Despite the verbal spats and turf war with ally Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to decide about going solo in the 2017 Mumbai civic polls. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, is convinced there is no need to contest the polls alone.
“We will fight the Mumbai civic elections together,” he told HT.
His comment last Saturday, that he holds the remote control of the government, earned him yet another critical editorial in the Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna on Monday, but the one-upmanship between the saffron allies aside, the BJP, at least officially, is making the pitch for an alliance.
Sources, however, told HT the BJP’s leaders are split over whether going solo in the Mumbai polls will win the party dividends. “The stakes are too high. By 2017, we know the sheen of our Assembly victory will reduce. Some think it is better to fight alone and then have a post-poll alliance, but the top brass in the state BJP feels an alliance will ensure us a win, and that is crucial,” said a senior party functionary.
What has dimmed the party’s confidence is the fact that they have not picked up any civic body, on their own strength, in 2015 – just a year after their overwhelming Assembly polls win (They increased their seat tally in some of these cities).
These civic bodies include Navi Mumbai, Vasai-Virar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Aurangabad and Kolhapur. So far, municipal council election results have also showed the BJP has failed to make inroads into core Congress-NCP areas. The party leadership is also concerned that a bitter battle with the Sena for the city civic body may have repercussions on the alliance and the state government. The mandate before the party right now is to increase its footprint and 2017 may be its last opportunity to make a bid for the country’s financial capital.
So far, what is clear is the BJP wants a bigger share if there is an alliance for the civic polls.“It is too early to talk of seat-sharing. But we are open and keen on an alliance with the Sena. We however want them to recognise that our strength in Mumbai has increased after the Assembly polls. We will not contest on the old seat-sharing formula,” said party spokesperson Atul Shah.