An alliance between the Shiv Sena and the NCP, although has raised many eyebrows, is not new. It must be recalled that Shiv Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray had backed NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s bid to become the Prime Minister when he was in the Congress. Honouring his friendship with Pawar, Thackeray had also ensured that the Sena-BJP alliance does not put a candidate against Pawar’s daughter Supriya, when she was nominated to the Rajya Sabha for the first time.
When Pranab Mukherjee was nominated by the Congress as the Presidential candidate, it was Pawar who had accompanied him to Thackeray’s residence, Matoshree, to successfully elicit the Shiv Sena’s support to his candidature.
It may also be recalled that in 2007, the NCP had joined hands with the Shiv Sena in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). While joining hands with the Shiv Sena, the NCP had then ruled out such an alliance at the state and national level.
Both parties had come together in the PMC to keep the Congress out of power. The NCP had got the post of mayor and the Shiv Sena the deputy mayor’s post. NCP leader Rajlaxmi Bhosale was appointed mayor and Chandrakant Mokate the deputy mayor.
The alliance lasted only two years and they split ahead of the state Assembly elections in 2009. Later, the NCP and the Congress came together in the PMC, which continued to hold power till the BJP dislodged it in 2017.
What’s in it for NCP, Sena?
While Pawar’s impressive election campaign has set the stage for NCP’s resurgence in Maharashtra, senior party leaders said that returning to power in Maharashtra is essential for the party to keep its flock together and rebuild. NCP draws most of its political clout from the government-promoted cooperatives sector.
Also many of its senior leaders, including Pawar’s nephew Ajit, former deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and party MP Sunil Tatkare, among others, continue to battle corruption allegations. The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, seems desperate to emerge out of the shadow of its longstanding ally BJP to remain relevant. While the Shiv Sena had been a more dominant partner between the saffron allies in the state till 2014, the scenario has rapidly changed since, with the BJP getting the upper hand.