In two years from 2012 to 2014, which saw Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and BJP leader Gopinath Munde pass away, things have changed drastically for one of the oldest political alliance's in the country.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were stoic, remembering their contributions and those of Pramod Mahajan who piloted the alliance for long through highs and lows and wondering if they could have kept it going in the current situation?
Admitting that the aspirations of both sides had grown after the Lok Sabha polls, BJP insiders said the Sena had not got its way, unlike in the past, because the BJP’s current national high command had the guts to call it quits.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya said it was very sad that the BJP chose to part ways with Shiv Sena even after they were together in bad days. “Even as of now, we and many in the Maharashtra BJP do regret that vested interests have prevailed over unity, pre-elections,” he tweeted on Thursday.
For the Sena, things started changing with the BJP soon after Bal Thackeray died. Earlier, Mahajan would handle Bal Thackeray with utmost ease. After his death, Munde, supported by some BJP national leaders, cosied up to Matoshree.
But after the Sena founder’s death, there was reluctance on the part of BJP leaders, especially in the state, to accept Uddhav's leadership. Going by the drama which went on for over a fortnight, huge egos on both sides caused the alliance to split.
Furthermore, after the Lok Sabha results in which the BJP won 23 seats to the Sena’s 18, it started putting pressure for more seats than the 2009 formula of 169 for the Sena and 119 for the BJP.
For Uddhav, this election is one of his political survival, and compromising on any account with the BJP would have upset his sainiks who see him as the future chief minister of Maharashtra. This is the first state election he is leading from the front and fighting without his father around.
His insistence that the Sena would contest 151 seats was an issue of contention with the BJP. He was adamant to the point that he let the alliance go rather than go back on what he had told his sainiks at their national executive on Sunday, when he had announced this number was “final”.
Furthermore, senior BJP leaders including the late Munde and Union minister Nitin Gadkari were always seen advocating a patch-up between the two warring Thackeray cousins, Uddhav and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj, which the Sena leadership did not appreciate.
During the Lok Sabha campaign, Gadkari even approached Raj to either join the alliance or keep out of the polls to prevent any damage to their seats. In 2009, he had badly damaged the saffron alliance.