Soon after Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal (U) raised a red flag over Bharatiya Janata Party’s move to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate, another long-time ally of the BJP made its presence felt in the NDA. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, too, reminded the BJP that it is not in a position to make choose a Prime Minister without their consent and that the latter should not take him for granted.
Significantly, within a week, Thackeray has given different signals to the BJP. First, he indicated that he was open to supporting Modi. Days later, Sena mouthpiece Saamna, which now carries Thackeray’s name as the editor, asked the BJP whether it wanted to lose a loyal partner like JD (U) by choosing a prime ministerial candidate who might win a few more seats. So, with contradictory opinions being expressed by the Sena leadership, is there a confusion in the Sena over Modi? Seems unlikely.
Going by the talks among the top Sena brass, it was deliberate. Thackeray’s message was clear-- he will not support the BJP blindly and Modi should talk to him if he wants Sena’s support. The Sena also wants the BJP to realise one more thing -- it cannot hobnob with Raj Thackeray.
In a bid to win more seats in Mumbai-Thane-Pune belt in the Lok Sabha elections, a section of BJP leaders are trying to work out a pact with Raj. They want a “friendly fight” with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which means the latter won’t field candidates in the constituencies where the division of anti-Congress votes would affect the saffron combine’s chances of winning. As Uddhav got a whiff of this, he made his unhappiness known by demanding that the BJP should take its allies into confidence before selecting its prime ministerial nominee, say insiders.
The BJP has not reacted yet. The Nitin Gadkari camp in the state BJP has been rooting for a BJP-Sena-MNS alliance for quite some time, but their efforts will not yield any results till the two brothers set their differences aside. When Raj started praising Modi publicly, the Gadkari camp hoped that the warring Thackerays could be brought together for an electoral alliance on the broad issue of supporting Modi. So far, they have not succeeded. And now, Uddhav, too, has made it clear that getting his support may not be that easy.
The BJP can now hope that Sena’s support to the MNS to win the civic standing committee (which holds the key to treasury) in the Nashik civic body could become a turning point…
New entrant to corridors of power
Going by the buzz in the Mantralaya corridors, a president of a ruling party’s district unit in western Maharashtra is becoming popular among the builders’ lobby in Mumbai. He seems to have lot of influence in the Mantralaya’s corridors of power and hence has become a sought-after person among the builders, many of whose proposals are stuck. It is not clear whether his friends in the state cabinet are aware of the same!