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BJP, Shiv Sena cold war continues; Fadnavis says no Sena minister before trust vote

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena representatives will not be inducted into Maharashtra’s BJP-led government before it wins the trust vote, Chief Minister Devedndra Fadnavis said on Wednesday, in comments that have not gone down well with Sena and highlighted continued differences between the two parties over power-sharing.

“Pehle vishwas phir vistar (first the trust vote and then expansion,” Fadnavis told reporters when asked if Shiv Sena ministers would be inducted before his government seeks a trust vote in the Assembly on November 12.

Fadnavis said talks about Sena’s participation in the government were on at an “appropriate level” and the announcement regarding it will be made in Delhi. Party sources said Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradhan were holding discussions with Sena interlocutors.

Fadnavis’ statement has peeved Sena with a party MP saying BJP was not interested in getting it on board with respect and that Shiv Sena would sit in the opposition if no “respectable solution” to end the uncertainty over its participation in the government was found by Saturday.

“After hearing Fadnavis, the feeling amongst us has only got stronger that they (BJP) are not really interested in getting us on board with respect. He being the CM can say what he wants to. But if they do not come up with a respectable solution by Saturday, we would have to sit in the opposition,” he told PTI, requesting anonymity.

He, however, said the final call will be taken by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

Uddhav has, meanwhile, called a meeting of newly-elected Sena legislators and other leaders on Sunday to nominate the leader of the 63-member Shiv Sena Legislature Party. The new MLAs have authorised Uddhav to nominate their leader.

“Uddhavji will chair the meeting at 4 pm on Sunday where he will nominate the new leader of the Legislature Party in the Assembly,” a confidante of the Sena chief told PTI.

He added that the outcome of discussions with BJP by Saturday will decide if Sena’s group leader will hold a ‘key position’ in Devendra Fadnavis government or be the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly.

“Let us see if we can get to a conclusion by Saturday. That will decide what post will our group leader occupy,” he said. The final decision, he said, will rest with the Sena president. With 63 MLAs, Shiv Sena is the second largest party in the 288-member Assembly after BJP’s 121.