If the BJP refuses to form a minority government or fails to prove its majority, the Shiv Sena, the second-largest party, may stake claim to form the government.
As the impasse in government formation entered the 18th day and a prospect of President's rule loomed, the Congress appeared not wanting to take a hasty decision to align with its ideological rival, and chose to hold further talks with its pre-poll ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on the issue of supporting the Sena.
At around 12:30 pm Monday, long after Kharge left for Delhi, three former chief ministers of Maharashtra - Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan - exit the resort and left for Delhi where a Congress Working Committee meeting was scheduled. He also said that communication was going on between the Shiv Sena and NCP.
Addressing the media, Fadnavis said that there was never any talk of sharing the Chief Ministerial post with the Shiv Sena for 2.5 years each.
Congress sources said the party legislators from Maharashtra were meeting in Jaipur with senior leaders to discuss the possibility of supporting a Sena-led government.
Notably, the BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the Assembly polls together on October 21.
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A Raj Bhavan communique said a delegation of Shiv Sena leaders expressed their willingness to form the government. "Sharad Pawar (NCP president) will also attend that meeting", he added.
The Congress, which has shifted its lawmakers to Rajasthan, has said that the party does not want President's Rule in the state. When a reporter pointed out that the Sena was not criticising the opposition NCP in the wake of a possible alliance between the two parties, Raut said, "We have not criticised the BJP either". The NCP has 54 MLAs while the Congress has 44.
Malik added that given the short 24-hour time limit, the Congress-NCP could not comply with all the requirements to enable the Shiv Sena finalise its claim for forming the government. Like, the Sena and BJP differ on the issue of border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belagavi (Belgaum) district, Raut said.
Fadnavis also asserted that the state will soon get a BJP government. That's why I am resigning from the Union council of ministers, " he tweeted.
"In the past five years, Maharashtra has seen a decline and to bring the state to number one position, what alliance is needed... in this regard, we will abide by whatever our high command says".
The opposition Congress also conducted informal discussions with its legislators, now flown to Jaipur, to gauge their mood on supporting the Sena, though the party high command has already expressed its reluctance in the matter. "If the BJP government falls, definitely in the interest of the state we will try to form an alternate government", NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.