BJP–Shiv Sena hold alliance talks for 2019 polls

Various media reports since yesterday have been claiming that BJP and its oldest ally Shiv Sena have been holding extensive meetings over the past few months to discuss terms of a possible alliance in preparation of next year’s general elections.

According to reports, there have been at least three meetings between the two sides both in Maharashtra and in Delhi with the involvement of top representatives of each party, including bigwigs like chief minister Devendra Fadanvis and finance minister Arun Jaitley from BJP, and the likes of Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai and union industries minister Subhash Desai representing Shiv Sena.

A few reports claim that BJP has even gone to the extent of offering a 50:50 seat sharing ratio for assembly and parliamentary seats from Maharashtra to the Sena. These developments are arising just weeks after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had declared that his party will share power with BJP in Maharashtra and Delhi, but it will chart its own course henceforth and will contest all elections on its own.

Trouble has been brewing for quite some time now between BJP and some of its key allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). It had begun with Sena declaring its intention to break its alliance with the saffron party just before the last Maharashtra state elections. Currently, BJP has also been facing problems with its southern ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) over the government not having fulfilled all promises it made to Andhra Pradesh.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s towering charisma and popularity, especially amongst urban voters, BJP will find it increasingly difficult to single-handedly retain power in Maharashtra, where anti-incumbency could also influence elections next time. On the other hand, Shiv Sena has also realized that BJP has now emerged as a force to recon with and can breach its strongholds, as it almost managed to do during previous Mumbai civic elections.

There is also a strong possibility of the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) joining hands to contest upcoming elections together. Keeping all these factors in mind, it seems that continuing the traditional saffron alliance is perhaps the best option for both, BJP as well as Shiv Sena.