BJP President Amit Shah hugs Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray after announcement of an alliance (Source: PTI)

BJP And Shiv Sena To Contest Lok Sabha, Assembly Polls Jointly

Overcoming their strained ties and prior declarations of going solo, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena on Monday announced a seat-sharing pact for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Maharashtra.

The announcement was made by BJP president Amit Shah and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Maharahstra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at a joint press conference in Mumbai, shortly after Shah flew in from Jaipur.

The BJP will contest 25 seats and Shiv Sena 23 of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

In polls for the 288-member state assembly due this year, the two parties will contest an equal number of seats after allotting allies their due share of segments.

Both Shah and Fadnavis said public sentiment was that the two parties should come together. Shah recalled his earlier remark that the BJP and Sena will together win at least 45 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

Majority of the workers of both parties wanted the alliance, Shah said. The Sena is the oldest ally of BJP, he said.

The Ram temple has been the common thread for alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena and has to be built at the earliest, Thackeray said.

BJP and Sena are parties with national ideology which have come together in wider public interest, Fadnavis said. In principle, both the parties are pro-Hindutva, he added.

The alliance renewal announcement comes after several hard-hitting editorials in Sena mouthpiece Saamana blasting the BJP administration and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular.

At a public rally last year, Thackeray had declared that his party won’t have a tie-up with the BJP. “We rotted for 25 years in the alliance with the BJP,” Thackeray had said last year, ruling out any pact with that party.

Shah said the two parties decided to contest the polls together after detailed thinking.

“This is not just a political alliance, but one based on principles. The two parties have fought for decades on the issues of Ram temple, national security and cultural nationalism and also attained victories. I am sure we will win again,” he said.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two parties along with their allies had won 42 out of the 48 seats. The BJP had bagged 23 seats, while the Shiv Sena had emerged victorious in 18 constituencies.

The two parties had contested the October 2014 Maharashtra Assembly election separately and had come together to form government in a post-poll arrangement in December that year.

Also read: Gujarat Results Indicate People Not Happy With BJP: Shiv Sena