Operation Bow & Arrow: Will UBT MPs Switch Sides Ahead Of Maharashtra Assembly Polls?

Operation Bow & Arrow: Will UBT MPs Switch Sides Ahead Of Maharashtra Assembly Polls?

Newly elected Thane MP and Shiv Sena leader Naresh Mhaske recently alleged that two MPs from the rival Shiv Sena UBT faction have initiated contact with chief minister Eknath Shinde's faction, expressing their willingness to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prathamesh KharadeUpdated: Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 12:45 PM IST
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Shiv Sena MP Naresh Mhaske |

Mumbai: Even as Narendra Modi-led NDA alliance government is settling in after the oath taking ceremony on Sunday, opposition MPs are reportedly ready to switch sides and Operation Bow and Arrow is active in Maharashtra, claimed Shiv Sena MP Naresh Mhaske.

Mhaske recently alleged that two MPs from the rival Shiv Sena UBT faction have initiated contact with chief minister Eknath Shinde's faction, expressing their willingness to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to Mhaske, these MPs are concerned about disqualification and plan to bring six MPs together to back PM Modi with CM Shinde's support, terming this manoeuvre 'Operation Bow and Arrow.'

Bow and Arrow is the symbol of Shiv Sena party.

What Is Operation Bow & Arrow?

In the recent Lok Sabha elections, Shinde-led Shiv Sena secured seven seats, while the Sena UBT won nine. Mhaske suggested that if six out of the nine MPs from the Sena UBT defected, they would avoid disqualification, ensuring the success of Operation Bow and Arrow. This strategy is reminiscent of 'Operation Lotus,' a term used by opposition parties to accuse the BJP of toppling state governments through legislator poaching and party splits.

Operation Lotus' Success

Madhya Pradesh 2020: On March 20, 2020, Kamal Nath resigned as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister after 22 Congress legislators, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, defected to the BJP, causing the Congress to lose its majority.

Jyotiraditya Scindia after joining BJP in presence of BJP President JP Nadda, at Party HQ in New Delhi.

Jyotiraditya Scindia after joining BJP in presence of BJP President JP Nadda, at Party HQ in New Delhi. | ANI

Karnataka 2019: HD Kumaraswamy's coalition government toppled on July 23, 2019, after 16 MLAs resigned. BJP's BS Yediyurappa became Chief Minister.

Goa 2017: Despite Congress winning 17 seats, BJP formed the government with alliances.

Arunachal Pradesh 2016: BJP formed the government after 33 PPA MLAs joined it.

Reactions from Sena (UBT)

Sena UBT leaders have dismissed Mhaske's claims. Sushma Andhare, a party functionary, labelled Mhaske's statement as an attention-seeking tactic and challenged him to reveal the names of the alleged defectors. She also stated that Mhaske's claims were an attempt to curry favour for a potential ministerial position.

Similarly, Sena UBT MLC Sachin Ahir described the allegations as immature, stating that the MPs in question remain loyal to Uddhav Thackeray and would not consider joining the Shinde faction.

Mhaske's Justification

Mhaske reiterated his claim, stating that the two MPs in contact with his faction were dissatisfied with the Sena (UBT) and its reliance on the INDIA bloc. He argued that these MPs are motivated by a desire to see development in their constituencies and are willing to support PM Modi to achieve this. Mhaske insisted that once the two MPs secure the support of four additional MPs, they will align with the Shinde faction to avoid disqualification.

Shiv Sena's Electoral Performance

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray waves to the supporters during the celebrations after the party's victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray waves to the supporters during the celebrations after the party's victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai. | ANI

The Shinde-led Shiv Sena won seven out of 15 contested Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, including the Chief Minister's stronghold of Thane. However, they lost two Mumbai constituencies to the rival Sena (UBT). The upcoming assembly elections will be critical in determining which faction of Shiv Sena holds the legitimate claim to the party's legacy following the 2022 split.

Prior to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the united Shiv Sena had 18 MPs, of which 13 joined the Shinde faction, leaving five with Uddhav Thackeray's Sena (UBT). The Shinde faction had to drop five sitting MPs from their 13 due to various strategic decisions, including conceding the Palghar seat to the BJP and dropping others such as Gajanan Kirtikar from Mumbai North-West.

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