Mumbai: On Valentine’s Day, a reluctant Shiv Sena on Thursday suggested a new proposal to forge an electoral alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – the demand for Maharashtra Chief Minister’s post.
In a deviation from its known strategy of seat-sharing formula of different permutations and combinations for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls this year, this time the Sena Tiger has lunged for a direct kill – the post of CM.
Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut also clearly indicated that the Sena may be in a mood for negotiations as the elections loom ahead, but now with a difference, amid speculation that the Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thackeray may enter the electoral fray.
“All the allies in the NDA are strong in their respective states. If you want to have an alliance with them at the Centre, then the CM in the state must belong to that ally,” Raut said on Thursday, citing the example of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to prove his point.
However, the BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari quickly shot down Raut’s proposal, saying that “any alliance shall only be finalized by the top leaders of both parties”.
On the reference to the Bihar NDA partner, Bhandari pointed out that “Nitish Kumar has become the CM on his own strength” – a clear reminder that in Maharashtra the situation is entirely different.
Since the past couple of months, the BJP has been wooing the Sena for an alliance and despite claims of backroom negotiations, officially nothing has materialized so far.
At the end of 2017, the Sena unilaterally declared that it would go alone in all future elections while the BJP has repeatedly expressed confidence that an alliance will be finalized soon.
Last month, the Sena said that since the days of its founder-patriarch, the late Bal Thackera, the party had “always been, still is and would continue to remain the ‘Big Brother’ in Maharashtra politics”, after which the BJP asked its cadres “to remain prepared for contesting all the 48 Lok Sabha seats” irrespective of what emerges later.
The Sena went a step further and declared that not only Lok Sabha, it was fully prepared to contest the 288 Assembly seats if there were simultaneous elections.