On the eve of polling day, the BJP said it did not consider the Shiv Sena a rival and had no interest in usurping its space.
“We have not targeted the Sena though they campaigned against us,” said state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis. “If we target each other, the benefit will go to the Congress-NCP. It is for the Sena to decide who it wants to help,” Fadnavis said.
As the state gets ready for polling, there are still apprehensions of a fractured mandate because of a five-cornered contest. The last time the state saw a single-party rule was in 1990, when Congress won the Assembly elections under then chief minister Sharad Pawar. Significantly, for the first time since 1999, the state is witnessing a multi-cornered contest. There are speculations that former allies — Shiv Sena, BJP and Congress, NCP— could reunite if the election throws up such a possibility.
Fadnavis said he was confident of BJP winning a majority. “If you see the trend of late, people have been voting for single party governments,” he said.
When asked if the BJP still counted the Sena among its friends, Fadnavis said, “They are definitely not our rivals. They are still with us at the Centre.”
He, however, insisted the party got good response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign and would win the majority on its own. When asked whether he would be the chief ministerial candidate if the party comes to power, Fadnavis said the decision would be taken by the Parliamentary board of the party. “The board will take note of the sentiments of the people and the legislators and decide. I am sure the board will select the candidate that the people want to see as chief minister.”
Meanwhile, although Fadnavis does not consider Sena a rival, the latter has all but declared BJP as its rival.
In an editorial in Sena mouthpiece, Saamana, the party came down heavily on the BJP saying it was the former’s duty to expose ‘hypocrite’ friends like its former ally.