Won't contest against Shiv Sena in mayor elections says BJP

The BMC elections at the end of February had resulted in a hung house, with the Shiv Sena emerging as the single largest party.

Soon after Fadnavis virtually paved the way for Shiv Sena to elect its mayor, deputy mayor, and standing committee chairman, the Sena too showed signs of thaw. "The BJP corporators would serve as the guardians of transparency in the BMC".

Fadnavis also stated that the government would request the Lokayukta to appoint a separate Uplokayukta specifically for Mumbai so that administration can become more transparent. "While Uddhav Thackeray had earlier declared that the Sena would henceforth have no electoral alliance with the BJP, should these parties come together even at the zilla parishad level, things could become very hard for us", said a senior NCP leader.

Further, Fadnavis has said that his party will not run for any post (mayor, deputy mayor, Standing Committee chairperson, Leader of Opposition, etc) in the BMC, thereby giving a free run for the Sena.

Emphasising on the issue of transparency, Fadnavis said, "We will not be in the opposition, we will support the ruling party but will not compromise on transparency". It means that what the Sena is doing in state politics - acting as the bitterest critic of BJP policies (like demonetisation, allowing Pakistani cricketers or singers to play in India, etc.) - the BJP will do in the BMC.

In the process, the BJP retains its "holier than thou" attitude vis-à-vis Sena. The move would pave the way for a Shiv Sena mayor to sail through easily at the elections to be held on March 8. By keeping away from power in the civic body, the BJP can continue with its diatribes against the Sena, keeping the latter on tenterhooks in state politics.

With the decision, the Shiv Sena would be under moral obligation to continue supporting the State government even while its actions in the corporation would constantly be under scanner.

And, when BJP attacks Sena in BMC, the latter will retaliate by attacking the state. But, the real contest of upmanship between the saffron allies has just began.

The BJP is likely to file its own candidate for the mayor's post on Saturday and is trying to get some independents along with corporators from some smaller parties over to its side to match Shiv Sena's numbers.

  • Lila Blake