Battle for BMC: Will BJP-Shiv Sena be forced to join hands?

Feb 24, 2017, 08:02 IST | Dharmendra Jore

After a bruising break-up that has left the Shiv Sena and the BJP with near identical numbers, the latter extends the olive branch, assuring the Sena there will be no grudges if allies put the past behind

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

The warring frenemies are at the point of no return. With neither reaching the magic number of 114 seats in the BMC election, the Shiv Sena and the BJP will have to scheme against each other, fight in the house over the numbers required to grab the mayor's post, or simply bury the hatchet and join hands to work together in the richest municipal corporation of the country.

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Ashish Shelar and Devendra Fadnavis
Ashish Shelar and Devendra Fadnavis

The Shiv Sena, with 84 seats, and the BJP (82) stand separated by just two seats in the house. Other major parties in the fray, the Congress and the MNS have been reduced to a pulp in the battle that was primarily fought between the ruling partners in the state and the Centre.

Also Read: Shiv Sena pips BJP by 2 seats to win Mumbai

Shiv Sena workers celebrate outside Sena Bhavan at Dadar. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar and Rane Ashish
Shiv Sena workers celebrate outside Sena Bhavan at Dadar. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar and Rane Ashish

So, what will be the city's political scene in the days to come? The Sena and the BJP are expected to try and get a majority for themselves on their own. That, if made possible, will give either of them a shackle-less run in the BMC. But, if that doesn't happen, the two will have no option but to sit together in the house.

BJP’s Sameer Desai (ward 58-Goregaon) breaks into raptures at his win.
BJP’s Sameer Desai (ward 58-Goregaon) breaks into raptures at his win.

The first possibility may seem difficult but not impossible because the NCP (9), the MNS (7) and others (11) may take a stand to support either the Sena or the BJP.

The Congress' (31) role will be crucial as the BJP and the Sena are said to be in touch with its corporators.

BJP claims victory
Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar claimed at victory at a press conference, saying the BJP had the support of the four Independents, taking his party's tally to 86. He said his party would have its mayor installed.

However, there was a voice of rapprochement from some quarters in the BJP. To break the ice, a senior BJP leader and PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil said his party would put the acrimonious past behind. But, he said the agreement would be conditional, adding that the BJP would join hands with the Sena only if the Uddhav-led party promised transparency in its functioning in the BMC.

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The Sena had parted ways with the BJP when the latter insisted on transparency. The Sena ridiculed the BJP's agenda throughout its poll campaign. On the other hand, the BJP claimed its agenda was lapped up by voters who were fed up with massive corruption in the BMC.

"I don't think there is any other option other than the BJP and the Sena joining hands in Mumbai. But, we will ensure that the Sena agrees to follow our agenda of transparency," said Patil.

Asked if the BJP would go with the Sena, which has been very critical of his party high command, Patil said, "You don't now how large-hearted our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and our party president, Amit Shah, are. They don't bear any grudge against anyone."

Immediately after Patil's statement to the media, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis — whom the party is celebrating as the architect of its stupendous performance not only in Mumbai but the rest of Maharashtra's eight other civic corporations and 26 zilla parishads — left the decision to the BJP's core committee and Mumbai leaders.

"Our core committee will decide what needs to be done in the BMC," he said, insisting that the citizens of Mumbai had voted for transparency and development, the agenda he would take to its logical end. Sources in the BJP said the core committee was expected to meet late last night at the chief minister's official residence, Varsha.

Uddhav eyes assembly polls
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he would not only install his mayor in Mumbai, but also have his CM in the next assembly polls.
"I fought elections only for winning and the Sena has performed extremely well. The credit goes to sainiks. I will think only when the mayor's election is announced. I haven't yet thought about any post-poll alliance," he said.

Wooing Cong corporators
Sources said the BJP was trying to convince some Congress corporators to form a breakaway group to support its mayoral candidate. A breakaway group, if sizable to avoid action against disqualification under the anti-defection law, can pledge its support by handing over a letter to the mayor's election authority. Sources said the Sena was making a similar attempt, not only with the Congress but also the NCP.

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