Mumbai: The BJP's oldest ally, the Shiv Sena, will contest the national elections and Maharashtra assembly elections in 2019 alone, its top leaders decided in Mumbai today. The Sena is, however, not yet pulling out of the BJP-led governments at the Centre or in the state. If it does, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' government in Maharashtra will be in a minority.
- Shiv Sena conference resolves to contest next national elections alone
- Has been the oldest ally of BJP but ties have soured in recent years
- Shiv Sena leaders have openly targetted the centre and PM Modi
The party passed a unanimous resolution that said it will not ally with the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said after a meeting of the party's national executive, at which Aditya Thackeray, the 27-year-old son of Sena chief Udhav Thackeray, was appointed a member of the executive.
"We will fight elections in every state for the cause of Hindutva, I vow today," said Uddhav Thackeray.
Mr Raut accused the BJP of "demoralising the Sena in the last three years, using power to do so."
The BJP and the Shiv Sena have been allies since the early 90s, but their relations have been at a prolonged breakpoint ever since the BJP emerged as Maharashtra's number one party in the 2014 national election, winning the most parliament seats in the state and then months later became the single largest party in assembly elections. It reversed their longstanding position of the Sena as senior partner, which the party has found difficult to live down.
After a fractious campaign for the assembly elections that briefly saw them part ways, the Shiv Sena agreed to join a BJP-led government in Maharashtra, but has been threatening since to call off the alliance. It has also cribbed that it has not been given adequate representation in the union cabinet. The Sena's attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's central policies and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have been become more frequent, often delivered in scathing editorials in its mouthpiece Saamna.
The two parties contested last year's civic elections in Mumbai separately, with the BJP posting its biggest win ever, just a few less than the Shiv Sena, which has controlled Asia's richest municipal corporation for many years.
With no party winning a majority, the BJP offered the post of mayor to the Sena. It was seen a peace offering by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to prevent the Sena from walking out of his government. The BJP has 123 seats in the 288-member assembly and depends on the Sena's 63 legislators to cross the majority mark at 144.