Shinde, Fadnavis hold talks on Maharashtra govt with Amit Shah, call on PM Modi in Delhi

With Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis holding marathon discussions, both the BJP and the Shiv Sena rebels appear to have finalised the size and members of their new government in Maharashtra. But they seem to be waiting for the July 11’s Supreme Court order on the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction’s plea challenging Shinde’s appointment.

Sources said the details were finalised as Shinde and Fadnavis held discussions with senior BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday night in New Delhi. The over-six-hour-long meeting went up to 2 am, they added.

However, addressing the media on Saturday, Shinde said leaders of both parties would sit together in Mumbai after the Supreme Court delivered its order. He rejected Thackeray’s demand for a midterm election, saying his government would complete the term. He also said he had faith in the judiciary.

Terming his move to rebel against Thackeray as a “revolution”, Shinde said, “The existence of our MLAs came under threat under the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government. Back then we could not speak. That is why we took the step. It is only the natural alliance of the BJP and the Shiv Sena that can take Maharashtra ahead.”

The chief minister insisted that his group was the real Shiv Sena. “Bal Thackeray, the founder of the Shiv Sena, had fought for Hindutva. But Uddhav Thackeray had failed to follow it. We are following it. Uddhav had derailed his (Bal Thackeray’s) agenda and we are putting it back on track,” he said.

The two leaders called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday.

They also met President Ram Nath Kovind, BJP president J P Nadda and legal experts including Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta earlier today.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis denied he was upset with the BJP leadership’s decision to make him the deputy chief minister despite his announcement that he would not join the government. “My party made me the chief minister earlier. Now as per the need of the party, we have abided by the party’s decision. Eknath Shinde is our leader and CM. We will work under him. The injustice was undone and our natural alliance was revived,” Fadnavis said, adding that neither he nor the party cadre in the state had any reservations about being part of the government.

Fadnavis said the mandate in 2019 was for a BJP-Shiv Sena alliance but Thackeray did not accept it.

After a political drama of more than a week, the Shinde-led government won the floor test 164 to 99 earlier this week. But the Thackeray-led Sena faction has approached the apex court challenging his appointment as chief minister. The court has agreed to hear the matter on July 11.

The Thackeray-led faction has also challenged the validity of the Assembly proceedings held on July 3 and July 4 in which a new speaker of the House was elected as well as the subsequent proceedings of the floor test in which the Shinde-led coalition proved its majority.

The plea also sought a direction to call for the records of all disqualification petitions filed against Shinde and other rebel MLAs pending before the speaker or deputy speaker.

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