Recent speculations about BJP cadre wanting to leave their alliance in Maharashtra, has made the Shiv Sena sharpen its weapons. According to sources, Uddhav Thackeray recently met party heads and told them to be prepared to contest all the 288 assembly seats on their own.
Traditionally the Shiv Sena contests 174 seats, while the BJP contests only 114 in the state assembly polls. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 23 seats, while Shiv Sena won 18 seats.
The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance was created in 1988 and is one of the strongest alliances in the country. State BJP spokesperson Madhu Chavan had earlier said that the party should go alone in the assembly elections and there was no need to continue with the alliance. "After such a great growth at the national level do we still need to be 'bonsai' in the state," Chavan had said.
Meanwhile, the Congress-NCP alliance have upped their ante by recently announcing a 12% and 5% reservation for Marathas and Muslims respectively.
The question arises then, will the BJP turn to an alliance with the MNS if the Shiv Sena walks out? In the 2009 Assembly polls, MNS contested 12 seats and won 9, eating into the votes of the BJP and Shiv Sena.
After the demise of Gopinath Munde — the face of the BJP in Maharashtra, the BJP is left without a powerful leader in the state. So will the BJP look to enter into an alliance with another party? During the Lok Sabha Elections, Raj Thackeray had said that his party supported Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. With the MNS having suffered a crushing defeat in the recent general elections, Raj Thackeray is all set to contest the assembly elections, with the MNS already projecting him as their chief ministerial candidate in Maharashtra.