After over a month of dilly-dallying and going back and forth, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has finally taken the plunge and is joining the BJP government.
Twelve Sena ministers will be part of the newly formed government.
It is learnt that Thackeray, who was initially reluctant to seal the deal, knowing he would have to play second fiddle to the BJP, succumbed to the pressure of senior Sena leaders who kept warning him of the consequences. Significantly, the same set of leaders also wanted to enjoy the fruits of power.
But this decision has upset the staunch Sena supporters, who feel Thackeray betrayed them. After bravely facing the elections even after breaking away from the 25-year-old alliance, and criticising the BJP and its top leadership, including Modi, for backstabbing the Sena, the sainiks wanted Thackeray to give the BJP a fight.
But political experts felt Thackeray had no option, and he took the decision for his party’s survival.
“Politically, Thackeray was in a fix and succumbed to the demands of a section of Sena leaders who wanted to join the government. He clearly seemed worried that some of his legislators were ready to break away from the party to join the BJP if he went solo. He also feared that Sharad Pawar’s NCP could have dislodged the Sena as the main regional party in Maharashtra,” said political commentator Prakash Bal.
Expert B Venkatesh Kumar felt Thackeray has made a calculated decision. “He will bide his time, perform on the ministries he gets and earn the goodwill of people. He realised the electorate was getting frustrated with his haggling,” Kumar said.
The real test of the renewed friendship will come up when the BJP and Sena face major elections like the Mumbai and Thane corporation elections, where the Sena has more corporators.
On Thursday, CM Devendra Fadnavis said there will be a coordination committee, which will decide the seat-sharing formula.
“At this stage, it seems a little unsure how the Sena is going to reach an agreement with the BJP in case of elections in the BMC and Thane where they are the senior partners and have more numbers. What if the BJP claims, like they did during the Lok Sabha, that they will win more seats. It will be a challenge for Thackeray then,” Bal said.