Maharashtra Polls: Deprived of crown, Uddhav Thackeray wants to play kingmaker

Shiv Sena leaders feel that both the BJP and the Sena realise that they have no choice but to renew their partnership to form a stable government; while the Sena is already open to the idea, it feels the BJP will come around

With his dreams of being the king undone by the election results, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will have to be content playing the role of kingmaker.

And, while the BJP seems bent on denying Uddhav that role as well, Sena leaders feel that its erstwhile ally has no choice but to come back to the Sena if it wants to form a government in Maharashtra.

Rumours were doing the rounds all day yesterday of Uddhav having called BJP chief Amit Shah and Narendra Modi to congratulate them. Rumours contradicting these also had BJP leaders calling up Uddhav and asking him for support.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray  during his press conference last evening. Pic/PTI
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray  during his press conference last evening. Pic/PTI

If leaders in the Sena are to be believed, both the regional party and the BJP are aware that they have no alternative but to renew their ties, given that the BJP is 23 short of the magic 145 figure and the Sena only has 63 seats.

Leaders say that indications from the BJP camp, including a statement by party veteran L K Advani and party chief Amit Shah, seemed favourable. While Advani said that he would be happy if the Sena and the BJP came together to rule the state, the Sena saw statements made by Shah during his afternoon press conference in a favourable light.

“Shah said that they consider the Sena a friend and it wasn’t the BJP that broke the alliance. The BJP national leadership seems open to the idea of aligning with Sena again,” said a senior Sena leader.

Signs from the Sena camp also seem to be in favour of an alliance with the BJP. The Sena leadership had a meeting at Matoshree, and, sources say, it was decided that they wouldn’t mind supporting the BJP if a favourable deal was made from the other side.

“We are the second biggest party in the state. We also want a stable government in the state, and aligning with BJP shouldn’t be much of an issue,” said the Sena leader. Even Uddhav, in a press conference in the evening, said that he was sitting at home and everyone was welcome to talk to him, which was seen by many as an invitation to the BJP to come with a proposal.

BJP mellowing?
As per sources from the BJP, the party realises it will require support to form a stable government. They said that while the NCP has extended its support, the RSS has vetoed the move. A senior BJP leader said the mood within the party was that it had proved its point to the Sena that it was no longer the smaller party in the state.

“We won more seats and we are sure that the message has been delivered to the Sena strongly that its tantrums will not be accepted. We will form a government, but things have to be reasonable while taking the Sena’s support,” he said. Madhav Bhandari, chief spokesperson of the BJP’s state unit, was non-committal. “We haven’t taken a call on either the Sena or NCP. The parliamentary committee will take a call,” he said.

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