With a historic win in the national elections under its belt, the BJP's Maharashtra leaders have already set their eyes on winning the state and they appear reluctant to play second fiddle to the Shiv Sena going forward.
"Now we will aim to for shat pratishat BJP in the state," Vinod Tawde, BJP leader and leader of the opposition in the legislative council, told journalists on Friday.
Asked whether there was a rethinking on continuing with the coalition in the state, Tawde clarified that the BJP would take along its partners in the assembly elections.
Tawde chose not to comment to a question about whether Amit Shah, who led the BJP's campaign in Uttar Pradesh, would be put in charge of the assembly campaign in Maharashtra. Currently, Rajiv Pratap Rudy is in charge of party affairs in the state.
However, BJP leaders suggest privately that they would put pressure on the Shiv Sena to cede the role of the senior partner in the alliance to the BJP and grant it a larger share of the seats to be contested in the assembly polls.
"The BJP has spread its presence across the state and increased its seats tally as compared with the Shiv Sena over the years. In view of the unprecedented victory in the Lok Sabha elections we don't want to depend on the crutches of the Sena or have to share power with it. So we will strike a hard bargain with the Sena in the assembly polls," said a BJP leader.
The BJP first declared its 'shat pratishat' plan back in 2000. It drew severe criticism from the Sena, straining relations between the alliance partners, and the party even dared the BJP to go it alone. Since then, the situation has changed and the BJP is better placed today to assert its position.
However, another BJP leader chose to be more cautious, saying it would not be right to dump its oldest alliance partner simply because the party had won a big national victory. "It would be a mistake to go it alone and we will lose the advantage gained in this election. The Sena is a strong cadre-based party and contesting separately would result in a three- or four-cornered contest that would benefit the ruling alliance," he said.
B Venkatesh Kumar, a political analyst, said, "After the astounding Lok Sabha victory, there is no need for the BJP to go along with anybody in the state. But they would be prudent and only drive a hard bargain on seat-sharing with the Sena. It is unlikely to even join hands with the MNS which has been marginalised in these elections."