Cong Edgy After Sena Feelers for Anti-BJP Tango in BMC
Shiv Sena feels BMC mayorship issue may linger till March, when polls in UP will be over
New Delhi: The Congress central leadership is faced with a tactical dilemma on whether to support the Shiv Sena or not to wrest control of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. On the one hand, the dictum, ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ looks good to extend back-up to Sena to stop BJP from wresting control of BMC but on the other, a tactical alliance with Sena may raise questions on the Congress’ secular credentials, especially when elections are on in Uttar Pradesh where support of minorities is crucial for the SP-Congress front.
The Sena is learnt to have sent feelers to Congress for an anti-BJP indirect alliance, after BJP, which won 82 seats against Sena’s 84, said it has support of 4 independents and has become the largest bloc that can stake claim for the Mayor’s post.
“Maharashtrahaswitnessedmany instances of Shiv Sena and Congress tactically working towards a larger common goal. There is merit in looking at that option in BMC as well,” a senior Sena leader told ET on condition of anonymity.
Congress is also aware of the strategic muscle BJP can gain if it succeeds in heading the Maharashtra government and BMC simultaneously, something the Sena did just once and Congress many times during its heydays, prior to 1992.
If Sena stands firm against giving into BJP pressure games, a section of Congress leaders recognise the utility of its 31 members in the battle of the estranged saffron siblings to cobble up a majority in the BMC. They see multiple strategic goals in a tactical anti-BJP tango with Sena. The combined strength a l o ne i s 1 1 5 s e at s ( provi ded Congress doesn’t suffer desertions). They argue, such a tactical alliance can not only repulse BJP’s surge to wrest BMC but ensure the unravelling of BJP-Sena coalition government in Maharashtra. This could also see Sena siding with the national Opposition in the presidential elections.
However, there are also many senior Congress leaders who argue that any tactical tango with Sena would mar Congress’ secular standing. When ET posed the question, senior leader of the Mumbai Congress, Gurudas Kamat said, “the Congress had campaigned by saying Sena and BJP split is a farce and that the two will join hands post-poll in Mumbai. I am not aware of any move for Congress directly or indirectly backing Sena in BMC. Personally I feel, any support to Sena will be suicidal for Congress.” But Maharashtra has been a prolific political hotbed of coalition tactics, regardless of the secular/communal positioning at the national level. Even in the just-concluded municipal polls in Raigarh, the Sena and Congress entered into a tactical alliance to defeat BJP.
Congress also knows even if BJP manages the tactical support of NCP (9) and MNS (7), it will still find it difficult to muster the numbers, as the remaining corporators include 6 from SP, 2 for AIMIM (all eight belonging to Muslim community) and 2 Independents who support Sena. While AICC may not acknowledge the tactical option with Sena, given its sensitivity, the decisions will have to come from the top leadership. For its part, Sena sources said the decision on BMC mayorship may linger on till early March, when the last round of polling in UP will be over.
both Maharashtra and Mumbai detrimental to Congress Supporting Sena will lead to instability of Fadnavis govt
It can also see Opposition’s numbers increasing for Presidential polls
Cong, however, faces ‘secular dilemma’ if it extends support to Sena