Mumbai: Shiv Sena on Monday said it would field its own candidates for the two Lok Sabha seats in Goa, taking another step towards a likely exit from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member of Parliament (MP) Sanjay Raut told reporters in Panaji on Monday that party chief Uddhav Thackeray had given the party his permission to field candidates in North and South Goa Lok Sabha seats in alliance with Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), a party floated by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist Subhash Velingkar to fight the BJP in 2016.
Currently, both seats are held by the BJP—Shripad Naik, Union minister of state for AYUSH, represents North Goa and Narendra Sawaikar is the South Goa MP.
The Shiv Sena, which is part of the NDA and an ally in government at the centre and in Maharashtra, had contested the February 2017 Goa assembly elections in alliance with GSM against the BJP. The Sena contested three of the 40 Goa assembly seats, polling a mere 792 votes and 1.3% of the vote share. It lost deposits on all three seats. The GSM contested five seats and lost deposits on four, polling a total of 10,745 votes.
Raut said the Shiv Sena was growing stronger in Goa as an important opposition party and that people from all walks of life were joining it. He added that Thackeray would tour the state in March to broad-base the party organization.
In January, Thackeray signalled an exit from the NDA when he said the Shiv Sena would contest all elections henceforth independently.