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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Lok Sabha elections: Getting BJP, Sena cadre together a challenge

The two parties have been at loggerheads despite sharing power in Maharashtra and the Sena didn’t leave any opportunity to criticise the BJP and its leadership

mumbai Updated: Feb 20, 2019 00:23 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
         

swapnil.rawal@hindustantimes.com

As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah discussed the alliance with the Shiv Sena on Monday, he touched upon a key concern for both the parties — its cadre.

The two parties have been at loggerheads despite sharing power in Maharashtra and the Sena didn’t leave any opportunity to criticise the BJP and its leadership. In such a scenario, joining hands and working with each other could be a challenge for the two saffron parties, especially the Sena.

Shah said: “I would like to tell the karyakartas (party workers) of both parties that the Sena and Akali Dal have supported the BJP in good and bad times. The small issues [we had] have been resolved and both the parties have decided to go forward together, I am happy about it.”

The two parties have planned joint tours across the state to show their unity and get party cadre to work together.

As Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray did not get the upper hand, like he wanted, he will have to use Shah’s visit to Matoshree (Thackeray’s residence) to seal the deal and ideological win on issues such as Ram Mandir, Nanar oil refinery project and farm loan waiver for optics.

According to Sena functionaries, the party’s cadre wanted the leadership to create a separate “identity” for Sena within Maharashtra. “The mood on the ground is mixed. For almost five years, these workers were slowly given the sense that the party will stand against the BJP. We criticised them on all major issues, from demonetisation to GST. Now, how do we ask them to work together,” a vibhag pramukh or division head of Sena, who did not wish to be named, said.

For the BJP, a development that could be seen as fallout of the alliance, around 70 party workers, including mandal and taluka heads of the BJP in Palghar district, have quit the party since Sunday.

Pascal Dhanare, BJP MLA from Dahanu and in charge of the Palghar unit, said, “The Palghar seat is with the BJP since 1984. Workers are quitting as there is news that the seat would be given to the Shiv Sena.”

A senior party functionary said, “All that talk of getting the elder brother status did not materialise. But whatever deal Uddhavji has secured is good. We at least got them to commit to issues that we raised. Workers believe that whatever decision their general takes is for the betterment of the party, they will follow him. We will work to boost their morale.”

Sampark pramukhs told Thackeray during review meetings that a large chunk of party workers were not in favour of an alliance. The party leadership, however, realised that it did not have the influence to bag a majority of seats on its own.

Meanwhile, the Sena, which had planned to contest the Lok Sabha polls independently in neighbouring states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, etc, is not unlikely to field candidates. “The Sena candidates could eventually split votes, although marginally, to dent the figures of NDA. In that scenario, it is not likely to contest outside Maharashtra. A final call will be taken by Uddhavji soon,” a party functionary privy to the development said.