How BJP got a reluctant Sena to commit

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar and Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 05, 2014 00:54 IST

After hectic negotiations, running into the early hours of the night on several days in the past week, the BJP and Shiv Sena finally sealed the deal. The BJP agreed to the Shiv Sena’s demand of giving them one-third of the seats in the government — 12 ministerial posts, five cabinet and seven minister of state (MoS) positions.

The deal, which is not restricted to power sharing in the state, might also get the Sena one more cabinet position in the Union ministry and about half of the positions in the state’s 43 corporations.

So what led to a change of heart for Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who wasn’t willing to back away from the deputy CM or home minister’s posts? Who convinced BJP president Amit Shah to accommodate the Sena?
Things starting thawing between the BJP and Shiv Sena after the controversial trust vote.

CM Devendra Fadnavis’ social media pages got inundated with hate messages for seeking the NCP’s tacit support. He admitted at the HT Leadership Summit the criticism he faced in those three days was greater than what he faced in his 22-year political career.

With this and the NCP’s flip-flops, the BJP leadership smartly sought to call a truce with the Sena. It not only got the sainiks board, but ensured the deal was done on the BJP’s terms. BJP leaders — Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and state cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil — both close aides of Shah, were roped in to break the ice. They asked Thackeray for support.

From the Sena, MP Anil Desai, Subhash Desai and Uddhav’s personal assistant Milind Narvekar, were put on the job. Anil Desai, who is well-acquainted with Pradhan convinced him and Patil to pay a courtesy visit to Matoshree last week. After this meeting, things moved fast. All five men kept meeting, talking over the phone and shuttling between Thackeray’s and Fadnavis’ residences. “Subhash Desai is Uddhavji’s adviser who convinced him, Anil Desai is the negotiator who kept speaking to Pradhan and Patil, while Narvekar did the networking with local leaders including the CM. The efforts of these three got things back on track,” a Sena source said.

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