Will BMC poll results lead to patch-up between Shiv Sena and BJP?
After weeks of acrimony and verbal putdowns, the saffron allies may have to return to their unhappy alliance once results are declared todaymumbai Updated: Feb 23, 2017 09:01 IST
Will friends-turned-foes announce a post-poll alliance, again, to share power in the country’s richest civic body?
A day after Mumbai went to the polls, political circles and social media were abuzz with jokes about the Shiv Sena and BJP working together again, after all the name-calling during campaigning.
Why? A high turnout points to a sharply polarised poll battle between the Sena and BJP. If neither gets a majority, they are likely to come together for “the good of the city, the Marathi manoos and Hindutva”. If the BJP and the Sena do not emerge with a clear lead to wrest power in the civic body on their own — as exit polls seem to indicate — a post-poll alliance is likely on the lines of Kalyan-Dombivili Municipal Corporation, where the mayor’s post is shared for 2.5 years each. A common minimum programme is also likely to whitewash differences the parties had during campaigning and to save face after all the name-calling. But, that’s a matter of modalities after the results.
As of Wednesday, the two parties indicated a step down from battle positions, with the state BJP president Raosaheb Danve saying his party had not taken the step to break alliance in the first place. “We are confident of emerging the single-largest party in BMC and getting our mayor elected without help. But, if at all such a situation arises, Sena will have to take a call as we did not break the alliance in the first place.” In a sign the foes were back to being friends, Danve and party spokesperson Keshav Upadhyaya called on Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to invite him for Danve’s son’s wedding. “Basically, both the Sena and BJP are Hindutvavadi parties. That’s the truth even today. But, after everything that has happened, Uddhav sahib will have to take a decision on the future course of action. First off, we are convinced we will get a single-handed majority and any question of a tie-up or ideology will not arise,’’ said Sena leader Anil Parab.
Despite the bravado by both parties, neither camp is completely confident about the results on Thursday. And, the reason is that the polarised battle between the saffron allies would have likely brought down space for the other parties. This was a multi-party contest with all main political parties contesting on their own, along with players like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Samajwadi Party and the All India Majlis-e-Itehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which means the scope for independents and the tally of smaller parties are likely to shrink. “If the results give both us and the Sena a similar tally of around 80- 85 seats, or even if one party gets the lead of say 90 seats, neither will be able to wrest BMC on our own strength. We will need 40 to 50 +seats for that. Such an increase means other parties like the MNS and NCP will shrink, as will role of independents who can support either of our bids,’’ admitted a senior BJP leader.
Between 1997 and 2012, the Sena and the BJP have together not mustered more than 132 seats. In the last 20 years, the Opposition (Congress and NCP) occupied 65 to 85 seats, still leaving space for 15 to 22 independents and smaller parties like the Samajwadi Party. This time around, the scenario may change in favour of the saffron allies, but perhaps not enough for either to win on its own.
An unhappy alliance may continue. If not, there could be another unique situation where either the Sena or BJP may rule the city. In such a case, the saffron allies in the state and Centre will become opponents in the civic body.