The Shiv Sena will be racing against time if it wants to realise its long-held ambitions of leading a government.
Sources said Sena MP Sanjay Raut is likely to meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar and visit Delhi to seek an appointment with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the next 24 hours. The Sena may also approach the governor to seek more time to prove it has the numbers. All the party’s 56 party MLAs will meet at the Madh island resort at 9.30am today.
Political analysts said with the governor calling the Sena, the party was faced with tough options: sever ties with BJP and forge a viable working relationship with Congress and NCP, or retrace steps and seek a compromise with its pre-poll partner. Despite major differences with BJP, the Sena has stopped short of calling off the alliance. The Sena has one Union minister, Arvind Sawant, at the Centre.
“We cannot continue to sit on the fence now. We wanted the BJP to show their inability to form the government…now that too has happened, ’’ said a Sena leader. At least 33 newly elected Congress legislators from Maharashtra, currently camping at a resort in Jaipur, have already indicated that they are keen to back a non-BJP government. Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Madhusudan Mistry were expected to reach Mumbai on Sunday night to initiate negotiations.
As for NCP, its spokesperson Nawab Malik said since Fadnavis has declined to stake claim and the governor has invited Sena’s legislative party leader Eknath Shinde, the latter must make a bid to form the government. For support from NCP, he said, Sena must “terminate its alliance with BJP and its minister in the Union Cabinet must forthwith quit’’.


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