Pune civic polls to see no alliances as BJP-Shiv Sena snap ties

It seems that all the political parties in Pune are set to face the election solo in the upcoming civic polls. The talks for a Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance have already failed. While the Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian National Congress seem hopeful for an alliance, they are also heading for the last round of talks.

 Pune civic polls to see no alliances as BJP-Shiv Sena snap ties

Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis

The Shiv Sena's Pune unit is in a celebratory mood ever since Uddhav Thackrey announced on Thursday that his party will not be forming an alliance with the BJP in the upcoming zilla parishad and municipal corporation elections, a request they had made to the party supremo in a meeting held two days ago.

Talks for the Sena-BJP alliance had begun on a positive note three weeks ago. But after two rounds of talks, they seemed to have reached to a conclusion that this alliance wouldn’t help. A seat sharing formula was not even discussed between the leaders. "We are ready with our lists of candidates and are just waiting for the formal announcement of the breakup," the leaders in both the parties would say every time the question of a pre-poll alliance was brought up. But now with the alliance talks over, the city unit is preparing its final list of candidates

"If the need is, we will think of a post-poll alliance with other parties, but an alliance with the BJP is out of the question now,” said Sena city chief Vinayak Nimhan. "The alliance came with a cost during last civic polls. This time we are ready to prove our true strength," he added.

Puneites had voted for "shat pratishad BJP" (100 percent BJP) in the parliamentary and Assembly polls. BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a win in the civic polls as well. They had begun the talks for alliance on this note. But their failure to reach a conclusion on seat-sharing in Mumbai has resulted in a breakup of the alliance in Pune as well. Now, city core committee meetings are being held to finalise the list of candidates.

The BJP had come to power in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) by forming an alliance with NCP and Shiv Sena, often termed as a unique "Pune pattern". This continued for two and half years, but with the NCP-Congress alliance forming government at the state level after the 2009 Assembly election, the BJP never emerged as a single largest party in PMC. Now, with a BJP government at the Centre and at the state level, the party is hopeful of a win in the civic polls as well.

But it is not going to be a cakewalk for BJP. Pune is known as NCP bastion with NCP emerging as the single largest party consecutively in the last two civic polls. It was only because of a tiff between NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi that an alliance with the BJP and Shiv Sena was formed in 2007.

“The leader we had problems with isn’t in the picture anymore,” Pawar said hinting at Kalmadi. "So, now we are positive about an alliance with Congress and are sure that the talks would conclude on a positive note," he added.

But that doesn’t seem to be as easy as suggested as four rounds of talks between Congress and NCP have failed. Congress had sent a proposal to NCP offering 91 seats and demanding 71 seats for itself. However, NCP being the single largest party had refused the proposal and had offered only 46 seats to Congress. After four rounds of talks between the leaders in the city and one amongst the senior leaders from the state, they are still not able to find a way out.

"The problem is with 14 panels that both the parties want to contest from," said a senior Congress leader who was part of the discussion. "No one is ready to back out. Another round of talks will be held today and if this fails we will go solo," he added.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) seems to have lost its sheen in the city too. Many of the MNS corporators have opted for other parties this time. Retaining the present seats itself is a big challenge for the party. "We have a strong cadre, and are also ready with a list of strong candidates," MNS supremo Raj Thackrey had claimed when he was in the town for the inauguration of party's election office. But till date, the party has not released their list of candidates.

The NCP had emerged as the single largest party in the last election with 51 seats followed by MNS with 29 seats. The Congress bagged 28 seats while the BJP won 26 seats. The Shiv Sena had won 15 seats and RPI won two. And, a lone independent candidate had supported the NCP.

As many as 162 corporators will be elected to PMC on 21 February. There will be 39 four-ward panels and two three-ward panels to elect a total of 162 corporators to the civic body.

With just a few days left for polling, aspirants have started to get restless since parties are still waiting to declare the lists.

Who will emerge as the single largest party in the upcoming election? Will there be a need for Post poll alliance? What do Puneites have in their mind? Answers to these questions will only be clear on 23 February.

Updated Date: Jan 28, 2017 14:51:06 IST