Entire Maharashtra had its eyes on the results of by-polls in two Lok Sabha constituencies in the State. Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia went to polls on last Monday, along with several other constituencies of parliament and assemblies all over the country and as the results came in on Thursday, it became pretty obvious that the results were somewhat disappointing for the BJP in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand. The BJP managed to win only one seat in Uttarakhand state out of 11 seats in all these assemblies that went to polls.
The obvious picture is that there is some level of anti-incumbency spirit setting in, in many states where the BJP rules. It was a bad day for Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, who lost Noorpoor, as well as the much talked about seat Kairana in his state. This comes after he had lost Gorakhpur and Phoolpoor seats in previous by-polls.
The BJP can get into some introspection about why and how they lost almost all seats in assemblies in all these states, but a bigger worry for the party on Thursday was the aggression exhibited by their alliance partner Shiv Sena in Maharashtra against their saffron partner after the Sena lost a prestige battle in the Palghar constituency. On Thursday, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray launched a scathing attack against the BJP claiming that the BJP was manipulating the elections process. Both coalition partners went out of the way to attack each other over Palghar by-poll campaign and at several stages, it got very murky. Now, the Sena has clearly taken it as their humiliation and decided to keep attacking the BJP.
The million dollar question in everybody’s mind is ‘Will these alliance partners stay together in the upcoming polling season or will the Shiv Sena not get into any pre-poll alliance with the BJP and fight as an independent party?’
Many don’t understand this but the core problem between Shiv Sena and BJP currently is the BJP’s desire to take over the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai. In 2017 elections, it was obvious that BJP State and national leadership decided to counter the Shiv Sena on their home turf of BMC. The Sena lives and thrives only on the basis of the power they have in the BMC and BJP’s ambition to take over this cash rich body by sidelining Sena has really hurt and annoyed the Sena very badly.
The BJP does not want to backtrack from the BMC because they feel that with 38 assembly seats and 6 Lok Sabha seats being in Mumbai city and suburbs, it’s very crucial for them to control this civic body.
BJP’s ambition to push aside Sena and take control of the BMC has angered the Sena so much that they decided to counter the BJP on their home turf of Palghar Lok Sabha constituency. The Palghar campaign turned very bitter and ugly with both sides stooping low. This conflict has not reached such a level that it seems like the Sena will now keep attacking the BJP at every opportunity they get. This means now a pre-poll alliance between Sena and BJP looks a distant possibility and Maharashtra is most likely to see a fierce war between these two coalition partners in the state.