It may have been a year-and-a-half since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snapped their 25-year-old ties with the Shiv Sena ahead of the 2014 elections, but for the latter, the wounds haven’t healed.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said his party has learnt its lessons on friends and enemies. Thackeray said his party’s experiences have made him wary of calling anyone a friend.
“Call it good fortune or bad, but the entire picture is clear to all -- who are ours, who aren’t; who are friends, who are enemies. We are wary to call anybody friends now. Is there anybody whom we can actually call friends?”
While he didn’t name any party, it was clear the reference was to the BJP. Sena leaders agree the party felt ‘betrayed’ by the BJP.
Insiders said the sense of betrayal is manifested in the aggression the Sena constantly shows towards the BJP governments in the Centre and state. This is unlikely to change and will only lead to heightened tensions between the two in the run-up to the civic polls next year, said sources.
Interestingly, the Sena feels a similar emotion towards its arch-rival, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). When asked if it was time to forge new friendships, Thackeray said, “I have already said we are clear on who our friends and enemies are. There is no confusion in the minds of the people and the average Shiv Sainik.”
This stand, however, is a change of heart. Soon after the BJP called off the alliance, both the Sena and the MNS had tried to enter into an understanding with each other, something that MNS chief Raj Thackeray had admitted to.
Thackeray’s stand indicates his confidence in his own skills and his party’s strength, especially after taking on the BJP in the Assembly polls and winning 63 seats, and suggests he doesn’t want to consider the prospect of a tie-up with the MNS.
Within just eight months to go before the all-important civic polls in February next year, the state’s political equations could change. Thackeray may just give an inkling of what’s on his mind when he addresses the party cadre on Sunday, when the Sena completes 50 years of existence.