New Delhi: Days after the Bharatiya Janata Party accommodated Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back into the National Democratic Alliance fold, the saffron front's leadership is closely watching the recent overtures of Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Setting off rumour mills in political circles, Uddhav Thackeray had recalled ties with former ally BJP saying his side was never the "enemies" of the saffron party.
"Even today, we are not your enemy," the former Maharashtra Chief Minister said at a rally in Sawantwadi in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district on Sunday.
मोदीजी आम्ही तुमचे शत्रू कधीच नव्हतो, नेहमी सोबतच होतो.— Office of Uddhav Thackeray (@OfficeofUT) February 4, 2024
तुम्ही आम्हाला दूर केलात.#जनसंवादसावंतवाडी
The Thackeray family has been one of the oldest allies of the BJP, being the core of the saffron alliance for the past few decades. However, the relationship between the long-time allies deteriorated after Uddhav decided to play hardball and jump over to the other side in an effort to secure the Chief Ministerial position. Though the BJP leadership hasn’t forgotten the betrayal, it is believed that the saffron party may consider giving Shiv Sena (UBT) another chance ahead of the general elections, sources said.
Maharashtra, one of the biggest states in the country, elects 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha and is a high priority for the BJP ahead of the 2024 polls. And the BJP aims to give its best-ever performance from the state in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target for 370 seats for the party and 400 plus for the NDA allies.
With PM Modi set to seek a third term in office, the BJP is aiming to improve its tally of 23 seats it won from Maharashtra in 2019.
The importance that the BJP accords to the state can be gauged from the fact that PM Modi will be in the key state this month, his third visit to Maharashtra this year.
PM’s frequent visits to the state illustrate the saffron party’s attempts to win the maximum possible seats from the state. Maharashtra sends the most parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha (48) after Uttar Pradesh (80).
While the BJP is seemingly confident of a positive outcome and control in UP, the saffron unit is still a bit edgy when it comes to Maharashtra due to the intertwined alliances in the ruling as well as opposition camps.
Nitish Kumar’s exit was a big blow to the INDIA bloc, however, an exit of Shiv Sena (UBT) may sound the death knell for the anti-BJP alliance. Hence, the BJP’s relook at the possible alliance with Shiv Sena (UBT).
The BJP is seemingly adding fire to the ongoing discussions in the power corridors of Delhi that a few other partners may also take the same stand like Nitish to exit the INDIA bloc ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls citing seat-sharing arrangements or leadership issues.
The BJP, though riding high on confidence after Pran Pratishtha at Ram Temple in Ayodhya, doesn’t want to leave anything to chance and would not leave any opportunity to decimate the Congress-led INDIA bloc ahead of the general elections. And putting alliance partners away from the Congress’ reach now seems to be the political strategy being followed aggressively by the BJP.