MUMBAI: In what can be termed as strategic retreat, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday made it clear that the BJP would not field its candidate in the election for any of the posts in BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), giving Shiv Sena a chance to have a complete hold on the civic body.
The move is expected to ensure a smooth sail for the state government during the budget season of the State Assembly, which is scheduled to start on March 6.
Fadnavis also announced that the government would appoint an addituonal Upa-Lokayukta to ensure "transparency" in the conduct of BMC. He also said that a committee of three retired bureaucrats would be formed to invite recommendations to ensure increased transparency in all the local bodies across the State.
"The BJP shall act as 'transparency guards' in the BMC," Fadnavis said.
"BJP won't claim the opposition status either. We would be open to support to the ruling Shiv Sena whenever the need arises," he said while replying to a question.
Senior Sena leader and transport minister Diwakar Raote expressed pleasure over the decision. "It is good that the BJP has decided to obey the people's verdict in Mumbai," he said.
The Shiv Sena had won 84 and BJP 82 corporators in recent BMC election.
The NCP condemned the decision. "BJP has fooled the voters of Mumbai. Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena do not have a clear mandate. We would have appreciated if the BJP had sat in the opposition," city NCP president Sachin Ahir said.
State Congress president Ashok Chavan interpreted the decision as CM's attempt to save his own seat rather than an attempt to build transparency. "Fadnavis has let down the people of Mumbai. He has literally given the keys of treasure of Mumbai to those whom he had accused of looting it," he said.
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.
The decision has also put a full stop on speculations of mid-term polls in the State.
The decision has caressed Shiv Sena's ego by giving them a free hand in BMC. This might also have another component wherein Shiv Sena might be compelled to support the BJP in other local bodies across the State. However, nothing was said on the same by any of the sides on Saturday.
The decision has completely transformed the political scenario in the State. The opposition, which is demoralised in the wake of one of the worst defeats in the local body elections in rural Maharashtra and had hardly any concrete material against the ruling side, was solely banking on possibilities of the Shiv Sena pulling out of the government during the budget session. Now that the possibility has withered away, they might choose to humiliate the Shiv Sena, which might be desirous to the BJP.