MUMBAI: In a throwback to the talks before the 2014 assembly polls, saffron allies BJP and Sena on Tuesday remained undecided about the fate of their alliance for the local Kalyan-Dombivili Municipal Corporation (KDMC) polls. Leaders from both sides said they were yet to decide on an alliance, but both parties have a plan in place in the event they have to contest solo.
Even though both parties went into a huddle to devise election strategies for the civic polls independently, there was no formal decision at the end of the day.
The procedure for filing nominations of candidates to the KDMC elections, slated for November 1, started on October 6.
Sources told HT that both parties were adamant about on contesting more seats in the 120 wards in the civic body. In the assembly polls, there was a split in the alliance over just five or six seats. BJP president Raosaheb Danve reiterated to the media the stance taken by the party a week ago that local leadership would take the final call on whether or not to have an alliance with the Sena.
Sources from the BJP told HT that the strategy was clear — to the keep Sena hanging even as it prepared to go solo for the KDMC polls.
“We held a grand programme at Dombivili without inviting the Sena and even declared a development plan for the two cities. The message is clear that if they want a tie-up it should be on our terms. But, we are not formally saying anything at this stage,’’ said a senior BJP leader.
The party is also unlikely to invite the Sena to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at BKC after the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mill on October 11.
Senior Sena leaders unofficially told HT that they had learnt a lesson in the 2014 assembly polls and would not wait for its ally indefinitely. Both parties have started identifying candidates for all seats even as it continues to hold talks at the local level about a possible seat-sharing formula.
In the last elections, the Sena had won 31 seats, while the BJP had won nine seats even as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena played spoiler by winning 26 seats. The BJP has an uphill task if it contests elections solo in KDMC. If it loses the polls badly here, there could be a cascading effect on the Mumbai civic polls slated for 2017. However, the party is keen on expanding its base in the state by picking up the maximum local bodies it can until the 2019 elections.
For the Sena, KDMC has been its citadel since the corporation was formed in 1983. A loss of this civic body will bring down the party’s morale ahead of the all-important Mumbai civic polls.