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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Past BJP-Shiv Sena squabbles new Congress ammo in Maharashtra

The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are expected to announce a tie-up soon and are banking on anti-incumbency against the government, apart from the uneasy ties the BJP and the Shiv Sena have long shared.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Feb 21, 2019 08:04 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Congress in Maharashtra has drawn up its own strategy to take on the freshly minted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
The Congress in Maharashtra has drawn up its own strategy to take on the freshly minted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections.(PTI Photo)
         

The Congress in Maharashtra has drawn up its own strategy to take on the freshly minted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

The party has compiled videos and statements of BJP and Shiv Sena leaders attacking each other in the run-up to finalising the deal. BJP president Amit Shah and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sealed the alliance, under which the BJP will contest 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and the Sena 23.

Some of these videos and statements have already been put out on social media to expose the fault lines in the alliance. These will be shown at election rallies and public meetings, a Maharashtra Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are expected to announce a tie-up soon and are banking on anti-incumbency against the government, apart from the uneasy ties the BJP and the Shiv Sena have long shared.

“The leaders and workers of the two parties have abused and criticised each other so much that it is like living together after a bitter divorce,” claimed senior Maharashtra Congress leader Anant Gadgil. “There is a visible discontentment among the workers of both parties, which will be advantageous to the Congress and the NCP.”

His party colleague, Amit Shetty, agreed. “There is a huge disconnect between the BJP and Shiv Sena workers on the ground. They have been at each other’s throats for the past several years. How will they now explain their reunion to the people of the state?” he asked. But there is reason for the proposed Congress-NCP combine to worry given that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is likely to prevent the division of votes between the two parties.

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam termed the partnership “an unholy alliance”. “Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in a public meeting recently called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thief and shouted slogans such as chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief). He also repeatedly attacked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.” “The BJP too made counter-attacks. So, our campaign will highlight the government’s failures and also the internal conflict of the two parties and how they have been fighting against each other for the past many years. They can’t fool the people anymore,” he claimed.

Also read| Rahul Gandhi to launch Congress’ Lok Sabha poll campaign in Maharashtra with rally on March 1

By coming together, the Congress and the NCP hope to consolidate the opposition vote and prevent a repeat of 2014. The two had a bitter parting ahead of the 2014 assembly elections, allowing the BJP to win the polls. The Congress first partnered with the NCP in 1999 to form the governing coalition. Despite winning more seats in the 1999 and 2004 assembly elections, the NCP conceded the chief minister’s post to the Congress in return for more ministerial berths. The alliance continued for the 2009 polls as well.

Also read| Will go alone if Congress-NCP doesn’t give us one Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra: Samajwadi Party

First Published: Feb 21, 2019 08:01 IST

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