With 63 seats to its tally, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has conceded defeat to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and has also prepared himself to take the second position in the government.
He will have to bury his dreams of becoming the chief minister of Maharashtra for now, and settle with getting some key ministerial positions if the BJP takes the Sena on board.
Uddhav who was seen targeting the BJP throughout the assembly campaign for backstabbing the Sena, and even criticizing PM Narendra Modi for having a devious agenda of dividing the state has been forced to bite the dust and take a receding step in the Sena-BJP relationship.
According to Sena sources, after the final result got declared, Thackeray took the initiative and made congratulatory calls to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP party president Amit Shah, thus opening up channels of communication with them.
A visibly upset Uddhav said that he would support a party that promises to keep the state united and which will develop the state, hinting at a truce with BJP. “ There is no proposal from anyone till now. When it comes ahead, we will give it a thought,” Uddhav said talking to the media on Sunday evening.
The BJP, on the other hand, won 123 seats emerging as the party with the highest votes, but falling short of 22 seats for forming the government. In the given situation, the BJP can go with the Shiv Sena which is their natural ally, or join hands with independents and take up the NCP offer to get support from outside. This will mean that Sena will have to sit in the opposition benches and face BJP.
But Sena which is not in a bargaining position, is not in the mood to sit in the opposition after the Lok Sabha victory and seeing power at such a striking distance.
When asked about the conditions that the Sena might put forth in forming a government with the BJP, Uddhav said, “ What is the use of taking my conditions to them if they haven’t called upon us yet. And they can go with NCP if they want to despite criticizing them so heavily”.
Meanwhile a Sena leader close to Uddhav indicated that the Sena in a close-door meeting has decided to back the BJP without any major conditions. “ The BJP has almost double our numbers and where is the question of asking for the CM post or anything else. We will accept what they put forth,” the leader told Hindustan Times.
For now, the Sena seems keen to build bridges back with the BJP. But now its wait and watch mode for the Sena which is waiting for the big brother to talk back.