No end to 'Maha' political drama; Raut meets Pawar, Cong looksat Delhi (Eds: Combines related series

No end to 'Maha' political drama; Raut meets Pawar, Cong looksat Delhi (Eds: Combines related series) Mumbai, Oct 31 (PTI) A week after the Assembly pollresults were out in Maharashtra, deadlock over power sharingbetween the BJP and ally Shiv Sena continued on Thursday asdevelopments in the opposition Congress-NCP camp triggeredtalks of possible formation of an alternative government.

The day saw a series of meeting between senior leadersof major non-BJP parties, triggering talks in politicalcircles about possibility of the Sena forming a governmentwith the backing of opposition parties.

The Shiv Sena rubbished reports of a climbdown and onThursday again indicated it had not given up its claim on thepost of chief minister and 50:50 division of portfolios.

Both these demands have been rejected by the BJP whichhas insisted that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis willcontinue in the post for the next five years.

Adopting a harsh tone, the Uddhav Thackeray-led partyon Thursday accused the BJP of enacting 'second act' of the'use and throw' policy while dealing with its ally.

Whatever was decided when the two parties stitched upalliance before the Lok Sabha elections should be implemented,the Sena mouthpiece `Saamana' said in an editorial.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut described as 'rumours' reportsthat his party has softened its stand on the issue of sharingpower with senior partner BJP.

Raut, the executive editor of `Saamana', describedreports in a section of the media alluding to the 'softeningof stand' by the Sena as hearsay.

'The (reports that) Sena has softened (its stand), hascompromised and relinquished equitable distribution of posts,are all rumours,' he tweeted.

'This is the public, which knows everything. Whateverwill was decided (between BJP and Sena), will happen,' headded.

Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde was on Thursdayelected as the Sena's leader in the state legislature. Hiscandidature was proposed by party leader Aaditya Thackeray,whose name was also doing the rounds for the post, at ameeting of newly-elected MLAs.

At the meeting, Sena sources said, party presidentUddhav Thackeray was apparently dismayed by Fadnavis's remarksthat sharing the CM's post did not figure in the talks betweentop Sena and BJP leaders ahead of this year's Lok Sabha polls.

Asked about the delay in government formation afterthe October 21 elections, Aaditya Thackeray said his party hasgiven all authority in the matter to Sena chief and his fatherUddhav Thackeray.

The 29-year-old Thackeray family scion was speaking toreporters after meeting Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari withwhom he raised the issue crop loss due to unseasonal rain invarious parts of the state.

Meanwhile, a day after the Congress-NCP claimed theywill sit in the opposition, different signals emanated fromthe opposition camp.

Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan andPrithviraj Chavan flew to Delhi to meet party chief SoniaGandhi amid talks in political circles about possibility ofthe Sena forming a government with support from oppositionparties.

Earlier in the day, the three Maharashtra Congressleaders met NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence.

Later in the evening, Raut met Pawar, sources in theSena said.

What transpired between Raut and Pawar was notimmediately known, but it sparked speculation about effortsbeing made for possible formation of a non-BJP government.

'The three leaders are in Delhi for a meeting with theparty president (Gandhi),' sources in the Congress said.

They said the meeting is taking place after Pawar toldthe troika in the morning that they should speak to theCongress high command on the current situation and takeapproval on the steps to be taken.

Amid all this, Prithviraj Chavan said in case the ShivSena sends any proposal over government formation, the samewill be conveyed to the party's central leadership.

In the just-held state polls, the BJP won 105 seats, aloss of 17 seats compared to its 2014 tally.

The Sena's tally also came down to 56 seats from 63 in2014. A resurgent NCP won 54 and the Congress bagged 44 seats.

The simple majority mark in the 288-member assembly is145. PTI ND ENM NP KRK VTRSY RSY