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No Swearing-In Without Shiv Sena, Says BJP Amid Back-Channel Talks With Ally


Uddhav Thackeray had spoken about the deal in the presence of Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis.


There will be no oath ceremony in Maharashtra without the Shiv Sena, said a senior leader of the ruling BJP, which today took another step towards its Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's second term amid Sena's unrelenting demand for rotation of the top post between the two allies.

BJP's MLAs met to elect Devendra Fadnavis as their leader – a formality before he is sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time. "There should be no speculation. We had said the government will be formed by the mahayuti (alliance)," Mr Fadnavis said after the election.

While going through the motions, the party has been deep into back-channel negotiations to bring the Sena around by offering key posts including Deputy Chief Ministership. The BJP has, according to sources, also offered more portfolios to its cantankerous ally, both in Maharashtra and at the center. But the offer does not include top portfolios like Home, Finance and Revenue for now.

The Shiv Sena has so far stuck to the point it made right after the Maharashtra election results last week about a "50:50" deal that it said was discussed before the national elections earlier this year.

Uddhav Thackeray spoke about the deal at a press conference at the time, in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis.

However, Mr Fadnavis has denied that such a deal was discussed in his presence.

"There will be no government without the Sena. We will form the government together. There will be no swearing in without the Sena," Girish Mahajan, a senior BJP leader close to Mr Fadnavis, told NDTV.

The BJP may stake claim to power as the single largest party. Sources say the BJP hopes for a pact with the Sena before the oath ceremony.

Among the scenarios in case of a breakdown in BJP-Sena talks are a BJP government with the support of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and a Sena-NCP-Congress arrangement to keep the BJP out – both are seen to be highly unlikely as of now .

If there isn't, then the BJP hopes it can persuade the Sena after being sworn in, before a floor test.

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