Mumbai civic polls: Fate of Devendra Fadnavis govt hangs in balance as Shiv Sena hardens stand

Mumbai: Tension between Shiv Sena and BJP are on a high following the former's decision to not to enter into an alliance with its decades' old partner ahead of the Mumbai civic polls scheduled in February. The situation has become so delicate that the Mumbai-based party might even go for a rethink on its participation in the Devendra Fadnavis government if the national party continues to humiliate it with alleged corruption charges.

(L) Shive Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

(L) Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Even as Shiv Sena legislators and parliamentarians have sought immediate snapping of ties with the BJP, party chief Uddhav Thackeray has preferred to wait until the results of the elections in the 10 municipal corporations and 25 zilla parishads on 23 February are out.

According to sources close to Shiv Sena headquarters Matoshree in Mumbai's Bandra area, the party will take a clear stand on its continuation in the governments both at the centre and in the state after the civic polls results are declared. Things have come to such a pass that Shiv Sena Minister Ramdas Kadam said that they carry resignation letters in their pockets and would resign the moment Thackeray asks them to do so.

A day after Shiv Sena decided to go solo in the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, party MP Arvind Sawant along with his party colleagues in Lok Sabha on Friday skipped a pre-budget review meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Shiv Sena has 20 MPs in the Lower House of Parliament.

"We will submit our demands from the Union Budget session through a letter. We will meet the chief minister on Friday afternoon and hand over a letter signed by all our MPs. We have questions on demonetisation and we have our own demands from the Union Budget that would be presented on 1 February," Sawant told Firstpost.

With the two traditional alliance partners now embroiled in a bitter war, the stability of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra could be at stake if the Shiv Sena decides to withdraw support. In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, BJP has 122 MLAs whereas Shiv Sena has 63 seats. The BJP needs a minimum of 145 to stay in the majority and in the event Shiv Sena walks out of the alliance it will fall short by a whopping 23 seats in the number game.

"Each time BJP has humiliated us. We would no longer allow ourselves to be humiliated. Sena is in no mood to compromise self-respect," said Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khare.

Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut was even more vitriolic in his attack on the BJP.

"Anyone from the street will get up and ask questions? People should learn to stay in their limits. We do not want to make Maharashtra unstable, that is why we will need to keep alliance in the state for some time. But this time I won't comment how much longer," he said. The Upper House MP even issued a veiled warning to the BJP that the party might quit the alliance in the state government in the coming months.

Four top Shiv Sena ministers Subhash Desai, Ramdas Kadam, Diwakar Raote and Deepak Sawant also met Fadnavis at his official bungalow Varsha on Friday morning to protest against a government circular that bans photos and idols of gods from government offices. The chief minister assured the Shiv Sena ministers that the state government would withdraw the controversial circular.

Meanwhile, the BJP is trying put up a brave face.

President of the party's Maharashtra unit Raosaheb Danve said that the BJP government in the leadership of Fadnavis is stable and it would complete its five-year term.

As the political situation in Maharashtra remains on the tenterhooks, it would be interesting to see in the event Shiv Sena withdraws support from the Fadnavis government then whether the BJP will run a minority government or like before it would prefer to take outside support from the Nationalist Congress Party.

The civic polls indeed have a lot at stake for the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.

Published Date: Jan 27, 2017 16:47 PM | Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 17:15 PM

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