BJP loses its oldest ally in Maharashtra

Pandurang Mhaske
Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Shiv Sena to go solo; Uddhav targets PM 

Mumbai: BJP's oldest alliance partner Shiv Sena announced on Tuesday in Mumbai that the party will fight all future elections without getting into an alliance with the BJP. A resolution to this effect was passed at Shiv Sena's National Executive meet. The Sena also announced that they will be fighting elections on Hindutva agenda outside Maharashtra too, clearly indicating that they want to pose a challenge to the BJP. Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray launched a scathing attack against the Prime Minister in his speech. 

Shiv Sena also announced at the convention that Sena youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray has been promoted as leader of the party. The resolution to distance away from the BJP was presented by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and was passed unanimously in its meet. Uddhav Thackeray was formally re-elected as the party president at the event. Surprisingly, Uddhav Thackeray's personal assistant Milind Narwekar was elected as a party secretary in the meeting. 

Last year on Republic day just before the beginning of the civic election campaign Thackeray had announced that the party will not form an alliance with any other party in future polls and the party contested polls in all civic body by their own. Recently Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed to his party cadre at BJP's executive meeting to be ready for elections. On backdrop of CM's statement, Udhav Thackeray's decision is a major political development. 

In his speech, Uddhav Thackeray targeted BJP' senior leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari over his comment against the Navy. It is believed that Gadkari is the only bridge in between Shiv Sena and BJP after Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Munde. Observers felt that this single bridge has also now been demolished by Uddhav on Tuesday.

The announcement also means an end to the two-decade-long electoral alliance, between the Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The move also raises questions as to whether Sena remains with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and stability of the Maharashtra state government. Addressing the national executive, party chief Uddhav Thackeray also announced that the Sena would contest assembly elections in all states on the issue of Hindutva to ensure that “genuine Hindutva” as against BJP’s “bogus Hindutva” assumes political power.

Uddhav Thackeray targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led government where Shiv Sena is part at the centre and in Maharashtra. Thackeray said there was speculation about the general elections and Maharashtra assembly polls being advanced to December 2018 and asked the party cadres to be ready whenever they are held. The political resolution says the Shiv Sena on its own will win at least 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and win a majority in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly.

Attacking what he called the “continuously lying BJP governments at the centre and in the state", Thackeray said the only alternative before the people of Maharashtra was a Shiv Sena government. Reacting to Shiv Sena’s plans to go alone in all elections now, BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar said, “Let’s wait, they have been saying many things. They have to rethink over their decision as we are ready for alliance. The Shiv Sena will have to face the loss."

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