As the counting day for the Lok Sabha elections nears, the Shiv Sena is keeping a close eye on the performance of its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Senior Sena leaders said although they are in an alliance with the BJP, they are even prepared to take on the national party, if the alliance falls through, just like in 2014.
In 2014, the BJP, after winning a majority, ditched the Sena just ahead of the Assembly polls. A Sena leader said the party was caught unawares when the alliance was snapped on seat-sharing issue. “We hardly had two weeks to select, nominate candidates and campaign in 2014. We are better prepared than five years before, should the situation arise,” he said.
In February 2019, the two parties put aside their differences and announced their alliance for Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls with equal power sharing. The Sena contested 23 seats, while the BJP contested 25 seats in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. However, they have not decided on the seat-sharing formula for the Assembly polls.
According to a Sena functionary, there was always a “doubt” within the party that the BJP could backtrack if it secured more seats in Maharashtra and look to maintain its newfound ‘big brother’ status in the state. “When the alliance was announced, the idea was to go with a political partner because no political party was going solo. Uddhavji was also of the opinion—which he said in interview to party mouthpiece—that the alliance should be given another chance,” the functionary said.
He said if the BJP wins a majority of the 25 seats it contested, it could boost their confidence for the Assembly polls, slated in September-October.
A senior Sena leader, however, said the BJP is unlikely to get full majority to form the next government and it will need the help of allies to form the next government. “The BJP may not be able to cross the 272-mark on its own. Allies will play a bigger role in the deciding the next government,” he said. “In that case, they will need us in Maharashtra.”
First Published: May 17, 2019 03:58 IST