We are still the big brother in the state. The BJP had won 123 seats and Sena 63 in the 2014 Assembly polls. Despite this, the BJP has agreed for equal seat-sharing and has also agreed to give us the seats of our choice. Besides, the BJP is positive about giving chief ministership to the Shiv Sena.
If the alliance wins, will the Sena keep the CM chair for the full term?
We will see that. But, I can tell you that there will be a Shiv Sena CM.
Before the announcement, the Sena said it would go solo. Isn’t that a loss of face?
It is true that we had announced we would fight the elections on our own. It was also a public sentiment. But in politics, and considering the current situation, we need to take some tough decisions. Such decisions are not always taken from the heart but as part of a political strategy. We will tell people about the alliance. We need to convince Shiv Sainiks and people who always felt the Sena should contest the polls solo. It’s a big challenge for us.
For the last four years, the Sena has been claiming that BJP has ill-treated its allies. What has changed now?
We have given them another chance to improve their behaviour.
Are you worried about the BJP taking over the Sena space in the state?
The BJP will never be able to take over our space. Today’s BJP is not the original BJP; about half of them are corrupt people borrowed from the Congress and NCP. Taking them in our fold does not mean they can take over the Sena’s space. You might take Sena’s space but how can you take Sena’s mardani himatichi chaati (machismo).
Is Shiv Sena planning to the contest the Lok Sabha polls outside Maharashtra?
Why should we not? Our party workers are working in several parts and we will contest in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu… with others.
BJP is again going with Narendra Modi as its face. Are you comfortable with that considering your party has attacked him on several issues.
Sena has always spoken the truth. We opposed the land acquisition law as industries, smart cities cannot be built on farmers’ fertile land. We are opposing the bullet train because farmers will be affected by it. Similarly, we also opposed demonetisation as it led to unemployment. We also raised questions on the Ram temple due to our commitment. Our criticism is on the policies….
On (Modi) being the PM face, we have Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership in Maharashtra. It has to be noted that Nitish Kumar is the face (of the NDA) in Bihar, Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab….
In one of your columns in Saamana, you spoke of the possibility of a hung Parliament and that ‘Gadkari is waiting for it’. Were you suggesting that Gadkari will be PM in the event of a hung House. (Raut is Executive Editor of Saamana.)
I did not back Gadkari for PM. Such reports have been coming from the media and the RSS. We haven’t placed any such condition (of Gadkari being PM) before the BJP. Besides, why name just Gadkari? BJP has several faces. If BJP wins 100 seats less than last time, NDA will decide who should be the PM.
Will Priyanka Gandhi’s formal entry into politics benefit the Congress in UP?
It surely will. Though the SP and BSP have their base, there is a section which still loves the Congress and the Gandhi family. Her entry will have an impact on 10-15 seats in UP.