Keeping all its options open for government formation in Maharashtra, BJP on Tuesday indicated that it is in no hurry to decide on whose support it would take while making it clear that it will not blink first in the battle of nerves with estranged ally Shiv Sena.
Ahead of government formation, Union Minister and former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the latter’s residence and spent about half an hour with him to discuss the party’s strategy ahead.
After the meeting Gadkari will leave for Nagpur to hold discussions with the RSS top brass on its options ahead. RSS is keen that the saffron forces should united but have left it to the BJP to decide.
The proposed meeting of newly-elected party MLA’s in Mumbai to elect their leader has also been postponed as Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was appointed its observer, will now travel after Diwali.
“I am not going today. I think I will visit Mumbai after Diwali,” he told. Singh was to be accompanied by BJP general secretary J P Nadda to finalise on the leader of the BJP legislature party in Maharashtra.
Jaitley and Gadkari are reported to have discussed the party’s choices available for government formation in the state. NCP has already offered unconditional support to the BJP, but the saffron party has not decided on whether to accept it or not.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, BJP has won 123 seats, 22 short of a majority. Sena, which has emerged as the second largest party, bagged 63 seats. NCP with 41 has already decided to extend outside support to BJP. BJP may elect its leader and form a government and prove its majority on the floor of the House with a simple majority from the MLAs present with NCP abstaining. This option, party insiders say, will help maintain dignity as it will not have to seek the support of NCP as some of its leaders are facing corruption allegations.
Sources say the party is in no hurry to decide on tying up again with Shiv Sena, which broke the alliance ahead of elections over seat sharing.
Meanwhile, the name of BJP’s Maharashtra chief Devendra Fadnavis emerged as the front runner for the Chief Minister’s post overcoming challenge from other veterans including Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde.
Amit Shah’s meeting on Monday with Gadkari raised speculation that the Union Minister was in the race but it appeared to be ruled out by party insiders.
BJP’s star may have risen on Maharashtra’s political firmament but the party-led government will be formed only after the festival of lights, BJP sources said today even as its leaders were busy finalising the names of those who will be in the new ministry.
“The BJP legislature party leader would be elected only after Diwali. Central observer Rajnath Singh will be in Mumbai after Diwali and the new leader, who will be sworn in as chief minister, will be elected in his presence,” they said.
Even as suspense continued over the composition of the government in Maharashtra, BJP general secretary incharge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy had on Monday said being the single largest party it will stake claim to form government even before cobbling together a majority.
“There is no need to have full majority to approach the Governor to stake claim to form government. It is not necessary that we have 145 out of 288 members in Assembly to stake claim. What is needed is that we ought to be the single largest party which we are,” he said.
BJP has 122 MLAs and pre-poll ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha one.
Sharad Pawar’s NCP with 41 MLAs has already offered “outside support” to BJP in government formation, while there was no clarity on whether the party will reunite with former ally Shiv Sena to form a coalition government.
So far, BJP has not taken any decision on the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.