Hours after caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to say that he doesn’t have the numbers to stake a claim, BJP leaders said the move will send a positive message to the cadre as well as the voters.
They also hoped that the spectacle of the single-largest party being forced to sit out of power by a pre-election alliance partner will generate sympathy and goodwill.
The decision to sit out was taken by central and state party leaders after a series of meetings in Mumbai.
In their political calculus, Sena will be the net loser as it will be perceived as hankering after power to the extent of joining hands with Opposition parties in what is likely to be a fragile alliance.
First, what explanation will the Sena give to the people after denying the mandate (given to the saffron alliance)?
Second, what explanation will the Sena give to the people for breaking alliance with old Hindutva ally BJP over the CM’s post? — This is the refrain now across the BJP.
“Frankly speaking, we were keen on Mahayuti (grand alliance) forming the government. After all, BJP and Sena had been in alliance for last three decades. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took the initiative to form the government by making calls to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. But it is evident that Sena had different plans in mind,” said senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Similar sentiments were voiced by ministers and other BJP leaders, many of whom pointed out that the Sena will soon realise its mistake.
A senior BJP leader said, “The BJP will be more than pleased to see the Sena forming the government with Congress and NCP. This would put it in an awkward position every time an issue of Hindutva comes up. Moreover, the BJP will emerge as the sole party with a Hindutva agenda.”
BJP members are gung-ho, and even prepared for a mid-term election if the situation were to arise. The party believes any attempt by the Congress, NCP and Sena to corner BJP will work to their advantage, as would the possibility of their falling apart.
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Smaller allies RPI(A), Rashtriya Samaj Party, Shiv Sangram and Ryat Kranti, who had hoped to be part of the new government, and reap a share of positions in it, are not pleased that this may not materialise now.
RPI(A) president and Union Minister of State for Social Justice, Ramdas Athawale, said, “It is very unfortunate. The mandate was for a Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra. We contested the elections as part of a grand alliance (Mahayuti). Sena’s decision is politically unethical.”