Mumbai: A dejected BJP is believed to have made “a desperate last-minute” attempt to bring its former ally, the Shiv Sena, back into its fold, authoritative party sources revealed on Friday.
This included a ‘wake-up’ call to Uddhav Thackeray at around 3 am on Friday, virtually dragging him out of the bed after he had returned home at 1 am from a meeting at Sharad Pawar’s residence late Thursday night.
“Top BJP leaders from New Delhi conveyed that the party is ready to accept any conditions set by the Sena, including the post of CM for the full term, ministries of Uddhav’s choice and even numerical adjustments, if required at the Centre and state,” said the source, requesting anonymity.
However, Thackeray reportedly gave the leaders -- whose names are not revealed -- a patient hearing, but politely informed that it is not possible to take a U-turn after travelling such a long distance.
The frantic efforts came after at least two days of complete lull on the part of Maharashtra BJP whose leaders made open claims that “come what may, the BJP would form the government with the Sena” and later dropped hints that it was also negotiating a deal with the NCP and others.
Even the Nagpur-headquartered RSS is reportedly cheesed off by the developments in its home State and is said to be pointing a finger at former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for spoiling the saffron broth.
Sections of the BJP have also not taken too kindly to Fadnavis’ insistence on the post of chief minister, to which he claimed proprietary rights after the October 21 election.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut gave a hint of the party's mood when he was asked on Friday whether the party would return to the BJP fold if it was given the post of CM.
“This is now a fight for the dignity and self-respect of Maharashtra. Now, even if we are offered the throne of (Lord) Indra, we are not interested... That time has elapsed,” Raut declared.
Significantly, after the unsuccessful efforts to wean away the Sena, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari hit out saying this was "an opportunistic alliance and would not last for very long".
NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik, in turn, took a swipe at the Modi-Shah dispensation, saying that "finally Sharad Pawar has outsmarted" the alleged Chanakya' of Indian politics.