Amid seat-sharing talks for the Mumbai civic polls, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday tried to push the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a corner, turning the tables and beating the BJP with the same “transparency” stick that it was using against its ally.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said it is fully on board with the BJP when it asks for transparency in administration, but this transparency should be visible in the state and Union governments, too, and even in other municipal corporations such as Nagpur, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Anil Parab, senior Shiv Sena leader, said, “Shiv Sena also feels that administration should be transparent. But this should not be limited to a municipal corporation alone. There should be transparency in the Union and state governments too.”
Taking a jibe at the BJP, Parab said the way the Union government unilaterally decided to demonetise and suddenly scrap Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes without consulting other parties was not a hallmark of transparency.
Despite the jibe, the talks will now resume on Wednesday afternoon at state BJP president Raosaheb Danve’s residence. After the Sena attack, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis called Thackeray and it is learnt that both the leaders decided that talks should continue.
“We are seriously holding the dialogue,” said Fadnavis, at a public function in the evening.
Parab, a key leader from Sena’s side in the seat-sharing talks, said, “From what we know, transparency means everything should be open to all. What are the decisions? How are they taken? In the municipal corporation, there are standing committee meetings where corporators of all parties are present, journalists are present and everyone is aware about the decision-making process. If this is the definition of transparency, even in state cabinet meetings the leader of opposition should have a place, journalists should have a place.”
Parab’s remarks came after Sena leaders held meeting at Thackeray’s residence, Matoshree, a day after the first round of seat sharing talks were held on Monday. The talks hit a hurdle on the issue of transparency in civic administration that BJP has laid down as a condition for the alliance. However, the agenda smacked of political one-upmanship since the reference was clearly to corruption in the BMC and scams in road works and desilting. It was decided late on Monday night that Fadnavis and Thackeray would bring greater clarity on this issue after which talks would resume.
It is learnt that both the leaders decided that the talks should resume without any further sparring. It is, however, not clear how this transparency agenda would get defined in the campaign for the polls, if the parties join hands.
“Both parties are positive about an alliance in Mumbai and across the state, so talks are being held,” said Danve. “During the Mumbai talks, we said transparent agenda should be there, they also agreed but said there should be clarity on how to define it. Now, talks will resume from tomorrow and we will discuss seat sharing then.”
While the BJP is keen on getting 115 of the 227 seats in the BMC, the Shiv Sena is willing to concede 90 to 100 seats. The exact division of wards also remains a sticking point.
Also read: Shiv Sena, BJP begin BMC alliance talks