Mumbai: The Shiv Sena on Tuesday virtually signalled its exit from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, saying it will contest all future elections, including 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Maharashtra assembly elections, alone. Shiv Sena’s national executive, which met in Mumbai on Tuesday, unanimously adopted a political resolution saying it will contest all elections in the future on its own.
Party chief Uddhav Thackeray also announced that the Shiv Sena would contest assembly elections in all states on the issue of Hindutva to ensure that “genuine Hindutva"—as against the BJP’s “bogus Hindutva"—assumes political power.
The national executive also unanimously re-elected Thackeray as president, a position he first assumed on 23 January 2013, nearly two months after Shiv Sena founder and chief Bal Thackeray died.
In a significant generational change, the Shiv Sena elevated 27-year-old Aaditya Thackeray, son of party president Uddhav Thackeray and currently chief of Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena, to the Ashtapradhan Mandal, a group of top Shiv Sena leaders. Apart from him, there are seven leaders in the Mandal, named after a group formed by Marathi icon and 17th century ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji to run his administration. Leaders in this group are just below the party president in hierarchy. Apart from Aaditya Thackeray, the party’s national executive also elevated four other senior leaders to this position.
Later, addressing party workers, Thackeray launched a broadside against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led governments of which the Shiv Sena is part at the centre and in Maharashtra. Thackeray said there was speculation that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Maharashtra assembly elections would be advanced to December 2018 and asked the party cadres to be ready whenever they are held.
The political resolution said the Shiv Sena on its own will win at least 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and win a majority in the 288-member state assembly.
Attacking what he called the “continuously lying" BJP governments at the centre and in the state, Thackeray said the only alternative before the people of Maharashtra was a Shiv Sena government.
He particularly asked all those Sena leaders who have been elevated in the party hierarchy to fan out across the state and report to him on their progress every three months. “These new appointments have been made to ensure that Shiv Sena’s bhagva (Sena’s saffron flag) is unfurled in Maharashtra," he said.
Raising questions over “dragging Pakistan in Gujarat elections" —an accusation made by Modi in the hustings—Thackeray said he was not happy about the BJP’s decline or the Congress’s progress in Gujarat but added that if there were a third regional party, the voters in Gujarat would have voted it into power. The Shiv Sena contested 40 seats in Gujarat but all its candidates lost their deposit.
The relationship between the BJP and Shiv Sena, allies since the mid-80s, has turned bitter since 2014 when the BJP won power at the centre on its own under Modi and later emerged the single largest party in Maharashtra, winning 122 seats against Shiv Sena’s 63. In the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 42 of 48 seats with the Sena winning 18. But in October 2014, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance broke off and contested the assembly polls against each other. In February 2017, it was Uddhav Thackeray who declared that the Sena would contest the municipal corporation elections, including those for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on its own.
The BJP, fighting under chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, gave a close fight to Shiv Sena in Mumbai, and won 82 seats against Sena’s 84 in the 227-member BMC. The BJP did significantly better than the Sena in all cities except Thane.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis, who is in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum summit, told new agency ANI that his government would complete its full five year term till October 2019 and be re-elected. Reacting to the Shiv Sena’s plans to go alone in all elections now, Fadnavis said, “Let’s wait, they have been saying many things. As of now we are in alliance in the government and this government will complete its term."