- BJP leader garlanded new Mayor with Lotuses, the BJP's symbol
- Sena's corporators soon launched slogans of 'Jai Bala saheb'
- BJP did not challenge Sena for Mayor's post, withdrawing its candidate
To drive home the message, a BJP leader lunged at new Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar with a Garland of Lotuses, the BJP's symbol, and successfully draped it around his neck.
It was an awkward moment for the Thackerays, but the Sena's corporators soon launched slogans of "Jai Bala saheb."
This morning the BJP helped Sena candidate Mr Mahadeshwar be elected Mumbai's new mayor, supporting him in a show of hands and handing over control of Asia's richest municipal body to its ally again. After winning almost an equal number of seats in an election fought bitterly between the parties, the BJP decided not to challenge the Sena for the Mayor's post, withdrawing its candidate.
The BJP could have abstained to facilitate Mr Mahadeshwar's election, but the support is seen as an olive branch extended by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis whose government depends on the Shiv Sena's support for a majority in the Maharashtra legislature. Ahead of the municipal elections which the two allies contested separately and acrimoniously, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had said he was considering ending his party's two-decade long partnership with the BJP in the state and at the centre.
Mr Thackeray hasn't followed up on his break-up threat, but the BJP's gesture on the Mayor's post has not softened the Shiv Sena into reciprocating. In the state assembly now in session, the Shiv Sena, which has several ministers in Mr Fadnavis' cabinet, has joined the opposition in attacking the government over the issue of farmer loan waiver.
The Shiv Sena won the most seats, 84, in elections held to the BMC last month, but the BJP was the big gainer as a close second to the Shiv Sena at 82, its best performance ever. Neither was even close to the 114 needed in the 227-seat corporation to get the mayor's post.