During campaigning for the BMC, BJP leaders had called the Shiv Sena corrupt and accused it of worsening Mumbai’s condition. After counting, when it got only two seats less than the Shiv Sena, the BJP claimed victory. The party’s Mumbai chief announced that it would fight for the mayor’s post with the help of Independents. He was trying hard to win over the Independents till Thursday.
But on Friday, the BJP took a complete u-turn and supported the Shiv Sena. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced after a core committee meeting that his party won’t contest for the post of mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson of the standing committee or even the BEST committee.
A relieved and ecstatic Shiv Sena thanked Fadnavis as it would now get all the cash-rich posts in the richest municipal corporation. But the reality might not be that hunky dory. The BJP may have supported the Shiv Sena, but if you look at the fine print, you’ll realise that the script for the future fight is already written. Here are the 5 reasons why the BJP supported the Shiv Sena, but kept the remote control for itself.
1. To Save Its Face
Although the BJP is claiming the high moral ground, it couldn’t have possibly won the mayoral post. It had 82 seats and had secured the support of two others. On the other hand, the Shiv Sena had won 84 and had got the support of four others. The Congress had hinted that it would indirectly support the Shiv Sena.
Fadnavis claimed that the BJP could have won the mayoral post, but it didn’t want to comprise on its “agenda of transparency”. But he didn’t elaborate on who could have supported the BJP.
The Shiv Sena does not have majority in the House, but it clearly is the largest party. The BJP could have tied up with Shiv Sena and got the deputy mayor’s post, but then that would have again meant playing a junior role in BMC, which the BJP was doing earlier.
2. Stability of Govt a Priority
The BMC is important for the Shiv Sena as it’s a minor part of the ruling alliance. And for the BJP, running the state government smoothly for the next three years is a priority. Since the BJP doesn’t have a majority in the Assembly, it needs the Shiv Sena’s uninterrupted support to function without friction.
Whenever the Shiv Sena has been upset, it has created hurdles in the working of the state government. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray had been threatening that it could pull out of the government anytime. After the BJP supported the Sena in BMC, Ramdas Kadam – a Shiv Sena minister – said that the Shiv Sena minister have put aside the thought of resigning from the government.
3. Planning for Future Elections
The BJP has played a trick by supporting the Shiv Sena in BMC. Although it has said that it will not sit in the opposition, it is likely to play the opposition’s role whenever required. The BJP sources say that the party will do in BMC what the Shiv Sena does in the state government – play the role of a ‘frenemy’.
This arrangement, feels the BJP, will help it in the coming elections. It can wash its hands off any anti-incumbency, if it arises, as it will not occupy any civic post. It can play the role of an opposition ahead of the elections and will be free to criticise the Sena.
4. Deputy Lokayukta
The BJP had accused the Shiv Sena of rampant corruption and made “transparency” an election issue. While declaring support to the Shiv Sena, CM Devendra Fadnavis also announced the appointment of Up-Lokayukta for Mumbai.
He also said that the state government will set up a committee, comprising former bureaucrats, to make recommendations on how to bring transparency in the standing committee, improvement committee and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking. These are the three most important wings of the BMC.
The Shiv Sena is upset with these announcements. The party mouthpiece Saamana has called it “a new ploy and misuse of power”. The Shiv Sena’s fear is not completely baseless as the committee appointed by state government can interfere in the running of the BMC.
5. Numbers Give Power Anyway
The BJP has decided not to contest for any of the top posts, but it still has 82 members inside the House of 227. The number will be crucial during the time of voting of various issues.
Standing and other committees have representation in proportion of the corporators. So, the BJP will have almost equal number of members inside these committees. Financial decisions are made inside the standing committee, so the BJP will continue to have an important say on financial matters.