BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Nov 22 (IANS) A dejected Bharatiya Janata Party is said to have made “a desperate last-minute” attempt to win over its former ally Shiv Sena back to its fold, authoritative party sources revealed on Friday.
This included a wake-up call to the Sena chief Udhav Thackeray’s house, ‘Matoshri’ around 3 a.m. on Friday, virtually dragging him out of the bed after he had returned home at 1 a.m. from a meeting at Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar’s home late Thursday night.
“Top BJP leaders from New Delhi conveyed that the party is ready to accept any conditions made by the Sena, including the post of CM for the full term, ministries of his choice and even numerical adjustments if required at the Centre and state,” said the source, requesting anonymity.
The erstwhile ally was also ready to forgive and forget, patch up the alliance again and even include the Sena back to the NDA from where it was ejected on November 17 without notice – the day when Sena was observing the seventh death anniversary of its founder, the late Bal Thackeray.
However, Thackeray reportedly gave the leaders – whose names are not revealed – a patient hearing, but politely informed that it is not possible to take a u-turn after going such a long distance with the upcoming alliance of the Sena with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
The frantic efforts came after at least two days of complete lull on the part of Maharashtra BJP whose leaders made open claims that “come what may, the BJP would form the government with the Sena” and later dropped hints that it was also negotiating a deal with the NCP and others.
Even the Nagpur-headquartered RSS is reportedly cheesed off by the developments in its home state Maharashtra and is now said to be pointing a finger at former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for spoiling the saffron broth after the elections.
Sections of the BJP have also not taken too kindly to Fadnavis’ adamance on the post of Chief Minister since the past one month, which he claimed repeatedly after the October 21 elections.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut gave a hint on the party’s mood when he was asked Friday whether the party would return to the BJP fold if it was given the post of CM.
“This is now a fight for the dignity and self-respect of Maharashtra. Now, even if we are offered the throne of (Lord) Indra, we are not interested… That time has elapsed,” Raut declared.
Significantly, after the unsuccessful efforts to wean the Sena back to the BJP, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari hit out saying this was “an opportunistic alliance coming up in Maharashtra and would not last for very long”.
After getting on firm grounds with the upcoming Maha Vikas Aghadi in the state, NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik took a swipe at the BJP.
He said that “finally, Sharad Pawar has outsmarted” the alleged Chanakya’ of Indian politics, as the three parties appeared set to stake claim to the Maharashtra government.
Though obviously referring to BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, without taking any names, Malik tweeted that “the throne of Delhi failed to make Maharashtra bend before it’s Jai Maharashtra!”
As per current indicators, after the Sena-NCP-Congress and other parties have unanimously accepted him as the choice for CM, Thackeray is likely to consider the proposal positively and convey his decision to the other parties in the proposed Maha Vikas Aghadi in a day or so.
BY QUAID NAJMI