BJP's decision to pull out of mayoral polls boon for Sena

BJP's decision to pull out of  mayoral polls boon for Sena

The BJP’s surprise decision not contest for the posts of mayor, deputy mayor or any of the committees in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) indicates its unwillingness to put the alliance government at risk.  

The Maharashtra BJP’s decision to blink first in its stand-off with the Shiv Sena came after the party’s central leadership conveyed its decision not to let the confrontation between the two parties flare up to the extent that it posed a threat to the Devendra Fadnavis government.

The BJP is dependent on the Sena for a numerical majority in the state Assembly.
Earlier, the BJP formula for “an honourable compromise” with the Sena, under which it drops its critical posturing on every issue and tones down its anti-Modi rhetoric, did not appear to make any headway.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray kept up attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Fadnavis even after the BMC poll results were out.

The Sena had also threatened to pull out of the state government, even as its ministers privately “requested” the chief minister that the party be allowed to run the municipal corporation. The Sena and BJP had bitterly fought the polls despite being partners at the Centre and state.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari was the first central BJP leader who openly said the two parties must strike a compromise, which was the line mooted by Fadnavis too. But other BJP leaders did not want it to appear like the party was giving in easily.

“An immediate divorce between the two parties would give a boost to the Opposition Congress and the NCP, who stand to benefit in the event of a situation leading to fresh elections,” a central BJP leader said. At the same time, the central leadership wanted the BJP not to appear to be getting into any compromise with the Sena for the sake of enjoying power in the BMC. Hence, the chief minister announced setting up a committee to suggest ways and means to bring transparency in the functioning of all the municipal corporations.

The BJP had made transparency in the BMC a major issue, accusing the Sena of unbridled corruption.

Fadnavis said the government would request the Lokayukta to appoint a Upa Lokayukta specifically for Mumbai so that the administration became more transparent. According to the central leadership, this approach would ensure that Fadnavis, who enjoys the reputation of ‘Mr Clean’ in Maharashtra politics, saves his government and also keeps the BJP ahead.

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