In the national executive meet of Shiv Sena held on the occasion of the birth anniversary of party chief Bal Thackeray, the party announced it will fight the 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections alone. This announcement does not come as a surprise given the history of one of the oldest electoral alliances of the country. The erstwhile BJP stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray shared a good rapport. BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was the one who forged an alliance with the Shiv Sena and also had a good relationship with Bal Thackeray and other Sena members. However, there have not been any significant personal bonds since then and this has affected the relationship between the two parties adversely. There has always been a fight for supremacy and consequent fallouts.
Shiv Sena had decided to fight the 2014 Assembly elections on its own and then it had to forge an alliance with the Fadnavis led BJP government. This was a move both the parties were reluctant to make but the failure to get a clear majority forced them together. They even fought the 2014 general elections together albeit with contempt for each other. The two frenemies fought against each other in the BMC election, considered the seat of power of the Shiv Sena. BJP almost snatched it from the hands of Shiv Sena.
However, Shiv Sena made its displeasure apparent and was rather vocal about it in public after its representative in Modi cabinet was not given a meaty portfolio. It further made matters difficult for the BJP by pulling back its nominee for Modi’s cabinet expansion MP Anil Desai after he was offered MoS post, at the last minute.
Post the Delhi polls, Udhav Thackeray went on to publicly say that it was Modi’s defeat and the mark of the erosion of Modi wave. Sena members have often targeted PM Modi and gone public with their criticism, almost like they were not in alliance but in opposition. The Marathi daily, Saamana which is Sena’s mouthpiece often takes digs at the BJP leadership at State and Centre. Sena even opposed the meat ban by the Fadnavis government calling it an attack on the Marathi eating habits. Sena has had rifts with Fadnavis on multiple occasions. Despite Fadnavis’ assurance regarding the security at the Ghulam Ali concert, Sena openly threatened and as a result, the concert had to be called off.
Now once again as Sena announces to contest the elections on its own, the question of what it means for Sena arises. This seems like the final fallout and any chances of redemption and subsequent alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena seems unlikely given the pain that Shiv Sena has been. It is unlikely that Shiv Sena will manage to get a clear majority in the Assembly elections given its track record during the 2014 elections and even the BMC elections. So, what this points at is the demise of the popularity of Shiv Sena and the party being reduced to a non-entity with its best days behind it.
For the BJP, this means good riddance. Shiv Sena was always an ally which made it a point to make everything difficult for the BJP, with threats to withdraw support at the drop of the hat. With this, we can hope for better and uninterrupted governance in Maharashtra.
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