'The Tiger Can Roar But Not Attack': Fissures in BJP-Shiv Sena Alliance in Maharashtra
Trust deficit in alliance #TCVotes
AURANGABAD: BJP-Shiv Sena leaders in Maharashtra are finding it difficult to keep their respective voter constituencies intact as the heated squabbling between the two parties has created a big deficit of trust between the parties' workers.
“This time, we will not be able to shift our voters to the BJP which is seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Shiv Sena sources said.
Reports from Maharashtra suggest that the BJP’s state unit chief Raosaheb Danve Patil contesting from the Jalna seat, is virtually begging Shiv Sena workers to support him. “Raat gai, baat gai, ab naya din, nai shuruvat” is now his plea – Night has passed, the matter's passed, it's a new day and a new beginning.
Patil held a three-hour meeting with Shiv Sena workers at the residence of Shiv Sena minister Arjun Khotkar in Jalna, the district headquarters in Marathwada, to convince them that he would not ignore them.
In Mumbai, the Shiv Sena has openly told the BJP that the sitting Lok Sabha member Kirit Somaiya is not acceptable to it and the workers would oppose him if he is fielded from the Mumbai North seat. Somaiya, once known as a bhakt of L.K.Advani in the BJP, has been in the forefront to attack the Shiv Sena and chief Uddhav Thackeray on the issue of corruption.
However, he fell out with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah who isolated him, and did not induct him into the organisation in a senior position. His name is in circulation again as a possible candidate from a constituency that the Shiv Sena has always claimed as its own.
Shiv Sena legislator Sunil Raut has threatened to fight against Somaiya if the BJP decides to field him.
Shiv Sena insiders said the party has identified BJP candidates against whom it will work in the election. Many of these are from north Maharashtra, Marathawada.
Alongside, BJP hardliners have turned bitter critics of the Shiv Sena recalling the offensive launched by its mouthpiece Saamna, against Modi and Shah. Adding insult to injury was the thread of praise for Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Shiv Sena journal.
Insisting that the Shiv Sena cannot be trusted, the BJP leaders in Maharashtra have no hesitation in pointing out that despite the alliance, the Shiv Sena will not emerge as the top party, come what may.
The Shiv Sena wanted plum ministries at the Centre and in the state but Modi-Shah had bluntly turned it down. Uddhav Thackeray wanted his party to be treated as an equal partner in Maharashtra and be given the deputy chief minister’s post, but that plea was also rejected. This had compelled Uddhav Thackeray to announce publicly that his party would go solo in the Lok Sabha and the state assembly polls, before backpedalling later, and decided to go in alliance with the BJP in these Lok Sabha polls.
In BJP circles there is loud ridicule of this decision, with seniors pointing out that the Tiger can roar but not attack. According to a senior legislator, the Shiv Sena cannot survive without power and no other party in the state was willing to ally with it.
The BJP is fighting in 25 seats while the Shiv Sena will contest 23 of the total 48 seats in Maharashtra as per the seat sharing arrangement between the two. However, the sniping and open animosity of the last five years has cut into camraderie at the ground level, with party workers more hostile than friendly at this stage. The Shiv Sena has been very conscious of the growing strength of the BJP in the state, and is not very keen now to contribute to this. How this pans out on the ground remains to be seen.