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Fadnavis Meets RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur Amid Stalemate over Govt Formation With Shiv Sena

The development came hours after Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil announced in Mumbai that a BJP-led government would be formed very soon, with Fadnavis as its leader.


Updated:November 5, 2019, 11:46 PM IST
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Fadnavis Meets RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur Amid Stalemate over Govt Formation With Shiv Sena
Devendra Fadnavis is walking a tightrope with Shiv Sena seeking to extract its pound of flesh. (Illustration by Mir Suhail)

Mumbai: Amid a protracted stand-off between the Shiv Sena and the BJP over power-sharing in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis flew to Nagpur on Tuesday night to meet Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Fadnavis was closeted in a private meeting with Bhagwat, said sources. He arrived at the RSS headquarters in Mahal area in Nagpur around 9.25 pm and left after 90 minutes.

RSS functionaries in Nagpur remained tight-lipped about what transpired at the meeting, although it is being speculated it was about the political deadlock in the state after the October 21 Assembly elections.

Fadnavis arrived in Nagpur a day after meeting BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi.

The development came hours after Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil announced in Mumbai that a BJP-led government would be formed very soon, with Fadnavis as its leader.

Earlier on Tuesday, Fadnavis held a meeting of BJP leaders at his official residence in Mumbai. Party sources have said the government in the state will be in place by November 9.

The stalemate between the allies continues over government formation in the state, with the Sena demanding an equal share in power. The tussle continues despite results of the Assembly polls, announced on October 24, giving the BJP-Sena alliance a combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House. The BJP won 105 seats, Sena 56, Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 54, and the Congress 44.

Maharashtra Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday hinted at a possible breakthrough in the stand-off, saying "good news" can come at any moment. His comments came after the meeting of state BJP core team at Fadnavis' official residence 'Varsha' in south Mumbai.

Patil, who also attended the meeting, said they are now waiting for a proposal from the Sena. "We have extended our complete support to Fadnavis as leader of the legislative wing of the party in Maharashtra," he said.

"The Shiv Sena has so far not given us any proposal. The BJP's doors are open 24x7 for them," said Patil. "We don't have any doubt that a Fadnavis-led government will be formed soon."

Sena MP Sanjay Raut, however, said his party was firm on a written assurance from the senior alliance partner over power sharing, including rotating the chief minister's post for 2.5 years. The junior partner also indicated that its proposal for rotational chief ministership is under active discussion with the BJP.

However, BJP leader Girish Mahajan later said the party was not ready to discuss sharing of the chief minister's post with Sena, and Fadnavis will become the next chief minister. Mahajan, a senior minister in the outgoing state cabinet, also rejected the Sena's demand of a 'written assurance' before talks for government formation started.

"We have decided that Devendra Fadnavis would be the chief minister for the next five years. BJP is ready to hold talks with Sena over other portfolios," he said.

"We are not India and Pakistan for the talks to be held amid such animosity. Leaders of both the parties can meet and work out the power sharing formula. There is no point in demanding such things in writing," the BJP leader said about the Sena's demand of written assurance.

Mahajan also expressed hope that a breakthrough will be found in the next two days.

The Sena had called off a meeting to hold formal talks with the BJP on October 29 after Fadnavis rejected Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's claims that a formula had been "agreed upon" on "equal sharing of power" ahead of the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May this year.

High-profile meetings in New Delhi on Monday between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his Congress counterpart Sonia Gandhi, and the one between Fadnavis and Shah, had failed to give any indication of breaking the logjam over government formation.

Opposition waits in the wings

Meanwhile, the NCP said a political alternative can be worked out in Maharashtra if the Sena declared that it had snapped ties with the BJP. NCP sources said their party wants Arvind Sawant, the lone Sena minister in the Union government, to resign before going ahead further with the Sena.

"Nothing like it if the BJP gives the Shiv Sena the chief minister's post. But if the BJP is refusing, an alternative can be given. But the Sena should declare that it is no longer associated with the BJP and NDA. An alternative can be provided after that," NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Farm activist Kishore Tiwari, who joined the Sena ahead of the Assembly polls, said in a letter to Mohan Bhagwat that the RSS chief should depute Union minister Nitin Gadkari to resolve the power tussle, adding that people were worried over the Sangh's "silence" on the issue.

"Gadkari will be able to resolve the situation within two hours," Tiwari said, when asked about his letter to Bhagwat.

(With inputs from agencies)

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