|Nitin Gadkari enjoys an
ice cream at a BJP event
in New Delhi on
New Delhi, March 2: The BJP will persist with its efforts to bring the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on board its alliance with the Shiv Sena, party president Nitin Gadkari said today.
Speaking to journalists at a social gathering, Gadkari said: Its not ideology, its about power. We (the BJP-Sena) have lost back-to-back elections in Maharashtra. In the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, it was established that the MNS was a spoiler.
We have to seriously reflect on whether we are content sitting in the Opposition for the rest of our lives and watching our parties dissipate or do something to arrest the decline.
Asked who the BJP would opt for — the Sena or its offshoot, the MNS — in case they refused to make peace, the BJP chief was silent.
However, a source clarified that officially, the alliance was on but statements of the kind Gadkari made today were meant as alert messages to Sena heir-apparent Uddhav Thackeray.
He has made the MNS a prestige issue, the BJP source said.
The BJPs main worry was if the MNS was not co-opted into the partnership, they might lose the cash-rich Greater Mumbai municipal corporation which goes to polls in February 2012. The BJP-Sena alliance rules the body, regarded as Indias most affluent municipality.
Sources said Gadkari and party MP Gopinath Munde were trying to convince Uddhav to have a limited tie-up with the MNS in the corporation elections and take it from there.
Sources cited the example of the Dombivli (a Mumbai suburb) municipality, which used to be with the BJP-Sena alliance until 2010. Thanks to the BJPs infighting and the denial of tickets to certain local RSS leaders, the rejects migrated to the MNS, which promptly rewarded them. It ensured they won and the BJP lost.
Uddhav apparently conveyed that while he had no issue with making common cause with other smaller parties such as the Republican Party of India (Athawale) and the Peasant and Workers Party, his cousin Rajs MNS was a no-no.
The Senas own position was as long as its founder and chief, Bal Thackeray, was around, there was only that much harm the MNS could do. Thackeray senior was reportedly extremely touchy about the MNS.
It seems bloods thicker than water, a source remarked.
The MNS, which polled six per cent votes in the 2009 Assembly elections and picked up 13 seats, is strong in Mumbai and parts of Thane, Pune and Nashik.
These were Sena-BJP strongholds that have been usurped by the Congress-NCP alliance because the MNS has eaten into the Opposition coalitions votes.