The Shiv Sena, upset by its ally BJP’s overtures to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), is now trying to get its own back by declaring that it will contest outside the state as well – 20 seats from Uttar Pradesh, seven from Delhi and five from Bihar. They will not, however, be fielding candidates against Narendra Modi in Varanasi and Rajnath Singh in Lucknow.
While it does not have a noteworthy presence in the northern states, Sena’s move comes after its chief Uddhav Thackeray recently questioned the BJP’s “alliance dharma”. He has been waiting for the BJP to publicly announce its stand on Raj’s offer to support Modi — which the BJP has been ignoring.
Early on Friday, a list of candidates prepared by the UP unit of Shiv Sena got leaked to the media, which also had the names of the candidate for Varanasi, Ajay Chaubey and the one from Lucknow, Uday Pandey.
Within minutes, Aaditya Thackeray, Sena’s youth wing chief and son of the party president, denied this on twitter. “Contrary to the media’s twisted quotes, the Shiv Sena isn’t putting up candidates against our PM candidate @narendramodi ji and @BJPRajnathSingh ji,” he wrote.
Shiv Sena MP and general secretary Anil Desai added to the tweet, saying this was not the first time the party was contesting elections from places like UP. “The reach of our party is beyond Maharashtra and our understanding with the BJP is restricted to Maharashtra, not outside.”
The head of UP’s Sena unit, Uday Pandey, though, said although they were ready to fight on 50 seats, he had got a call from Matoshree — the Thackeray residence — and was told to fight from 20 seats and stay away from Varanasi and Lucknow.
The BJP denied any rift with the Sena. “The Sena has been fielding candidates against BJP nominees there for many years,” said senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde.