Sena holds bargaining chip in ruling alliance

With Opposition’s improved show, party hopes to leverage its position in govt.

Published - October 25, 2019 01:34 am IST

Vantage point:  Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at a press conference at Sena Bhavan on Thursday.

Vantage point: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at a press conference at Sena Bhavan on Thursday.

A marginally improved tally for the saffron alliance has ensured that the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena will continue their love-hate relationship for another five years.

With the Opposition putting up a better than expected performance, the Sena will look to use its bargaining power to secure more Cabinet berths and the chief ministerial port for Aaditya Thackeray. The Sena now holds 12 ministerial berths, including seven Minister of State portfolios. The BJP holds six Minister of State portfolios and 16 Cabinet berths. “We are likely see a more aggressive and assertive Sena, which will bargain for 50% of the berths in the Cabinet. No doubt the Sena has lost some ground, but it will assert more space in case the Nationalist Congress Party comes into the picture,” said Surendra Jondhale political analyst and professor of political science at Mumbai University.

Before the polls, the Sena played second fiddle to the BJP, accepting to contest fewer seats. After the BJP welcomed former Sena strongman Narayan Rane into the party, the Sena fielded a candidate in Kankavli against Mr. Rane’s son Nitesh. However, it did not turn out to be a breaking point for the alliance. Even the cutting of trees in Aarey did not turn out to be a flashpoint. The only bone of contention might be the chief ministership. The Sena claims that the BJP agreed to share the post with it, and so it had projected Aaditya Thackeray as its chief ministerial candidate. The party even fielded him in this election with an eye on the top post, or at least the post of deputy CM. On the power-sharing formula for government formation, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said at a press conference at Sena Bhavan on Thursday, “During alliance talks, a 50-50 formula was agreed upon. We were supposed to contest 146 seats each, but Chandrakant Dada [BJP State chief Chandrakant Patil] requested that we contest less seats. But if they ask me to adjust again, I will not be able to do so as I want my party to grow. That is why, we will all sit together and clear the formula.” On a Sena candidate becoming the chief minister, he said, “ Aapke muh me ghee shakkar [May this be true].”

Mr. Thackeray expressed regret over the loss of seats and said the party will introspect. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refused to get drawn into the debate over the power-sharing formula. On Aaditya Thackeray’s chances of getting a Cabinet berth, he said, “We will continue to respect the coalition dharma and ensure that we move ahead as per the agreed terms. You will get to know of it in due course.”

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