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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - CL.Manoj@ 82 + 4

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

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