BJP discussed alliance with NCP in 2017, claims Ashish Shelar
Another BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the NCP had tacitly helped BJP in winning the trust vote in 2014 after Assembly polls.
Mumbai: Claims by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders that there was a proposal to join hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 2017 by inducting the latter into the ruling alliance has created a flutter in the political corridors in the state. BJP leader Ashish Shelar said that the proposal got derailed as NCP wanted Shiv Sena to be junked from the alliance. Another BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the NCP had tacitly helped BJP in winning the trust vote in 2014 after Assembly polls.
Shelar, former head of the Mumbai unit of BJP, claimed that the talks were on between BJP and NCP to induct the latter into Devendra Fadnavis-led state government. Shelar said that the NCP was, however, firm on dumping Sena which the BJP refused as it did not want to deviate from the ‘dharma’ of the alliance. Shelar also said that the Sena joined hands with the ‘untouchable’ NCP after the 2019 assembly polls for the sake of power.
Mungantiwar echoed Shelar and said that the decision of not joining hands with the NCP by dumping Sena was a blunder and they regret it now. “The NCP had invisibly supported us after the 2014 assembly polls. They abstained from the confidence vote after we formed the government with Shiv Sena helping us in winning it in the very first session. In 2017, we discussed the possibility of the BJP and NCP forming the government by dumping Sena which was a junior partner in the government. Most of the BJP leaders from the state were against the idea of dumping Sena so we scrapped it,” he said.
Shiv Sena was in opposition for more than a month over the differences with the BJP on the power-sharing deal after the 2019 Assembly polls. The BJP had formed the government with the help of its 122 MLAs, way short of the requisite number of 145 members to prove a majority to run the government. The NCP had on the day of the counting of Assembly polls in October 2019 announced to extend support to BJP in the ‘larger interest of the state’.
Shelar on Thursday said that Shiv Sena leadership came on its knees to join the Fadnavis government.
According to the insiders in BJP, the talks between BJP and NCP took place at high-level leadership from both sides, ahead of the civic body polls in major cities, including Mumbai. The relationship between the two ruling parties -- BJP and Sena -- had strained to a great extent during the polls. The BJP wanted to join hands with NCP to keep Sena under check. The BJP was not very sure about the prospect of the alliance with the NCP and if the latter could continue to be partners after the 2019 Assembly polls.
NCP has, however, rubbished Shelar’s claims. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar questioned why BJP was making such claims now. “Why have they waited for so many days? They should have spoken about it back in 2017. I am unable to understand why Shelar is talking about it now. …I urge people to focus on the difficulties we are facing today. The people have the least interest in discussing what has happened in 2017,” he said.
While taunting Shelar, Pawar further added, “Shelar saheb is a very big leader and he may have directly spoken to Pawar saheb or some other (NCP) leader about it because I know nothing in this regard.”
Party spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said this was another attempt to destabilize the MVA government. “Like numerous attempts in last two-and-half-a year, this is yet another attempt by BJP to destabilize the three-party state government in a bid to create a rift between allies.”
In October 2017, there were speculations that BJP had offered Pawar to join NDA and had also offered Supriya Sule, Pawar’s daughter, a cabinet berth, which was rejected by Sule herself. It was started after Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP, in his weekly column in the party’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, had quoted Pawar as telling him about meeting Modi and discussing the offer.
Raut claimed Sule, who was also present in the meeting, said she would be the last person to go with the NDA. Sule had rubbished the claim that PM Modi had offered her a cabinet berth at a meeting along with her father.
Shiv Sena on Thursday refuted BJP leader Ashish Shelar’s statement that the BJP, Sena and NCP would have come together in 2014-15, but the Sena did not want to ally with NCP.
Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “Some people are spreading rumours. Nothing of that sort has happened. I will not speak on what has happened in the past.”
Meanwhile, Aaditya Thackeray, Sena minister, said, “I think there is no point in squabbling over the past. Everyone needs to work on issues which are important for Mumbai and Maharashtra.”