The Shiv Sena’s announcement snapping a nearly three-decade alliance did not seem to have ruffled any feathers in the BJP central or state leadership, with top leaders indicating that they would not take the threat “seriously” as the party has not pulled its ministers out of their coalitions at the Centre and in the state.
The Shiv Sena’s 18 MPs include an Union minister, Anant Geete, while 12 of its 63 MLAs in Maharashtra are ministers.
In Delhi, BJP leaders said their party will not initiate moves for talks, nor would it drop the Sena ministers from the governments. And Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is in Davos, told The Indian Express from there that the BJP would wait and see what happens.
“If the party [Shiv Sena] was serious about their threats, it should have pulled out its ministers. They have been making threats every now and then, but we do not see those threats reflected in their actions. Its ministers and leaders come for all meetings and programmes,” said a top source in the BJP central leadership.
Fadnavis expressed a similar view, saying: “Let us wait. They have been saying many things but I don’t want to comment on that… As of now we [Shiv Sena and BJP] are in the government. This government will complete its full term. Whatever it takes, I am confident of the next term also.”
Even if the Shiv Sena does exit, BJP leaders say it would not be a “major loss” for the party. The leaders claimed that it is the BJP that had been playing the role of the leading party “quite effectively and decently” during the last few years.
“Our state leadership has been constantly in touch with their leaders. They have often discussed issues relating to the alliance and the government. Top leaders including the [Maharashtra] chief minister have been in touch with them,” the central leader said.
Party sources said state leaders of the two parties had held talks two days ago, and “some issues raised by the Shiv Sena had been sorted out”. One source added that the BJP insisted that it could not be a minor player any longer in Maharashtra, although it would respect its long-standing ties with the party with which it has ideological similarities and would give it an adequate number of seats.
The BJP, said a leader, had offered an “honorable” deal ahead of the 2014 assembly polls, in which the Shiv Sena decided to go it alone at the last minute. “The BJP was ready to give them the chief minister’s post if we had won a higher number of seats after contesting an equal number,” said the BJP leader.
BJP leaders said the party leadership did not want the Shiv Sena to leave the alliance because, according to then, it would hurt the Shiv Sena and this could hurt the ideology both stand for.
Fadnavis’s assertions, too, signalled that he is not worried about the stability of his government and that he is hopeful of winning a second term.
Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar sounded equally confident: “The BJP was ready for a pre-poll alliance with the Shiv Sena for the next elections  but the Shiv Sena has started talking about going to polls alone. If they don’t want an alliance, the BJP is prepared to face the polls on its own strength. So are the people. The loss will be for the Shiv Sena. This is our evaluation, based on ground reality.”