Shiv Sena dumps BJP for 2019 polls; Aaditya Thackeray elevated
The Shiv Sena on Tuesday announced it will contest the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls, to be held in 2019, without its current ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The resolution to go solo in the polls was passed on Tuesday in the party’s national executive meeting held in the city. The decision came amid increasingly choppy relations between the saffron alliance. However, the Sena is not pulling out of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra yet.
Tuesday’s meeting also saw the elevation of Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray to a Shiv Sena ‘neta’. The party hierarchy has Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the top, followed by ‘netas’ (leaders), then ‘upnetas’ (deputy leaders). This means Aaditya will now be a part of the Sena’s core leadership team, rubbing shoulders with veterans such as former chief minister Manohar Joshi and state industries minister Subhash Desai.
Uddhav also said going forward, the Sena will contest elections in all the states, and it would fight on the Hindutva agenda. “We will fight elections in every state for the cause of Hindutva, I vow today,” said Thackeray, who was re-elected party chief.
If the Sena pulls out now, the BJP-led government in Maharashtra will be in a minority. On the other hand, the Sena’s rule in Mumbai civic body will be in jeopardy because it does not have a clear majority in the civic house and the BJP has extended outside support to the party.
BJP reacted cautiously, even though its leaders made it clear they were more than willing to take the Sena’s challenge head on.
“It will be Sena’s loss. We were keen on the alliance. But if the Sena isn’t keen then the BJP is ready [ to go solo] and so is Maharashtra,’’ said city party chief Ashish Shelar. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is in Davos for the World Economic Forum, however on a conciliatory note said he was confident the BJP-Sena government would complete its full term in office.
“The Sena has been saying a lot of things, I don’t want to comment on it. As of now, we are in the government. I am sure the BJP and the Sena together will complete its full term. And whatever it takes, we will get the next term as well,’’ said Fadnavis, in a statement to ANI.
The resolution to end the alliance was moved by senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, who said that the party had “compromised for upholding the alliance” with the BJP. Raut termed the last three years of the alliance with the BJP as “demoralising”.
The political resolution said the Sena will win at least 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and win a majority in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly on its merit.
The Sena, which shares a blow hot-blow cold relationship with the BJP, has threatened to quit the Maharashtra government earlier. Recently, Aaditya had announced that the Sena would quit the BJP-led Maharashtra government in a year’s time.
Meanwhile, Aaditya is expected to take an active role in the party’s decision-making from here on. Aaditya, 27, has initiated several programmes for Mumbai, and has taken on the BJP politically on variety of issues. The recently opened 11-km makeshift cycle track in Mumbai is his brainchild. Aaditya also spearheaded a drive to ban plastic in the state.