Mumbai: Relationship between the Shiv Sena and the BJP is far from being thaw as the former is willing to join hands either with the Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to keep the saffron unit out of power wherever possible in the zilla parishads across Maharashtra.
Elections for the posts of president for 25 zilla parishads are being held in the state on Tuesday.
With the BJP coming to power in four of the five states that had held Assembly elections recently, the talk of a grand alliance against the BJP was already doing the rounds. However, Shiv Sena taking the lead in this direction is interesting as the party shares power in Maharashtra and at the Centre with the BJP.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party has often criticised state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Devendra Fadnavis on different occasions. As a new front builds up against the BJP in the form of friendly fire, it would be noteworthy to see how the BJP reacts to this.
In the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation poll held last month, the Shiv Sena became the largest party winning 84 corporators out of 227. Although it failed to reach the half way mark of 114 seats, the BJP withdrew from the race of the mayor, deputy mayor and other prominent committees and decided to provide outside support to the Shiv Sena.
Thackeray has issued instructions to the party's district level leaders for keeping BJP aside and to ally with the Congress and NCP wherever possible.
However, Shiv Sena is not proving to be equally magnanimous. It is trying hard to keep the BJP out of power in those zilla parishads where a hung result has come out with the Congress giving the required support to the Shiv Sena. The BJP has a clear majority in Latur, Vardha and Chandrapur districts whereas the NCP is in a majority in Pune and Satara. The Congress is in a numerical advantage in Sindhudurg while the Shiv Sena is in a majority only in Ratnagiri.
In eight zilla parishads had the Shiv Sena and the BJP came together there would not have been the need for a new alliance but it did not happen that way. These zilla parishads are in the districts of Jalna, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Sangli, Kolhapur, Nashik Buldhana, Yawatmal, and Nashik. While in Aurangabad, Congress and the Shiv Sena came together, in Jalna, the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena joined hands to keep the BJP out. In Nanded district, the alliance has been worked out between the Congress and the NCP.
In Aurangabad, the Shiv Sena took support from the Congress to clinch the zilla president post. The Congress got the post of the vice president. In Nashik, Shiv Sena got hold of the president's post while Congress' Nayna Gavit became the vice president of the Nashik zilla parishad.
"We are ready to go with Shiv Sena for keeping the BJP out of power wherever possible in the zilla parishads. We have worked out a power sharing formula with the NCP and Sena in some districts. The president's post will be given to the party with maximum seats in zilla parishad," Congress state president Ashok Chavan told the media.
However, not everyone it seems is happy with the stand taken by the Shiv Sena.
Dissent was seen in the Shiv Sena ranks in the districts of Kolhapur, Nashik, and Usmanabad with the party leaders reluctant with the idea of joining hands with the Congress and NCP.
"If we are giving support to the Congress candidate then the same person will stand against me in the 2019 Assembly elections. So how will I support Congress?" a disgruntled Shiv Sena legislator from Kolhapur asked Firstpost.
In Kolhapur, despite Thackeray's direction three Shiv Sena MLAs — Satyajit Patil, Chandradeep Narke, and Sujit Minchekar — went ahead and supported the BJP candidate. However, things became little warm as the Shiv Sena and the BJP buried the hatchet here with the BJP getting the president's post and the Mumbai-based party catching hold of the Kolhapur zilla parishad vice-president's post.
Nashik is also witnessing a complicated situation as the Shiv Sena and the Congress are falling short of two seats and are planning to seek support from the Communist Party of India (CPM) as the Left party has three corporators. However, the BJP has joined hands with the NCP and they also plan to take support from the CPM.
Updated Date: Mar 21, 2017 15:57 PM