The former allies look set to cross swords even before the crucial trust vote with both putting up candidates for the Speaker's post.

Congress has also fielded its nominee, making it a three-way contest.

Shiv Sena, which being the second largest party after BJP had on Monday staked claim to the post of Leader of the Opposition, is yet to announce whether it will vote against the government during the floor test.

A meeting of Sena legislators was held at the party headquarters 'Shivalaya'.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had sent out conflicting signals last night after the party staked claim to LoP's post, saying he was open to conciliatory talks with BJP over participation in the government "whenever they come forward".

The 41-member NCP of Sharad Pawar has already declared its support to the minority government. BJP has 121 MLAs in the House with effective strength of 287 and has claimed support of 7 Independent MLAs, three of Bahujan Vikas Aagadhi, besides some others.

Pawar had on Monday said the MLAs will decide during the trust vote whether to vote in support of the government or abstain. In either case, the government will win the vote as 63-member Shiv Sena and Congress with 42 MLAs together cannot pull it down.

BJP has fielded Haribhau Bagde for the Speaker's post, while Sena has nominated Vijay Auti and Congress Varsha Gaikwad.

Gaikwad called on Pawar to seek support of his party and, according to Congress Legislature Party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the Maratha strongman told her that the party will take a call after due deliberation.

Maharashtra Congress President Manikrao Thakre said he had spoken to his NCP counterpart Sunil Tatkare seeking support for Gaikwad.

"NCP has said it will play the role of Opposition.

They can support the government in the trust vote but we expect their support in Speaker's election," he said.

Fadnavis, meanwhile, has appealed to all political parties to ensure that the Speaker is elected unanimously and withdraw their candidates in favour of the BJP nominee.

Patil, however, said he has received no proposal from the government and that the "sense in Congress is that the Speaker should not be elected uncontested".

It will be a smooth sailing for the BJP candidate if NCP chooses to back him. However, if the party reaches an agreement with Congress and Sena, one of whose nominees withdraws from the fray on Wednesday, and the three back a common candidate, BJP will be defeated and running the House smoothly would become a daunting task for its minority government.

According to the Principal Secretary of the state legislature Anant Kalse, nominations can be withdrawn by 10 AM on Wednesday and polling by secret ballot will begin an hour later.

"If one of the candidates gets more votes than what is polled together by the other two, the one with the highest votes gets elected. Otherwise, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and there is another round," Kalse said.

Latest News from State News Desk