Relations between saffron allies Shiv Sena and BJP, not on the best of terms in recent times, may be strained further following an article published in the state BJP house journal which said the Sena’s strength in Maharashtra was less than what its leaders projected.
Last month’s Assembly elections saw BJP, with 46 MLAs, taking over Sena’s role of `Big Brother’ in state Opposition politics. Sena got two seats less than its partner, conceding the Opposition leader’s post, which it held for over a decade, to BJP.
State BJP journal `Manogat’ said the party had done well in the Assembly polls and it was the the Sena which had suffered a setback. “BJP made a compromise in the elections to keep the alliance with Sena intact. But the poll results showed which party was stronger,” the article said.
BJP contested 119 seats as per the pre-poll pact with the Sena, which fought 179. “It is clear that Sena’s strength was less than what its leaders proclaimed,” the article said.
Senior Sena leader Subhash Desai said he was aware of the article. “They (BJP) have expressed their views. Sena chief Bal Thackeray has said that as there is a low tide, there will also be a high tide,” Mr. Desai said.
“Shiv Sena has seen a lot of such highs and lows. It will rise again like a Phoenix,” Mr. Desai, group leader of the party in Assembly, said.
On the MNS factor, the article said, “several BJP candidates lost by narrow margins. The MNS was the reason for that. Otherwise, one could have seen a stronger BJP.”
The Raj Thackeray—led party won 13 Assembly seats and divided the saffron vote in several other constituencies.
Poll results in Mumbai, Thane and Konkan have been analysed in the journal, which said “inroads made by the MNS, a huge setback to the Sena, and the lesson taught to Narayan Rane (of Congress) by the people of Konkan, make up the new triangle in political developments in this region.