Aditya Thackeray might be brought in for support
The end of the saffron alliance in the BMC polls appears to be the Shiv Sena's bugle call to take the war with the BJP out of the state into previously uncharted terrain, namely Uttar Pradesh. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray or Yuva Sena chief Aditya will be travelling to UP to campaign for candidates in the upcoming Assembly polls.
Last week, speaking exclusively to mid-day, Uddhav Thackeray confirmed the development and said, “The Sena-BJP never had an alliance outside Maharashtra. Merely to avoid split in the Hindutva votes, the Sena avoided contesting any elections outside Maharashtra. But now, with saffron alliance put to an end, the Sena will spread it wings outside Maharashtra.”
As part of its plan, the party will be fielding 140 possible candidates in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, as it previously did for the Bihar Assembly polls in 2015. Thackeray said, "Yes, I do want to campaign for the UP polls. But, with civic elections in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and seven other municipal corporations, I have been unable to fix the dates for campaigning outside the state."
Uddhav Thackeray confirmed that he would be campaigning in UP
Polls crucial for BJP
The polls are said to be crucial for the BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been elected as an MP from a parliamentary constituency of UP. Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party and Congress have also forged an alliance to stop the BJP from gaining power in the state. The Sena candidates will only add to the BJP's woes.
Though Thackeray's schedule to visit UP hasn't been finalised, a senior Sena leader, on condition of anonymity, stated that either Uddhav or Aditya would certainly visit UP. "The polls in UP are in different phases. After civic polls in Maharashtra, the Thackeray clan will visit UP for the last few phases of polls," he said.
UP is crucial for the PM since he is contesting from a seat here
Aim to divide base
As in the Bihar polls, the Sena's objectives are clear: it wants to fracture the Hindutva vote to impact the BJP's poll prospects. The Sena is still nursing the wounds inflicted by the BJP when it severed ties in Maharashtra ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections, and effectively reduced it to a minor partner in the government.
After the Bihar elections, Saamana had claimed that the party had fielded over 100 candidates and bagged over two lakh votes. Moreover, in 22 seats, the presence of Sena had given distinct advantage to Nitish Kumar