Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari on Saturday evening invited the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- the single-largest party -- to indicate its willingness to form the next government, barely four hours before the tenure of the state Assembly expires at midnight.
"The Governor today asked Devendra Fadnavis, the leader of the elected members of the single-largest party, the BJP, to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra," an official statement said here.
The Assembly election results in Maharashtra were declared on October 24, but even after so many days, not a single party or alliance has come forward to shoulder the government formation exercise.
Taking the reins in his hands, Koshyari has decided to explore the possibility of government formation and has hence asked the BJP -- the single-largest party with 105 elected legislators -- to do the needful.
Reacting to the development, State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said the Governor has initiated the process as per the Constitutional requirements.
"We shall discuss the proposal at the party's state core committee meeting on Sunday. Thereafter, state President Chandrakant Patil shall take whatever further measures are required in this regard," Bhandari told IANS.
Besides the 105 members, the BJP has claimed the support of several Independents and smaller parties, though the exact figures are not clear and it is not known whether these would be sufficient to achieve the simple majority of 145 in the 288-member Assembly.
Experts said that in case the BJP is not able to muster sufficient numbers, the Governor would invite the second largest party -- Shiv Sena -- followed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress to explore the possibility of forming the next government.
Even the NCP has convened a meeting of all its newly-elected legislators on Tuesday in Mumbai, which will be addressed by party President Sharad Pawar, said party spokesperson Nawab Malik.
"We welcome the Governor's move, though it is belated... We also request the Governor to satisfy whether the BJP can prove its majority, and ensure that there is no 'horse-trading' of legislators," Malik said.
He also announced that the NCP will vote against the BJP on the floor test and thereafter plan its further political strategies.
The Sena and Congress have herded their legislators to safe locations in Mumbai and Rajasthan, respectively, as a precautionary measure to prevent possible poaching.