As Ally Shiv Sena Flirts With Opposition In Maharashtra, BJP On Guard

Twice in two weeks, Sharad Pawar has praised Rahul Gandhi - comments that were seen as narrowing the gap between the two former allies.


Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was earlier given an ultimatum by the BJP on the Maharashtra alliance.


  1. Uddhav Thackeray met Mamata Banerjee in Mumbai this month
  2. 'Not a single decision by vote of majority,' Devendra Fadnavis to NDTV
  3. Sharad Pawar said there's a possibility of Grand Alliance in Maharashtra
Between Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena's recent praises for Rahul Gandhi and a series of meetings, one of which involved Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a new political equation appears to be emerging - one that may see opposition parties close ranks against the BJP in the 2019 elections.

Twice in two weeks, Mr Pawar has praised Rahul Gandhi - comments that were seen as narrowing the gap between the two former allies. "The government is getting scared of Rahul Gandhi," Mr Pawar had said yesterday - a statement that adds to his earlier view that people have started to see the Congress vice president "differently".

On this, he had found company in Shiv Sena, which despite re-forging the alliance with the BJP to rule Maharashtra, has pulled no punches against the party. "A leader is one who is accepted by people. There is a substantial change in Rahul Gandhi since 2014. People like to listen to him now," senior leader Sanjay Raut had said last month.

Asked if there is a possibility of a Bihar-style Grand Alliance in Maharashtra, Mr Pawar appeared open to the idea. "Well, yes," said the 76-year-old leader of the Nationalist Congress Party.  "Earlier also, we went for this government together and ruled over 15 years, even now if there's a room for it, then yes. Let's see if it happens good if not then too it's fine."

Congress's former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan spoke of fresh possibilities. "The Congress and the NCP coming together is not Mahagatbandhan. We have been together for a long time," the veteran leader said. "But if the Shiv Sena also comes into a loose understanding... I don't think it is an alliance but an electoral understanding that will be good because everybody sees the BJP as a major threat."

The reference appeared to be Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's meeting with Mr Pawar late last month. While the Sena has not been forthcoming about the meeting, party sources confirmed that the possibility of a tacit understanding was discussed. "I felt that he (Thackeray) is not keen on continuing with the (BJP) alliance in the state, but they did not indicate whether they would withdraw support," Mr Pawar had said after the meeting.

Another regional party chief, Mamata Banerjee, known for her attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also had a meeting with the Sena chief earlier this month. Mr Thackeray had called on the Bengal chief minister during her visit to Mumbai. While he afterwards said no political discussion took place, the two leaders had found themselves on the same page on issues over which the Shiv Sena had taken on the BJP -- notably the Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation.

Speaking on his party's alliance with the Sena, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told NDTV on Off The Cuff, " the last three years, on one hand it appears through media and open spaces that we have a lot of differences in opinion. Not a single decision in the cabinet is taken by a vote of majority." Mr Fadnavis said, "All the decisions have been unanimous decisions except one which was the election of the Sarpanch."

Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.

NDTV Beeps - your daily newsletter

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................