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Uddhav’s gamble pays off, Shiv Sena to cooperate with BJP

The Sena chief had, in fact, gone against the wishes of many senior party leaders of fighting the Lok Sabha polls alone.

ET Bureau|
May 24, 2019, 08.28 AM IST
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Agencies
Uddhav
The Shiv Sena’s relationship with the BJP may not be the same as it was in the first five years of the Modi government’s rule.
The Shiv Sena’s unexpected performance in the Lok Sabha polls where it looks to repeat its 2014 performance — 18 seats — would come as a shot in the arm for the party and its president Uddhav Thackeray. The Sena chief had, in fact, gone against the wishes of many senior party leaders of fighting the Lok Sabha polls alone, and his gamble has paid off. Shiv Sena will be cooperating with the BJP at the Centre in the near future.

The elections have shown that the Shiv Sena is still a force to reckon with despite the fact that it came back riding the Modi wave. But its equations with the BJP would largely depend on the election results of the Maharashtra polls later this year : while the Shiv Sena knows that the BJP needs it, it also knows that it can’t fare well on its own, which makes it a bit more pliable and vulnerable. Sena leaders, who have always maintained that they are the ‘bigger brother’ in the alliance, have changed tack and have accepted the BJP as its boss at least at the national level. The Sena would, however, try to get a better seat sharing deal in the forthcoming state assembly polls, and would also seek better portfolios if the BJP-Sena comes back to power in the state.

LIKELY RELATIONSHIP WITH CENTRE
The Shiv Sena’s relationship with the BJP may not be the same as it was in the first five years of the Modi government’s rule; this is because there is a realisation in the party that it is in their interest to be aligned with the BJP. But two things could change this: if the Sena feels that the BJP is growing at its expense, or is not giving the ‘respect’ it deserves, then the Sena could return to its old ways of slamming the government. The other thing would be that if the BJPSena combine comes back to power in the state assembly polls, then Sena would be loath to take on the Modi government as it did earlier since more of its MLAs would be sharing power in the central government.

EXPERT TAKE
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is a pragmatic leader who is not prone to taking too many political risks like a Chandrababu Naidu who had snapped ties with the BJP before the 2019 polls. The Sena has survived after the death of Bal Thackeray because Uddhav has been very calculating; he would prefer to remain with the BJP as it helped his party remain in power both in the state as well as run the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
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