Battle for Mumbai civic body: Suspense continues over BJP's prospective partners

The BJP and the Shiv Sena had called off their alliance ahead of the BMC polls. Image source: Wikimedia Commons Photograph:( Others )

WION Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Feb 25, 2017, 02.24 PM (IST) Sanjana Chowhan

The Shiv Sena and the BJP may have called off their alliance for the crucial BMC polls, but it appears like the once withering saffron alliance may have to put their issues aside, suck it up and join hands again. The BJP finished a close second to the Sena, but pulled off an outstanding performance in other local bodies, despite demonetisation that was expected to be the end of them in Mumbai at least.

Sources say, both parties are mulling another marriage, but are currently garnering support of independents and rebels so that they can increase their bargaining power. On Friday, two independent corporators, Snehal More from Vikhroli and Tulsiram Shinde from Dindoshi wards, joined the Shiv Sena thereby taking its total tally to 86. Later Changez Multani, a rebel and former Congress member came on board taking the tally to 87. On Saturday, the Sena wasted no time and inducted another independent candidate, Kiran Langde, taking the tally to 88.
While speculation is rife about the alliance, the Sena is holding its cards very close to its chest, a stark contrast to its campaign where it aggressively ruled out any support to the BJP as it launched scathing attacks at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Uddhav Thackeray, though, maintains the mayor will only be from the Sena and went so far as to say that even the next chief minister will be from Maharashtra, but come a question about any alliance, the Sena supremo merely folds his hands and fields it.  

Reports yesterday emerged about a possible tie-up between the Congress and the Shiv Sena, as the former could probably play kingmaker to Sena to keep the BJP out. However, senior leader Gurudas Kamat released a sharply worded letter today, completely trashing any reports of a dialogue with Sena.  

However, both parties ruled out an alliance with each other today.

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said an alliance with the Shiv Sena was out of question since it was a "communal party".

"Some Shiv Sena leaders approached us. We categorically said we can't ally with communal party that does politics based on caste and religion," Sanjay Nirupam told ANI.

We have decided that during the elections for deputy mayor, the Congress will not have an alliance with the Shiv Sena".

Sources within the Congress however said the party would field its own candidate with the help of other smaller parties. 

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut maintained that reports that his party had approached the Congress were false. He also asserted that the mayor would be from the Shiv Sena.

"Mayor will be from Shiv Sena only, wait till March 9. We haven't approached Congress for alliance, reports are false," Sanjay Raut told ANI.

The BJP meanwhile, has remained mum on any alliance, only vehemently opposing any tie-up with the Congress.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was quoted as saying by ANI that the BJP would not ally with the Congress at any point and cost.

"BJP won't ally with Congress at any point and cost. Whoever (Shiv Sena) wants to go with them can go, we won't say a single word," Devendra Fadnavis said.

Sources say the BJP may come to an agreement with the Sena where either camp fields a mayor for two-and-a-half years each, but sources also added that the Sena isn’t hearing any of it. Again, like the Sena, they too are wooing independents so if and when they have to forge a larger alliance, they have bargaining power.