As BJP President Amit Shah lands in Mumbai to gather senior leaders in his party into a strategy session for the Maharashtra elections next month, ally Shiv Sena has used an editorial in its magazine the Saamna, to caution the BJP against taking “voters for granted.”
Analysing the BJP’s losses in crucial by-elections, the Sena editorial has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and says he should not be blamed for his party’s performance – it was trounced by the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and has allowed the Congress to make inroads in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“The by-election results are a lesson for the Maharashtra elections,” the Saamna said, adding, “Don’t let success go to your head, keep your feet on the ground.”
The sub-text of that warning is that while Mr. Modi undoubtedly scripted the BJP-led NDA’s spectacular victory in national elections just four months ago, the BJP cannot count on what it calls the “Modi wave” to win the Maharashtra elections next month. “Each election comes with its tides and tides change after every election. Vidhan Sabha elections cannot be fought on the basis of the Lok Sabha wave,” the editorial said.
The Sena and the BJP, allies for 25 years, are engaged in a tussle over seat-sharing. The BJP argues that its superior performance in the national elections has earned it the right to an equal number of seats to contest. The Sena insists that it must continue to be the senior partner in the state and contest more seats.
Negotiations are at a standstill after Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray seemed to question whether there is a “Modi wave.” Sena sources said the by-election results vindicate his remarks.
The setback has sent the BJP into a huddle. Senior leaders met at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence in the capital on Tuesday and Mr Gadkari is also expected to be present at Amit Shah’s meeting in Mumbai.
Mr Shah is expected to discuss with state leaders how to take seat-sharing talks forward with the Sena. The stakes are high as the party with the most legislators will have the bigger claim to the Chief Minister’s post if the alliance wins.