A beleaguered and cornered Shiv Sena (SS), which had once ridden the political high-horse in Mumbai in desperate defiance to its ally Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) recent overtures to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thakeray, has decided to field its candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi for the Lok Sabha elections.
Talking to media on Friday, SS spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “We have our alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra, not in UP. We will strive to expand our party in other parts of the country.
The Shiv Sena will field 20 candidates in Uttar Pradesh.” However, on a micro-blogging site, SS chief Uddhav's son and Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray said the Sena would not field candidates against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is contesting from Varanasi, and BJP president Rajnath Singh, contesting from Lucknow.
Interestingly, the quarter-century-old alliance between the BJP and the SS began witnessing rifts after BJP leader Nitin Gadkari talked to mediapersons about his meeting with the SS' bete noire, MNS leader and Uddhav's estranged cousin Raj Thackeray.
Gadkari went on the record stating that he met the MNS leader so as to convince him that he fielding the candidates would only lead to “cutting votes from SS vote bank”.
The move infuriated SS leader Uddhav who said such overtures “reveal the fissures roiling inside the BJP's Maharashtra camp”.
The BJP-SS alliance is one of the oldest, not just in the state but also in the country. However, the BJP, which had piggy-backed on the SS all along, now does not want the soft-spoken Uddhav as an ally.
The BJP, apart from holding sway in a few pockets in the Vidarbha region, was never considered a big fish in Mumbai, as compared to the SS when led by Bal Thackeray till his demise in 2012.