and win this time,” said Rawal.

The meeting in Dhule was attended by several BJP leaders, workers and candidates who contested the recent Assembly polls, he said.

“Many of them are angry as we could not contest in some seats due to pact with the Sena and lost with a thin margin in some segments,” the minister said.

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