Over 20 parties were once with NDA and Advani’s home was inadequate for meetings … now even four chairs will do, says Uddhav

Vexed at the gradual attrition from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Shiv Sena, the BJP’s long-time ally in Maharashtra, on Monday questioned the party’s capacity to take on the Congress in next year’s Lok Sabha election.

Condemning the Janata Dal (United)’s severance of a 17-year alliance with the BJP, an edit in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana observed that despite the recent anointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s poll panel in-charge, the ground reality was quite different.

“Is the BJP in a position to win the elections on its own strength? If not, then who are its new friends and just how does one go about acquiring fresh allies … all this must be made clear now,” the edit said.

Alluding to BJP stalwart L.K. Advani’s recent clarion call to the party to win new friends, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray noted that while Mr. Advani’s advice was indeed commendable, political allies “did not grow on trees.”

“Friends have to be nurtured for years with trust and service; they are not like seasonal crops which can be grown with water and fertilizers and then be plucked for use,” observed Mr. Thackeray.

“Once upon a time, the NDA was teeming with 20-25 parties and Mr. Advani’s home proved inadequate for its leaders to meet. Now, with only three parties, the BJP, Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal, in the nest, even a table and four chairs are sufficient,” quipped the Sena president.

The edit wondered whether parties hostile to the Congress such as the Trinamool Congress, Biju Janata Dal, Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party would at all be interested in entering the NDA fold.