After two weeks of unfruitful talks and a tussle over seats, the fate of the alliance between the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Mumbai civic polls is likely to be decided in the next 24 hours. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met early Wednesday morning, according to sources.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he will make the penultimate statement on the alliance on January 26, at the party’s gathering of all local office-bearers and Sena footsoldiers in the city. This will be the Sena’s first show of strength ahead of the elections.
Both the parties have readied their list of 227 candidates, in case the alliance falls through, and the sentiment across both the Sena and the BJP is the parties will contest solo. Neither of them has officially pulled the curtains down.
So far, on the basis of its exponential rise in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP has demanded 114 of the 227 seats in Mumbai, up from the 63 it contested in 2012. The Sena is, however, willing to part with just 60, in an attempt to cut the BJP to size, after being reduced to a junior partner in the alliance in the state.
If an alliance has to be stitched, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will have to get the talks restarted with a final seat-sharing proposal. Currently, Fadnavis is holding discussions with Mumbai BJP leaders on the issue.
Without an alliance, the Shiv Sena and BJP are likely to be each others’ biggest competitors this election, with both the Congress and NCP dealing with an internal leadership crisis, and the influence of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on the wane.