Alliance is on, but Sena wants BJP's commitment on future elections
While the pact was sealed between BJP and Shiv Sena yesterday, the latter wants the BJP’s word that all future local and civic elections would be fought in partnership; move comes in view of BMC and other civic elections
Tuesday was another hectic day for the BJP and Shiv Sena, with another round of meetings within their party camps. While the pact between the two parties is sealed, the Sena has delayed the official announcement of the alliance, posing a demand that all future elections local and municipal be fought under one banner.
After Shiv Sena asked BJP to commit that local and civic elections would be fought as an alliance, CM Devendra Fadnavis had to fly to Delhi to consult party boss Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi
It all appeared set and an official announcement of the alliance was expected to be made in the afternoon. But, with an eye on the elections to the BMC in 2017, and to other civic bodies in the state, the Sena struck while the iron was hot.
Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar also joined alliance talks after news channels reported that he visited the CM for the same purpose, though he had gone there with some other work. File pics
Delaying the declaration, the Sena leadership, according to party sources, asked the BJP to categorically commit that all elections to civic and local bodies panchayat, zilla parishad would be fought as an alliance.
Due to this, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is officiating as the party’s state chief, had to cut short his stay in Nagpur and fly to New Delhi to seek approval from party boss Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PWD minister Chandrakant Patil, who is playing an important role in alliance talks, also rushed to Delhi.
Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai, who may join the Union cabinet soon, told media that all powers on aligning with the BJP rested with party chief Uddhav Thackeray and only he would make an official announcement. The statement came after a meeting between Thackeray and his trusted aides, including Subhash Desai and others.
Even if the announcement on the alliance is made, the expansion of the state cabinet has been delayed due to the demise of ex-CM A R Antulay. The state will be observing a mourning period till tomorrow (December 4). Efforts are on to hold the oath-taking ceremony of BJP and Sena members on December 5, said a senior BJP leader.
The leader said Sena would be offered five ministries of cabinet rank and seven berths of the rank of minister of state. The departments to be given to Sena would mostly be non-prominent ones such as PWD, irrigation, environment, state excise, health, and energy. Though the Sena is demanding some influential portfolios, they would be allocated among the ministers of state, keeping BJP ministers as their in-charges.
Initially, the swearing-in was reportedly scheduled for December 6. But, party leaders insisted on December 5 to start working early for the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly, beginning on December 8 in Nagpur.
Sena MP steps in
In a twist of sorts, Sena MP for Mumbai North West, Gajanan Kirtikar, joined a group of select Sena leaders for deliberations on aligning with the BJP. It happened after his visit to CM’s official residence Varsha at Malabar Hill on Monday.
Sources in the know of developments said when Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Anil Desai were at Varsha for a discussion on the cabinet with Fadnavis, Kirtikar too, was at the bungalow. But, he did not participate in it, as neither had he been invited, nor was he expected to be there, said sources.
Kirtikar had gone to meet the CM to demand state funds for an event of bodybuilders and left thereafter. But, his visit did not go unnoticed and news channels ran reports that he was also part of the alliance negotiations. After this, party chief Thackeray is believed to have asked his leaders as to why Kirtikar was not asked to stay back and participate in the discussions.
To avoid any further embarrassment, especially as there have been voices of discontent over the importance being accorded to leaders not elected directly (Subhash and Anil Desai), Thackeray summoned Kirtikar on Tuesday to participate in talks at Matoshree.