- BJP says will support Shiv Sena in elections for Mumbai mayor
- Allies at centre, state, they had fought each other in local polls
- BJP will need Shiv Sena's support in crucial budget session
"People of Maharashtra have given a lot of respect to the BJP. Since they (Shiv Sena) have won two more seats than us, we will not contest for the standing committee elections. We will help the Shiv Sena candidates. We will not sit in opposition," said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, frequently invoking his election promise to bring "transparency" to the Mumbai corporation. The move would pave the way for a Shiv Sena mayor to sail through easily at the elections to be held on March 8.
Mr Fadnavis also brushed aside questions of the Shiv Sena deserting the BJP, which, with 122 seats in the state assembly, is 21 seats shy of the majority mark. "We are here to stay," he said. Mr Fadnavis' government will need the support of the Sena to pass the state budget in the assembly this month.
At 84, the Shiv Sena emerged as the single largest party in the 227-seat BMC after the elections but was way off the majority mark of 114. The BJP, which contested the civic body polls on its own rather than play second fiddle to the Sena, is a close second with 82 seats, dramatically improving its previous tally of 31.
Though neither of the two parties made any public overtures, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari was among the handful of BJP leaders who spoke of the possibility of them joining hands. But he too made it clear that this was a call that party chief Amit Shah, and Mr Fadnavis would take.