Diwali came early to 11, Ashok Road in the capital, withcelebrations kicking off at BJP headquarters on Sunday as the Maharashtra andHaryana election results emerged. Over in Mumbai though the mood at the BJPoffice was more mixed.
It had been decided a day earlier that laddoos and poha would be served to allthose who came to the Mumbai office. But by about 10 am, there was concern theparty may not be able to achieve a majority on its own—the magic number of 145.It undoubtedly did well, with 122 seats, but this meant that forming thegovernment would become a complicated affair.
When BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis arrived at theoffice from Nagpur at around 11 am, he was surrounded by media persons wantingto know just one thing: "What will the BJP do now?" He rushed inside,talking to party chief Amit Shah over the phone. After a one-hour meeting withBJP seniors Om Mathur and Vinod Tawde, Fadnavis assured reporters that hisparty would form the next government in Maharashtra. Still, Fadnavis was farfrom his usual smiling self.
BJP members said many in the party were already in touchwith the Shiv Sena leadership, weighing the prospects of getting back togetherwith its former ally in the state. The RSS advised BJP not to associate itselfwith Sharad Pawar's NCP, which had offered its unconditional support in asurprise move. Senior RSS members, said to be disappointed with the BJP show inMaharashtra, will participate in talks with the Sena, sources said.
Every constituency winner was mean while welcomed by a deafening taturi (traditional Maharashtrian trumpet) performance.
Amid the din, BJP members pointed out that the party'svote share had almost tripled and it had done very well in cities such asMumbai and Pune. They didn't talk much about how it had miscalculated its reachin northern Maharashtra and Marathwada, where it won fewer seats than expected.Some blamed allies for not doing enough.
Party president Shah reached the BJP headquarters inDelhi at around 2 pm to be welcomed with garlands and congratulations. Securitywas high and this caused some inconvenience to visitors. The main road wasclosed to traffic by the police and people had to walk to the party office.
As the day progressed, SPG personnel took over thepremises as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to attend the BJP parliamentaryboard meeting. The office was vacated and people frisked afresh. Dog and bombsquads were also seen making the mandatory rounds of the BJP headquarters.
The parliamentary board meeting discussed a plan forfurther consultations and sought to come up with names of those who couldpossibly negotiate with the Shiv Sena. Prakash Mehta, who has a longassociation with the Sena, and Poonam Mahajan, whose late father Pramod Mahajanhad stitched up an alliance of the saffron parties in Maharashtra, weresuggested as intermediaries among others, according to people in the know.