Tie-up between BJP and JD (U) may weaken Shiv Sena’s position in Maharashtra
Even as the Shiv Sena has been one of the oldest allies within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the party’s significance in the BJP-led government at the Centre may shrinkUpdated: Jul 28, 2017 12:25 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) newly-forged alliance with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United JD(U) may worsen the already choppy relations between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, as the tie-up makes the BJP stronger with a significant regional party on its side, and expands its presence to yet another large state.
Even as the Shiv Sena has been one of the oldest allies within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the party’s significance in the BJP-led government at the Centre may shrink with the presence of one more strong regional political party in the fold who the BJP has to keep happy for helping it gain power in Bihar.
Political analyst Deepak Pawar said, “In the early days of the government, Nitish Kumar was one of the prime minister’s strongest critics. With this alliance, the BJP has managed to nearly wipe out strong criticism from the opposition. The only censures it has to tackle are from within the government, from the Shiv Sena.”
Pawar said the BJP-JD(U) alliance may not directly impact the Shiv Sena, but it does give the BJP an edge over its detractors with the Sena being one of the most vociferous ones at the moment.
After graft charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav, Bihar’s former deputy chief minister, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar resigned and toppled the RJD-JD(U)-Congress government, only to be given support by the BJP to form a new one in the state.
Following the alliance in Bihar, there are also talks of the JD (U) being included in Modi’s cabinet next month with a possibility of giving the party more than one ministerial berth, a move that is likely to rile up the Shiv Sena. The Sena has 18 Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha, while the JD(U) has two Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha MPs. Even as the Shiv Sena was expecting at least two ministerial spots when Modi formed his cabinet in 2014, the party only got one.
Having become a junior partner of the BJP in its own home turf, the Shiv Sena has been donning the role of an opposition within the government criticising the BJP on a range of issues. The Sena has also slammed the BJP for being power-hungry and stamping its presence across the country without any principles or ideology, and marginalising regional political outfits in the bargain.
The Shiv Sena said it is happy that Nitish Kumar has returned to the NDA, but also slammed it as a U-turn by the politician and criticised the BJP for trying to throttle the opposition.
In an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena questioned if Kumar’s joining the NDA will suddenly wipe out all the criticism that he had heaped on Modi about the leader not being secular and driving the agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
“Politics is no longer about thoughts and ideology. Despite not having a majority, the BJP formed a government in states like Goa and Manipur. Would this have been possible without a huge mandate at the Centre? The BJP should pose this question to its inner soul,” the Sena said in the editorial. The party added, the opposition is the country’s and democracy’s real soul.
“Nitish Kumar was the face for the prime ministerial seat from this united opposition. Modi and Amit Shah snatched this very face away,” the Sena said.
First Published: Jul 28, 2017 12:25 IST