BJP claims 27 Congress MLAs want to jump ship

Party leaders say the Congress MLAs have approached them, saying they are willing to resign and re-contest their seats on a BJP ticket; top brass say Sena option is open, but the latter has to approach them

The BJP looks set to shut out the Shiv Sena from government, even as they elected a CM-designate, Devendra Fadnavis, yesterday. After Fadnavis’s name was announced, party leaders made it clear they wouldn’t talk to Sena on their own. If the latter were to approach them, then, perhaps, there may be some scope for reviving the BJP-Sena alliance.

BJP leaders said the possibility of an alliance with the Sena is still open, provided the Sena approach them. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
BJP leaders said the possibility of an alliance with the Sena is still open, provided the Sena approach them. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

In order to reach the majority number of 144, the party has chalked out an alternate route. According to leaders, nearly 27 MLAs from the Congress have approached the BJP, stating they are willing to resign from their posts and re-contest in their constituencies on a BJP ticket.

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

The BJP, too, wants to cash in on its current popularity in the state and take the gamble. Sudhir Mungantiwar, ex-president of BJP Maharashtra, confirmed the development.

Another senior leader said, “Many in the Congress want to switch over to the BJP. But we don’t want to poach MLAs. Instead, if the legislators are prepared to resign and contest on a BJP ticket, we will readily accept them.”

Senior BJP leaders cited a survey carried out by the party, which concluded that if the non-BJP incumbents were to fight an election again on their ticket, a mixture of the BJP’s popularity and the goodwill the candidate evoked would win them the seat.

The party, along with pre-poll ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, has 122 MLAs, and with the support of independents and smaller parties, the number comes up to 138. Even if six of the rebel leaders win, the BJP-led coalition would reach the figure of 144 half majority in Assembly.

Sena out?
When asked if the Shiv Sena option had totally been thrown out of the window, none of the central leaders wished to comment against the party. O P Mathur, ex election in-charge of the state, said, “Sena is our natural ally and our doors are open for them. If they want, they can join us. We are the larger party, so they should contact us.”

Similarly J P Nadda, the new in-charge for BJP in Maharashtra, claimed that on October 31, when Fadnavis takes oath as the new CM, no Sena leader would be inducted in his cabinet. “Talks with the Sena are still open. But during the oath-taking on Friday, we don’t have any Sena names,” Nadda said.

Yesterday, after Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived at the party’s city headquarters, all the MLAs were taken to the Vidhan Bhavan. Here, senior leader Eknath Khadse, who appeared to be upset at being left out of the CM race, proposed the name of Fadnavis as CM nominee.

Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde, and Pankaja Munde, all of whom were also touted as potential candidates, seconded the proposal, followed by all the others. From here, the Nagpur South West MLA left for the Governor’s home, where he met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and sought permission to form government.

He will take oath on Friday, along with 7-9 ministers, which will likely include Khadse, Mungantiwar, Tawde, Munde and Bandra West MLA Ashish Shelar. Meanwhile, Pritam Munde, daughter of late Gopinath Munde and the newly elected MP from Beed, said she wanted a strong portfolio for her sister Pankaja, “My sister should get a portfolio that will suit her dynamic personality,” said Pritam.

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