Maharashtra polls: Why BJP can't afford to ignore Shiv Sena?

BJP chief Amit Shah
It seems all is not well between the two saffron allies in Maharashtra. The flip-flop over BJP president Amit Shah's meeting with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray shows that the relation between the two old allies is in jeopardy. Though, there has been tension between the two allies for the last few weeks over seat-sharing, but both of them have been denying such reports.

On Thursday, BJP chief Amit Shah arrived in Maharashtra on his maiden visit to meet the State's party workers in order to gauge the ground level situation and chalk out a strategy. According to reports, Amit Shah first refused to meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray citing tight schedule but later accepted the proposal of the meeting.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders denied any rift, said that Shah had to priorities his party.

The saffron alliance has going through rough roads over seat-sharing for the past few days. But, still BJP cannot afford to ignore its old ally Sena and go alone in the ensuing Assembly polls.

BJP's State leadership is weak

The BJP has been a junior partner in the State contesting in 114 of the 288 seats while the Sena fought in 174 seats. But, after a magnificent win in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, the BJP want to play a big brother. However, the saffron party must not forget that it has a few leaders to lead the approaching polls. This time the party would be fighting State elections in the absence of its two strong leaders Pramod Mahajan and Gopi Nath Munde. Also, it does not have any other leader who could match their charismatic appeals.

BJP suffered a 4-6 defeat at hands of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance in Bihar

According to a pre-poll survey conducted by ABP-Neilson, about 1/5th of the respondents (21%) surveyed said that they would prefer to see Prithviraj Chavan as the chief Minister followed by Uddhav Thackeray (18%). Only sixteen percent wanted BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis to be the next CM.

BJP does not have 288 able candidates

The opinion polls might have predicted a big win for the BJP in the upcoming State Assembly polls, but it would be difficult for the party to find suitable candidates to field in all 288 constituencies. The poll survey projected 112 of Maharashtra's 288 Assembly seats for the BJP, 62 for the Shiv Sena, if no alliances are formed. Still, BJP will have to carry on alliance with the Sena.

Modi factor 'non-existent' at State level

The defeat of BJP in recently concluded Assembly by-elections shows that the Modi factor which drove the party to a landslide win in Lok Sabha poll, is non-existent at local level. The equations of States are different from the Central politics, so Assembly elections cannot be fought on Modi wave.

The BJP suffered a 4-6 defeat at the hands of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance in Bihar and yielded two strongholds to Congress in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Sena Vs BJP, will give Congress-NCP another chance

Though both the Sena and BJP are denying any kind of rift between them. But still, if they decide to go alone in the upcoming Assembly polls, it will give the NCP-Congress alliance a chance of survival in the Assembly polls. Be it rampant corruption or anti-incumbency, whatever be the reason, the Congress-NCP alliance is on backfoot this time. A Sena Vs BJP fight will divide the saffron votes and this will help the Congress-NCP to make a come back.
Shiv Sena being a local party knows the nerves of people

Shiv Sena, being a regional party holds the grip over local issues in better ways as compared to BJP. The grass-root network of Sena is much stronger than BJP. The party fights elections on Maratha card, a highly emotive issue in the Maharashtra polls.

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