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Shiv Sena’s dilemma: To be with BJP, or not to be

The Sena is likely to spell out its stand on the alliance partner once its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ starts publishing a three-part interview of its chief Uddhav Thackeray, from Monday.

mumbai Updated: Jul 23, 2018 10:34 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,BJP
Though the party passed a resolution to go solo in the 2019 polls, there are some key members who want an alliance with the BJP.(HT File Photo)

A series of flip-flops by the Shiv Sena over the no-confidence motion against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government last week has once again divided the party. The differences are on the issue of forming an alliance with the BJP for the 2019 general elections and Maharashtra Assembly polls. Even after the party passed a resolution to go solo in the 2019 elections, there are a few key party members who are keen on an alliance with the BJP.

A section of senior Sena leaders point out that it will be prudent to ally with the BJP, considering their party’s strengths and weaknesses. Another Sena leader says that the party’s base is weak in regions such as western Maharashtra and Vidarbha. “There is a school of thought that the party should play to its strengths and not be overzealous and go all out against the BJP,” he added.

The Sena is likely to spell out its stand on alliance partner once its mouthpiece Saamana starts publishing a three-part interview of its chief Uddhav Thackeray, starting from Monday.

The Sena shares an uneasy relationship with the BJP since the 2014 Maharashtra elections, when it was riding on the ‘Modi wave’. The Sena claims that the BJP has poorly treated it since then. Meanwhile, another Sena leader denies the talk of split. “Views on both possibilities are discussed because we have to be in sync with the ground realities. Regardless of our individual opinions, we act only on the directions of the party chief.”

Even as the BJP has taken efforts to mend ties with the Shiv Sena, the regional party continues to play hardball. Despite the meeting between BJP president Amit Shah and Thackeray last week, the Sena has continued its attack on the BJP through Saamana. “They (BJP) only remember allies when they are in need,” observes the Sena leader.

The Sena intends to maintain its big brother status in the state and is trying to squeeze out the maximum number of seats from the BJP in lieu of an alliance.

Senior Sena leaders say that they intend to finalise the modalities for the Lok Sabha and state elections together. However, the seat-sharing agreement between the two parties would be challenging. Even if the BJP agrees to give 151 seats to the Sena, the latter may not contest from seats which are strongholds of the Congress and NCP.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 10:34 IST