Mumbai: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday said he “sincerely wishes that the Shiv Sena stays with the BJP" for the next elections.
Shah was addressing a press conference in Mumbai after the BJP’s 38th foundation day convention. The party president also ruled out simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly.
When asked about criticism by some allies including the Shiv Sena and former ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that the BJP did not treat its allies well, Shah said the Shiv Sena was still a part of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra. “Only TDP has left. In fact, we have gained more allies than we have lost," he added.
Addressing a crowd of about 200,000 party workers at the convention, Shah said that the “countdown has begun for the 2019 elections and the BJP cadres were prepared to enter the battlefield". The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will win a “massive majority" in 2019, the party chief insisted, adding, “The next elections are not going to be fought on slogans and hollow promises. The next elections are going to be fought on the performance of the Narendra Modi government.
Shah also said that it was the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, and not the BJP alone, that would win a majority at the centre and in Maharashtra in 2019 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Other BJP leaders, including Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, also gave strong hints that the BJP wanted the saffron alliance to continue. In a speech, Fadnavis paid lofty tributes to Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray, saying that although he did not belong to the BJP, Thackeray was an inspirational icon for the party.
On 23 January, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had declared that the party would contest the next elections on its own. There have been several statements by other party leaders, including Thackeray’s son Aditya, that Maharashtra in 2019 would have a Shiv Sena chief minister. However, since that January announcement, there have also been signs of a thaw in the BJP-Shiv Sena relationship.