Bharatiya Janata Party deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde reiterated on Tuesday that his party was keen to broaden its alliance with the Shiv Sena Maharashtra by arriving at an understanding with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Munde’s statement comes soon after party president Nitin Gadkari said that the BJP was considering joining hands with the MNS.
Munde was the one to moot the idea first.
Munde reiterated that the BJP’s 22-year alliance with the Sena would stay and that any understanding with the MNS would be subject to the Sena agreeing to it.
“We’re just saying that if the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party have to be defeated, we have to prevent the splitting of votes by the MNS,” Munde said.
“Our alliance with the Sena stays firm. We have just mooted the idea of trying to broaden it.” Munde, however, said that the Sena has still not agreed.
He said that the BJP had lost 43 seats in the 2009 Assembly polls because of the MNS, while the latter had won 13 seats.
The conclusion: the BJP-Sena alliance would have had another 56 seats if the MNS was with it.
The BJP would gain in Maharashtra with such an alliance in place, but would have to watch out for potential damage in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar if they joined hands with Raj Thackeray, and the negative image fallout of an aggressively “nationalist” party joining hands with a party seen as a regionalist force.