Strange bed fellows

The new BJP-MNS alliance in Nashik could be a precursor of new political equations in Maharashtra, say political observers. MNS bagged the mayor’s post in the 122-member Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) when its candidate Yatin Raghunath Wagh trounced CPM’s Tanaji Laxman Jaibhave here with the support of BJP, after Shiv Sena withdrew from the poll fray. The recent Congress reverses in UP, Goa and Punjab has brightened BJP’s hope that a grand Sena-BJP-MNS-RPI-PWP alliance can upstage the ruling Congress-NCP combine in the 2014 assembly polls in Maharashtra. However, a stung Sena has accused BJP of “deceit and dishonesty”. “BJP’s decision (to team up with MNS) is incomprehensible, illogical and downright unethical,” said senior Sena functionary Arvind Sawant, Matoshree’s pointsman in the grape city. “What has irked us most is that BJP kept Matoshree in the dark till the eleventh hour,’’ said a Sena functionary. Sena had first offered the Nashik mayoralty to BJP in a move to trounce MNS. However, BJP turned down the offer, citing lesser number of seats in the civic body as reason. Next, Sena fielded its own nominee for the mayor’s post, anticipating BJP’s support. Not only did BJP ditch Sena, it teamed up with the MNS for the key election and won the deputy mayor’s post as its reward from its latest partner. “We backed MNS because it had the people’s mandate in the Nashik civic election,” said BJP MLA Girish Mahajan. “MNS had backed the Sena-BJP-RPI in the Thane mayoral election. MNS was expecting us to reciprocate in Nashik. Sena should have displayed magnanimity by supporting MNS which has the largest number of seats in the Nashik civic body. The mandate in Nashik is clearly in the MNS’s favour,” said another BJP functionary. Realising that BJP had joined hands with the MNS, a shocked Sena had no other option but to abstain from voting in the mayor’s election. In a 122-member NMC, Sena has a strength of 19 members as against MNS’s 40 and BJP’s tally of 14. Congress and the NCP too stayed away from the election process, thus clearing the decks for the BJP-MNS victory in the mayor’s and the deputy mayor’s election.

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