Over the past couple of days, there have been speculations that the estranged Thackeray brothers – Uddhav and Raj – could join hands for the various civic polls to be held in the coming two years.
This is not the first time such speculations have done the rounds of political and media circles.
This time, the trigger is two incidents that took place last week. First, the BJP decided to dump the Shiv Sena in Kolhapur, and announced a tieup with a local front, Tararani Aghadi.
The front is headed by a Congressman, Mahadev Mahadik, and has strong presence in Kolhapur city, while so does the Sena. Still, the BJP chose to go with Aghadhi, though a SenaBJP alliance would have increased Sena’s chances of winning the Kolhapur polls.
The second incident is Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray paying a visit to Bhayyu Maharaj, a spiritual guru, who has cordial relations with both t he brothers. Originally from Nagpur, Bhayyu Maharaj i s settled in Indore and several Maharashtra politicians seek his spiritual advice.
It is being said the MNS chief and Bhayyu Maharaj had a chat over the possibility of the two Senas coming together for civic polls in Kalyan (October 2015) and later in Mumbai (in February 2017). So far, none of the brothers have reacted to the speculations.
For Uddhav, his main target is the Mumbai civic body, which his party has controlled for two decades and is the source of its strength. After its impressive win in the Assembly polls, the BJP is planning to snatch control over the Mumbai civic body from its alliance partner.
A section in the Sena thinks the BJP will do what it did ahead of the Assembly polls: part ways if the Sena refuses to give i n to i ts demands for more seats. A five-cornered contest could mean trouble for the Sena and as such, the party should have a tie-up with the MNS to counter the BJP.
However, some of Uddhav’s close aides are of the opinion the Sena doesn’t need MNS in Mumbai. In fact, they insist Maharashtrians in the city would stand behind the Sena and it would be the right time to give a decisive blow to the MNS, which has lost ground following its rout in the 2014 Assembly polls.
On the other hand, Raj’s aides say he is planning a comeback through the Mumbai civic polls, because he knows losing clout in Mumbai would mean a serious setback for his political career.
They also say the Assembly defeat was a result of the Modi wave, which doesn’t exist anymore. Raj is of the opinion that people are still angry with the CongressNCP and not very happy with the performance of the BJP at the Centre and the state. As such, the MNS can make a comeback in Mumbai and there is no need to seek the Sena’s help.
So what could happen in the coming days?
According to those in the know of things, Uddhav-Raj would come together only if the BJP pushes the Sena to a corner and Uddhav is forced to look for friends. However, the recent indications are otherwise. The BJP called a meeting of the NDA after Sena made a demand. Three days ago, PM Narendra Modi met Uddhav’s son Aaditya, who showed him a demonstration of a tablet to make school bags lighter.
This is seen as Modi’s way of showing that Sena is a valuable partner for the BJP.
What happens in the next few months will decide if the two brothers remain political adversaries, or come together.