Shiv Sena and BJP’s alliance for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections is going through rocky turmoil like in 2014. Only difference is that this time BJP is in a steering position to run the alliance. This time, BJP has made it clear to Uddhav Thackeray‘s Shiv Sena that after taking out the seats that the two parties won in 2014; the remaining seats will be distributed equally. This will leave Shiv Sena with around 115 seats in the alliance’s seat distribution plan. Shiv Sena has, however, raised an objection to this and pointed to the fact that Devendra Fadnavis had promised before the Lok Sabha elections that seat distribution for assembly polls will be equal for both the partners. Shiv Sena had won 63 seats and BJP had won 123 seats in the 2014 assembly elections. Even though last week, Uddhav Thackeray had said that in a couple of days the alliance would be announced for the assembly elections, it has been nine days since. Now it’s Pitru Paksha BJP-Sena has their superstitions too, the chosen candidates will not even get enough time to campaign for themselves. This tug of war will have meaning.espite tying up for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,
In 2014, Shiv Sena was even ready to take a cut of 20 seats but was not ready to go down below 150, for which BJP claims the alliance didn’t work out.
Now, even though the Shiv Sena leadership has accepted that they will be getting lesser number of seats than BJP, they are not ready to accept the 128 seats offered and want a minimum of 135 seats. Both Shiv Sena and BJP have acquired leaders from Congress and NCP to better prepare for the assembly elections. However, this has also created doubts that the parties are readying plans to contest the elections separately. Uddhav Thackeray satirically remarked that he has asked Fadnavis to prepare and handover a list of Shiv Sena candidates too.
On the other hand, Fadnavis has remained non-committal and said “discussions are on”. Shiv Sena should accept its situation practically. The Sena has expressed its desire to have an “equal share” and wants the two parties to contest 135 seats each of the total 288 in the state, leaving the rest to their respective allies. The BJP, however, has refused to give in to the demand and has asked for a bigger share of the pie, up to 160 seats. Sena have hinted at a possibility of the two parties contesting independently if the party doesn’t get as many seats as it has been demanding. After the first two meetings ended in a deadlock, Uddhav Thackeray reportedly called an urgent meeting with the party’s MPs, MLAs and political strategists to discuss a possibility of going solo in the upcoming elections. However, the situation today is very different, political analysts point out. Even though senior Sena leaders have claimed the party is prepared to fight the elections on its own if an alliance is not worked out, analysts say Sena stands to lose a lot more than the BJP.
The Modi wave benefited both the BJP and the Sena equally in the state. But over the past five years, apart from the Modi wave, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also managed to build his own image as an indomitable leader. The alliance helped the party’s steamroll the state, winning 41 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats. Soon after the general elections, the Sena has again been critical of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and Fadnavis’s government in the state. Through its editorials, the Sena’s mouthpiece has been critical of the BJP governance, even playing the role of opposition on several occasions. In Mumbai, the Sena has decided to oppose Fadnavis’s move to axe over 2,600 trees in the Aarey forest. In spite of expressing difference Sena has no choice and BJP can think of aligning with anyone. The dilemma of staying in alliance or going solo has exposed the weakness of Shiv Sena. The top leadership has ego issues. These are the same issues that led to division of Shiv Sena, and the MNS was formed. But there persists a pressure from some of its seasoned leaders to stay in the alliance. So, that is one reason.
Their anti-Modi stand is more an “ego” issue than a political strategy. Staying in alliance is more important for them as compared to BJP. Their overall tally may come down to a single digit if they choose to go solo. Therefore, despite the ego issues they choose to remain in the bad relationship with BJP. The chances of BJP alone getting the clear majority are quite slim. In such a situation, Shiv Sena will have upper hand at bargaining to lend its support, and will also get a chance to get even with the BJP. That is also one of the reasons why Sena is still in alliance.
Meanwhile, Uddhav is looking out for the future of his son as deputy CM. He would not go solo but he will play his last straw to get his demands obeyed by BJP.
The Election Commission is also expected to announce the poll dates for assembly elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand soon.
Looking at the trend, the poll schedule for Maharashtra and Haryana for 2014 elections was announced on September 20 and the voting took place on October 1.
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