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Shiv Sena, BJP to get back together? Athawale presents new formula to end Maharashtra stalemate

Athwale said now that he has gotten a go-ahead from the Shiv Sena, he will meet BJP leaders to discuss the formula.

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Shiv Sena, BJP to get back together? Athawale presents new formula to end Maharashtra stalemate
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale
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In a hint at a new compromise, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday suggested a fresh formula for BJP and Shiv Sena. Athawale, an NDA ally and a Maharashtra Dalit leader, said he had presented the formula to Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut who said his party would think about it. 

Athawale, the head of the Republican Party of India-A, has presented a 3:2 formula under which the chief minister's post will be given to the BJP for three years and the Shiv Sena will occupy the top post for rest of the 5-year term.

"I talked to Sanjay Rautji about a compromise. I suggested formula of three years' chief ministership for the BJP and two years for the Shiv Sena, to which he said that the Shiv Sena could think about it if the BJP agrees," Athawale said outside Parliament as he was in the capital to attend the winter session. 

Athwale said now that he has gotten a go-ahead from the Shiv Sena, he will meet BJP leaders to discuss the formula.

Earlier on Sunday, Athawale had quoted BJP chief Amit Shah to express confidence that the alliance with Shiv Sena will remain intact and both will form the government in Maharashtra. 

"I told Amit Bhai (BJP chief Amit Shah) that if he mediates, we will find a way out of this problem. To this, he replied: 'Don't worry, everything will be fine. The BJP and the Shiv Sena will come together to form the government'," Athawale said.

His remarks came amid the stalemate in Maharashtra where Congress and NCP have been locked in talks with Shiv Sena over government formation after Uddhav Thackeray-led party's alliance with the BJP fell apart. BJP and Shiv Sena fought Maharashtra elections together but fell out over the later's demand of '50-50' formula or a rotational chief minister. 

The much-awaited meeting between Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also held on Monday but failed to yield any result as the suspense over government formation in Maharashtra continues. 

In the recently-concluded assembly elections, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 105 seats while the Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs in the 288-member assembly. NCP and Congress won 54 and 44 seats, respectively.

Senior leaders of the three parties - NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena - had met to finalise a draft Common Minimum Programme (CMP) last week and the meeting between Sonia and Pawar was supposed to take the final call on the draft agreed upon for the proposed coalition government in Maharashtra.

Shiv Sena and BJP contested the recently-held assembly elections together but failed to reach an agreement for government formation. After BJP failed to stake claim to form the government, the Shiv Sena has tried to rope in NCP and Congress for an alliance government. 

Earlier, two statements, one each by Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggered speculations in the political circles on Monday.

Pawar, ahead of his meeting with Mrs Gandhi, said, "BJP-Shiv Sena fought together, we (NCP) and Congress fought together. They have to choose their path and we will do our politics."

Later, Prime Minister Modi while speaking in the Rajya Sabha showered praises on Pawar's party for not rushing to the Well of the House to register their protest on various issues.

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