Nitin Gadkari, the erstwhile President of BJP, has asked Raj Thackeray, the MNS supremo, to refrain from putting up candidates at the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The main reason behind this request is to make sure that the votes of the BJP and Shiv Sena combine do not get divided. Gadkari has informed the media during a recent meeting that he had indeed put forward the said proposal with an aim to make sure that the alliance, being led by BJP, achieves victory in Maharashtra. Gadkari has reasoned that if MNS fielded candidates some seats would be won by them and that could prove to be an impediment for BJP’s national aspirations.
However, this is not going to be a lose-all situation for Thackeray if he were to listen to Gadkari. While the former BJP head did not provide any indication, it is being said that MNS could receive almost 35 to 40 seats in the assembly, which has a maximum capacity of 288. Gadkari has also stated that at the moment the talks are only at their infancy and also made it clear that a partnership with MNS is what the party is looking at. In fact, Gadkari has also been trying to win over the Peasants and Workers Party.
It is expected that once these talks between Gadkari and Raj Thackeray materialize, Uddhav Thackeray, who heads Shiv Sena, will be included in the mix as well. This will, however, be done before the alliance commits to MNS in a decisive manner. In fact, earlier too BJP has tried to rope in MNS but the party created a major problem by getting more than 1 lakh votes in each constituency for BJP during the general elections of 2009 and this meant that the Congress-NCP alliance was able to prosper as a result. With MNS in that year, the BJP helmed alliance could have received 33% of the votes but they ended up with 29% in the end.
MNS is a key player in Maharashtra politics in the sense that in spite of being an unlikely candidate to win, it can still pry away a considerable amount of votes and this could once again hamper BJP and Shiv Sena alliance. Gopinath Munde, a BJP leader, has already had a meeting with Uddhav in order to make sure that MNS can be brought into the alliance’s fold.
Maharashtra has 48 seats in the Lok Sabha and as per Gadkari the BJP is trying to make sure it can use the maximum possible seats from here. He has also said that he has supposedly tried to make Raj understand how important it is to remove the present UPA alliance from power at the center so as to ensure better governance and overall development of the country. He has also admitted that it is the age of coalition politics and for this purpose NDA will be looking to take new partners in its fold.
The importance of this proposed alliance can be understood from the words of a senior leader in BJP who has said that even Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the party, is keenly waiting for it to materialize so that MNS is on the party’s side and its fortunes in the upcoming elections are not affected. Certain sections within the Shiv Sena have, however, stated that any alliance will have to be sanctioned by the party functionaries and they have to be confided in for a partnership to materialize.
Considering the rather tense situation, there are a few questions that could be asked over here:
- Can the MNS be trusted to partner with them after what happened in 2009?
- Will Shiv Sena agree to have MNS in the fold?
- Will there be any infighting even after the alliance is formed?
- How far will this affect the fortunes of BJP in the assembly elections?