Mumbai: In the prevailing atmosphere of celebration over the scrapping of Article 370, the Shiv Sena is now worried about the future of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. It now apprehends being dumped by the BJP, which is currently riding high on popularity.
The Sena high command has asked its second-in-commands to be ready to go it alone for the forthcoming assembly elections.
Even though top leaders of both parties have publicly sworn to keep the alliance intact, serious doubts are being raised about the possibility of an actual alliance. Such doubts are being raised by leaders from both parties in off-the-record conversations.
An internal survey of the BJP, conducted well before the scrapping of Article 370, has projected that if it goes solo, it can win at least 165 of the 288 seats on its own.
The scrapping of Article 370 by the Narendra Modi government has once again evoked a surge of nationalism, the likes of which were witnessed after the surgical strike on Pakistan.
The BJP, riding on a wave of popularity after demonetisation, won a majority in Uttar Pradesh. After the surgical strike on Pakistan on February 26, following the Pulwama attack, the BJP won more than 300 seats in the general election. So, in the BJP, there is a vociferous demand to contest the assembly election alone.
This recent political history is worrying the Shiv Sena. “We now feel that even if the BJP contest the election on their own in Maharashtra, they can get a clear majority.
They may dump the Shiv Sena and go it alone. Therefore, our top leadership has asked us to prepare to contest all 288 seats in the assembly elections. We are gearing up to do so,” a senior Sena leader said, on condition of anonymity.
Sensing that the scrapping of Article 370 may garner huge political dividends for the BJP, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray swung into action and held a press conference.
“This conference was purposely held before any BJP leader could do so, so that all credit would not go to the BJP alone. Thackeray reminded everyone that along with the BJP, it was the Shiv Sena which was very vocal in supporting the Kashmiri Pandits.
Thackeray added an emotional touch by saying party founder Bal Thackeray would have been happy had he been alive,” said another senior leader.