Mumbai: BJP president Amit Shah has failed to dissuade the Shiv Sena from going solo in future elections. He failed to placate one of the oldest allies of the BJP, even after a marathon two-hour bridge-building meeting. Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut gave an indication of which way the wind is blowing. “The decision to contest all elections solo in future was taken by the party’s National Executive…How can any outsider come and influence it?”
He also went out of the way to scotch the speculation that the two saffron allies will join hands not only for the Lok Sabha but also the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Asked about details of the two-hour-long deliberations between Shah and Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night, the Sena leader gave a cryptic response, “The two leaders met in a closed room. A third person cannot possibly know what discussions took place.”
Uddhav Thackeray clarified the party’s stand at his public meeting later in the day in Palghar, where the tone was one of defiance. He referred to the meet as a ‘drama’ and threw the challenge at the BJP by declaring the vanquished candidate Srinivas Vanga as the party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha election. BJP had managed to win the Palghar seat by a slim margin of 29,572 votes and lost out on about six lakh votes because of cross-voting and Sena stepping in. BJP now faces a replay in the general elections, if Sena goes ahead with its threat.
Palghar is the Lok Sabha seat won by the BJP last week, which saw relations between the two allies plummet to an all-time low. To drive home the point further, the Sena has announced its candidates for the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections to Mumbai and Konkan Graduates Constituencies. The BJP has also declared its candidates for the June 25 polls. The BJP apparently wants to keep the door ajar and plans to have two or three more such meetings. At least, the two warring allies have broken the ice, sources said.
However, political observers are convinced that this time it is not about Sena angling for a larger share of the seats or about applying balm to Uddhav’s bruised ego. The jigsaw is expected to fall in place close to the general elections. Until then, the posturing and the sniping will continue. A lot will depend upon the BJP and what gestures it makes – politics is often more about symbolism and less about substance. Also, even though a pre-poll alliance can be ruled out, a post-poll alliance will be determined by the arithmetic.