The on-going war of words between the Shiv Sena and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Sena held Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat sums up the despondent mood in the Sena. Sources in the Sena while speaking to Afternoon DC on conditions of anonymity disclosed that the party expects a loss of about 8 to 10 Lok Sabha seats in this elections from the 18 seats it had won in the 2014 elections. Already some cadres are raising questions over the logic behind having a pre-poll alliance with the BJP that is counter-productive.
It may be recalled that sitting Sena Lok Sabha MP from Aurangabad Chandrakant Khaire had recently lashed out at state BJP president Raosaheb Danve-Patil for supporting the candidature of his son-in-law Harshavardhan Jadhav. In a bid to quell the raging fire, BJP MLC Sujitsingh Thakur clarified that the BJP had supported and campaigned for Khaire. However, sources in the BJP pointed out that the Sena instead of replacing some of its sitting Lok Sabha candidates despite a strong anti-incumbency renominated them. On the other hand based on the feedback of anti-incumbency against some its sitting MP's, the BJP replaced some of them.
Sources in the Sena admitted that the party has red-marked Lok Sabha constitutencies like Shirur (Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil), Yavatmal-Washim (Bhavna Gawli), Raigad (Union Minister for Heavy Industries Anant Geete), Aurangabad (Chandrakant Khaire), Mumbai South (Arvind Sawant), Parbhani (Sanjay Jadhav) and Osmanabad (Omraje Nimbalkar) among others. The party is also not that optimistic about its candidate Dhananjay Mandlik of winning from the Kolhapur Lok Sabha seat and neither it is having any hopes of winning the Hathkanangale seat. Barring replacing the Osmanabad sitting MP Ravi Gaikwad, the Sena repeated all its sitting 17 MP's who won in the 2014 elections.
Sources in the BJP disclosed that the Sena leadership relied heavily on the BJP to do all the campaigning on its behalf as it argued that victory of the Sena candidates was important for the BJP as it wanted to re-elect Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister.
Sources in the Sena on the other hand argued that had the Sena contested on its own even though it would have meant a loss of seats it would have nevertheless enthused the cadres to work hard. A probable loss is bound to reignite the debate in the Sena over its re-alliance with the BJP in respect of the Assembly elections due in September-October later in the year.