The fate of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance may actually hinge on two events taking place away from the sound and fury in Mumbai: the Assembly elections in Bihar and the municipal polls closer home in Kalyan-Dombivli. More precisely, it will depend on how well the BJP fares in these two polls.
Ordinarily, the results would not have had substantial impact. But, in the current scenario -- where the power dynamics between the two parties are volatile -- they could prove decisive.
For the BJP, victory in Bihar and the KDMC would reinforce its recently-acquired ‘big brother’ status in the alliance. A thumping win in Bihar would further underline’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credentials as a vote-catcher, and this would worry the BJP’s friends and foes alike.
For the Sena, a victory in the KDMC polls and a loss for the BJP in Bihar will bring, as one Sena leader put it, an early Diwali. “Bihar will be extremely crucial for us because the results will be seen as a referendum on Modi, which the BJP keeps harping about. If the people of Bihar reject Modi’s leadership, it will definitely take the punch out of the BJP’s cockiness,” said a citybased Sena MLA.
But how exactly will the results change the alliance’s dynamics? A Sena leader, explaining the party’s perspective, said, “We will be able to demand a better share of power and respect from the BJP. It will also strengthen our belief that the state assembly polls were, at best, an aberration and the Sena remains the bigger brother in the relationship,” said a senior Sena leader, not wishing to be named, referring to the outcome of the civic polls in Aurangabad, Navi Mumbai and Ambarnath where the Sena did better than the BJP.
A city-based Sena leader said that according to his party’s internal calculations, the Sena is emerging as the largest party even in the KDMC, but may require a post-poll tie-up with the BJP.
If that indeed happens, the Sena will get a psychological edge and can press for more berths in the State and Union cabinets. “We plan to have an assessment of our share of power currently in the State government. If we are able to net KDMC, we will immediately want greater say for our ministers as well as more cabinet berths and will definitely have more bargaining power,” the Sena leader said.
Till then, however, the Sena is unlikely to ruffle any feathers in the government. Senior Sena leader and Minister Ramdas Kadam told mediapersons on Tuesday that the alliance will continue. ““We are unhappy with the BJP. They played politics on the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Ambedkar Memorial (on Sunday). But this does not mean the alliance will break down.”