Mumbai Sena, BJP MPs: Alliance will make us stronger
Even as the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continue to bicker, the city’s six Members of Parliament (MPs) feel the alliance between the two parties, which was announced on Monday, was much-needed and puts them in a stronger position.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-Sena alliance won all six Lok Sabha seats from Mumbai, riding on the Modi wave. Currently, three Lok Sabha seats – North Central, North and North-East – are with the BJP, while the others – South, South Central and North West – are with the Shiv Sena.
The scenario in 2009 was exactly the opposite. Helped by the division of saffron combine’s votes owing to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the Congress-NCP alliance swept the six seats, with five of them going to the Congress.
The 2019 general elections are a direct fight between two alliances – the Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP. Also, the MNS is not as strong as it was 10 years ago. Retaining the seats would have been difficult if the two parties had parted ways, feel MPs. “We will be able to put a strong fight against Congress-NCP and repeat the 2014 victory because of the alliance,” said Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai North West constituency.
Gopal Shetty, BJP MP for Mumbai’s North constituency, said, “In many states, there is a fight between the Congress and BJP, but in Maharashtra, the votes go to the Shiv Sena and NCP too. The alliance will prove to be beneficial in the state.”
Rahul Shewale, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai’s South Central constituency, said, “The civic elections of 2017 showed that both the Shiv Sena and BJP have equal hold over the city. The alliance gives us an advantage.”
Arvind Sawant, Sena MP for Mumbai South, said, “Why don’t people talk about the alliance between the Congress and NCP? We will work together with the BJP for this election, just like 2014.”
Sena MPs fear the party could lose some anti-BJP voters, who will now shy away from picking them.
“It is true that we may lose votes from some anti-BJP voters. But we have gained support from the North Indian Hindus by talking about building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya,” said Shewale.
Kirtikar said, “There is no guarantee that the anti-BJP votes would have come to the Shiv Sena only. They could have gone to the Congress-NCP alliance also. Contesting alone would have made things difficult for the BJP and Shiv Sena.”
In Mumbai North East constituency, however, the Sena workers have opposed the candidature of sitting MP Kirit Somaiya, who had made serious allegations against Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Sanjay Nirupam, Mumbai Congress president who won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North constituency, said, “The way the Sena and BJP have scrambled to form a pre-poll alliance is proof that the Congress and NCP have put up a strong front against them. We are sure to defeat maximum candidates in the upcoming polls.”