The high-stakes Maharashtra assembly polls may have just worsened ties between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), with the former refusing to support the latter in the Nashik Municipal Corporation.
In 2012, the two parties had joined hands in Nashik to help MNS come to power in a civic body for the first time. The BJP had even tried to get the Shiv Sena on board to support the MNS then.
The BJP’s move seems to be a reaction to the MNS refusing to support the party for the mayor elections in Nashik. So, on September 12, when the 122-seat strong Nashik Corporation goes to polls for the Mayor’s post, the BJP with 14 seats will support the Shiv Sena, which has 23 seats with RPI.
The BJP has also made its stance clear to MNS chief Raj Thackeray: It is neither interested nor ruffled by his party’s presence. “At that time, we supported MNS under a different situation. The MNS promised us the standing committee post, which did not happen. Now, with the state elections around the corner and Shiv Sena as our main ally, we have decided to support them and not back the MNS,” said leader of opposition and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse.
The relationship between the two parties has been on a downward spiral since the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. At that time, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari had visited Raj’s residence and asked him to stay away from the polls so that the Marathi vote bank does not get split. Raj, however, did not agree to the arrangement, but said he would support Narendra Modi.
Modi, in turn, openly campaigned against Raj’s candidates in Maharashtra. The MNS fought 10 seats, but did not win even one. The BJP won 23 seats and Sena 18.
For now, sources say the MNS, which has 40 seats, might try to get the Congress-NCP (with 35 seats) on its side. But this, too, cannot be said with certainty, as Raj will not want to be seen cosying up with the UPA for power, ahead of the state elections, the sources said.