Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has once again launched a blistering attack on alliance partner BJP and its leadership. On the eve of his 57th birthday, Uddhav questioned the Narendra Modi government’s policy on Jammu & Kashmir in the backdrop of its handling of the situation after Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s killing. What is noteworthy in the latest outburst of the Sena leader is his desperation for ‘not being treated as equal partner’ in the alliance.
Shiv Sena is BJP’s oldest ally and Sena ideologue Bal Thackeray and late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan were instrumental in forging the alliance. What united both the parties is their zealotry in ‘protecting the rights of the Hindus’. Both claim to be the champions of Hindutva. And political expediency had demanded that both come together. Starting from the BJP’s Ayodhya campaign, they attracted a particular section of voters.
With his swagger, Bal Thackeray established the Sena as a powerful force and a leading player in Maharashtra. Chugging along, the BJP was happy playing second fiddle. But the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the state polls changed the dynamics of the alliance, and thus changed the rules of engagement. BJP returned with a massive victory both at the state and Central level. They really didn’t need the Shiv Sena to form the first BJP government in Maharashtra.
In the last two years, bickering between the alliance partners has only become shrill. And there were moments when the alliance was on the verge of a split. Though Shiv Sena has numbers to show for now, the party has to continuously remind its cadre of its power and agenda to remain politically relevant and attractive. It is in this context that Uddhav minced no words in attacking the BJP and its policies.
Uddhav went on to say that his party “upheld the the Hindutava cause but its benefits were reaped by others”. It leaves nothing to imagination as to who he was referring to. Uddhav said, “We took the brickbats and faced all the troubles (for Hindus)… but now others are enjoying (the benefits). For how long will this continue?” He was more scathing against the government when he asked, “The dispensation has changed, but has the life of commoner got changed?”
Politically, the BJP has nothing to lose should the Shiv Sena exit the alliance. This, in a way, is fueling a sense of anger and alienation in the Sena leadership and its cadre base. And the BJP doesn’t seem to be budging anytime soon vis-a-vis the Sena’s complaints. Also, the Bal Thackeray-like bravado by Uddhav is also not having any effect on the BJP. With Assembly and Lok Sabha elections far way in 2019, it seems there’s not going to be any dull moment in the alliance until then.