The BJP and the Shiv Sena will contest the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra assembly election in alliance, after months of constant political bickering. Now, the BJP looks set to seal the deal with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.
ThePrint asks: Is pact with Shiv Sena sign of BJP’s desperation or smart manoeuvring ahead of elections?
Shiv Sena, BJP are the only two parties pursuing the cause of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya
MP and spokesperson, Shiv Sena
It is absurd that people would read renewal of an age-old alliance as a sign of desperation. Our alliance broke just once in the last 25 years, and we got back together soon enough. If Nitish Kumar’s party can form an alliance with the BJP, then ours is the holiest alliance possible.
Sure, some differences did emerge. But we have ensured that they stand sorted now. There are plenty of common threads between our agenda and the BJP’s agenda. We are the only two parties that are pursuing the cause of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. We want to unite the country through Hindutva, and we want Article 370 to be done away with. We will work towards achieving these common aspirations.
There was a point when the Shiv Sena thought the BJP was moving away from these core issues, but the party has retraced its steps to once again focus on issues that matter. The BJP’s efforts towards building the Ram Temple haven’t gone unnoticed.
Other remarks by Uddhav Thackeray were also made in a particular context. We shouldn’t take them out of context and try and build a rivalry where there is none.
The Congress party should look at its own history. Sharad Pawar has said a number of things about Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, but today the same Congress is forming an alliance with the NCP. When they do it, it’s an alliance, and when we do it, it’s an offence. That isn’t fair.
Hindutva is just a face-saving excuse for Shiv Sena’s alliance with BJP
President, Mumbai Congress
The Shiv Sena and the BJP having been sharing power in Maharashtra and at the Centre for the last five years. Despite this, the Shiv Sena has not missed any opportunity to take pot-shots at its ally.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray even took a jibe at PM Narendra Modi at a rally and said “chowkidar chor hai”, echoing Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
If the Shiv Sena really believes that, then why is it forming an alliance with a chor? What’s the point of bringing a chor back to power? Thackeray has even likened Amit Shah to Afzal Khan, who is the most hated man in Maharashtra’s history.
Thackeray recently attacked the BJP over the Pulwama terror attack as well.
The Shiv Sena has always been critical of the BJP’s policies like demonetisation and GST. Now, they want the same non-performing party to come back to power. This is an unholy alliance.
The two parties are now claiming that they are coming together for the sake of Hindutva. But, only recently, Uddhav Thackeray, in reference to Ram Mandir, said “pehle mandir fir sarkar”. Where is the Mandir? Nowhere.
Hindutva is just a face-saving excuse. It has nothing to do with the alliance. Even the Shiv Sena knows that the BJP has failed to serve the cause of Hindutva.
BJP has no reason to be desperate and Devendra Fadnavis is no political novice
The Shiv Sena and the BJP have had an alliance for nearly 25 years. There is definitely a certain connection between the two parties – a similar Hindutva agenda and a shared vision for this country. So, I do not understand what the hue and cry is about this time when the two parties announced an alliance.
Of course, there are disagreements in every family. The Shiv Sena-BJP family too has witnessed some disagreements in the past. Ultimately, we have a common agenda – to serve the people of Maharashtra. Certain factions are trying to dig up statements made in the past to make a point, but that makes no sense. It only goes on to show the sense of anxiety the alliance has managed to create among these political factions.
As far as seat-sharing is concerned, it doesn’t indicate any desperation on behalf of the BJP. The BJP has no reason to be desperate. Under chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP has won every single election that has taken place in the state – from zilla parishad to municipal body elections.
Who is the big brother and who isn’t will only be decided by the Maharashtra electorate. Devendra Fadnavis is no political novice. His work as a CM has been appreciated by all sections – the Marathas, the farmers, and everyone else.
Losses in Hindi-belt states and SP-BSP tie-up in UP made BJP look for allies
Sumanth C. Raman
That the BJP needed to form alliances was clear after its defeat in the three Hindi-belt states in December. While the losses in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had made it clear to the party that it needed to compensate them, the alliance between Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh turned it into a necessity. And so, the search for allies began.
The tie-up with the Shiv Sena (which gets 23 seats to contest against the BJP’s 25 in Maharashtra) was a foregone conclusion as it was deemed inevitable that the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, despite all its noises against the BJP, would return to the NDA fold. Sena had nowhere else to go and would have faced a rout if it had contested alone.
Tamil Nadu, where the BJP does not have a major presence, became important because a big chunk of 40 seats (including Puducherry) at one stage looked set to go to the Congress-lead UPA. That there was going to be an alliance with the AIADMK was known for a while but the addition of a strong regional player like the PMK, actor Vijayakanth’s DMDK, and a few smaller parties now make this a formidable front capable of taking on the DMK-Congress-Communist combine.
BJP will continue to push for alliances wherever it sees an opportunity and Andhra Pradesh could be next on its list.
Uddhav’s politics largely driven by religion, that’s why he has more affinity with BJP
All the statements recently made by Uddhav Thackeray and other members of the Shiv Sena were merely pressure tactic to bring the BJP to the negotiating table. It worked wonderfully, and the Shiv Sena was successful in getting as many seats as it could.
We shouldn’t forget that Hindutva is a force that binds the two parties together. Also, there is some difference in Bal Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray’s politics. While Bal Thackeray would put more emphasis on Marathi language and Marathi identity, Uddhav’s emphasis is largely on religion. That is why he has more affinity with the BJP.
The alliance is, of course, a political compulsion as well. If the Shiv Sena and the BJP hadn’t formed an alliance, it would have led to division of votes, and the NCP-Congress alliance would have benefitted. This is something neither the BJP nor the Shiv Sena wanted.
The alliance confirms plenty of seats for the BJP and the Shiv Sena, at least in all the cities. There is major disillusionment with the Modi and Fadnavis government in rural Maharashtra, so the Congress-NCP combine may still stand some chance there.
The alliance is mandatory for both the Shiv Sena and the BJP if they want to have a real shot at winning.
By Fatima Khan, journalist at ThePrint.