Maharashtra drama: Shiv Sena’s drift suited BJP gameplan

Shiv Sena jumping into the NCP-Congress camp for CM’s chair has opened the prospects for BJP to claim exclusive ownership of Hindutva politics.

Published: 24th November 2019 08:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2019 08:53 AM   |  A+A-

Newly sworn-in Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis being offered sweets by supporters on his arrival at state BJP office in Mumbai on Saturday.

Newly sworn-in Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis being offered sweets by supporters on his arrival at state BJP office in Mumbai on Saturday. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI:  The sharp turn in fortunes in Maharashtra has affirmed the BJP’s astute political craft to dictate terms in post-poll manoeuvring to gain power.

With the Shiv Sena drifting away after the poll verdict, the BJP appears to have strategically retreated to watch the unfolding political drama from the sidelines to strike back at the end. BJP chief Amit Shah, sources said, stuck to the stand that the party wouldn’t compromise on Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister with an eye on 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The brinkmanship of the Sena cut no ice with the BJP brass. 

With the Shiv Sena jumping into the NCP-Congress camp, the BJP sources said, these parties drifted from sharply stated ideological positions. “The political churning suited the BJP’s focus on the 2024 agenda.

The Shiv Sena faced a lot of flak on the social media for compromising the Hindutva politics. That opens the prospects for the BJP to claim exclusive ownership of Hindutva politics,” said a senior BJP functionary.

ALSO READ: Devendra Fadnavis back as Maharashtra CM but drama not over

The BJP would, henceforth, be contesting in entire Maharashtra, sources said, adding that the strike rate of over 70 per cent in the state and good performance across regions barring Vidarbha lent weight to the proponents within the party to pursue solo politics. 

By the time the Congress-NCP-Sena had firmed up their plans to do business burying sharp ideological edges on Friday evening, the BJP had begun unrolling its big Maharashtra plan.

The BJP brass maintained complete secrecy, with only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and national general secretary Bhupendra Yadava working on the strategy. Fadnavis was instructed to reach Raj Bhavan late Friday night, sources said, adding that Ajit Pawar got a final phone call from New Delhi last evening. Yadav was flown in to Mumbai, and he oversaw the swearing in-ceremony. 

The BJP top leadership had begun working on the NCP after the Shiv Sena made definite move to drift away. With the NCP in the midst of transitional stage of leadership, sources said the BJP sensed an opportunity to work on Ajit Pawar.

The saffron party also pinned hope that fence-sitters among Independents would veer to ruling dispensation, which would eventually shore up the numbers. Sources said the BJP wouldn’t hesitate to welcome even the Sena MLAs “who have been uncomfortable (in their party) on account of competitive politics in their respective Assembly constituencies”.  

The BJP had allowed caution to weigh high in entering into a pre-poll alliance with the Sena in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections at the direction of PM Modi to stick with allies. The pact stayed in Assembly elections, which the BJP leaders claimed held back the party at just 105 seats, leaving the outfit 40 short of the halfway mark.

BJP claims the mandate was for NDA

The BJP said the Devendra Fadnavis led government would be stable and credible, adding that the mandate was for the ruling alliance.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party had sought mandate in the name of Fadnavis.

Unholy alliance, says Prasad

After the poll verdict, both the NCP and the Congress said the mandate for their parties was to sit in the Opposition.

“People want to know how they changed the stance for an opportunistic alliance against the mandate,” Prasad said.

On Sena he said, “We don’t want to comment on those who have disowned the legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray.”

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