The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keeping all options open to meet any challenges posed by alliance partner Shiv Sena in the coming months, following the Sena decision to contest the 2019 Assembly and Parliament elections separately. The BJP top leadership indicated that the Shiv Sena’s decision would not cast any shadow on the coalition government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The party believes that even if the Sena (63 seats) were to withdraw support, BJP would have the requisite numbers to keep the government in majority.
The BJP with 122 seats out of the 288 seats in the state Assembly has adequate numbers to cross the majority mark of 145 seats if the Sena were to pull the plug, said a BJP insider. Almost 23 MLAs representing smaller groups and independents are believed to be willing to support the BJP government in Maharashtra, thus ensuring the party reaches the 145 mark. The BJP is confident of securing its position with non-Sena, non-Congress-NCP support.
A party insider said that there have been several occasions in the past two years, when the Sena issued a threat to withdraw. The latest threat relates to the Sena decision to contest elections alone in 2019 and the BJP does not want to be caught napping, he added. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “There is no threat to the stability of the government in Maharashtra. I am confident that we would be able to work together and take ahead the people’s agenda without any hurdle.”
The political posturing of the Sena is not a cause for any alarm or worry, according to the chief minister. “In the past, such statements have been made. One is used to it,” he said. “My concern and efforts are to get maximum investments for development of 11.20 crore people of Maharashtra. I am totally focussed on the development roadmap to consolidate the gains of Maharashtra as the business leader,” he asserted.
A political manager in the BJP pointed out: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have taken centre stage at Davos, and consolidated their leadership status.” Another senior BJP functionary said: “Fadnavis’s leadership at Davos would not only bring economic dividends but also positive political results. The Shiv Sena, which finds itself on the backfoot on the economic agenda, is bound to queer the pitch with its political plots.”
Top Sena leaders, however, said there is no question of withdrawing from the government at the Centre or the state