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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

BJP hopes Cong won’t back Sena-led govt

mumbai Updated: Nov 09, 2019 01:21 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge

In a spot with its ally over sharing of the chief minister’s post, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which emerged as the single-largest party in the state Assembly elections with 105 seats, may even be staring at the role of the Opposition in the next government.

On Friday, Devendra Fadnavis resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra on Friday, a day ahead of the end of the tenure of the state Assembly and in a dramatic press conference slammed the Sena for closing curtains on discussions despite contesting polls in a pre-poll alliance. He also reiterated his stance that the Sena had not been promised CM’s post.

Fadnavis also declared that his party would not indulge in horse-trading or breaking other parties, but expressed confidence that it would still lead the next government in Maharashtra.

So what is the BJP’s plan B? Why did it move away from its stance of pacifying the Sena to nearly pulling the rug off the saffron alliance. Senior state party leaders said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to go incommunicado and not compromise on the chief ministerial post left it with no options, but to throw the ball in their court.

“The BJP’s senior party leadership was clear that the CM post cannot be compromised. With the Sena refusing to even take his calls or sit for discussions, CM Fadnavis was told to end it rather than tolerate daily humiliation. We will now wait-and-watch and see how things pan out in the next couple of days,’’ said a senior leader.

With the Ayodhya verdict to be announced on Saturday, the general expectation is the governor may make no move on forming the next government immediately. He is expected to call the BJP, as the single-largest party to form the government, first. This may give the BJP some more time to decide whether it wants to stake claim to form the government or let the Sena go ahead and form the next government with NCP and the Congress. “There is a split in the party whether we should risk staking claim to form the government now or quietly sit in the opposition and bide our time to bring down the minority government led by Sena like in Karnataka,” said the leader.

Another former leader said the party could stake claim, seek time to prove its majority in the state Assembly and in this time convince the Sena to turn around or look at gaining support from the NCP, like in 2014, when they abstained from voting.

The other option, more difficult one, is to woo a section of a party to resign and break away from its parent party to avoid defection laws. The BJP needs support of at least 25 legislators to reach a majority mark of 145 in the House to pull this off. It claims it has support of 15 independent legislators but some of these MLAs will shift allegiance to any party that forms the government.

Overall, the general belief in a wide section of the BJP is that Sena-led government will not get the support of the Congress given that the latter is completely opposed to Hindutva ideology.

“If they break bread with the Congress and vice-versa, both the parties get exposed. Why would the Congress allow this with little to gain, especially with the Ayodhya verdict tomorrow,” asked a BJP party functionary.

“Our appeal to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray even now is to respect the mandate of the people and our pre-poll alliance. We have not said that this is the end of the alliance. If he calls PM Modi his elder brother then listen to the elder brother once in a while. We don’t what to prove who’s right and who’s wrong,” said senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Union BJP minister Nitin Gadkari also appealed to the Sena to steer away from aligning with parties like NCP and Congress that were fundamentally opposed to it. “I asked party president about this promise of sharing CM post and he told him that while there was such a proposal from the Sena, he had not accepted it or given his promise that it would be fulfilled. I am in touch with the BJP as well as Sena leaders. I am willing to mediate if required. I don’t think Balasaheb’s Sena should go with Congress-NCP,” said Gadkari.