A day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with MNS chief Raj Thackeray to bring down the curtains on the controversy surrounding the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, NCP leaders are exploring possibilities of a covert tie-up with the Shiv Sena for the local body elections between December 27 and January 8.
NCP president Sharad Pawar’s observation that “the Sena is better poised vis-a-vis BJP in the local body elections” is being seen as an attempt in that direction.
However, the BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, rejecting NCP chief’s observation, said, “Pawar’s statement that Sena will overtake BJP in local body elections is wishful thinking. Unfortunately it is not going to happen. Moreover, the speculations about BJP and MNS alliance is also baseless.”
Highly placed sources in the Sena said that at the moment, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is considering no such alliance.
Sources in the Sena admitted that in local body elections, the district units often drive the politics. However, insiders said Congress and NCP leaders often run to Sena leaders when they are in trouble and have to make the BJP a common political rival. But the Sena has not taken any decision at this moment.
Top Sena leaders exercised caution, commenting on the political developments and their impact on the state government. A cabinet minister said, “Let us not mix politics with governance. When you have to face elections, every political party has to raise the campaign pitch and draw its own strategy for strengthening its own party.”
He added that both Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray are seasoned and matured to take proper decisions.
The Sena is a partner of the BJP in governments at the centre as well as the state. The question elected members in Sena ask is why would they throw away power for local body elections.
“Any attempt to destabilise the government when the Assembly elections are in 2019 does not make any sense,” a senior MLA said, adding, “We have to work to retain hold of the BMC.”
The general mood in both Sena and BJP was evident. They reckon that the local body elections for 212 municipal councils and panchayats will be a fight between them, with other parties — Congress, NCP and MNS — vying for political space to compete.
A BJP leader said, “In Kalyan-Dombivali civic poll, the Sena and BJP fought bitterly against each other. Thus they left no space for the likes of Congress, NCP or MNS for any contest. At the end both Sena and BJP joined hands.”
In the forthcoming elections, the saffron allies are preparing ground for a similar contest albeit keeping all options open for their individual organisational growth.