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No surprises here: BJP, Shiv Sena breakup was due for a long time

The teetering marriage of Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena finally ended on Thursday when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced the breakup.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi |
January 27, 2017 2:41:35 pm
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The Sena and BJP have been governing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) together since 1997 with the Sena playing the lead role. But the Sena grip has loosened — its seat count fell from 103 in 1997 to 75 in 2012.

The teetering marriage of Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena finally ended on Thursday when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced the breakup. The association had been on the edge for nearly a year and was awaiting a decisive blow which came in the form of a bitter fallout on seat-sharing for the upcoming Mumbai civic polls.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister tweeted out in strong words: “Power aint our ultimate goal but a medium of devpt. We’ll take along those who come with us & leave aside who dont. Transformatn is inevitable!”

Shiv Sena and BJP had ruled the Maximum City’s BMC since 1997 with Shiv Sena always the big brother in the partnership. Over time, BJP’s strength in the state increased and after a major victory in 2014 elections. It is believed that the BJP wanted to fight on 114 seats for the 227 BMC seats up for grabs – just over 50 per cent seat share but the Sena only wanted to concede 60.

It was being observed by many in the BJP circles that the Sena was undermining Fadnavis and trying to establish its hold in Mumbai and in the state. It was only a question of when they would break up. The split was all but inevitable. It was being said that the Sena would wait for an appropriate moment to catch BJP off guard and initiate the split.

Last year, Sena had raised objection to the performance of Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali which was organised for a commemoration ceremony in Mumbai for the legendary Indian ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh. Despite Fadnavis assuring full security cover for the event to take place, Sena stepped in and blocked the event. Organisers backed out at the last minute after a meeting with Uddhav. The incident of smearing of ink on BJP leader LK Advani’s aide Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face was another straw that deepened the wedge between them.

The strife had surfaced in the parties strongly in 2014 after the usually weaker BJP emerged as a stronger force in the elections. Sena then supported the government from outside but wasn’t satisfied with the lack of any meaty portfolios. Not to forget the fact that the Sena would not forget Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments calling Sena an extortionist party (hafta party).

Bickering had followed regularly after 2014. The party has targeted the BJP regularly in editorials in Saamna, Sena’s mouthpiece. Sena is more of a local player compared to the BJP at the moment and that would be a big reason for the BJP to end the alliance.

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