The Maharashtra BJP has taken a decision to keep all options open, including mid-term polls, to get rid of the pressure tactics used by alliance partner Shiv Sena, which has now adopted an aggressive posture on the crop loan waiver issue during the ongoing budget session of the legislature.
At the core committee meeting held late Thursday night, several BJP ministers expressed disappointment with the Shiv Sena, which is playing both the ruling party and Opposition. It was felt that there was no reason for the party to buckle under pressure from the Shiv Sena or Opposition Congress and NCP after winning successive elections in the state.
At least three senior BJP ministers confirmed to The Indian Express the developments. A senior cabinet minister said, “In spite of being a leading party, we have been extremely soft on our alliance partner Sena. But if they try to adopt extreme posture, we will also have to explore other options.” Another minister recommended that the BJP keep its options open for all those non-Sena members willing to join the party and the government.
The Shiv Sena’s growing aggression against the BJP has not gone down well with the core committee, the highest decision making body in the party. A senior minister said, “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had led them to Delhi to discuss the crop loan waiver with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely. Yet, after returning to Mumbai, they were in the role of aggressive Opposition.”
Some leaders in the committee also indicated that the BJP’s transparency plank could not be compromised to please the Sena. In the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the BJP has put riders, including appointment of an upa-lokayukta, which is not acceptable to the Sena. The Sena leaders want the BJP to drop the appointment of upa-lokayukta.
The Sena’s hard bargain is perceived in the BJP as a tactic to extract both political mileage in the government and also gain Opposition space.
On Thursday, the Shiv Sena raked up the issue of crop loan waiver again in the assembly to attack the Centre and the state for not providing Rs 30,500 crore to help farmers.
The Sena ministers argued that if the BJP could give loan waiver to Uttar Pradesh, why not Maharashtra.
A senior BJP functionary said, “The BJP has 123 seats. Along with smaller allies, we add up to 138. There are sizeable members from other parties who are willing to join us.” In the state assembly, out of the total 288 seats, the BJP needs 145, which means it would require just seven more members. The leaders hinted that there are many in the Congress and the NCP waiting to switch sides.