Mumbai: After the exit of the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a closed door meeting with Shiv Sena minister Anant Gite at the Sahyadri guesthouse on Friday.
Already on the backfoot, the BJP wants to ensure that the Sena does not go the TDP way, said sources.
The Sena had earlier announced that it would contest the next Lok Sabha elections independently. It made the BJP concerned about the Shiv Sena’s stand in Parliament when the TDP moved a no-confidence motion against the BJP government.
According to sources, the meeting at Sahyadri guesthouse, included the CM, the BJP state president Raosaheb Danve and Mr Gite. The two leaders tried to convince the Sena leader to support the BJP against the no-confidence motion. However, there was no official comment from the Sena on the issue. Mr Gite only said, “Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision on the issue.”
The BJP has sizeable number in the Parliament but it does not want to lose its partners at this moment. The loss of the Lok Sabha bypoll in Uttar Pradesh has also become an issue for the BJP, with the SP-BSP alliance posing a threat to the NDA. The Sena too has often expressed its displeasure about the BJP government. Despite being in the government, the Sena supported recent marginal farmers' agitation recently against the BJP-led government.
The Sena’s growing proximity to West Bengal chief minister and Trinmool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has also not gone down well with BJP. The BJP has more challenges ahead as polls in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are due.
In a defensive mode since the TDP’s departure from the NDA, the BJP is seeking to woo the Sena in the state, with CM Fadnavis stating that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance would continue. “We will contest the elections in an alliance,” he said. The BJP will also support the Sena candidate in the civic bypoll of ward no 173. Mr Fadnvis also said that the BJP will support the Sena in the bypoll on the seat that was with the Sena. CM Fadnavis wants to avoid a fight during the byepoll.
However, a senior Sena leader refuted claims of alliance in the elections next year. “No discussions for alliance will be possible after party chief Uddhav Thackeray has declared to go solo in the elections. We will not change our word,” he said.
BJP state chief, Mr Danve said that the party has a good experience to run the coalition government since the time of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and now with PM Modi’s government. “The BJP wants friends and 23 parties are along with the NDA. But each party has different views and a right to expand its own party. Still we will go ahead with allies, including the Shiv Sena,” he said.