The BJP expects its new ally and former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane to act as a counterweight against its disgruntled ally Shiv Sena, especially in the Konkan region, where he enjoys pockets of influence.
Sena has traditionally done well in the Konkan belt and Rane, despite suffering several political setbacks, including loss in the last assembly poll to a Sena nominee, remains a familiar face there.
With Rane as an ally, the BJP has also sent a signal to the Sena that it had started looking beyond its traditional ally to strengthen its position in a state where it has emerged as the biggest political force following its strong show in Lok Sabha as well as assembly polls in 2014, party sources said.
Its relations with Sena, which was its senior partner till 2014, have nosedived with the regional party leaving no chance to slam its central and state governments despite being a partner.
Sena was opposed to the BJP accepting Rane, who was its member before joining the Congress, into its fold and sections of the BJP were also not very enthused with the prospect.
The BJP had often in the past accused him of corruption and targeted his two sons, one a current MLA and another former MP.
Rane is also far from the force he once was. He had weaned away over 10 Sena MLAs when he was expelled from the party in 2005, and then became a senior minister in the Congress government. Now he has support of only one MLA, who is his son Nitesh Rane.
After meeting a number of top BJP leaders, including its president Amit Shah, Narayan Rane formed his political outfit, Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh, and said it would join the BJP- led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
“I have decided to be a part of the NDA for the development of the state and the Konkan region,” Rane said.