The Hindu explains: from mutual funds to the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance

Why is BJP-Shiv Sena alliance on the brink again?

Why are the allies fighting?

On September 21, Maratha strongman and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane quit the Congress. Amid speculation that he would be joining the BJP, its ally in power, the Shiv Sena sent out signals that it was keeping open the option of quitting the government.

What are the key points of rift?

Mr. Rane was expelled from the Sena in 2005 after he opposed the rise of Uddhav Thackeray within the party ranks. He is also a strong player in the Sindhudurg area of the Konkan belt, which is traditionally a Sena stronghold. Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, Sena president, and party members have been upset with the Devendra Fadnavis government over various issues as well, including farm loan waivers and pending development work.

The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is a marriage of convenience. They need each other for two primary political objectives — to keep the Congress out of power and to keep the flame of Hindutva politics burning in Maharashtra. Outside the State, the Sena wields hardly any influence.

When was the alliance forged?

Over the course of the relationship, which began nearly three decades ago in 1989, it was the Sena that mostly dominated the alliance. When the duo gained power in 1995, it was Sena’s Manohar Joshi who took over as the State Chief Minister. Later, in the five-year tenure, he resigned and Mr. Rane served as Chief Minister for about eight months. The situation was not any different in Mumbai’s municipal corporation (BMC), India’s richest. The Sena has dominated the corporation for over two decades, but the BJP has been gaining ground since 2007.

That year, it won 28 seats, while in 2017, it won 82, just two behind the Sena. In the 2004 Assembly elections, the BJP won 54 seats to Sena’s 62, but the combine could not beat the Congress-NCP alliance. In October 2014, riding on the Narendra Modi wave, the BJP won 122 seats to the Sena’s 63. There was no question of who would be the senior partner.

What happened in 2014?

The 2014 Assembly elections were a turning point in their relationship. The BJP, until then seen as a ‘North Indian’ party, won a large chunk of the Marathi vote. In Mumbai, the BJP won the critical Gujarati vote, solely on its new image of being business-friendly, both in the State and local bodies elections.

The Sena has not taken this new dynamic well. It has decided to become the principal Opposition party, given that it knows that the BJP cannot do without it.

For a simple majority in Maharashtra, the BJP needs 145 seats, and it is 23 behind that magical number. It had (and still has) the option of going with Sharad Pawar’s NCP, but the latter’s record on corruption was perhaps the single-most important reason for the rout of the Congress-NCP in 2014. The BJP had led the crusade then, and if it ties up with a tainted party, it fears it will lose face with its constituents.

What lies in store?

Not surprisingly, Mr. Thackeray makes noises to keep the BJP wondering why it ever got into an alliance. He has taken an opposing stance on almost every major issue that has faced the BJP-led NDA government in the State — be it farmers’ issues, the Mumbai Metro Phase 3 controversy over environmental degradation, the Maratha agitation, and even the BJP’s choice for President, where the Sena held out for over 24 hours before agreeing to support Ram Nath Kovind’s candidature. On almost every point, the Sena has eventually given way to the BJP.

Months before the 2017 municipal corporation and municipal council elections, the Sena threatened to go it alone. In several rallies across Maharashtra, Mr. Thackeray said he was confident his party would win majorities on its own in various cities and towns. Except in Mumbai (where the difference was just two seats) and some small pockets, the Sena lost to the BJP across the State. With the Assembly elections due in 2019, the allies will have to iron out differences.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 1:33:43 AM |

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