Mumbai / Not out yet, BJP in wait-and-watch mode in Maharashtra

Hindustan Times : Nov 12, 2019, 11:35 AM

With the Shiv Sena failing to get support from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) within the timeframe set by the governor, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is still not out of the game to form the next government in Maharashtra.

The BJP had on Sunday informed Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari that it cannot form the next government in Maharashtra as ally Shiv Sena was not willing to support it. On Monday, senior state party leaders went into a huddle at chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s residence, Varsha, to observe the moves in the Opposition as well as Sena camp. The party’s core committee meetings went on through the day with breaks, from morning until late evening.

“We are keeping a close watch on the political developments in Maharashtra. We will take our decision and make our stance clear at the right time. Until then, it’s wait-and-watch for us,” said BJP senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Party insiders said the BJP was counting on President’s rule after the governor explored all possibilities, as it believed the Congress would not back a Sena-led government. In such a scenario, the BJP plans to bide time to bolster the numbers, with support from the NCP or with help from a section of legislators from within the Sena camp or the Congress.

“Our party leadership was confident that Congress will not back a Sena-led government. If no one can form government and there is President’s rule, everyone is in a fair game. In a changing political scenario, all permutations and combinations will be explored to form our government. If they (NCP-Congress-Sena) form a government, we don’t expect that government to last for more than one year,” said a senior party functionary.

At the same time, the BJP has now decided to close curtains on its three-decade-old alliance with the Sena. Another senior leader and core committee member told HT there was no scope to open communication channels with the Shiv Sena.

“That chapter is over for us now. We have no plans to engage with the Sena as an ally. However, a section of 25 Sena MLAs are in touch with us. Not everyone in their party is happy with how things have panned out. Things will get clearer by Tuesday evening,” he said.

As the single-largest party, if the BJP fails to form its government in Maharashtra, it is bound to send a signal across the country and knives will be out for caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.