After Shah-Uddhav meeting in Mumbai, split within Sena over poll tie-up with BJP
While a section of Sena leaders are keen on a poll tie-up, some other senior party functionaries feel an alliance with the BJP will cost the party dearlymumbai Updated: Jun 10, 2018 00:30 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s meeting with the Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, seeking an alliance ahead of the 2019 polls, has brought to fore an internal split in the Sena.
While a section of Sena leaders including some of the incumbent ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet are keen on a poll tie-up, some other senior party functionaries feel an alliance with the BJP will cost the party dearly. Both these factions, however, agree that there cannot be a decision on Lok Sabha poll tie-up unless seat-sharing formula for the assembly polls is finalised.
In the meeting, Shah is learnt to have offered Sena a favourable agreement for assembly polls if the latter contests the Lok Sabha polls with the BJP.
In 2014, the saffron alliance broke ahead of the assembly elections as the Sena insisted on contesting 151 out of the 288 seats. This time around, while the BJP may even concede 151 seats, the Sena’s naysayers say that more than the number of constituencies, it is which seats are handed over to the party that will be important. At the meeting no seat-sharingformula was discussed, said a senior BJP minister.
“Even if they give us 151 seats, everything would depend on which seats are conceded to us. For instance, if the BJP is going to hand over seats which the Congress-NCP retained (86 seats) even during the Modi wave they are of no use because they are not winnable seats. We are also wary that this U-turn after declaring that we will go solo will not be palatable for our party cadre and core Sena voter,’’ said a senior Sena party functionary.
In 2014, Aaditya Thackeray had insisted on the 151 seats figure and the party is expected to insist on this number.
However, a senior Sena leader, who is in favour of an alliance pointed out that if the BJP was willing to concede its ‘big brother’ position in the state vis-a-vis number of seats, a poll tie-up would be favourable since the Opposition was united.
“We will wait and watch out for the next two meetings. The decision on Lok Sabha tie-up will be taken up only after a favourable assembly arrangement is made in our favour. But, in the current political scenario we gain nothing by walking out of power now or contesting solo in the upcoming elections,’’ the leader added.
It’s still unclear, which of these two sides Thackeray will pick ahead of the elections and the real poll position of the Sena may get finalised much closer to the 2019 polls. For now, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is expected to continue with the party’s aggressive stance and wait for the next round of meetings with the BJP.