Gujarat polls: Shiv Sena will contest 50-70 seats on Hindutva agenda, take on the BJP

The BJP may have forgotten about Hindutva conveniently, but we have not, say Sena leaders in Maharashtra

mumbai Updated: Nov 09, 2017 17:02 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.(HT File )

As ties between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) get more strained and bitter, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has decided to take on its ally in the Gujarat Assembly polls, scheduled to be held in December.

The Sena, which continues to be the BJP’s ally in the Maharashtra government despite fractious relations, plans to contest between 50 and 70 seats in Gujarat. Significantly, the party did not contest the 2012 Gujarat polls; then it had said that it did not want to divide Hindu votes.

A team led by senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai is in Ahmedabad currently to identify candidates as well as the seats to be contested. Accompanying Desai are the party’s Gujarati faces Rajul Patel and Hemraj Shah. “We have not finalised the numbers yet, but the Sena will contest 50 to 70 seats. We will field candidates from Surat, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, a few seats in Saurashtra, including Rajkot, Kutch, among other constituencies,” Desai told HT.

A senior Sena leader reiterated that the party would extend support to Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, in the remaining constituencies. So far, Patel has not announced any move to field candidates.

The Sena’s move looks to be specifically aimed at hurting the BJP’s chances, though Desai refutes it when asked. “In the past couple of years, the Sena has been fighting against the BJP - we have done it in Maharashtra [in various civic polls] and other states as well. Wherever we have a sizeable presence, we have contested,” he said.

“The party cadre has been doing a lot of ground work, and if we keep away at the time of polls, it does not go down well [with party workers],” Desai added.

The Sena will contest the Gujarat polls on the hardline Hindutva agenda, a poll plank once adopted by the BJP. A senior Sena leader said: “The Hindutva agenda has a lot of supporters. The BJP has forgotten it conveniently, but we have not.” Confirming the campaign plan, Desai said: “The ideology of the Sena is based on Hindutva, so yes, we will be going all out on that agenda.”

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 17:00 IST