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Shiv Sena will back BJP if Pankaja Munde is CM

Mumbai: Friends turned foes may turn friends again. If all goes well, Shiv Sena could join hands with the BJP alliance to form the government, but with a possible rider. The party would press for Pankaja Munde’s name as the chief minister candidate to justify its changed stand. Though the BJP is willing to take Shiv Sena on board, it is not ready to accept any conditions in any case.

According to highly-placed sources, the Shiv Sena softened its stand soon after the polling was completed. The editorial of party mouthpiece Saamana on Friday also hinted at a possible reconciliation. However, sources said they would need some justification for an alteration in their stand after the aggressive poll campaign.

Party sources said that they were waiting for positive poll results, but if such a circumstance arises that the BJP needs their help then they could back them for forming a government, but with a rider. “Make Pankaja Munde the CM candidate as this is the best option available to us to justify to the masses our changed stand,” said a senior leader on condition of anonymity.

However, the party also has differences of opinion. According to another faction, the step to patch up with the BJP would hamper the party’s credibility and would create wrong perception. “Shiv Sena would also be seen as an opportunist if a step like this was taken in the coming future,” said another leader who did not wish to be named.

The BJP is clear that it will not accept any conditions from Shiv Sena in any situation. “Steps to put the past behind have been taken from both the sides. However, coming together again with a rider would be very difficult for us,” said a senior BJP leader requesting anonymity.

Reminding the reason behind the snapping of ties between Shiv Sena and BJP, he said that it was the Shiv Sena which stuck to a particular figure during seat-sharing talks and that eventually resulted in parting of ways. The BJP is not interested in putting itself in that situation again.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday also made it clear that his party would go with anyone who supported Maharashtra’s cause and also hoped that the BJP would come forward to support them in forming the government.

“We feel confident that we will get a majority on our own in Maharashtra. In case we fall short of an absolute majority for the sake of the state, the BJP should extend its support,” said Mr Raut.

He added Shiv Sena has shared very good ties with BJP for the past 25 years as the two have been together for ideological reasons and not for power. Sena will continue to share good ties in the future too, he said.

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