Hardening its stance, the Shiv Sena projected party president Uddhav Thackeray as a Narendra Modi-like figure who could help the six-party Mahayuti surge to victory in the Maharashtra assembly polls later this year and refused to part with more assembly seats for ally BJP.
It also tried to underplay the importance of the Modi factor in the Mahayuti's sweep of 42 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats and sought that Uddhav be pitched as the alliance's chief ministerial candidate.
"(So far) reports of an equal seat sharing between the Shiv Sena and BJP have only been published in the newspapers. But, no authorised statement has come forth from the BJP," said Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut in his weekly column on Sunday. "Today it does not seem at all that the seat-sharing formula will change and Uddhav Thackeray will not consent to it," said Raut, who is also the newspaper's executive editor.
This comes after the BJP's second-rung leaders demanded that the party go it alone without an alliance with the Shiv Sena. In 2009, the Sena contested 169 seats and the BJP fought from 119 (up by two from 2004). However, the Sena won just 44 seats, plus that of an independent supported by it (Vivek Pandit from Vasai) against the BJP's 46, not counting victories notched up in by-polls.
"There is no substance in the contention that because the Shiv Sena secured 18 seats (in the Lok Sabha) due to Modi, the BJP's share of seats must be increased," said the column, adding that in 2009, the Sena had won 11 seats despite the major challenge posed to it by the MNS. It had lost four seats by a slender margin, it added.
"The Shiv Sena is strong in Maharashtra and will continue to be. The Modi wave was in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, but the local regional parties stopped it. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena was there with the BJP. Hence, the Modi wave surged more. The Shiv Sena and the BJP both benefit from the alliance. A picture is being created that the BJP will contest on its own merit and a post-poll alliance will be struck, which is not correct. If the BJP does this, the NCP will fight on its own strength (by snapping its alliance with the Congress), making it a five-cornered fight," Raut said, pointing to how the Raj Thackeray-led MNS would also contest most seats and Raj had announced himself as the CM nominee.
"This (Modi) wave has now receded below the waist. People were troubled by inflation and the anger against the Congress in the minds of the people went away with the Modi wave. That is why, Maharashtra will have to search for its own Modi," said Raut.
He added that other parties in the alliance like Dalit leader Ramdas Athavale's Republican Party of India (A), farmer leader Raju Shetti's Swabhimani Paksha, dhangar community leader Mahadeo Jankar and Shivasangram's Vinayak Mete had sought over 100 seats even if they did not have winnable candidates. "If they do not get the seats that they want, they will be miffed and speak of rebelling. It is only Uddhav Thackeray's leadership which will help do away with their anger... and announcing only Uddhav Thackeray as the chief ministerial nominee will give a sweeping victory to the Shiv Sena- BJP," Raut claimed, while taking a swipe at other chief ministerial aspirants from the alliance and questioning whether they would be accepted by the people of the state.
Raut also claimed that the Congress lacked leadership and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was able to hold on to his chair because of lack of viable alternatives. He pointed out that after the death of senior BJP leader and Union rural development minister Gopinath Munde, the BJP lacked a strong leader in the state and stressed on the need to decide on a face for the party in Maharashtra.