A day after results of the closely-contested Kalyan Dombivli and Kolhapur municipal corporations were declared, the saffron allies toned down their aggressive stance against one another and indicated that a truce was likely in the coming days. With results throwing up a hung verdict in both civic bodies, the Shiv Sena and BJP are keeping all their options open.
While an editorial in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece, adopted a reconciliatory tone, BJP state president Raosaheb Danve told mediapersons that with the civic polls over, there was no bitterness between the two parties.
However, throughout Tuesday, both parties maintained that they were capable of winning a majority in the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) without taking the other one’s help, and continued their efforts to reach out to independents and smaller parties to bolster their tally. The Sena has won 52 seats in the 122-seat civic body, while the BJP has emerged victorious in 42 seats.
Both parties have also got into informal parleys with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which won 9 seats. Eleven independents have been elected as corporators.
The party that manages to get to 61 seats will win power in KDMC as voting did not take place for two seats.
The saffron allies know that seeking MNS would mean lending a helping hand to Raj Thackeray’s party, which often eats into their share of votes, and hence they are considering joining hands. However, the bone of contention between the allies could be the power-sharing formula.
Sources said there was a possibility that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would discuss the KDMC situation in the next few days. The Sena and BJP have also softened their stance against one another, especially after the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) announced their alliance to claim power in the Kolhapur civic body.
The editorial in Saamna on Tuesday indicated towards a patch up. “There was a lot of mudslinging while campaigning. However, whatever happens during elections is temporary and we must put it behind us,” it read.
“There is no bitterness between us. Elections are over. We will try to put our mayor or president [in case of nagar panchayats] where ever possible and we will prefer our natural allies [Sena] while working out the best formula,” said Danve.
The cabinet meeting at the state secretariat also witnessed no acrimony between the Sena and BJP ministers. While Sena minister, Subhash Desai, Deepak Sawant and Ramdas Kadam, raised the issue of price rise of pulses, the discussion got backing of the BJP ministers. The Sena ministers even submitted a letter on the issue to Fadnavis.
At the BJP’s core committee meeting as well as at Thackeray’s meeting with all Sena legislators, the mood was against stretching the quarrel any further.
“Sena is our natural ally and we have to run this government together. We are capable of mustering numbers in Kalyan to have our mayor, but we don’t want this to turn ugly. We think there is a 75% chance of us coming together even in the Kalyan civic body, as long as they accept the ground reality that our strength has increased,” said a BJP core committee member.
In the meeting held by Thackeray at Shiv Sena Bhavan, there was little talk of “walking out”. Some of the Sena MLAs even expressed unhappiness over the way their own ministers worked. “Most of our legislators were unhappy with the government, but Thackeray made it clear that walking out was not the option. Instead, the Sena must ensure they can use the government effectively to reach out to more people,” said a Sena leader. Thackeray may, in fact, even lead a delegation of ministers to meet the CM and ensure that issues of coordination between the allies are ironed out, before the winter session of the Assembly.