Sena ready to back BJP-led coalition

Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray arrives at Shiv Sena Bhawan in Mumbai.
Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray arrives at Shiv Sena Bhawan in Mumbai.

The Shiv Sena may support a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra, a top Sena leader said here .

“The election results indicate that no single party can form the government. However, both (Shiv Sena, BJP) can come together for the purpose. This is the people’s mandate,” Shiv Sena parliamentarian and emissary Anil Desai told a private television channel.

The two parties are expected to start discussions on forming the government Monday, he said.

On the issue of the chief minister, Anil Desai said since the Bharatiya Janata Party has secured more seats, it would be their decision.

But other things would be discussed by the two parties, he added.

In the 288-member assembly, the BJP and allies secured 123 seats, the Shiv Sena got 63, Congress managed 42, the NCP won 41 and the remaining seats were bagged by either Independents or smaller and regional parties. A party needs 145 seats for simple majority in the state assembly.

The change of heart in the Shiv Sena follows a quick trip by Anil Desai, a Rajya Sabha member and his colleague Subhash Desai to New Delhi two days ago.

“We had detailed and fruitful discussions with the BJP leaders authorised by the party… After a couple of days, formal discussions will start and all final decisions in the matter will be taken by Sena President Uddhav Thackeray,” Anil Desai said.

Though both the Shiv Sena leaders have not revealed whom they met among the BJP top brass, it is apparent they cleared the ground for entering into an alliance again, which was broken by the BJP Sep 25, just three weeks before the assembly polls Oct 15.

Meanwhile, sources in both the BJP and the Shiv Sena claimed that no fresh proposals have been sent to each other, while the BJP went a step further, saying there could not be “preconditions” by the Shiv Sena for extending support.

Though both sides said it was too early to outline the contours of the proposed government, based on the number of seats secured, it could be based on a formula of the BJP 28 and the Shiv Sena 14 ministers each.

The Shiv Sena’s decision to initiate talks with the BJP was prompted by various factors, among them, the BJP’s tough stance before and after elections, and the general anathema to the ‘unconditional external support’ extended by the Nationalist Congress Party.

Besides, the Shiv Sena had to grapple with a section of hawks within the Shiv Sena who were against supporting the BJP while another group advocated alliance amid possibility of large-scale defections from the Sena.

This will be second time since 1995 when the two parties will unite to give Maharashtra its second non-Congress government till date in the state’s history.