With Uddhav Thackeray indicating that he is ready to forge an alliance with the MNS, which is headed by his estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, grassroots leaders from both parties are skeptical about a possible coalition.
Although, the BJP seemed happy as it has been eyeing an alliance with MNS since a long time, (remember the famous tea party that Raj had at the BJP state office in Nariman Point), leaders of Sena and MNS who fight the elections battle on the ground, and are aware of the ground realities, claim that talks of alliance between the Sena and MNS would give rise to more troubles for them and would not help.
Uddhav, after assuming the post of party president, in an interview to party mouthpiece Saamna hinted that the coalition with MNS would defeat the NCP and Congress. Similar speculation came to the fore when Raj drove an ailing Uddhav home from the hospital last year. However, with Uddhav making the invitation clear by a slew of hints, hopes have been raised for many who wanted to see both the cousins together.
No meeting point
A senior MLA from Shiv Sena, on condition of anonymity, said, “Whenever we meet Uddhavji, a firm and constant demand from all the MLAs has been that we need to contest the elections on our own, without any alliance. The idea of a coalition seems good on paper, but the infighting within the parties leads to hassles for the candidate.”
He added, “For example, every party in every constituency has more than three aspirants for a ticket, and when we give a ticket to a candidate from the alliance, there are so many unhappy faces and thereafter many jump in the election fray and contest as independent and as rebel candidates. So when we are likely to face competition from others indirectly why not contest alone and face a direct competition?”
The MNS, which had been reduced to 12 from 13 MLAs in 2009, has left everything on its party chief to speak on the issue, but when MiD DAY spoke to few MLAs from MNS even they had the same opinion. “In an alliance, what is the guarantee that the votes that we get would go to Sena? Our vote base doesn’t only comprise of the people unhappy with Shiv Sena but even those that are unhappy with the NCP or Congress. But if we contest the elections with the Sena, there is no surety that these voters would vote for us,” said the MNS MLA.
Another Sena MLA claims that the Sena should break ties with the BJP and contest the forthcoming Assembly polls on its own.
“The BJP fights with us and wrests away seats where the Sena is strong. However, the problem is that it gives us seats where its not very strong, the party thus doesn’t benefit in the real sense from this alliance and hence its high time we go the distance alone,” said the MLA.
In the 2009 Assembly polls, the Sena, which at one time used to be the biggest party in the state, was reduced to the number four position and had lesser MLAs than the BJP and lost the position of the Opposition leader in the assembly to BJP.
When asked, Abhijit Adsul and Ram Kadam of the Sena and MNS respectively said that they would abide by any decision taken by their bosses.
What others had to say
>> Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Uddhav Thackeray’s statement clearly shows that there exists no trust in the Sena-BJP alliance and hence new experiments are being tried. They first tried the Sena-BJP-RPI alliance, which people rejected. For the Sena, keeping all its leaders intact has become a major issue and hence they are now trying to rope in MNS too.”
>> NCP Mumbai chief Sanjay Patil claims that it is the personal view of Uddhav Thackeray and the alliance between the Sena and MNS, even if it happens, wouldn’t affect his party. “I cannot comment on the alliance, but we as a party are ready to tackle any alliance in politics. Also any political party can have an alliance with any other party,” he said.
>> BJP’s leader of Opposition Vinod Tawde expressed happiness on Uddhav’s statement. “Our leaders, Mundeji, Gadkariji had always been in favour of an alliance of the Sena-BJP with the MNS. Uddhav’s statement is a step in the right direction and we are happy with it,” said Tawde.