Finally, the deal is sealed and, the Shiv Sena which a month ago opted to sit in Opposition is ready to be part of BJP Government in Maharashtra.
An announcement in this regard was made by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday. Speaking to media, Fadnavis said Sena will join his government on Friday "in keeping with the mandate" and will get 12 ministerial berths.
Though, it took long time to strike the deal, but it has always been on cards as neither Shiv Sena nor the BJP could afford to ignore each other. The BJP might have emerged out as largest party in Maharashtra Assembly polls, but still it need Sena's support to run the Government.
What is in the deal?
After several on-off talks, the Shiv Sena has finally agreed to join the Government. This has come as a major relief for the BJP which was running a minority Government with outside support of NCP. Now, with Sena on the board, the total strength of BJP Government is 199 (BJP's 122, Sena's 63 and others, 14). This means the coalition Government enjoys full majority in 288-member Assembly.
According to media reports, Shiv Sena has been given 12 ministerial berths in the State Government. The Sena has been given five cabinet rank and seven ministers of state.
The BJP has not conceded to its demand of Deputy CM and Home Minister's post which the Sena had been seeking desperately, but the party has been given other important portfolios like industry, public health, environment, transport/excise and state road development corporation (MSRDC).
Addressing the press conference, Fadnavis said for now, 10 Sena ministers will take oath on Friday along with 8 to 10 BJP ministers.
What led to change in Shiv Sena's mind?
Sena might have sat in opposition quoting ‘self respect' plank but it very well knew that the sitting in the opposition for another five-long years would not be that much easy for it. Also, there was the possibility of its MLAs drifting away to BJP camp on the pretext of getting ministerial post.
In addition to above factor, Sena also feared losing Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in the upcoming civic body polls. It is well known fact that Sena which has major hold in municipal corporations of Mumbai and Thane does not have much presence in other civic bodies. So, without BJP's support Sena could not hold back its fort.
Why BJP cannot afford to ignore Shiv Sena?
On the other hand, the BJP which is single largest party in the State with 121 seats still needs Sena's support to reach half way mark in the Assembly. Presently, the BJP is running a minority Government with outside support of NCP but still it cannot go a long way without Shiv Sena.
Also, the BJP is not in the favour of splitting MLAs from other parties as this could dent party's image in public.
Saffron allies formed Government in 1995
The saffron allies which joined hands in 1989 for the first time formed Government in 1995 in the State. The Shiv Sena which got 73 seats had allotted key portfolios to the BJP which won 65 seats along with the deputy CM post. And this time too, the Shiv Sena was in favour of replicating the 1995 model but BJP refused to follow the suite.
Who could be sworn-in as Ministers on Friday?
From Sena's side, names of senior leaders like Eknath Shinde, Kadam, Diwakar Raote and Subhash Desai, legislators Vijay Shivtare, Gulabrao Patil, Ravindra Waikar, Sunil Prabhu and Vaibhav Naik could take oath on Friday.