With hopes of bagging the chief minister’s role, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are well aware of how difficult the path to the top post will be if the parties break their 25-year-old partnership, especially while fighting the ruling alliance.
With the party’s survival at stake, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray struck a deal with the BJP on Tuesday to continue the alliance, barely four days before filing of nominations ends.
But this does not mean the bitterness has ended, said sources.
Now, instead of taking its ally head-on, the Sena will make efforts to topple the BJP from within the alliance.
The partner winning more legislators will get the CM’s job, unless the two have already reached an agreement to share the spot during the five-year term. There will be an attempt to reduce numbers from either side for obvious reasons — a combine or single-largest party with 145 seats will form the government.
On Tuesday morning, inflated egos made way for straightforward talks.
This was a huge leap from Sunday, where Uddhav gave the BJP an ultimatum to either agree to his formula, or go alone.
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 party does not rule.
According to Sena sources, on Monday senior leaders including BJP president Amit Shah, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to Uddhav, asking him to rethink his decision.
They conveyed that the leadership in Delhi, including PM Narendra Modi, was not in favour of breaking the alliance.
Moods have been changing in both camps over the past week.
The BJP had suspended talks after Thackeray questioned the hype around the Modi wave. While Uddhav presented himself as the face of the saffron combine, the BJP thought otherwise. With at least five aspirants for the CM post, the BJP did not approve of Thackeray’s rhetoric. After its performance in the LS, the BJP openly challenged the Sena’s might.