With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s enhanced aggression against the BJP, political circles in Maharashtra are busy trying to answer a moot question — whether Shiv Sena will accept the BJP’s olive branch and join hands in the upcoming Lok Sabha election? Wounded by the BJP’s raw deal, Thackeray looks determined to go solo in the election – though BJP leaders are hopeful of a reconciliation.
In another attempt to pressurise the BJP to fall in line on the issue of a temple for Lord Ram in Ayodhya, Thackeray addressed a rally in Pandharpur, the largest visited temple town in the state, on Monday. A source in the Shiv Sena says Thackeray’s thrust on enacting a law for construction of the temple could be his escape route to get close to the BJP after harsh criticism for four years.
However, on the ground, the situation looks different. Last week, Thackeray presided over the ground-breaking ceremony of Mumbai’s much-hyped coastal road, to be made by Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
The Shiv Sena took utmost care that Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was not invited for the function, sending a strong message to the BJP about Thackeray’s displeasure over being ignored for the ground-breaking ceremony of Thane Metro presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP claimed that Thackeray was not invited because he could not get a place on the dais as per the protocol since he does not hold any office.
Will Shiv Sena will accept the BJP’s olive branch and join hands in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections? (Photo: Reuters)
Thackeray is likely to make his stand on the alliance with the BJP clear on January 23, 2019, the birthday of Shiv Sena’s founder, the late Bal Thackeray. Earlier, on January 23, 2018, the Shiv Sena’s national executive committee had passed a resolution to contest all the elections in the future on its own.
It will be interesting to see whether Thackeray sticks to this resolution. “He will maintain a distance from the BJP,” says a senior Shiv Sena leader. “He is so upset with the BJP that he might go in self-destructive mode rather than help the BJP come out of the crisis.”
Fadnavis, however, is hopeful of getting the Shiv Sena on board. BJP leaders have refrained from taking on the Shiv Sena since party president Amit Shah advised them to have patience. A senior BJP leader predicts that Thackeray's insecurity will force him to form an alliance. He points that Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is looking to bounce back in state politics through a tactical understanding with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
If Raj manages to repeat the 2009 feat of winning around one lakh votes in each of the six constituencies of Mumbai, it will be a warning bell for the Shiv Sena. “Uddhav will definitely not like Raj regaining lost ground on his home pitch,” the BJP leader said. “He does not have any option other than coming together with us if he wants to keep the Shiv Sena relevant in Mumbai.”
(Courtesy of Mail Today)