Days after BJP president Amit Shah dialed Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to seal a seat-sharing formula for the Lok Sabha polls, Sena’s senior leader Sanjay Raut has dropped a hint that the strains between the two partners may have started to melt away. Raut said that if NDA returns to power in 2019, its smaller constituents like Shiv Sena and Akali Dal will have a major role.
The remark comes days after Raut shared stage with opposition leaders during Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu’s sit-in protest in Delhi earlier this week. The development had left the BJP jittery with murmurs over the chances of Sena switching its loyalties.
“If NDA government is formed in 2019, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and other major allies will have a role,” Raut said today. However, the Sena spokesperson went on to add a rider. “All the allies of NDA are strong in their states and if you want to have an alliance with them at Centre, the CM in that state should be from that ally,” he added.
The remark implied that Shiv Sena would like to call the shots as far as affairs in the state are concerned. A few days ago, Sena had made it clear to the BJP leadership that it must return to the 1995 formula for an alliance when the former contested 168 of 228 Assembly seats and BJP fielded its candidates at 116 seats. The outreach came just a few days after JD(U) vice president Prashant Kishor met Uddhav in Mumbai and assured him of 28 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
Meanwhile, the lack of clarity on ground over which way the relations between the two oldest allies will go has left party workers confused. According to a report in The Indian Express, while Sena had been saying that it will go solo in the elections, the latest outreach by BJP president Amit Shah to its president Uddhav Thackeray has left the cadre befuddled.
Citing a Sena shakha pramukh from south Mumbai, the IE report said that ground workers are opposed to enter the election fray with BJP. The leader said that BJP has humiliated Sena workers over the last four years. “We have been criticising the BJP and have taken an extreme stand in some issues, including Rafale. It will be difficult to reconcile now,” the Sena functionary told IE.
“It has left the cadre confused ahead of the elections because we had already passed a resolution in the national executive (in January last year) that we would go solo,” he said. Another Sena leader said that if pre-poll alliance happens, some ticket hopefuls may break away and may not work for the party.
Contrary to this, most Sena MPs are in favour of an alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls. A Sena MP said that contesting solo will divide Hindu votes. The MP said when Congress and NCP can contest together despite having difference, alliance between Shiv Sena-BJP alliance can also happen on ideological lines.
“The critical statements made in the last few years should not be given much importance,” the MP said. Many of its MPs feel that party won 18 of the 22 seats it had contested in 2014 due to the alliance. Another MP said that all that Sena wanted was an honourable seat-sharind formula so that ground workers remain united work for the alliance.
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Source: Financial Express