A common element that brought the warring Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party together is their strong aspiration to occupy the CM’s chair at any cost.
Sena leaders on Tuesday travelled in senior BJP leader’s vehicle to the BJP’s Dadar office where both sides agreed to keep the 25-year-old alliance intact, albeit on a condition that the smaller allies be consulted before deciding the final numbers to be shared by them.
The development saw the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party swing in to action to ink a deal between them.
The Sena-BJP combine is well aware that a solo journey in the assembly polls might meet with hurdles created by seasoned ruling outfits, the Congress and NCP.
It is little wonder then that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who rarely showed such aggression while talking with the ally, thought of striking a seat-sharing deal barely five days before the nominations close.
The Sena will now make efforts to topple its ally, the BJP, in a battle within the alliance. The partner winning more legislators will get the top job unless the two have already reached an agreement. Insiders say the acrimony may not end soon. There will be attempt to reduce numbers from either side.
On Tuesday morning, inflated egos from both sides made way for open-hearted talks. Moods changed frequently in both camp over the past week.
The BJP suspended talks after Thackeray questioned the hype around the ‘Modi wave’. He said the Lok Sabha polls were different from state polls and positioned himself as the face of the saffron combine and the most eligible chief minister candidate.
However, with at least five aspirants for the top job in their own ranks, the BJP camp did not approve of Thackeray’s rhetoric.
BJP’s national president Amit Shah’s demand for a respectable deal had no takers in the Sena camp until he called up Thackeray on Monday.
It was clear by Monday that the Narendra Modi-led BJP was not ready to give up on Maharashtra, the only state in western/central India where the BJP does not rule. Sources said the fear that the BJP would eat into its dominance if given a free-hand made the Sena tighten their grip ahead of bypolls.