On 25/9/2014 BJP ended its 25-year old alliance with Shiv Sena. BJP was not satisfied with Shiv Sena’s offer of seats for Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election on 15/10/2014. The day also saw Narendra Modi’s departure for USA to address UN General Assembly, gathering at Madison Square Garden, meet Barack Obama and corporates. It also saw the end of Congress-NCP alliance of 15 years. It is difficult to say whether the three events are related.
BJP has suffered losses in recent by-elections and had lost seats it had held before. There was a feeling that BJP will be subdued while dealing with Shiv Sena. That did not happen. By-election losses did not deter BJP from pressing its demands and ultimately breaking away.
For long many in Maharashtra BJP had resented Shiv Sena’s dominance. They had to swallow their pride as BJP’s national leadership did not want to break with Shiv Sena.
The alliance was forged in 1989. BJP had two seats in Lok Sabha. I don’t know how many seats they had in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. Shiv Sena did not have any seat in Lok Sabha and had one seat in Legislative Assembly. That was of Chhagan Bhujbal. Pramod Mahajan had met Bal Thackeray and had forged the alliance. AtaL Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were BJP’s national leaders. In subsequent elections the alliance won many seats in Maharashtra. The alliance ruled Maharashtra in 1995-1999. Shiv Sena was part of NDA that ruled India in 1998-2004.
The original arrangement was for Lok Sabha BJP to contest to 32 seats and Shiv Sena 16 and for Legislative Assembly Shiv Sena to contest 171 seats and BJP 117. Over the years BJP Lok Sabha share came down to 24. Shiv Sena got six seats, one of them Thane held by Ram Kapse, and other allies got two. For Legislative Assembly Shiv Sena gave two seats to BJP in 2009. After Pramod Mahajan’s death Gopinath Munde kept the alliance going. He died in an accident. After Bal Thackeray’s death Uddhav Thackeray became leader of Shiv Sena.
In 2014 Narendra Modi became Prime Minister and undisputed leader of BJP. He did not have a good equation with Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena was in favour of Sushma Swaraj as PM candidate. During Lok Sabha elections Nitin Gadkari had tried to bring MNS and NCP into alliance. That was opposed by Shiv Sena.
BJP leader Eknath Khadse said “Each Lok Sabha seat comprises six Assembly constituencies. In that sense, by giving away our six Lok Sabha seats, which had elective merit, we have already given them 36 Assembly seats. The BJP also surrendered its Rajya Sabha seat held by Prakash Javadekar to Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athavale ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.” BJP felt RPI was brought in by Shiv Sena. So Shiv Sena should have given up its Rajya Sabha seat for RPI.
NCP wanted half of the seats and chief ministership for half of the term. Congress did not agree. NCP claimed it was a better party as it had won four Lok Sabha seats while Congress had won two.
Talks for seat sharing dragged on for days. Uddhav Thackeray wanted to be chief minister. Shiv Sena said there is no Modi wave. Lust can lead to divorce. BJP countered by saying impotence can lead to divorce. There was a report that on 23/9/2014 BJP had decided to end the alliance but continued talks because of RSS order. RSS could delay the split by two days but not avoid it.
The electoral contest in Maharashtra is wide open. MNS has announced its list of candidates. Congress will ally with SP. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Rashtriya Samaj Party and Shiv Sangram are with BJP. AAP has decided not to contest. Their leaders want to concentrate on Delhi. That is a wrong decision. A party becomes irrelevant if it does not contest elections. NCP has quit the government and has withdrawn support to the government. In most constituencies there will be at least five candidates. In such a scenario a party can get 27% of votes and more than 50% of seats.
Voters who voted for BJP-Shiv Sena alliance for 25 years or for Congress-NCP alliance for 15 years have a choice to make. RSS has to choose between BJP, Shiv Sena or being neutral.