Shiv Sena to contest future polls alone: what does this mean for Maharashtra?s political climate?

By Prarthana Mitra

Disgruntled and “demoralised” by their alliance with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the Shiv Sena in January decided to go solo in all future elections, including the General and State Assembly elections in 2019. A resolution to this effect was approved by the party chief Uddhav Thackeray, and passed unanimously by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who added that the party had been relegated to a secondary role ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Maharashtra in 2014.

Historical alliance meets a historic end

This move could be a crucial factor in toppling the NDA government as it severs the ties between two of the oldest political allies—Shiv Sena and BJP—who had partnered up in the mid 1980’s, when Bal Thackeray was in top form. In 2014 however, BJP reversed Shiv Sena’s longstanding position as the senior partner, after securing 122 parliament seats in the state, and then went on to become the single largest party in the assembly elections.

There has been a lot of internal reshuffling in Shiv Sena, especially after Thackeray’s demise last December. Uddhav Thackeray assumed presidency, with his son Aaditya Thackeray joining the executive rank and file within the party.

It was only a question of time before Thackeray pulled the plug on alliance with Modi-led NDA. Credit: DNA India

Compelled to maintain the compromise for the last three years, Shiv Sena’s alliance with the Centre had been nearing a breaking point for a while. There have been numerous instances in the recent past where Shiv Sena, which cobbled an alliance after losing to BJP in the 2014 elections, has openly criticised Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ policies, and the continuous lies fed by the Centre. A great deal of dissatisfaction has also been expressed with regard to the general decline of BJP’s power, especially in neighbouring Gujarat.

Shiv Sena briefly parted ways with the BJP during the last assembly elections but ultimately re-entered the fold. However, the party has been threatening to call off the alliance ever since. The Fadnavis government is said to have offered the position of mayor to the regional party, as a peace offering.

Why is Shiv Sena breaking the alliance?

After Shiv Sena’s defection, Uddhav Thackeray declared that the Centre’s “bogus Hindutva” must be fought against, tooth and nail by Shiv Sena’s crowning ideology which ensures “genuine Hindutva”, according to LiveMint. 27-year-old Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, at a party event at Ahmednagar last December, was confident that they could come to power on their own in the state. “We will leave the government in a year and will come to power on our own. Party workers should start their preparations from now itself,” Thackeray was reported as having said by ANI.

Shiv Sena’s new political resolution means that the party will have to win at least 25 Lok Sabha seats (out of a total 48 in Maharashtra) and a majority of 125 Assembly seats (out of a total 288) in the state if they fought alone, and even in the event should the elections be preponed to December 2018. BJP needs Shiv Sena’s 63 legislators to cross the majority mark at 144.

BJPGeneral Elections 2019Shiv Sena