Shiv Sena sets stiff conditions before the BJP for a pre-poll tie-up
Shiv Sena is more likely to contest the ensuing 2019 Lok Sabha polls on its own strength. Even as its estranged ally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been sending feelers for a pre-poll alliance, the Sena has set stiff conditions before the BJP for a pre-poll tie-up, staking claim to the Chief Minister's post in Maharashtra in lieu of helping BJP retain power in Delhi.
Speaking to newspersons on the condition of anonymity, a senior Sena minister disclosed yesterday that he has already directed his party cadres to be ready to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha, Assembly elections in 2019 solo.
He further opined that in all probability, the BJP will go for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Maharashtra along with the assembly elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has already begun taking Lok Sabha constituency-wise review meetings at the Sena Bhavan. Sources in the Sena disclosed that the party is likely to finalise the names of its Lok Sabha candidates before the Ganesh festival beginning September 13. The party is most likely to renominate its sitting 18 Lok Sabha MP's, and is also short-listing potential candidates for the other 30 Lok Sabha seats in the event if the poll alliance with BJP for Lok Sabha snaps.
The Sena minister argued that the political scenario for the BJP has now turned hostile and the party has now realised the need for allies. He disclosed that BJP president Amit Shah is now in constant touch with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. “The BJP is sending feelers for an alliance. They want us (Sena) to support them for retaining power in New Delhi and do whatever they want in Maharashtra. We have staked claim for the Chief Minister's post and the same old seat-sharing formula,” added the Sena minister. It may be recalled that earlier this year in January, at Senas national executive meet, party president Uddhav Thackeray had announced the decision that the Sena will contest all future elections on its own.
Meanwhile, a senior BJP union minister from Maharashtra, while speaking on conditions of anonymity, expressed optimism that the Sena-BJP will have an pre-poll alliance on the issue of Hindutva. Asked if there is no alliance, the BJP minister added that even if the two do not have an alliance it will affect the electoral prospects of opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Either ways, it will be a setback for the opposition Congress, NCP.
Sources in the Sena disclosed that in Mumbai the party is most likely to renominate its three sitting MP's – Arvind Sawant (Mumbai South), Rahul Shewale (Mumbai South-Central) and Gajanan Kirtikar (Mumbai North-West). Besides these the Sena has shortlisted the names of Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar and its Minister for Health Dr Deepak Sawant to take on BJP's sitting MP Poonam Mahajan from Mumbai North-Central. The Sena has shortlisted the name of its former mayor Shubha Raul to take on BJP's sitting MP from Mumbai North Gopal Shetty. In Mumbai North-East Lok Sabha constituency, the Sena has shortlisted names of former MLA Shishir Shinde and senior party spokesperson and MLC Dr Neelam Gorhe to take on sitting BJP MP Dr Kirit Somaiya.