Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to keep its doors open for an alliance with its bickering ally, the Shiv Sena. The chief spokesperson of Maharashtra BJP, Madhav Bhandari, while speaking exclusively to CNN-News18, said, "We have fought the past Lok Sabha elections together. The situation hasn't changed." He refused to answer questions on whether BJP was prepared to fight the Lok Sabha elections single-handedly.
Bhandari’s comment comes in the backdrop of the BJP's complete silence over the ongoing BEST strike, which entered its seventh day on Monday. The BJP hasn't made any efforts to corner its ally over an issue which has Mumbaikars seething in anger.
Although both the parties have denied any talks of alliance, the tone and tenor of the BJP towards the Sena has changed substantially. The Sena, however, continues to be defiant .
"We are a part of the NDA, but the BJP hasn't taken into consideration any of its NDA allies’ opinions. We have tried to perform; our individual ministers have fought for people's cause. Uddhav ji has already announced that we will fight the elections on our own steam," Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande told News18.
At a time when the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have almost firmed up their alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the uncertainty over the future of the BJP-Sena alliance remains.
To add to the discomfort, when BJP president Amit Shah was in Maharashtra a few weeks ago, he said the party will throw away those who don't go with them. The use of 'patak denge' had miffed the Shiv Sena, forcing the BJP to go into a huddle. A frantic late night visit to Delhi by a prominent BJP leader took place within days of Shah's visit. The Maharashtra leader is learnt to have briefed both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah over the situation in the state.
A day after that late night closed-door meeting, Modi visited Maharashtra but steered clear of talking about the alliance partner.
A senior Maharashtra BJP leader's PR team also burned midnight oil to downplay the comments made by Shah, and to tell Mumbai-based reporters that the comments were in fact aimed towards the opposition parties, and to boost the BJP cadre's morale.
It is interesting that both the parties have, till now, denied reports of talks for an alliance.