With the deadlock between the Shiv Sena and BJP over the seat-sharing formula for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls shows no sign of being solved, it appears Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is the man holding the key. According to sources, he will break the deadlock and bring both parties' karyakartas on board for a Sena-BJP alliance. While pressure tactics are being employed by both sides, it is believed that the chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will sort out the terms and announce their alliance before the end of the week.
Uddhav has repeatedly stated that a final decision will be taken after the discussion with Fadnavis. "I haven’t received any proposal from BJP, but we are positive about the alliance."
"There have been two meetings between senior leaders of both parties, but so far, there has been no outcome. Later, Fadnavis called Uddhav, but this discussion was also unsuccessful. But now, the chief minister is taking a lead role in negotiations and I'm confident he will take the smart decision and announce a tie-up with the Sena soon," said a senior BJP office-bearer.
In the 2012 BMC election, the Sena contested 158 seats and the BJP 69 seats of the 227 in the BMC. In 2012, the was an alliance between the Shiv Sena, BJP and Ramdas Aathwale’s Republican Party of India (RPI). And so, the Sena gave the RPI 20 seats, while the BJP handed over nine from its quota. The results of the election gave 78 seats to the Sena, 31 to the BJP and a solitary seat to the RPI.
Speaking to Firstpost, a senior Sena leader who is part of the dialogue with the BJP, said that in the first overture, the BJP was offered the same number of seats it contested in 2012. "They think that their strength has increased, but we offered them the same 60 seats they contested in 2012. We know that everything won't happen exactly as per our demand. So we are also in an adjustable mode. We are not stuck to any figures," he said.
"We also know that the BJP demand of 114 seats is simply a tactic to put pressure on us. Even they know that 114 is not a feasible number. But the dialogue is ongoing on," said Sena MLC Anil Parab.
However from the BJP's side, those who are participating in the dialogue told Firstpost that in 2014 (Assembly elections) there were clear-cut directions from the Centre that the party would go it alone. But this time, the Central leadership has insisted that the party contest the election in alliance with the Sena.
At a recent party meeting in Thane, Fadnavis said that the difference (in terms of the likelihood of seats they will win) between the BJP and Congress is not very much. "So in order to stop the Congress in the state, an alliance with the Sena is a must. But the alliance must function on the basis of transparency and development work. So to avoid dividing votes, the chief minister is still positive about an alliance with the Sena. Fadnavis and Uddahv have a good equation and neither leader is openly criticising the other. So on the 90th birth anniversary of late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, Fadnavis will talk to Uddhav, said a close aid of the chief minister, adding that within 100 hours, the Sena chief and chief minister will turn all negativity between their parties into positivity.
Meanwhile, the Opposition parties (Congress and NCP) have shown a desire to join hands across the state.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has openly said that if a tie-up is to take place, it will happen all over the state, in order to effectively fight the Sena and BJP. Former chief minister and Congress state president Ashok Chavan also indicated that his party was ready to partner with the NCP to stop the BJP in the state. And if a Congress-NCP alliance works out, it will make life very difficult for a BJP and Sena going it alone.
What's interesting is that the results of the BMC election will be out of 23 February. The BJP top brass' biggest fear is that that results of the BMC election effect the party's prospects in the three phases of the Uttar Pradesh election that will remain.
Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 15:37 PM