Sena chief's death will help BJP
The mantle to head Shiv Sena was handed over by party patriarch Bal Thackeray to his son Uddhav much before he became bed-ridden; but the inner strains and stresses in the party continued with senior party workers trying to bring Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) back into the fold.
Soon after the announcement of Thackeray’s demise, Shiv Sena top leaders publicly stated that the entire party rank and file “stands behind Uddhav Thackeray.”
However, political analysts feel that though the decks to the succession to the party chief was cleared much before, recent visits by Thackeray’s estranged nephew Raj to Matoshree was more to work out a formula between the two parties.
Raj’s aggressive political moves in the past few years have gained him ample entry into the traditional vote bank of Shiv Sena in Mumbai and adjacent neighbouring towns.
However, going by the past one week developments wherein the MNS leader was not once allowed to address the media while his uncle hovered between life and death, political observers feel that the warring cousins had failed to come to a consensus.
“And if this was so… then there are immense possibilities wherein the only party that will gain in the long run is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Mumbai political stage,” a veteran political observer said.
With the demise of Thackeray, old party workers who were with the organisation since its inception, “will slowly start withdrawing from the party functioning.
Uddhav is no charismatic leader and the old battle axes of the party had not severed ties with the organisation only because of their emotional attachment to Bal Thackeray.”
A senior political analyst who has seen Mumbai and Maharashtra politics since late seventies said: “ Whatever combination emerges in the coming months, the 2014 polls will see Raj becoming politically more aggressive and the BJP emerging as an elder brother amongst the right-wing parties in the city.
“The other factor which will go in favour of BJP is the fact that Raj’s political strategy has been confined to Maharashtra, emoting softness towards Muslims and Dalits.”
The upper-caste supporters who till yesterday supported Shiv Sena will now turn towards the BJP which will now try to project itself as true flag-bearer of ‘Hindu Rashtrawadi.’
This move will weaken the Shiv Sena further and Raj lacking his uncle’s charisma, will not be able to make much headway as both the parties will be battling in the same circumscribed turf.
Moreover, the MNS is not as strong as made out in media and that would mean in the coming days there would be massive exodus of middle-ranking leadership to other parties.