A Shiv Sena senior leader asking for ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mumbai head’s resignation, angry protests by corporators of both parties against each other and name-calling in public: the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is seeing scenes seldom witnessed before. With ties getting more acrimonious by the day, is this the beginning of the end for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Mumbai? The answer to this may be yes, if sources within both parties are to be believed.
While a number of BJP leaders and corporators said the party leadership had conveyed that the alliance in Mumbai will be short-lived, Sena leaders said they suspected that the BJP will break the alliance before the crucial 2017 civic polls.
Whether the alliance remains or not for the polls remains to be seen, but this acrimony will have an immediate outcome. The Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) elections, in a sense the litmus test for both parties before the 2017 polls, are going to be held next month.
Sources said the strain in the alliance will be felt the most in the discussions over the alliance and whether they must fight together or not. Both, BJP and Sena leaders said the parties had started making preparations for the polls independent of each other.
Various Mumbai BJP leaders HT spoke to confirmed that they have been told that the alliance was counting its days. “We have been told by our leadership that the alliance has to be ended soon. This (recent show of acrimony) is a run-up to that,” said a senior BJP leader, adding, “We are doing a Sena on the Sena.”
The leader said, “The Sena is in the government at both the state and Centre but doesn’t hesitate to criticise and mock us. We are doing exactly that in the BMC.”
The BJP’s strategy in the coming days is clear: dissociate themselves from the anti-incumbency attached to the alliance’s rule in the BMC by dissociating from the Sena.
For the Sena, the partner BJP’s game-plan is clear. “They want to show that they are not party to the happenings in the BMC and ultimately break the alliance. Hence, they are trying to rake up controversies and show us in a poor light. After 18 years of being alliance partners, how can they dissociate themselves?” said a senior Sena leader.
Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Rahul Shewale, who earlier this week asked BJP city chief Ashish Shelar’s resignation over the latter alleging that the Sena was involved in the irregularities over the desilting of nullahs, attacked the BJP. “The BJP was elected by people to rule the city with the Sena. By attacking us now, they are betraying the people’s mandate and I am sure the people will give the BJP a befitting answer for its antics.”