After a victorious few weeks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could soon be wading through troubled waters in the near future. The reasons: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s comment that mid-term polls will take place if there was no stable government in the state and a growing bonhomie between the estranged Thackeray cousins.
While on one hand Uddhav and Raj triggered speculation of a possible reconciliation after a very public meeting on the late Bal Thackeray’s second birth anniversary, the NCP chief stepped up pressure after remaining neutral during the government’s trust vote last week, indicating he might be rethinking its support to the Fadnavis government. Pawar even challenged the warring BJP and Sena to come together to prove a majority in the assembly.
The BJP, on its part, kept wooing the Sena. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said his party has not closed the doors on the ex-ally. “Talks with the Sena will happen and I hope they will be positive,” he told media persons on Tuesday, and denied any possibility of mid-term polls.
The BJP has been playing hardball with the Sena on the government-formation issue. A section in the BJP wants the Sena on board for the next five years. The Sena, which refused to support the BJP, which refused to give in to its demand for key ministerial berths and ministries, is unlikely to step down from its earlier demand. The Sena, however, has kept channels open by not withdrawing its support to the BJP at the Centre.
The Thackeray cousins denied any political motive behind their meeting, but Sena mouthpiece Saamana said the two together would bring in good days (achhe din). It said there was a growing demand from both the Sena and MNS workers for a unity between the cousins.
Later in the day, both Uddhav and Raj lambasted the government for taking (tacit) support of NCP. “People are immensely angry with the government and they wonder whether any government exists,” said Uddhav.
“They [BJP] have joined hands with the party who they have fought for years,” he said, adding the Sena will continue to sit in the Opposition benches till the BJP’s stand on the NCP is cleared. Raj said the state has never seen a situation where it was not yet clear who was supporting the government.