The silence looming over the Shiv Sena and BJP camps over the last month has had a telling effect by way of soured relations within the two-and-a-half-decade-old alliance. History tells us that though there were umpteen occasions when the relations between the saffron partners were strained to such levels that it was presumed the alliance would fall apart, it was revived by the time-tested leadership from both sides, which helped to thaw the freeze and end the deadlock.
The situation appears to be different this time, as no leader is willing to take the first step to break the impasse over seat sharing. Since July 28, BJP and Sena leaders have not attempted to break bread with each other or even have a cup of tea and discuss the seat sharing issue. This has resulted in the stand-off precipitated by the BJP staking a claim on 159 seats based on its stellar performance in the LS polls — showing no signs of ending.
The Shiv Sena seems unwilling to part with 42 more seats from its quota, as it will increase the BJP’s chances of claiming the CM’s post. The rigid stand by the BJP, meanwhile, indicates that party wants to play the role of big brother. To bolster its chances further, the BJP has kept the Raju Shetty-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana and Mahadeo Jankar-led Rashtriya Samaj Paksha in its side.
Reports state that the BJP has also started a dialogue with Raj Thac-keray’s MNS to strengthen its position and to alienate the Sena further.
Sensing the threat, Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray has projected himself as the CM candidate and has also published a vision document. But it appears that there are not many takers for his ideas. If indeed an alliance sans the Shiv Sena is formed under the BJP’s leadership, it will create trouble for the Sena, which will find itself alienated. The present Sena leadership does not have an immediate program to revive the party, which has started inducting senior leaders from other parties with the promise of assembly election tickets, to step into the big brother’s role.