By-poll blow for BJP may give upper hand to Shiv Sena

The poor showing of the BJP in the by-elections in UP, Rajasthan and even Gujarat could not have come at a more opportune time for the Shiv Sena, which has been embroiled in a bitter clash with the BJP over seat sharing for the Maharashtra assembly polls; sources say the BJP may settle for around 126 seats, instead of its earlier demand for 135

By-polls in other parts of the country have served as a setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra. Until yesterday, the party had been wrangling for an equal seat share with its long-time ally Shiv Sena. But after it fared poorly in assembly polls in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, the Sena sees itself as the big brother once again.

Also read: Angry BJP ends all talks with Shiv Sena post Uddhav Thackeray's comments

Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot celebrates with party workers in Jaipur. The Congress won three of the four assembly seats in the state, while the ruling BJP won only one. Pic/PTI
Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot celebrates with party workers in Jaipur. The Congress won three of the four assembly seats in the state, while the ruling BJP won only one. Pic/PTI

Till Monday, the BJP had relentlessly demanded 135 seats for the upcoming assembly polls, a demand Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had flatly refused to accede to. Thackeray had said he wouldn’t break the alliance, even as BJP had stopped all forms of communication with it.

Both Uddhav Thackeray and Amit Shah will meet senior leaders from their respective parties to chart out the way forward for the upcoming assembly elections. File pic
Both Uddhav Thackeray and Amit Shah will meet senior leaders from their respective parties to chart out the way forward for the upcoming assembly elections. File pic

As the results showed that Congress had wrested three seats from the BJP in both Gujarat and Rajasthan, and that the party had ceded 10 seats to Samajwadi Party in UP, the BJP went on the defensive. Madhav Bhandari, chief spokesperson of the party, said, “The results aren’t for Maharashtra.

The elections were in different states and by-polls are impacted by local issues. These results won’t have any impact in Maharashtra.” A meeting was held at union minister Nitin Gadkari’s office, but it remained inconclusive.

Advantage Sena
Sena office bearers met Thackeray yesterday at his residence. However, the Sena seemed in a jovial mood. A senior Sena leader said, “The results are proof of statements made by our party leader Uddhav Thackeray, that wherever the BJP will try to undermine the power of alliance and will try to ride only on the Modi wave without giving any due credit to the alliance partners, the results will be same.”

Sena leader Ramdas Kadam also took a swipe at the BJP while speaking to the media, saying, “Keep your feet on the ground, especially in view of the by-poll results.” Prakash Bal Joshi, senior political commentator, said, “BJP’s poor performance has given the Sena an upper hand in the talks of seat sharing and alliance. The BJP, which was trying to be aggressive till now, can’t be so any more.”

Sources from the alliance said both parties are analysing the results. The parties had been bickering not only over seat-sharing ratios, but also who would be CM if they won (an assumption they had taken for granted). “These results come as a lesson to both parties that were riding on the Modi wave and anti-Congress sentiments. Nothing can be taken for granted,” sources said.

Sources estimated the BJP might have to be content with around 126 seats. Senior Sena leader Divakar Raote, while refusing to comment on the issue, said they too would analyse the results and claimed seat shares with smaller parties had been finalised. Thackeray will convene a meeting with senior office bearers from all districts today.

BJP leaders in the state will meet party boss Amit Shah, who will be in the city today. He will then pay a visit to Kolhapur and Pune tomorrow.

26
Number of seats the BJP had held before the polls

12
Number of seats BJP managed to retain

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