In an apparent snub to the Shiv Sena, NCP leader Praful Patel has ruled out any possible alliance with the Shiv Sena. Dismissing rumours that Sharad Pawar was making overtures to the Shiv Sena for a possible understanding, Patel made it clear that NCP and the Shiv Sena could never work together. He made it clear in explicit terms that Shiv Sena can never be a part of an alliance with the NCP. He argued that the two parties have a completely different style of functioning and ideological beliefs.
This is a huge blow for Shiv Sena which faced an embarrassing defeat at the hands of BJP in the Palghar bypolls. Sena had fielded a candidate for the Palghar by elections even as the BJP had cried foul and claimed that Uddhav Thackrey-led party had back-stabbed the BJP. However, when it came to an actual face-off, it seems that BJP had the last laugh. Shiv Sena tried to challenge BJP’s authority in the coalition but it was in for a rude shock.
With Praful Patel’s statement ruling out any alliance between the NCP and Shiv Sena which has been sharing a sour relationship with the BJP for quite some time, the possibility of a grand alliance in the state of Maharashtra seems feeble. Since all anti-BJP parties cannot unite in Maharashtra, it is inevitable that BJP will enjoy division of vote in at least two factions during the 2019 polls.
As far as Uddhav Thackeray’s party is concerned, it is for the party to read the writing on the wall. NCP does not accept it and it has seen for itself its position if it tries to challenge the BJP. If Uddhav Thackrey decides to go alone into the general elections, he is bound to face the same result as he did in the bypolls. All this will do is help the Shiv Sena in satisfying its ego and maintaining an anti-BJP position, but politically and practically this would be a suicidal move. Sena would end up losing all political power and relevance. The BJP might still sail through though its winning margins won’t be as monumental. Entering into a coalition with the Congress is not even an option given that Congress is a spent force and there is not going to be much benefit in sharing its vote share. Moreover, the ideological discrepancies between the Sena and the Congress would make any such vote sharing arrangement highly improbable. Therefore, the only sane option for the Sena is to enter into an alliance with the BJP and openly accept BJP as the senior partner in the alliance. Shiv Sena should not shy away from doing that because BJP is in fact the senior partner in the coalition. This will help the Shiv Sena in using Prime Minister Modi’s charisma and the public support to good effect for accentuating its own vote share and remaining political relevant. It will also help the BJP in securing even bigger winning margins and retaining a dominant political position.
What Praful Patel has said about the Sena has made it clear that it is Shiv Sena which needs the BJP even as others are refusing to accept it. Today, BJP is a pan India dominant force and it does not need to ask any other party for help. Shiv Sena, however, finds itself in a spot of bother. The BJP does not need it and will not come out pleading for an alliance with the Shiv Sena. It is Shiv Sena which had earlier tried to snub the BJP and now finds itself helpless as other parties give them a cold shoulder. The latest snub from Praful Patel should serve as a wake up call for the Sena and its overambitious approach.