The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena finally began talks for a possible alliance in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday evening. However, after the first round of talks, the job of resolving certain sticking points has been left to CM Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The talks were held at state BJP president Raosaheb Danve’s residence, with BJP being represented by four leaders and Sena by three leaders. Although the talks were not conclusive, the parties agreed to take a decision on the alliance by January 21.
While a section within the BJP said the talks got stuck on the issue of “transparency” that Fadnavis had stressed as a necessary condition for a tie-up, Sena refuted that was a discussion point.
“It was a preliminary discussion and we did not talk about seats. We have decided that by January 21, we will wrap up these talks. On Tuesday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will discuss certain issues and after that we will take these talks forward,” said Ashish Shelar, BJP’s city unit chief, who was present at the meeting.
A senior BJP leader told HT the sticking point was transparency, as the BJP was keen that Sena comes on board on the issue. “We are not saying that Sena should take blame for all the wrongdoing in the BMC, but they should come on board saying they are keen on clean and transparent governance,” he said.
Sena MP Anil Desai, who was a part of the discussion, said that “transparency” was a non-issue.
Other than Danve and Shelar, BJP’s team included state education minister Vinod Tawde and housing minister Prakash Mehta, while the Sena team comprised of party Desai, MLC Anil Parab and former MLC Ravindra Mirlekar. The surprise induction was of old-timer Mirlekar, supposedly good with political arithmetic, instead of industries minister Subhash Desai, who has represented the party earlier in such negotiations.
The other hurdle in the talks could have been the seat-sharing formula. While the BJP is keen on the 2014 Assembly poll results as the main criteria for discussion, Sena believes that the starting point should be the 2012 Mumbai civic poll mandate.
For now, the BJP is likely to demand 110 seats from its ally on the basis of its performance in the 2014 Assembly polls, while the Sena is willing to concede around 90 seats. Both the parties may finally come down from these positions as the negotiations progress. In the 2012 Mumbai civic polls, BJP had contested 63 and Sena 135 seats. Out of this, BJP won 31 seats, while Sena won 75 seats. In the 2014 polls, the parties contested separately, with BJP winning maximum legislators at 15 and Sena closely coming second with 14 legislators.