Mumbai: At the Shiv Sena’s national executive meeting on Tuesday — the 92nd birth anniversary of late party supremo Bal Thackeray, the party made its clearest indication yet that its alliance with the BJP is nearing its end by passing a resolution to go it alone in next year’s Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Liberating though it may seem at the moment, the move is likely to hurt both parties the next time the state goes to the polls.
Sena MP in the Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut tabled a proposal to go it alone in the 2019 Assembly and General elections and fellow Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai supported the move. Considering the fraught relationship between the BJP and Shiv Sena (allies in the state government), this was on the cards for a while. Despite being in an alliance with the BJP, the Sena has continuously taken potshots at its ally and even sided with the Opposition on occasion.
However, a divorce had yet to be clearly articulated by the party leadership. It may be recalled that on 26 January last year and ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, party chief Uddhav Thackeray dropped a big hint that the Sena would not be allying with the BJP in the future. But, he left it at that. On Tuesday, however, this was formalised at the national executive meet.
So where does this leave both parties?
Talks are on between the Congress and NCP to go it together in the 2019 Assembly election and both parties are likely to benefit from the split between the ruling allies. In 2014, the state’s four major parties had decided to go it alone and in the end, the BJP won 122 seats, the Sena 63, Congress 41 and the NCP picked up 40. There were 36 constituencies where margins were so thin that a Congress-NCP alliance — which would mean neither party would eat into each other’s votes — would have picked up the seats. And now, a Congress-NCP alliance will fancy its chances against the separated BJP and Sena.
Despite having announced a decision to break away from the BJP, it would not be entirely surprising for these two longtime allies to mend fences and join forces in a post-poll alliance in 2019 once the votes have been counted. After all, that’s what happened in 2014 (when the parties came together in a post-poll alliance) and last year’s BMC election (when the BJP strategically supported the Sena’s mayoral candidate).
At the time of writing, there is no indication as to whether or not the resolution passed on Tuesday means that the Sena will be dropping out of the state government.