Shiv Sena insiders say outcome of the BMC elections will determine whether the party pulls out of the Fadnavis government in Maharashtra.
Mumbai: With Shiv Sena deciding to go it alone in city corporations and other civic polls across Maharahstra, focus has been shifted to stability of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state, in which the Uddhav Thackeray-led party is a junior partner.
A day after Thackeray declared his party's stand after the seat-sharing talks with the BJP floundered, party's senior minister in the cabinet Ramdas Kadam today said he and his colleagues have their resignations in their pockets, and are waiting for the signal from the party chief.
The BJP circles, however, refused to set great store by such assertions, stating that the ally's decision will have no impact on the Devendra Fadnavis government's stability.
Eagerly watching the development from the sidelines is Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The party supremo Sharad Pawar has declined to spell out clearly what stand his party would take in case Sena pulled out of the government.
Parrying queries on the matter, the veteran politician said yesterday that he would not answer hypothetical questions, but added, "They should take the decision and later come for the discussion."
Significantly, NCP had pledged outside support to BJP when it emerged the single largest party but fell short of absolute majority in 2014 Assembly polls.
Elections to 10 Municipal corporations, including the cash rich Mumbai, and 25 Zilla Parishads and 283 panchayats are to be held between February 16 and 21.
Shiv Sena insiders say the outcome of these elections will determine whether the party pulls out of the Fadnavis government, which it joined in December 2014, two months after the first ever BJP-led government came to power.
"If Sena does well in these elections, the party will not hesitate to withdraw support to the government," a Shiv Sena source told PTI.
"Uddhavji will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time," Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said when asked about her party's continuance in the government.
Party sources said Sena workers want to fight for people's issues and expect support and direction from the leadership.
"Late Bal Thackeray's style of functioning and mannerism were different from that of Uddhav. Balasaheb had a direct connect with the masses. Uddhav interacts more frequently with Shiv Sainiks from all districts and is now well versed in political calculations. Even when the alliance talks were on,
Uddhavji had frequently interacted with the media and also released manifesto for Mumbai and Thane,"a Sena source said.
Seat-sharing talks between the saffron allies had failed to make any headway right from the start, especially in Sena heartland Mumbai, as the BJP stuck to its demand for far higher number of seats than it contested in the past.
Despite being a partner in Maharashtra and at the Centre, Sena has aired critical views on the BJP rule and did not even spare Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially post-demonetisation.
Observers feel, in the process, Sena's move could change political equations in the state but much will depend how well it performs in the civic polls, especially in prime space Mumbai.
According to them, the unfolding scenario could also have an impact in rural areas.
A Congress leader, requesting anonymity, said, "The decision of Sena not to have an alliance with BJP will expose the covert understanding between the NCP and BJP."
In ten city corporation areas, the fight will be between the Sena and BJP, vying for the first two spots, pushing Congress and NCP far behind.
Sena leader Neelam Gorhe told PTI that Sena-BJP have not always had alliances for civic and local bodies polls.
"Uddhavji's decision not to have an alliance for the civic and local body polls is expected to result in a gain of 20 to 25 per cent in number of seats for our party. It gives
Shiv Sainiks space to strengthen their base down the Panchayat samiti level," she said.
According to reports, Fadnavis and a section of the BJP were keen on an alliance with the Sena to avoid division of votes.
"Municipal corporations and Zilla Parishads are the main revenue generating local bodies with Central funding. If Sena wins, it would be politically damaging for the BJP. If BJP fails to win Mumbai, it would send a message nationwide," observers said.
Anant Gadgil, Congress leader told PTI, "Ministers from both parties speak in harsh language against each other. What kind of message is such talk giving to the state. Is this message of stability? Sena should withdraw support to the government and call for fresh elections."