Photograph: BJP/Twitter

2019 Elections: Allies-Turned-Foes Turn Allies Again

The oldest allies of the National Democratic Alliance are together again.

After years of acrimony, threats and barbs, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena announced they would contest the Lok Sabha and assembly elections together once more. The three-decade partnership ran into rough weather with the BJP expanding its footprint in Maharashtra at the expense of the Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena, which claimed to be the ‘big brother’, wasn’t happy at the BJP’s growth but had to eventually give in.

“The Shiv Sena has not just conceded but surrendered completely,” said senior journalist Girish Kuber, who feels the party had no choice. While the Shiv Sena agreed to contest 23 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the BJP will get 25. With 48 seats, Maharashtra sends the second-largest number of parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha after Uttar Pradesh.

Shiv Sena, that traditionally fought on more seats in the state polls, agreed to a 50-50 split with the BJP in the 288-member assembly.

Shiv Sena is facing an existential crisis. If they didn’t align, the BJP would have split the party. Half the Shiv Sena legislators were in talks with the BJP.
Girish Kuber, Editor, Loksatta

The reason for the climb down by the Shiv Sena is the surge of the BJP in the last two major elections in the state where the national party clocked higher vote shares than it.

2019 Elections: Allies-Turned-Foes Turn Allies Again
2019 Elections: Allies-Turned-Foes Turn Allies Again

At the press conference to announce the 2019 alliance, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray referred to his party’s criticism of their partner as “guidance”. Pushing that message to the party cadre won’t be easy, said veteran journalist Rohit Chandavarkar.

Leaders from both parties were prepared to fight alone and now there will be fewer tickets on offer with a seat-sharing alliance in place. This could lead to defections to the NCP-Congress alliance that will take on the BJP and Shiv Sena, Chandavarkar said.

Disgruntled elements who will not get tickets because both parties will share seats may cross over. All these factors will hurt the alliance badly.
Rohit Chandavarkar, Resident Editor, Sakal Times

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