The 2014 Assembly poll the BJP and the Shiv Sena fought separately. The two went their separate ways over seat-sharing, with neither party ready to accommodate the other. The BJP was riding high at the time and not agreeable to be a junior partner any in longer. It proved its point, winning more seats than the Sena in the Assembly. However, the hung outcome eventually forced the two to team up for ministry-making. A few months earlier the two had fought the Lok Sabha election together, with the BJP contesting 26 seats and the Sena 22.
The Sena now wanted the BJP to play second fiddle in the Assembly poll which the BJP declined. The two fought separately. The BJP emerged with more seats than the Sena, falling short of the half-way mark by a handful of seats. It laid claim to the post of chief minister. However, the Sena, smarting under the role reversal, endlessly indulged in public recriminations but lacked the courage to quit the alliance. Now, with the Lok Sabah poll nearing, the Sena, like a chameleon changing colours, has yet again reverted to being reasonable and accommodating. Ready to smoke the peace pipe, however, it has a few preconditions.
Though negotiations still lie ahead, a Sena spokesman has demanded assurance that BJP would contest lesser number of seats than the Sena in the Assembly poll whenever it takes place. If that condition is accepted, the Sena was ready to contest fewer seats than the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha poll. This could be the first major stumbling block in talks over seat sharing. For, the BJP is confident of doing well with or without alliance. Setting pre-conditions even before the negotiations have begun presages trouble for the alliance. Knowing its record, eventually the Sena would climb down from its high horse and sign up on the dotted line.
Especially when in the Lok Sabha poll it is set to ride on the coattails of Modi whose popularity remains more or less intact and he is most likely to win a second five-year term as prime minister. The BJP leadership has expressed the desire to go with the Sena in the Lok Sabha poll since it believes that the two parties share the same Hindutva ideology. Given the gang-up of almost all groups outside the NDA, the BJP-Sena alliance could still be a formidable force, but if the two fight separately it might be advantage mahagathbandhan. How things shape up is not known yet, but looking at the ground realities a BJP-Sena electoral pact will be a huge plus for the two ruling parties of Maharashtra.