The Shiv Sena and the BJP locked in a battle of nerves over sharing of power in the next government in Maharashtra on October 27 enlisted support of MLAs from small outfits and independents between them in a bid to boost their respective numerical strength.
Independent MLAs Geeta Jain (Mira Bhayandar) and Rajendra Raut (Barshi) extended their support to the BJP after meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. A BJP rebel, Ms. Jain had defeated the party’s official nominee Narendra Mehta in the October 21 elections, results of which were announced on October 24.
Earlier in the day, Achalpur MLA Bachchu Kadu and his colleague Rajkumar Patel, legislator from Melghat, both from the Amravati district in the Vidarbha region, offered support to the Shiv Sena. Mr. Kadu heads the Prahar Janshakti Party (PJP).
When asked about her meeting with Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) chief and Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur on October 27, Ms. Jain said she had visited him to express her gratitude for helping her in the election campaign. Ms. Jain’s visit to Mr. Thakur, who was supported by the Congress and NCP during the polls, had raised speculation about her future political move.
When asked about Mr. Kadu’s support, a Shiv Sena leader told PTI that it has increased the bargaining power of the Uddhav Thackeray-led party vis-a-vis the BJP. “We adjusted with the BJP between 2014-19, now it is time to have our share,” he said.
Since the election results showed that the BJP’s tally has gone down compared to its 2014 performance, the Sena has hardened its stand apparently to seek more pound of flesh in power. However, the BJP seems not enthused. Mr. Fadnavis had repeatedly said during campaigning that he would return as the chief minister of the NDA. In their poll rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had also endorsed Fadnavis.
Both the parties are now trying to enlist support of Independent MLAs, most of them rebels belonging to either party, to score over other in the bitter battle of political oneupmanship. The increased numerical strength will obviously raise the bargaining power at a time when both the parties have intensified the political manoeuvring to dominate the next government.
In his write-up for party mouthpiece Saamana, Sena leader Sanjay Raut on October 27 said the party now had the “remote control of power” in Maharashtra despite getting fewer seats in the Assembly polls when compared to 2014.