PUNE/MUMBAI: One of the oldest alliances in independent India’s political history, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, may be on the verge of an official breakup in the coming months, as top leaders of both parties gave clear indications in Mumbai in the last 36 hours in their meetings with their state leaders that they were in no mood to work together during the upcoming election season.
BJP national president Amit Shah was on a one day tour of Mumbai on Sunday. Apart from meeting some celebrities and senior artists as part of his party’s outreach programme, Shah held closed door meetings with some of his top and trusted leaders of state unit of the BJP. Insiders confirmed that the general consensus among all those present was that BJP should be going solo into the 2019 campaign in Maharashtra and the party should start preparing to make list of 48 candidates to fight from all 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
"The meeting concluded with Mr. Shah telling his party state unit that they should start preparing candidates for all 48 Lok Sabha seats of Maharashtra ahead of the 2019 campaign season. This could be the beginning of the end for the time tested saffron alliance which has lasted for three decades in Maharashtra" said a top BJP leader while speaking to ST.
The other side also seems equally fed up of this alliance. "Party workers from all over Maharashtra who keep meeting us are wanting to break the alliance. Shiv Sena may wait and watch Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh assembly results and if it senses that the winds are not in favour of the BJP, it might announce withdrawal from the NDA ( national democratic alliance) before the end of this year. Just like the Telagu Desam Party did some time ago" said a Mumbai based senior leader of the Shiv Sena.
The Sena has been very aggressive against the BJP and has been publicly targeting party president Amit Shah on various platforms including in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saaman since the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls that happened in February 2017. For the first time in nearly three decade history of the alliance both parties have been fighting state, civic and district council elections without any kind of alliance since October 2014. Sources said both sides have now reached a stage where they cannot have any discussion on seat sharing at any level and its obvious that they will now split for good!
Almost coinciding with BJP President's Mumbai visit, Shiv Sena party president Uddhav Thackeray gave a marathon interview to party's mouthpiece Saamana in which he targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah using very bitter words. Sena president made it very obvious that his party would not get into any seat sharing or alliance talks with the BJP in any case. Indications from sources within Sena suggested that the party would be making an exit from the alliance well before the 2019 polls.
Most party insiders feel that Lok Sabha polls of 2019 may be held before summer of 2019, so once monsoon season is over all political parties would get only five to six months to prepare their strategies and finalise the candidates. Under these circumstances it seems almost obvious that both sides would be preparing to fight almost all the Lok Sabha seats in the state. "The BJP may leave a few seats for their smaller partners which are part of its government in the state but would not be granting any seats to Shiv Sena" an insider said.