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Is the go-it-alone call part of BJP strategy to get more winnable seats in Maharashtra?

Saturday, 5 July 2014 - 6:55am IST | Agency: dna

Was the outburst by BJP's second-rung leaders at party's state executive demanding that the party go it alone, part of a larger strategy to corner Sena in the run-up to the assembly polls?

"We are upset that Shiv Sena does not give due credit to PM Modi for its electoral victory," said a senior BJP leader from Mumbai. The Modi wave had also demolished Sena's prime challenger, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, apart from getting 18 MPs elected, he added.

That Sena has been softly pushing for Uddhav as the CM nominee has not helped matters either.

"In a review meeting before Lok Sabha results were announced, some BJP candidates had complained of Sena cadre not cooperating with them during the campaign," the BJP leader said, adding: "These issues were simmering in the minds of BJP cadre, which found a resonance in the rousing response to the speakers, who had demanded that the party go it alone, at Thursday's conclave."

BJP, which has played the role of a junior ally to Sena, is also seeking more assembly seats for the polls due in October because of the "changed political situation". BJP says despite the death of its mass leader, Gopinath Munde, the Modi wave may see them through.

"We are trying to stress that if the alliance is severed, it's the Sena that stands to lose. Sena's 18 MPs will make no difference at the Centre, whereas it could lose power in BMC and other civic bodies," he claimed.

Sena and BJP came together in 1989 after an unsuccessful electoral attempt in 1985. The saffron allies, which had one shot at power in the state from 1995 to 1999, has stayed together ever since.

Sena has a much broader political and social base than the BJP and has always dominated the alliance. However, BJP leaders are now trying to extract a larger share of winnable seats for a greater part of the power pie and the CM's chair.

BJP leaders admit that Sena's presence enforces a natural restriction on the socio-political expansion of the party, which has an urban, middle class image. "We want to strengthen our party. We are not born to bolster Shiv Sena," said an irate BJP leader, who is for post-poll alliance.

When contacted, Sena group leader in the assembly and spokesperson Subhash Desai was dismissive. "We will not react to second-rung leaders. The alliance is based on a shared ideology."

In 2009, after the constituency map of the state was re-drawn after the delimitation exercise, Sena contested 169 seats and BJP 119 (up by two from 2004). Sena won just 44 plus that of an independent supported by it (Vivek Pandit-Vasai) against BJP's 46, not counting victories notched up in by-polls.

This time BJP is seeking more seats. Party leaders admit that the real challenge lies in amicable sharing of constituencies between the six Mahayuti allies. Sena and BJP are in alliance with Ramdas Athavale's Republican Party of India, farmer leader and Hatkanangale MP Raju Shetti's Swabhimaani Paksha and Dhangar community leader Mahadeo Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP). NCP MLC Vinayak Mete who heads Shivasangram and has switched sides to the opposition camp and is on the verge of forming his own party.

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