Mumbai: Alliance with BJP will cost Shiv Sena 100 seats

BJP to keep the alliance on its terms; plans to fly solo otherwise

Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis
Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis

The BJP, which has been a minor partner to the Sena in the BMC, is not willing to play second fiddle any longer because of its performance in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. The BJP now wants more seats in Mumbai, as it has more number of MLAs than the Sena in the city and it clearly does not want to settle for a number that will belittle its position. The party's response comes shortly after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's Dussehra speech.

Sources privy to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' strategising for the civic polls told mid-day that the BJP's assessment was based on the CM's independent assessment through his own mechanism. The polls are scheduled early February next year.

BJP and Shiv Sena are currently the ruling allies in the BMC. File pic
BJP and Shiv Sena are currently the ruling allies in the BMC. File pic

A senior BJP leader, who is part of decision-making, said that his party did not worry much about Sena's challenge that the BJP should snap the alliance openly, instead of backstabbing the Sena. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had dared his party's ally to this effect in his Dussehra rally speech earlier this week. "Thackeray's statement made it clear that he wants our alliance to continue. And it is equally true that we too don't want our ties in Mumbai to break. But we would want a respectable deal in seats this time," the leader said.

More MLAs, more seats
Installing its mayor in Mumbai is a paramount task for BJP and CM Fadnavis because the country's richest civic body has been Sena's forte for over two decades. The BJP, which has been a minor partner to the Sena in the BMC, is not willing to play second fiddle any longer because of its performance in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. BJP wants more seats in Mumbai because it has more MLAs than Sena in the city. It does not want to settle for a number that will belittle its position.

100 seats, no less
According to BJP's think-tank, the party would not settle for anything less than 100 seats and it was prepared to give a few more seats than its share to the Sena. "We are no longer a kid brother to the Sena. But, we are willing to part with a few more seats, say 5 or 6, than our share in the 227," said the leader, whose opinion will be crucial in deciding the future of alliance.

mid-day's October 12 report
mid-day's October 12 report

BJP's confidence stems from various factors, including its assessment that ethnic groups, especially north Indians who have been favouring the Congress, would not vote for it instead of the Sena. Another BJP leader said that Sena and BJP would come together even after fighting separately.

"Ideally, there are strong chances that they would win seats beyond their expectations if they part ways. But that would worsen relations between them and create difficulties in running the state government once the BMC polls are over," he said. Currently, the BJP and the Sena are engaged in a fierce battle over alleged corruption in the BMC. While the BJP holds the Sena responsible for all wrongdoings in the BMC, the Sena too has questioned the BJP role as a partner in the civic body.

CM, Uddhav charge up cadre
It is known in political circles that Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray share cordial relations. They do damage control whenever any of their leaders create trouble by making unwarranted statements. However, the partners are supposedly making deliberate efforts to charge up their workers against each other, primarily because the Congress and MNS do not have much ground left to pose a challenge in the civic polls.

Deja vu ahead?

Ahead of 2014 Assembly polls, BJP broke ties with Shiv Sena and emerged as the single largest party to have its first Chief Minister in Maharashtra. Sena, which sat in opposition for a month after Fadnavis and his cabinet was sworn in, joined the BJP government in December 2014. Sena chose to be a part of the Union government even while fighting out with the BJP in the Assembly polls.

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