Message from BJP high command in Delhi to state unit: Mayor has to be ours at all cost
Will there be any truck between Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and CM Devendra Fadnavis
The BJP has taken a two-way approach to laying its hands on the mayor's post. On the one hand, it has indicated through the media a thaw in its frigid relations with the Shiv Sena, and on the other, it is leaving no stone unturned to install its mayor.
Sources said the BJP high command has asked Maharashtra unit to go all out in its efforts, primarily because of the mandate that the city has given to the party's agenda of transparency and development.
"There is a clear communication from our high command that we must not leave our stake to others," said a senior BJP leader. On Friday, the Sena claimed it has the support of three independents. The BJP, too, had made a similar claim.
The BJP's core committee was expected to meet late last night to decide the future course of action. The party will celebrate Saturday as 'Victory Day' across the state, as it has won in eight municipal corporations and got the highest number of seats in zilla parishad and panchayat samiti elections.
How BJP can be stopped
As the election of the mayor was announced to be held on March 9, backdoor activities started in the Sena and the Congress camps, too. Many Congress leaders said the BJP needed to be stopped in its tracks not only in Mumbai, but also in the rest of Maharashtra. They said they were trying to gang up with the Sena, and, if possible, with the NCP, to make the Sena's mayor in Mumbai. The Sena is expected to return the favour in rest of Maharashtra where the Congress and the NCP would need support.
However, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant dismissed the Sena-Congress axis as speculation. "The Sena and the BJP are still in the picture and let them decide first," he said, but when asked whether the Congress would side with the Sena, he said the decision, if it was to be taken, was entirely the prerogative of the Congress high command. He denied that the high command had authorised state leaders to take any such decision. He said the Congress leaders met last afternoon to introspect on the party's performance in the election.
Share the mayor's post
The BJP's ally, Republican Party of India (RPI), has suggested that the Sena and BJP should bury hatchet and share the mayor's post over the next five years. "The Sena may have its mayor for two and half years and the BJP for the next similar period," said RPI chief and union minister of state Ramdas Athawale.
The Sena has asked all its Mumbai corporators to gather at the Sena Bhavan today, where Uddhav Thackeray will address them and brief them about the next move. In fact, the party's mouthpiece Saamna made it clear yesterday that the Sena was in no mood to concede anything more to the BJP.
The Sena effectively put a cap on it all with a vitriolic editorial against its once ally in this morning's edition of its mouthpiece, Saamana. After BJP extended an olive branch to its frenemy last evening, Uddhav declared that the fight had not ended. The editorial titled 'Ladai Suruch Rahil' (the fight will continue), the Sena mocked the BJP by rubbing in the fact that despite backing from Delhi and after having pooled in all its resources, the national party was unable to defeat the Sena. It also reminded the BJP that the Sena had been running Mumbai for the past 50 years, and for 25, the BMC.