Squabble Over Portfolios Holding up BJP - Shiv Sena Alliance in Maharashtra

Mumbai, Nov 11:  The Shiv Sena may have staked claim to the post of leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, but behind the scenes, intense negotiations continue with the BJP over forming an alliance government.

A top Shiv Sena leader told a tv channel, that a tussle over portfolios is the only hurdle preventing the deal from being clinched.
The BJP has apparently agreed to give a total of 12 berths to the Shiv Sena; six with cabinet rank, and six with Minister of State rank. Of the 12, six can be sworn in now, and six later.

The Sena is said to be agreeable to this part of the offer, but its demands for at least one high-ranking cabinet portfolio - either Deputy Chief Ministership, Home or Revenue - has been rejected by the BJP.

The BJP is willing to concede less high-profile portfolios like Energy, Food and Civil Supplies, Irrigation and Health.

Given the fractious relations between the two former saffron allies, negotiations are expected to go right down to the wire. The BJP faces a trust vote on Wednesday; it is 22 short of the halfway mark. The NCP on Monday reiterated its offer of outside support, which is enough for the BJP to sail through without the Sena.

But Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that they will not back the BJP if it accepts the NCP's support in any form.

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