Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s refusal to settle for anything below 151 Assembly seats in Maharashtra is to reassert not only his own leadership in the state but also to stick to the “mission” announced by his son Aditya Thackeray.
At a conclave held a couple of months ago, Aditya had declared Sena’s ‘Mission 150’ for the Assembly elections — almost on the lines of BJP’s ‘Mission 272’ before the Lok Sabha elections. The booklet titled ‘Mission 150’ was widely circulated at the Sena’s working committee meeting held in Mumbai on Sunday.
Showing the booklet, a senior Sena MP said: “Our insistence on 151 seats is an outcome of the calculated stand taken to ensure Sena emerges as the single largest party and gets the CM post.” With the total seats being 288, any party needs to win at least 144 — the half-way mark — to form government.
Sena leaders said it was not just a game of forming alliance and coming to power as far as the Maharashtra elections were concerned. “It is a big battle to reassert the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray in the state — and also to convey the message that Aditya will carry forward the political legacy of his grandfather Bal Thackeray,” said a Sena leader.
“The decision to put forward inexperienced and young Aditya to meet BJP central leader O P Mathur on Friday was part of the Sena strategy to show the party’s political one-upmanship,” he said.
That Sena did not give much importance to BJP leaders was evident when Uddhav said at the working committee meeting: “The other day, O P Mathur conveyed that they had decided a formula of 135 seats each for Sena and BJP and 18 for the smaller partners. I told them Mathur ‘is here to just take and not give’.”
The contempt with which Uddhav dismissed Mathur has not gone down well with the BJP. Sena strategists said the Maharashtra Assembly elections were being held for the first time in the absence of Bal Thackeray. “To hold its forte, Uddhav has to retain his own identity, and in Thackeray style,” said a leader.
Citing past instances, BJP leaders recalled how often senior party leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani displayed their reverence for Bal Thackeray by visiting him. “It was based on mutual respect for each other. However, Sena under the leadership of Uddhav expects the BJP to accord same treatment without reciprocating the gestures,” said a BJP leader.