Mumbai, Nov 29: BJP is understood to have offered five Cabinet berths and an equal number of Minister of State posts to Shiv Sena in its Government in Maharashtra as the estranged allies today began talks to chalk out a power- sharing formula after days of acrimony between the allies.
BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan and Chandrakant Patil on Friday met Sena President Uddhav Thackeray at his residence here to thrash out a power-sharing arrangement between the saffron outfits, who parted ways on the eve of October Assembly polls after 25 years of partnership.
Pradhan is a Union Minister, while Patil is a member of the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet in Maharashtra, where BJP Government won a controversial trust vote earlier this month. BJP has offered five Cabinet and as many Minister of State berths to Sena in the round one of talks, highly-placed sources in the ruling party told PTI. "It was decided that we will offer the Shiv Sena five Cabinet berths and five MoS berths.
This is what we can offer as far as Ministries are concerned. But yes, we are willing to negotiate on the number of state-run corporations (chairmanship) that we can offer to them (Sena)," they said.
The sources, however, refused to disclose the portfolios that have been offered to Shiv Sena, which had earlier insisted on Deputy Chief Minister's post, a demand turned down by BJP. Talks between the former allies resumed after a gap of almost a month since the BJP Government came to power, a period during which leaders from both sides traded charges.
NCP had offered unconditional outside support to the minority Government, but BJP has maintained an ambiguous stand on taking backing of the Sharad Pawar-led party, which was attacked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of corruption during campaigning for the Assembly polls.
BJP was reportedly forced to resume talks with its estranged ally after facing flak from various quarters for being seen as taking support of NCP. Several ruling party leaders, since the past fortnight, had been asserting that Shiv Sena is a "natural" ally of BJP and it was eager to have the Bal Thackeray- founded outfit on board the Fadnavis Government. Chief Minister Fadnavis yesterday said his party is keen to join hands with Sena once again.
Uddhav had, however, chosen to keep mum on Fadnavis' comments and said he would talk to BJP when it initiates formal negotiations. A senior BJP leader had said the Cabinet expansion is likely to happen either on November 30 or December 1, a week before the winter session of new Assembly beginning in Nagpur from December 8.