Updated: June 22, 2022 7:50:31 am
As Shiv Sena is firefighting an in-house revolt, its former ally BJP is geared up to explore all options to return to power in Maharashtra. While BJP reckons that a verticle split in the Sena could work to its advantage, its leaders, who are closely watching the crisis unfold have, however, decided to tread the path to power with utmost care as they are wary of a repeat of the party’s failed attempt to form the government in 2019.
“We have in place a plan A and a plan B,” said a BJP leader. “As per our first plan, if Sena were to split vertically, BJP will stand a good chance to align with the rebel group and form the government. The catch here is that Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde will have to retain two-third majority to his side. Alternatively, we plan to use the divide in Sena to benefit electorally in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.”
Party leaders also said that since the Monsoon Session of the state legislature will begin on July 18, the BJP will then move a no-confidence motion against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. “The floor test will expose the numbers enjoyed by the ruling MVA,” said a leader.
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Shinde is likely to retain at least 37 of the 55 Sena MLAs, said sources. “If Shinde succeeds, it will open the doors for merger with the BJP, albeit subject to his decision,” the source said.
The BJP, with 106 MLAs, is the single largest party and has the support of 27 additional MLAs, including from smaller parties and Independents. Thus, BJP with 133 votes and the 37 rebel Sena MLAs will increase its numbers to 170, sources added. The required half-way mark is 145.
During the recent Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council polls, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, had said, “Our strategy is to exploit the unrest within the MVA. The BJP is going to provide angry MLAs across Congress, NCP, Sena smaller parties and Independents a credible alternative.”
A BJP MLA said, “The revolt within the Sena has put before us two organisations – Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena versus Eknath Shinde’s Sena… Now, since Uddhav Thackeray has already betrayed BJP after the 2019 Assembly polls, we have more options in Shinde’s Sena.” On November 23, 2019, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had sworn in Fadnavis as the chief minister and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. The government, however, lasted only for around 80 hours. On November 28, 2019, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said, “In 2019, Sena and BJP had fought elections as allies. But Uddhav Thackeray betrayed BJP to join hands with Congress and NCP. The decision was not acceptable to a majority of its members. But Thackeray kept reassuring them that the three-party coalition was temporary, aimed to teach BJP a lesson, and later, he will join hands with the BJP.” “Now, majority of Sena members reckon that they require BJP’s support to kept their constituencies intact. They cannot have any alliance with Congress and NCP in the next elections.”
“The BJP and the Sena were natural allies. How can Sena members accept an alliance with opponents like Congress and NCP just for the CM’s post,” said a BJP leader.
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