Shiv Sena Sets BJP a Deadline – Deal or No Deal?

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NewZNew (Mumbai) :  They had to skip being included in the swearing-in of the new BJP government in Maharashtra, but now the Shiv Sena wants an answer.  The Sena says they have told the BJP that they must decide on an alliance – one way or another – before the vote of confidence.

The Maharashtra governor had given the BJP 15 days to hold a trust vote; the deadline expires on November 15. Unless there is an agreement before that date, the Sena says they will not support the government.  The BJP has 123 seats; it needs 22 more to win the vote. The Sena has 63. But the BJP has been in a sweet spot courtesy Sharad Pawar’s party, which says it will abstain during the vote in a show of support for the minority government.

Even so, the BJP has indicated it wants an alliance with the Sena. With Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being persuaded to attend the huge swearing-in on Friday, there were indications of a thaw.  “Uddhav Thackeray’s attendance today was a big gesture. Talks are moving in the right direction,” new Chief Minister Fadnavis said after the ceremony.

His cabinet has been modestly-sized to accommodate add-ons from potential partners. The Sena has reportedly agreed to a 2:1 formula for portfolios, meaning for every two berths the BJP keeps, the Sena is willing to settle for one. But with the Sena configured as a could-do option rather than a must-have, BJP leaders are keen to drive a hard bargain.

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The parties terminated a 25-year alliance in Maharashtra in September, with the Sena refusing to accept a reversal of roles that would turn the BJP into the senior partner. Equipped with its tremendous victory in the national election earlier this year, the BJP decided to opt out of the alliance, a bet that has delivered monumental gains.

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