Maharashtra Lok Sabha & Assembly elections 2019: Both Shiv Sena and the BJP have almost declared a war on each other. While the Amit Shah-led BJP has done it subtly, sending a message to party workers to prepare for a solo fight, the Sena, like always, has declared its intentions in no-nonsense terms – There won’t be further compromise, discussions and the days of veiled punches are over. Its time for frontal attacks. But, who will be the real loser in this battle of ideological “brothers”?
After the Sena ditched the BJP during Modi government’s first trust test on the floor of the Parliament on Friday last, it was clear for Modi, Shah & Company that 2019 will not be any different from 2014 when they had fought separately but stunned the Opposition, winning 185 of 288 Assembly seats combined.
Several reports quoting sources since Saturday last say the BJP chief has asked his party workers to prepare to fight solo in a possibly triangular, or a four-way contest. “You should start preparing now so that in your booths 51 per cent voters vote for BJP,” Shah said, according to an NDTV report. Soon, Sena hit back with full force.
In an interview published in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ on Monday, Thackeray says he is not fighting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “dream”, but for the common man. That his party doesn’t have “only one friend (BJP)” but many in the form of the public. The Sena chief says he would now oppose the BJP openly, just like he supported them “openly” in the past. He will “hunt” but not shoot “from anyone else’s shoulder”. And he won’t “need a gun for the hunt”.
The Sena chief’s words, and Shah’s message to party workers, make it clear that Maharashtra would see a triangular contest, if Congress-NCP become allies, and a four-way fight if they don’t.
The data from last few elections suggest both BJP and Sena are at advantage when they fight separately, gobbling up votes of rivals.
In the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections last year, Sena and the BJP separately won 84 and 82 seats respectively, while the Congress and the NCP were reduced to mere 31 and 9 seats of the total 227, respectively.
Similarly, in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections, Sena had won 63 out of 288 seats, while the BJP won 122; the Congress and the NCP had won just 42 and 41 seats respectively. This was quite the opposite to 2009 and 2004 Assembly polls when BJP and Sena had fought as allies. In 2009, BJP had won 46, Sena 45; In 2004, the BJP had won 54 and the Sena 62 seats.
It may be too early to predict that 2014 or the BMC results will repeat for the BJP. But then, when close brothers go to war, unsuspecting neighbours often pay up with their lives.