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Analysis | What next for BJP and Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray (L) with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis. File

Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray (L) with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis. File  

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There were mixed feelings in the BJP on the break-up of the alliance with the Sena, disbelief that a pre-poll alliance that won a majority could not end up forming a government in Maharashtra

With President Ram Nath Kovind’s acceptance on Tuesday of the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant from the Council of Ministers, the ‘Mahayuthi’ or the decades-long alliance of the BJP and the Sena has disappeared. And the implications of this for Maharashtra politics are both immense and complicated

While the BJP and the Sena have had relationship issues from the time when Balasaheb Thackeray and L K Advani hammered out an alliance, it has become worse after the former’s death and the latter’s political decline. The new BJP under Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah never had much time or deference to spare for Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, with the Sena responding with cutting editorials in its mouthpiece, Saamana, and at least once, walking out of the alliance just before the 2014 Assembly polls.

There are too many anecdotes that delineate this fraught relationship full of hurt feelings and not enough validation, but the more interesting question today is what could be the political arc of these erstwhile allies going their separate ways for the foreseeable future?

Sole custodian of Hindutva

There were mixed feelings in the BJP on the break-up of the alliance with the Sena, disbelief that a pre-poll alliance that won a majority could not end up forming a government, and also, in a spirit of making a virtue out of necessity, that it had gotten rid of a pesky partner.

During the polls, many party workers and even the national leadership were not happy with the alliance, and that was demonstrated by a large number of rebels (more than 30) that the ‘Mahayuthi’ put up against each other. Going it alone, said BJP leaders, was the biggest advantage of what happened, but the jury is out on that.

The BJP is also excited about taking over the sole mantle of Hindutva, as the Sena left the alliance two days after the Ayodhya verdict to ally with the Congress and the NCP, parties that blocked the Ramjanmabhoomi movement in the past.

The implication closest to home for the BJP, however, would be the future marginalisation of former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who drove the election campaign, cut his rivals out of the candidates' list and failed to form a government. It could also mean that the alienation of the Maratha community would be sought to assuaged by pushing forward leaders like Chandrakant Patil and Sudhir Mungantiwar, a Maratha and an OBC respectively.

Analysis | What next for BJP and Shiv Sena
 

The Sena’s journey has been long and interesting, with the main constant being the sons of the soil or Marathi Manoos plank. According to Dhaval Kulkarni, author of the well-regarded book, The Cousins Thackeray, the breach with the BJP and the nature of the Sena’s current alliance will most likely result in the Hindutva plank being put in the background.

“The Shiv Sena had, over the years seen that the Hindutva plank had hobbled it with regard to linguistic politics. Its main base is the Thane-Konkan belt, where linguistic issues, more than Hindutva, have been important. Due to the Hindutva agenda, the Sena also alienated large swathes of Dalit Buddhists and other communities that were not Hindu but were culturally integrated Marathi-speaking people. A pan Maharashtra politics for the Sena may open up,” he said.

What has occurred in Maharashtra since October 24 is a paradigm shift in the State’s politics, and the above are just some strands of what might result from it. Watch this space.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 6:05:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/analysis-what-next-for-bjp-and-shiv-sena/article29954238.ece

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