In the nearly three decades that they have been allies — discounting the brief snapping of ties ahead of the 2014 assembly polls in Maharashtra — the BJP has grown faster than the Shiv Sena electorally.
An analysis of the two parties’ performances since 1990, when they contested their first assembly election together, shows that the BJP’s vote share grew by a third in two decades — from 10.7% in 1990 to 14% in 2009 — while the Shiv Sena remained at roughly 16% throughout, except in 2004 when it approached 20%. In terms of actual votes polled, the BJP nearly doubled its count in this period – from 31.80 lakh to 63.52 lakh – while the Shiv Sena count rose by a little more than half (55%), from 47.33 lakh to 73.69 lakh.
During this period, the number of valid votes swelled by 53%, from 2.96 crore in 1990 to 4.53 crore in 2009.
The growing dominance of the BJP became all the more apparent after the allies split in 2014. The BJP share nearly doubled from 14% in 2009 to 27.8% in 2014, while the Shiv Sena share rose by barely a fifth, from 16.26% to 19.35%.
The nature of the alliance was such that the Shiv Sena would contest a higher number of seats in assembly elections while the BJP would get the larger share in Lok Sabha elections. The BJP made its major gain in 1989, its first Lok Sabha poll in alliance with the Shiv Sena, when its vote share more than doubled to 23.7% from 10% in 1984, while the Shiv Sena’s largest leap was from 16.83% in 1996 to 19.66% in 1998. Otherwise, neither party has gained as starkly in Lok Sobha polls as it has in assembly polls.
Seat-sharing agreements for Lok Sabha polls were initially lopsided in favour of the BJP — it contested 33 to the Shiv Sena’s 3 the first time — but the Sena share started increasing with time. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the last time the two contested as allies, the BJP contested 24 seats to the Sena’s 20.
Pointing at the assembly election trends, Shiv Sena leaders say that the BJP has gained a lot more from the alliance than the Shiv Sena. Some Sena leaders feel the BJP grew on the efforts of the Sena cadre and that now, after gaining strength, feels that it can dictate terms to other parties. They allege that the BJP has has a history of muscling out regional parties with whom it allies, citing the example of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party in Goa which has slowly ceded space to the BJP as it grew.