Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray's appeal to party cadre to be prepared to fight Mumbai municipal election "on our own strength" is an indicator that the Shiv Sena and the BJP could be fighting the upcoming 2017 municipal elections separately.
Thackeray was addressing party workers on the occasion of 50th foundation day of Shiv Sena on Sunday when he made it clear that he did not know how the party's alliance with the BJP will turn out in the future. “I don't know what will be the fate of our alliance. We are not interested in a twisted alliance. Shiv Sena joined hands with the BJP for Hindutva. We did not break it in 2014. We want this alliance to continue but not at the cost of self respect,” Thackeray had said.
He, however, clarified that his party did not wish to be the one to snap ties with the BJP.
Even as Thackeray said this, the Shiv Sainiks present on the occasion, revealed that they did not want the party to continue with its alliance with the BJP.
Just a few hours earlier, curiously enough, similar slogans of 'no alliance ' were also raised at State BJP Executive Committee Meeting in Pune. The BJP leaders and activists present at the meeting too wanted to fight municipal elections separately. It appears that Thackeray was only reacting to this development.
Prakash Akolkar, Political Editor of Sakal newspaper and a Shiv Sena analyst said although Shiv Sena may not walk out the alliance, both at the state and the Centre, Thackeray has sent across the message that options are open before the party.
Akolkar, who has been following Sena for nearly four decades, is of the opinion that Thackeray was hurt by the way the BJP is dealing with Sena. “He showed all the signs of being hurt yesterday. But at the same time, he converted that hurt into a strategy and continued to attack the BJP government at the Centre while praising Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He will continue to do so in the days to come,” Akolkar said.
Akolkar is of the opinion that the Sena and the BJP have now entered the role of competitors for the same vote bank just like the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. This vote did not split because they were together till 2014 assembly elections.
“The bitterness among cadre could turn them into adversaries,” said Akolkar whose Marathi book 'Jay Maharashtra' is the first ever biography of Shiv Sena as a political party.