A day after he said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had gained from its split with the Shiv Sena before the assembly elections, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis sought to soften the blow saying this did not mean the saffron alliance would break up.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the BJP’s first party convention since coming to power in Maharashtra, Fadnavis sought to clarify his remarks that had sparked speculation about the future of the alliance.
“We will contest elections with our allies. Although the split helped us, it doesn’t mean the saffron alliance will break,’’ he said.
Fadnavis’ calibrated retraction is being seen as the BJP’s attempt not to rock the boat ahead of the crucial civic corporation elections in the next two years, especially the BMC, which has been in the Sena’s control for more than two decades.
The BJP, however, also wants its ally to know that its bargaining power has now increased.
From the time the BJP has come to power, the Sena, which joined the government in a post-poll alliance, has been its biggest critic. It has been consistently slamming the BJP over various issues — from the land bill, to the Jaitapur nuclear plant project and farmer suicides.
Fadnavis said the BJP had proved its mettle after the Assembly polls and had spread its base in regions where it was considered to be a weak contender. “Even in Mumbai, where it was said that the BJP exists only because of Sena, we did better than our ally,” he said .
Speaking about the pre-poll Assembly negotiations, Fadnavis said the talks were stuck and were finally called off, after the Sena refused to budge from its stance of more seats.
“We were willing to contest only 127 seats because we thought that we couldn’t win without them. We thought the votes would get split and the Congress-NCP would come back to power,’’ he said.
For the next two years, the BJP will now focus on the civic elections in Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivli.
While state party chief Raosaheb Danve had earlier said the decision of contesting polls together would be taken after considering views of local leadership, it is clear that a big fight is on the cards over seat-sharing for the Mumbai civic corporation polls.