BJP gives a “Bumper Offer” to his NDA ally Shivsena
BJP has sent feelers to Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray, offering the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha to a representative of the unhappy ally, sources privy to the development said.
The post of deputy chairman will fall vacant as incumbent PJ Kurien of Congress will complete his Rajya Sabha term shortly. The government is not inclined to offer the post to the main Opposition.
BJP is planning to occupy the deputy chairman’s post in case the Sena leadership refuses the offer. The name of Bhupendra Yadav has been doing the rounds as a possible nominee.
It is learnt that the Sena is yet to respond to the offer as it comes at a politically-sensitive time and involves delicate decision making.
The Shiv Sena has been in a belligerent mood with BJP and had ‘resolved’ to fight next elections on its own. If the Shiv Sena accepts BJP’s olive branch, it would mean taking a course for patching up with BJP, sources said. Since Sena’s projected belligerence was rooted in its grouse against BJP aggressively eating into its political space and fear that BJP was eying a larger share of seats in the next electoral alliance, any patch-up beyond the deputy chairman’s post will have to address larger coalition issues, sources added.
The fact that Sena nominees remain in the BJP-led Maharashtra and the Union governments also means that the latter has not decided on completely cutting off coalition ties with BJP.
Equally delicate will be Sena’s choice for the RS post should Thackeray accepts the BJP offer.
Sanjay Raut is the seniormost party RS MP, into his third term. His colleague Venugopal Dhoot, also into his third term, is seen more as a businessman. The other member, Anil Desai, has just renewed his second term.
If Sena accepts the offer and gives the post to Raut, the executive editor of Sena daily Saamana who frequently publicises Sena’s criticism of BJP and the Centre’s policies will have to temper his comments given the presumed apolitical nature of the presiding officer’s post.
After TDP with five MPs pulled out, the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are the second largest BJP allies in the Rajya Sabha with three seats each. Incidentally, BJP had offered the deputy speaker’s post to AIADMK as precursor to wooing the party when Jayalalithaa was party general secretary.