The Shiv Sena made a compromise while forging an alliance with the BJP for the Maharashtra assembly elections to retain power, the party’s chief Uddhav Thackeray admitted on Monday but insisted it was done to serve the people of the state.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party, which had pressed for at least 135 seats, settled for 124 seats, and two seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quota. It is also contesting its lowest seats in the Maharashtra election.
The Sena is contesting 124 seats of the 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra while the BJP with its smaller allies is contesting 164 seats.
In an interview to Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana, Uddhav Thackeray said he has shown “maturity” in dealing with forming the alliance.
“We have formed an alliance with a resolve… I compromised in the alliance but for Maharashtra. We are contesting on a lesser number of seats because [Maharashtra CM Devendra] Fadnavis and [state BJP chief] Chandrakant Patil requested me to understand their problem, which I considered,” Thackeray said in part one of the interview.
I forged the alliance for power and there’s nothing to hide in that. With that power, I can give something to the 164 constituencies where Sena’s workers were ready to contest,” he said.
Political experts say this time to keep his flock together, given the defections from various parties to the BJP, and also to retain power.
They say Thackeray did not rock the boat as he has understood the prevailing political scenario in the wake of the rise of the BJP from 2014 till now. A triangular contest would affect the Sena the most, with the BJP on the one side and the Congress-NCP on the other, they feel.
Sena leaders have also said that going solo for the assembly polls was out of the question as constant U-turns by the leadership would not go down well with their supporters.
They said the call was taken after evaluating the current situation.
The Sena chief, however, said an equal distribution of the responsibilities and power after the next government is formed is an “extremely important” aspect of the alliance.
“When the alliance was formed for the Lok Sabha elections it was announced that power and responsibilities will be shared equally. It is an extremely important part. Once the government is formed on October 24, then people will come to know. I’m confident about it,” he said.
Uddhav Thackeray said he is confident that the Sena will get it the highest number of members in the state assembly after the October 21 elections.
“Even though this is the lowest number of seats the Shiv Sena is contesting, it will also be the beginning of winning the maximum number of seats,” he said.
On the BJP not fulfilling its promise of a 50:50 seat-sharing formula, Thackeray said that the people of Maharashtra are not blind.
Maharashtra is seeing everything—who is behaving in what manner, who is standing beside them,” he said.
In a veiled jibe at the BJP, Thackeray also said that if there is no intent to fulfil promises then building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is “hollow”.
Uddhav Thackeray said just because his son Aaditya is going to contest the assembly polls does not mean he is retiring. He also stressed that he is working towards fulfilling his promise to Sena founder and his father Bal Thackeray that he would install a Sena chief minister in Maharashtra.
“I am not going to quit politics till I fulfil the promise made to Balasaheb of making a Shiv Sainik chief minister of Maharashtra. I will do it,” he said.
Aaditya Thackeray is the first person from his family to contest elections since the Shiv Sena was founded by his grandfather Bal Thackeray in 1966. The Shiv Sena has fielded him from Worli in Mumbai.
“He is contesting but that doesn’t mean that he will immediately become CM or deputy CM… He wants to take some legislative experience. He is interested in that,” Thackeray said when asked about the responsibility Aaditya will take after getting elected.
Thackeray said that his son Aaditya is working harder than him.