Talk of NCP­-BJP bonhomie helps both the parties

There is little denying both parties have continued to publicly display their camaraderie, especially at the top.

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2017 11:16 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,NCP,BJP
There is little denying both parties have continued to publicly display their camaraderie, especially at the top.(HT File)

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s weekly column in party mouthpiece, Saamna, on Sunday once again triggered speculations over the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cosying up to one another in the light of worsening relations with their allies, the Congress and the Shiv Sena.

While NCP MP and daughter of party chief Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule, on Monday denied any such meeting between herself, her father and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a cabinet berth for her, there is little denying both parties have continued to publicly display their camaraderie, especially at the top.

“I have not met Mr Modi with Mr Pawar ever,’’ said Sule. She, however, did not clarify if she was offered a cabinet berth in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, outside of such a meeting.

The BJP also rubbished the claims made by Raut, with party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari saying it does not even warrant a reaction.

But beyond refusals and clarifications, there is indication this growing bonhomie is mutually beneficial for both parties, even if it is just to keep all political players guessing.

The BJP, which is in the midst of poll preparations in Gujarat, such speculation is one way of keeping Pawar away from the UPA. It also doesn’t hurt to keep the pressure on its troublesome ally, the Sena.

“A divided opposition is always better than tackling the Congress and NCP together. In 2019, this will work in our favour. Also, it does send a signal to the Sena that their party can be replaced in the state and they should tone down their attacks. The party top brass is indeed fed up with the Sena’s attacks and barbs,’’ said a BJP senior leader.

He, however, said it was unlikely such speculation would lead to changes in the state government or state political dynamics any time soon.

For the NCP, the guessing game about its relations with the party in power is one way of keeping its flock together ahead of the 2019 elections. Senior NCP leaders and sitting legislators have been in talks with the BJP to shift party loyalties and such speculation only stems immediate rebellion.

The buzz off late about the NCP and BJP bonhomie has also indirectly pushed Sule as the frontline leader of the party. Party sources said such speculation is preparing ground for her role in the 2019 polls, given that her cousin and former Deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar is lying low due to a probe in the irrigation scam.

“Over the past one year, Sule has been more aggressive in state politics, including taking on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directly. While Pawar has been seen as the defacto leader of the party in the state, the internal dynamics in the party could change,’’ said a NCP leader and former minister.

Can such a bonhomie have implications for the BJP-led state government beyond party politics? For now, it seems unlikely that the political dynamics will change for the state government given Fadnavis’ distaste at having NCP as a partner in the government.

The BJP came to power in the state in 2014 on the plank of anti-corruption by targeting scams like irrigation, in which senior NCP leaders including Pawar have been accused. Fadnavis’ USP is his clean image and by sharing power with NCP, he believes that he dents his own image and party’s prospects in the state.

“ The CM would like status quo and no political upheaval in the state. In these two years, we will have to deliver on our promises and stability is the key to that. Why would we have otherwise handed over BMC to Sena on a platter. What happens just ahead of the 2019 elections and after that is anyone’s guess,’’ said a BJP minister.

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 11:16 IST