Nothing is sweeter and addictive than power. The excerpt matches no one better than Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray whose extreme political hypocrisy has left the voters of Maharashtra puzzled. The much-hyped Maharashtra by-poll for the Palghar Lok Sabha seat has seen enough of mud-slinging between the ruling alliance partners. The Sena and BJP chemistry came together on Hindutva ideology in 1989. Moreover, since 2014’s 122-seats victory in the state, the saffron party tried ousting Shiv Sena from the ‘big brother’ podium, planned party’s expansion drive in Maharashtra and wanted equal power share in the state, the long-time BFFs Sena and BJP became ‘frenemies’.
In last one year, Uddhav spared no chance to attack its ally BJP for its shortcomings in governing the state. The equation lost its balance early this year when Sena supremo announced to break the alliance and go solo in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections in 2019.
The bitter tug-of-war and negative campaigning against each other reached far when Sena fielded a candidate against BJP in Palghar by-poll. However, Sena’s loss to BJP by 29,572 votes widened the crack as Uddhav Thackeray accused Election Commission to be ‘the puppet in the hands of the government’. But after all these blame game politics, Sena chief kept mum over its stand on whether his party would walk out of the National Democratic Alliance or the state government and extend support to Fadnavis government from outside. Uddhav Thackeray’s being on the horn of a dilemma and his hesitation to withdraw the support from BJP has put its own party workers in a topsy-turvy situation and they hardly give heed to his words now.
Republican Party leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale had also advised Sena to not break its alliance with BJP and warned a big split among their party if Sena decides to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls solo.
BJP MLC Smita Wagh stated, “I would prefer not commenting on whether Sena will break the alliance or not, but BJP has already taken a stand to support the alliance since we belong to the same ideology.”
After a series of scathing attacks, what exactly is preventing Uddhav Thackeray to quit the government? While other national parties avoid Shiv Sena for its strident position on Hindutva and Marathi sub-nationalism, is he clueless about the available options for his party hereafter or is he nervous to survive with the power of ‘power’?
Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Shinde expressed that though being in an alliance with BJP in the state government, they have their own political strategies. He further said, “It is not necessary to disclose all our strategies at this moment. We performed very well in Palghar by-polls and BJP should think about their setback in overall by-poll elections. Every Shiv Sainik and Maharashtrian believes in Uddhav’s leadership and we will take a strategic decision on the future of BJP-Sena alliance.”
After the by-poll results on May 31, Fadnavis attempted to bridge the gap. He said, “We are not against BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and neither do we believe that our alliance will break but the effort has to be from both ways. We are ready for talks with Shiv Sena.” While both NCP and Congress questioned Sena’s support to BJP and slammed Uddhav Thackeray saying, “If Uddhav has even a little self-respect left in him, he should get out of the alliance instead of criticising the government’s decision all the time.”
When AV spoke to Congress MLC Anant Gadgil, he said, “I don’t think Shiv Sena will back out from the state government right now. They will leave the government only a few months prior to the assembly election. Sena loves to enjoy the benefits as a ruling party. If Shiv Sena is not comfortable with BJP, they must have the guts to leave the power.”
NCP leader Vidya Chavan voiced, “Sena will not leave the hands of BJP as they love the ruling party-benefits. BJP and Shiv Sena will contest 2019 Lok Sabha polls though their equation for the state assembly polls looks dicey.”
She further added, “Sena is scared of the warning that its 20-22 MLAs can leave the party if the alliance breaks. It is a big challenge for Uddhav Thackeray to maintain the balance. NCP will not support Sena now and will contest elections with Congress.”
To give the party workers a fighting motto before Lok Sabha polls, Sena must shed light on its stand as soon as possible. Is Sena serious about going solo, or is it looking for a ‘fairer’ seat-sharing formula from BJP? Talking about the future of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, the political analysts believe Sena chief’s outbursts after Maharashtra by-poll results is nothing but testing waters.