Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seems to be on top of his game as he plays one trick over another to ensure his party's majority in the upcoming municipal council and nagar panchayat election while keeping alive his seat as chief minister despite a love-hate relationship with alliance partner Shiv Sena.
The CM, who recently completed two years in the office, is a happy man. And there are two reasons for that. First, he managed to stop Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's agitation against the release of Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil without any law and order situation in the state. Secondly, the rumours that BJP is siding with the MNS, helped the CM patch up his party's alliance with Shiv Sena for the upcoming 212 seat municipal council and nagar panchayat election starting from 27 November.
It's no secret that the office bearers and karyakartas of local units of BJP are not willing to go with Shiv Sena in any election, but Fadnavis knows his party's limitations. He and state party president convinced central leadership that their alliance with Shiv Sena is essential at this stage. The CM also know that due to the Maratha Morchas across Maharashtra, BJP may face trouble in upcoming election. And if Shiv Sena and BJP fight separately, the ultimate benefit will go to the opposition Congress and NCP. So, to avoid any fingers on his post Fadnavis used his Krishnaniti and convinced Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray to form an alliance in the upcoming election. And the fact that BJP's national Party President Amit Shah has given a free hand to Fadnavis and asked him to make BJP number one party in the state, shows the party's confidence in him.
Keeping up the alliance
Earlier, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray wanted a state-wide alliance and not in bits and pieces. But the BJP's Maharashtra President Raosaheb Danve, and senior leader Chandrakant Patil had rejected Sena’s offer. It was then that CM Fadnavis spoke with Uddhav over phone. And both leaders agreed for a sate-wide alliance in the upcoming 212 municipal council and nagar panchayat election. The alliance was alter announced by Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Danve.
Over the last two years since the Sena-BJP government came to power in the state, Shiv Sena has been openly criticising BJP. Though most of the time Sena's attacks came against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies, Fadnavis has also been a target of its wrath. In its mouth piece Saamana, Shiv Sena has openly criticised the Acche Din promise of Modi. Sena’s senior leaders have also targeted BJP president Amit Shah. Naturally, the relation between Shiv Sena and BJP is not good. But, despite all that Sena is still in Fadnavis government with its 12 ministers.
At the same time BJP MP Kirit Somaiyya and Mumbai Unit Chief Aashish Shelar have aggressively alleged Shiv Sena of corruption in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). So, the local karyakartas and office bearers of BJP don’t want to tie up with Shiv Sena in any election. But both the CM Sena Chief know the reality, and due to the leaders tuning with each other, they have convinced their grass root workers of the importance of alliance with each other.
So, the ruling allies in Maharashtra will fight together in the upcoming 212 municipal council and nagar panchayat election.
Maratha troubles ahead
The ongoing Maratha Morchas are believed to be one of main reasons behind the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, despite the love and hate relationship between the two parties. In the last two and half months, Marathas have organised silent marches in more than 28 districts. The first phase of the agitation was against Congress and the NCP, but later it picked momentum against the BJP-Shiv Sena led government too. The way Fadnavis handled the situation, and the cartoons that appeared in Saamana mocking the Maratha Marches hurt the saffron alliance's popularity in the state even further. The Fadnavis-led government also failed to offer caste reservation to Dhangar and Muslims even though they are promised in party's Manifesto.
Studies shows BJP behind, but Fadnavis is confident
An internal survey report by BJP doesn't show any good signs for the party either. According to report, in the current scenario BJP is likely to be placed fourth in the state. Even Shiv sena is not in a good position. All of this could hugely benefit the congress and NCP, who have already shown better results in the last few elections. The report says that its poor performance may get repeated in upcoming elections as well. That's not all though. The way the Fadnavis government sidelined BJP leaders Eknath Khadse, Pankaja Munde–Palwe and Vinod Tawde may also result to low turnout in elections. So, to avoid polarisation of votes, Fadnavis agreed to continue the party's alliance with Shiv Sena.
Even a CID report on upcoming 212 municipal council and nagar panchayat elections shows that BJP can win only 25 percent seats. And according to experts, Fadnavis may have agreed for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance because of that.
However, while talking to Firstpost, Fadnavis denied that BJP has surrender to the Shiv Sena. "We had already decided our alliance three months back. I am assured that BJP will be number one party in the state, and it will once again bounce back in the state. The report of us winnning only 25 percent council posts is just a dream of the Opposition. The Maratha Morcha is not against our government but we are very much serious on their demand," he told Firtspost.
The four-phased polls will be held for 212 civic bodies, including 192 municipal councils and 20 nagar panchayats, spanning across 25 districts, between November 2016 and January 2017. The BJP, is however, undecided about an alliance with the Shiv Sena on the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election.