Shiv Sena firms up plans for poll-bound Bihar

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2015 19:12 IST
A BJP supporter waves a party flag at NDA's Parivartan Rally in Bhagalpur (PTI Photo)

A week after first declaring its intent in contesting around 150 seats in poll-bound Bihar, the Shiv Sena is now firming up its plans to embarrass ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

HT had first report how the Sena wanted to contest 150 seats in Bihar, in a bid to embarrass its ally, the BJP.

The Sena is now actively planning to tap into the potentially large number of BJP dissidents, who may be denied tickets by the party. As a result, the Sena has now decided to fight the polls on the plank of aggressive Hindutva.

However, beneath the Sena’s rhetoric about its possible success in the state, it’s the amount of detailing that the party is putting into the campaign that makes it different this time.

In a first, Sena party president Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday dispatched two of his closest aides and MPs Anil Desai and Sanjay Raut to tour Bihar and conduct a detailed, two-day long assessment of the party’s organisational strength in the state. Thackeray has now given the two leaders charge of the party’s campaign, a move which some see as a measure of his seriousness in embarrassing BJP.

To bolster its campaign, the party is also now planning to depute a battery of MPs as well as its sole Union cabinet minister Anant Geete to campaign in Bihar. In addition, the party has now asked its Mumbai leaders to get in touch with immigrants from Bihar living in their areas. “We have a substantial base of Biharis who have been Sena supporters for years. We will involve them in our outreach during the state polls, too,” said Desai.

According to party leaders, the party’s top brass believes it has a good chance of winning. “Even if people think we are going to be of nuisance value, we will ensure there is a lot of ‘value’ attached to it. Our reading shows the contest is going to be very close and we may be able to attract a significant chunk of votes, which could swing contests,” said a senior Sena leader, on condition of anonymity.

“For once, the top brass is very involved in the campaign. Our chief has taken a keen interest and as a result, the party’s statelevel cadre has reacted with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Vinay Shukla, Sena leader and coordinator for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Desai said the party will fight on the plank of aggressive Hindutva. “We are the only party which has remained consistent on all core Hindutva issues — be it Article 370, building Ram Mandir or the uniform civil code. Everyone else is busy wooing minorities,” said Desai, taking a dig at the BJP.

Desai and Raut, on Saturday, conducted interviews of prospective candidates in various seats across Bihar. According to sources in the party, along with the two leaders, three other MPs — Gajanan Kirtikar, Arvind Sawant and Anandrao Adsul — along with Mumbai MLA Sunil Prabhu, have been tasked with campaigning in the polls as of now.

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