Days after the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) split and went on tirades against each other, a tactical tie-up between the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) seems to be in the offing. The MNS aims to prevent the BJP from gaining an upper hand in the civic polls by not fielding candidates against the Shiv Sena’s sitting corporators in the contentious Dadar-Mahim belt.
MNS leader Bala Nandgoankar went to Matoshree — the residence of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray — on Sunday, to convey party chief Raj Thackeray’s desire to form a tactical tie-up for the BMC polls. As Uddhav refused to meet Nandgaonkar, the leader spoke to senior Shiv Sena members such as Anil Parab and Anil Desai, as well as Uddhav’s personal assistant Milind Narvekar.
Nandgaonkar told them Raj sought an informal alliance in a bid to avoid a division of Marathi votes. In turn, Raj asked the Shiv Sena not to field candidates in wards where the MNS has sitting corporators.
The Shiv Sena leaders assured Nandgaonkar that they would talk to Uddhav and then get back to him.
A section of the Shiv Sena, led by former chief minister Manohar Joshi, said an alliance was necessary. They contended that winning margins are thin and thus the party should avail of help from every quarter to counter the aggressive BJP. Another faction of Shiv Sena leaders is against an alliance with the MNS, fearing that it will give a boost to the rival party.
“We have already finalised the names of candidates for a majority of seats. The MNS is currently extremely weak and it wields influence in areas where we are strong. If we yield a few seats to them, there will be a rebellion in our strongholds,” said a Shiv Sena leader who did not wish to be identified.
Shiv Sena leaders said Raj was attempting to put pressure on the BJP and keep his allies close at the same time. “Raj wants the BJP to come to his aid. However, unlike the Congress, the BJP does not yield much to Raj,” he said.
By broaching the topic of a tie-up, the MNS is also eyeing the Shiv Sena’s support for the Nashik municipal corporation elections.
BJP may declare its first list by Tuesday
On Sunday, senior BJP leaders — including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis — discussed the names of candidates and chalked out strategies to be adopted to tackle its former ally, the Shiv Sena, and other political parties. Party sources confirmed that they may release a list of candidates by Tuesday. Candidates in wards under its three parliamentary constituencies have been finalised, while candidates for the other seats will be finalised by Monday. “We have decided on 120 candidates comprising three parliamentary constituencies — Mumbai north central, Mumbai north and Mumbai north east. We have called for a meeting on Monday to decide candidates for Mumbai south, Mumbai south central and Mumbai north west,” said a senior party functionary, who did not wish to be identified.