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Bend little or take a dent

Shiv Sena will contest 150 seats in UP and plans to spread its wings outside Maharashtra.

After the Election Commission announced dates for Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur assembly polls the Shiv Sena is likely to contest 150 seats in UP. Sena has taken this decision to expand its foothold outside Maharashtra. After BJP swept assembly polls and made inroads in to Maharashtra, Sena has been reduced to a junior alliance partner in the state. Therefore it plans to spread its wings outside Maharashtra to create a dent in BJP’s Hindu votebank. Sena is keen to play the Hindutva card and will raise the issue of BJP sidelining Hindus. The party had earlier contested the Bihar assembly polls and had garnered more than two lakh votes. Sena is unhappy with the BJP for sidelining it in Maharashtra and the centre. The party also will contest the Goa assembly election.

Shiv Sena had won more than two lakh votes in the Bihar assembly polls and many candidates had come second in the election on some places. Overall, the Shiv Sena polled 2.11 lakh votes in Bihar, comprising 0.6 percent of the total vote share.  It also adversely affected the performance of BJP in Bihar. Sena is planning to rake up the Ram Mandir issue in UP to upset BJP’s electoral prospects. Thus, a tough contest will be witnessed between Samajwadi Party, BSP, BJP, Congress and Shiv Sena in UP.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “We will contest 150 seats in the UP assembly election. We already have an alliance with Subash Velingkar’s Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) for contesting Goa assembly polls. However we plan to go solo in UP. Candidates and party’s office bearers in the state have been instructed to galvanize support by strengthening party’s presence at booth committee level,”

“I have been holding meetings with former legislators and MPs across parties in Uttar Pradesh and many of them are keen to contest from Sena,” he added.

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “Modi has failed to fulfill the promises made by him. He had promised to bring achche din for people but where are good days? Citizens have to face huge hardships after demonetisation.”

“We will contest UP election alone. We had contested 80 seats in Bihar on our own. And in most of these seats, we got more votes than what the BJP or its allies had won. In UP, we are confident of winning several seats,” said a Shiv Sena leader.

A source from BJP on the condition of anonymity said, “Shiv Sena might be planning to contest UP assembly polls but the party doesn’t have a base in the state. Sena will find it difficult to give a tough fight to Samajwadi party, BSP and Congress. The party had fought Bihar assembly polls but it failed to win any seat.”

In 2012 UP assembly polls, Sena had contested 31 seats but lost in all of them. The party is expecting to deliver a better performance this time by contesting 150 seats.

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