The three-decade-old saffron alliance between the Shiv Sena and the BJP is in jeopardy after the latter decided to support Raj Thackeray's MNS in the Nashik mayoral election.
Two-time corporator and lawyer Yatin Wagh of the MNS was elected as the mayor of Nashik, while BJP's Satish Kulkarni was elected as the deputy mayor. Both Wagh and Kulkarni received 54 votes and defeated the CPMs Tanaji Jaybhave, who received three votes after deciding to contest both the posts.
The MNS has 40 seats while the BJP has 14 seats. Two independents supported the MNS-BJP candidates. The NCP (20), Congress (15) and other independents (6) remained neutral while the Shiv Sena (19) staged a walk-out from the House.
By tying up with the MNS, the BJP has managed to share power in four of the 15 municipal corporations in the state. However, its relationship with the Shiv Sena, with whom it shares power in three corporations, suffered a major setback by allying with Raj Thackeray's MNS in Nashik.
“They have betrayed our trust. Till last evening, they kept us on tenterhooks and did not divulge their plans of allying with the MNS,” said Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena's coordinator for Nashik.
For the past few years, the BJP has been trying hard to put up a unified front with the help of Shiv Sena and the MNS to take on the Congress-NCP in the upcoming Assembly elections. On Thursday, the party defended its move saying the MNS had the people's mandate.
“We decided to respect the people's verdict and sided with the MNS,” state BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar said.
Over last two days, Mungantiwar had been running between Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray in an attempt to stitch together an MNS-BJP-Sena alliance. However, Uddhav has refused to backing his estranged cousin publicly.
There were however indications that the Sena had accepted MNS' ascension in NMC as fait accompli; the denouement of the BJP was public posturing on the part of the Sena leaders. Uneasiness between BJP and Sena was visible during the Pune mayoral election with Sena leaders asking the BJP why it did not seek support from the MNS to get the Sena-BJP mayoral candidate elected.
NCP's Vaishali Bankar and Congress's Deepak Mankar were elected to the post of mayor and deputy mayor respectively in Pune.