Mumbai : Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance has come to a point where all the discussion now is centered on number of seats to be given to smaller alliance partners. Though the four parties form a very small group when seen in bare numbers, the message of ‘social engineering’ that they send out is essential for the alliance to get its electoral arithmetic right.
Ramdas Athawale’s Republican Party of Indian (A) (RPI), Raju Shetty’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana (SSS), Mahadev Jankar’s Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) and Vinayak Mete’s Shiv Sangram (SS) are the four parties that constitute the ‘Mahayuti’. The new formula, that is said to be in air, offers only 12 seats to the parties who demanded around 160 seats when the seat-sharing talks began around a month back. Still, the senior members of the alliance, especially the BJP, and all the four smaller parties are keen on keeping formation together, as that benefits all.
BJP, who always had a strong backing from urban educated elite and the business community, had been striving hard to widen its social base for past many years. Its alliance with Shiv Sena too was a part of these efforts, which brought a major chunk of the OBC communities to the saffron alliance. Even after that the alliance could not emerge as a winning combination except in 1995. This compelled the alliance leaders to look for partners who could help the alliance grow its social base.
The very first among such new partner was RPI(A), which joined hands with the saffron alliance just before the Municipal elections in Mumbai at the beginning of 2012. The call given that time was that of merger of ‘Shiv Shakti’ and ‘Bhim Shakti’. The new alignment proved helpful and the alliance retained the corporation with an increased vigour. After the success in Mumbai, BJP chanyakyas began their efforts to bring more such groups to its fold.
Jankar’s RSP was one such partner they could find easily and immediately. The Dhangar community, which was never known to be politically united, started coming along with the RSP after the party thrust its power behind the community’s agitation over Scheduled Caste status.
Next to fall in line were the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) and the Shiv Sangram (SS). SSS has developed its base in the sugarcane belt of Maharashtra, where the BJP-Shiv Sena had negligible presence in past several years, while the Shiv Sangram thrives on the Maratha votes.
When all these pieces of the jigsaw puzzle put together, what emerges is an alliance with a very large social base, where hardly any major social group is left out.
Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse explains one more angle to this equation. According to him, almost 25% of the 288 assembly constituencies are won or lost over a margin of around 500 to 5000 votes. “The alliance that can ensure around 5000 additional votes on each constituency can easily add auto 80 seats to its booty,” he says.
This is how ‘Mahayuti’ is being seen as a winning formula in terms of votes as well as caste representation and it also explains why BJP wanted more seats for these smaller allies.