Mumbai: The Shiv Sena’s move to boycott the Maharashtra cabinet meeting on Wednesday could be the proverbial last straw for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
This is the first time that the party has boycotted a meeting since its ministers joined the Fadnavis-led government. Earlier, Shiv Sena ministers would walk out of meetings in protest against certain issues.
After the Mumbai civic polls and the more recent GST logjam, a faction within the BJP had advised the party to opt for early polls or even snap polls by December. They hope to be rid of the Shiv Sena’s constant muscle flexing.
However, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has not been keen on the idea so far. He has maintained that his government will complete its full five-year term.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also chose to downplay the Shiv Sena’s boycott. “Shiv Sena ministers met the chief minister and sought his permission to not attend the meeting. They gave us the reason for their absence and so their actions can’t be called a boycott,” he said.
However, in light of recent events, party president Amit Shah is likely to discuss the internal split in the BJP over the Shiv Sena’s actions when he visits Maharashtra on June 16.
“This will be on the agenda. We need a solution to the Shiv Sena’s constant pressure tactics and criticism, which leaves us vulnerable. Our internal surveys state that we can come to power on our own. We will wait until the presidential polls and then take a calculated decision,’’ said a BJP minister.
Until the presidential elections in July, the political pot boiler in the state between BJP and the Sena will continue. The BJP will have to give in to the Shiv Sena’s pressure tactics until the elections, so the party’s ministers support its presidential candidate.
Some indication of where the BJP is heading is likely to come on Thursday, when Union home minister Rajnath Singh holds a state party meeting in Mumbai on the occasion of the Modi government completing three years.
The BJP will also have to analyse how the ongoing farmers’ strike impacts the party’s image and electoral fortunes.