Mumbai: With the elections to the BMC throwing up a fractured verdict, all eyes are on Shiv Sena and BJP, both notched up over 80 seats in the 227-member council, whose leaders are yet to spell out their next move.
The Sena on Friday put up a brave front despite the results falling far short of its expectations, indicating that it will not agree to a post-poll pact giving up its claim for the coveted post of mayor in the country's richest civic body.
Senior BJP leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari, however, said the two parties have "no option" other than a coming together.
"The situation now is that both parties have no option but to come together again," Gadkari told a Marathi channel, adding "The final decision on this issue has to be taken by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray."
Fadnavis, the architect of the BJP's stunning performance in BMC and other city bodies across the state, had on Thursday said his party's "core committee" comprising him and the state unit chief will take the next step.
Meanwhile, the Sena received a boost on Friday with two Independent corporators joining the party, raising its total tally in the BMC to 86, still way below the half-way mark of 114.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, after admitting the corporators in the party, told reporters that he had not thought about an alliance with any party to wrest power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) yet, but maintained that the coveted Mayor's post will be held by Sena only.
According to Sena sources, Thackeray will hold a meeting of senior leaders and newly-elected corporators on Saturday to decide future course of action.
Meanwhile, senior leaders from both parties claimed the support of the remaining three Independent corporators.
BJP's core committee meeting is expected to be held in two to three days, where the party's course will be charted out.
In the bitterly fought BMC elections, Shiv Sena won 84 seats, BJP secured 82, Congress was relegated to the third position with 31 seats, whereas the NCP and Raj Thackeray-led MNS finished with nine and seven seats respectively.
Unfazed by the giant stride made by the BJP, Sena kept up its attack on the estranged ally, with which it shares power in the state and central government.
An editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana' said the party's fight with the BJP will continue, regardless of the consequences.
It also accused the BJP of having used the state machinery and all its might of central leadership to score an unprecedented result in the BMC polls and other local bodies.
"The Sena has been ruling the BMC from the last 25 years. They (the BJP) used deceitful means to destabilise our rule. This has never happened before when the Congress ruled the state," it charged.
"Our fight (with the BJP) will continue. The war that had started was not only for power but for 'dharma', ideals and the integrity of Maharashtra," the Sena said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar said his party won't enter into any "secret alliance" with anyone.
"Whatever (alliance) will happen will be discussed in the core committee," Shelar said, ahead of the BJP core committee meeting here tonight.
"It is a matter of analysis as to how our party, which had 32 corporators in the outgoing BMC, rose to 82 in the latest election," he added.