he year 2019 would be interesting not just for PM Modi and the Lok Sabha elections, but also for the Maharashtra Assembly elections and the fate of Shiv Sena as the tug of war between BJP and Shiv Sena is out in the open and it would be interesting to see how it fairs in election time. Although politics is unpredictable, we can certainly rule out the possibility of Shiv Sena or BJP forming its government all alone. In this season of political opportunism, Uddhav Thackeray and BJP came together on the understanding of 50-50 seat sharing. Conflicting parties like Congress or NCP in Maharashtra are trying their level best to bounce back. Uddhav Thackeray is more concerned about defeating BJP and bringing it to its knees and somewhat he has hugely succeeded in it. Shiv Sena came into existence and has been sustaining on Balasaheb’s ideology of Hindutva. The entire party cadre is developed and has been proposing only Hinduism and Hindutva. If Uddhav goes against the party’s core ideology and propagates secularism, these party men would have deserted the party. When ideological bullies inherit power rather than earn it, they understand its value and their survival on it. Uddhav took Balasaheb’s legacy for decades of smart and clever politicking, which put the Shiv Sena on the national map as a big regional party not to be ignored in Maharashtra, only to legitimise and cement his claim to be the party supremo after Balasaheb’s departure by virtue of being his son.
After Balasaheb’s death and during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP sensed the opportunity and asked for more seats for the state election as Modi wave was there. Balasaheb never asked for so many seats comparatively when BJP was nothing in the state. He always acted as a true friend and the same BJP backstabbed his son Uddhav and Shiv Sena after 2014. Uddhav was humiliated in the assembly polls and embarrassed by not getting the portfolio requested, which put him in disgrace. Shiv Sena suffered a lot due to the BJP, but this time, Uddhav played it well by taking equal shares. For Shiv Sena, it’s only BJP but for BJP, it’s just not Shiv Sena. BJP will not break its alliance because it’s tough for BJP to get a majority in 2019 and it will need some support from the other parties to form the government. Shiv Sena is one of the oldest allies of BJP; they have been partners since BJP’s inception. Both of them are partners in governing the state of Maharashtra, the municipality of Mumbai, and alliance members in the central government. Those elderly people who have watched Balasaheb during his prime or those who have studied him would agree with me, if I say that Balasaheb was more respected, more prominent than any Statesman. Balasaheb didn’t hold any government positions but he was far more influential.
Since Shiv Sena has been critical of the government where it is a partner, people do not approve of its continuous barrage against its own government. Since it is losing importance among the public, any intervention of BJP will shift the focus towards BJP and Shiv Sena will gain sympathy. However, BJP does not want to give any space for Shiv Sena to gain public sympathy. It is a compulsion for both these parties to stay in an alliance because none of them can gain a majority alone to form the government. Shiv Sena’s vote bank is that of Hindus and some of them could be against the ideology of the Congress. Shiv Sena is aware of that. Uddhav’s father, Balasaheb, followed the policy of Marathi pride (Marathi Manoos) and Hindutva. He was a respected figure and that is why the BJP leaders such as late Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Mundhe used to visit him at his home. Nitin Gadkari also used to do that. However, time has changed. The political ideologies are children of times.
The present leadership of BJP, instead of equating Uddhav with his father, differentiates between the two. The Son maybe temperamentally different than the Father but he carried on the same legacy and ideology after his father’s death. However, BJP in 2014 pushed him to the corner; for the sake of Hindus, though he politically separated from BJP and fought assembly elections separately in 2014, he joined the government at State and Centre. He was forced to do that because of Narendra Modi’s friendship with Sharad Pawar. BJP since 2014 gave Uddhav a message that ‘if you are not with us, NCP is behind us’. Uddhav too passed a message to BJP that ‘if you play with me I have Congress as an option to come to power’. Somewhere both the BJP and Sena realised that no matter whatever are the internal differences, they have no other option than coming together to retain power. Moreover, what can Shiv Sena do to vindicate the lost honour resulted from BJP’s shabby treatment? Since Shiv Sena bears on its forehead the saffron mark, it has no friends in Maharashtra. Another party that bears a similar mark treats them poorly. Sena has no choice but to gulp insult from BJP and stay with it. Sena has neither friends in Maharashtra nor presence outside Maharashtra. It has no capacity to form its own government without anybody’s support. Shiv Sena knows well that it cannot hijack BJP’s workers but BJP can lure Sena’s cadre by engineering a split. This dilemma of Shiv Sena is exploited by BJP. They know well that no one will remarry Sena after divorce. The Sena also knows that and instead keep expressing frustration by fighting with BJP on small issues and blaming EVMs. It is said that wounds inflicted by an enemy can heal and be forgotten but wounds given by friend are unforgettable and incurable. Shiv Sena after defeat at Palghar didn’t agree that opposing Modi will eliminate it in the future. BJP created a perception that it will rule for 50 years but the ground conditions are opposite as the party is biting the dust in by-elections.
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