Mumbai: The BJP and the Shiv Sena, despite open differences, on Monday announced that they will be fighting the 2019 Lok Sabha and the state assembly elections together.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, with BJP president Amit Shah and Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray also present, made the announcement at a press conference.
"The Shiv Sena will fight on 23 seats and the BJP will contest on 25 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," said Fadnavis. The CM further underlined that the two parties share the "same ideology".
Elaborating on the decision, Maharashtra CM said that this decision was taken in the interest of the nation and predicted that the BJP will come to power at the national level in 2019.
The deal was finalised after BJP president Amit Shah met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the latter's residence "Matoshree" in the city.
"I am confident that in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and the Shiv Sena will together win 45 out of total 48 seats in Maharashtra," said Amit Shah.
Acknowledging the differences in the last five years, Uddhav said, "People are seeing the Shiv Sena and the BJP for past 30 years. For 25 years, we stood united, and for 5 years, there was confusion. But like CM said, I still provided guidance to government from time to time."
The Sena has been differing with the BJP very publically. It has not shied away from taking digs at Prime Minister Modi. Just last week, Sena leader Sanjay Raut paid a surprise visit to Chandrababu Naidu's dharna in Delhi pressing for special status for Andhra Pradesh. Naidu's dharna was attended by opposition leaders, including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Soon after the alliance was announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the association between the two parties "goes beyond politics".
"Our association with the @ShivSena goes beyond politics. We are bound by a desire to see a strong and developed India. The decision to contest together strengthens the NDA significantly. I am sure our alliance is going to be Maharashtra’s first and only choice!" PM Modi tweeted.
Our association with the @ShivSena goes beyond politics. We are bound by a desire to see a strong and developed India.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 18, 2019
The decision to contest together strengthens the NDA significantly. I am sure our alliance is going to be Maharashtra’s first and only choice!
Inspired by the vision of Atal Ji and Balasaheb Thackeray Ji, BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will continue working for the well-being of Maharashtra and ensuring the state once again elects representatives who are development oriented, non corrupt and proud of India’s cultural ethos.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 18, 2019
Noting that the state elections will also be held in four months' time, Uddhav said the seats for the same have been divided equally. Uddhav added that responsibilities will also be divided equally.
"For Maharashtra Assembly elections, we will hold discussions with our other allies. Leaving the numbers of seats taken by our allies, the BJP and the Shiv Sena will fight on equal number of seats," said Fadnavis.
The Sena-BJP alliance fell through in the assembly elections held in 2014 as the BJP refused to play the junior partner in the state. The two parties fought separately for the 288 assembly seats. The BJP won 122 and the Sena's tally was 63. The two then decided to join hands to form the government in Maharashtra, but the relationship has been topsy-turvy since then.
The two parties have been prepping their respective cadres to prepare to fight solo and building pressure on each other to drive a hard bargain.