Before the 2019 Lok Sabha election results, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had emerged as the star campaigner for the Congress-NCP alliance even as his cousin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was once again seen playing the second fiddle to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But the May 23 results changed the complete picture with Uddhav having the last laugh after winning 18 seats in Maharashtra with 25 lakh extra votes compared to 2014.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe says the BJP and his party ironed out their differences before the elections.
"Shiv Sena has won this election decisively under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. It is clear from the vote share that people have trusted us and wanted us to form the government,” says Gorhe.
Shiv Sena has had a rocky relationship with the BJP since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. After successfully riding on the Modi wave, the party walked out of coalition before the assembly polls in the state only to return for a post-poll arrangement. The post-poll alliance was anything but easy. Sena assumed the role of opposition more than the opposition party itself.
Even as the agrarian crisis deepened in the state and policies such as demonetisation affected jobs severely, Sena continued targeting BJP, accusing them of failing on all levels. In 2017, the BMC elections witnessed the Sena-BJP tussle hit the peak, but Sena managed to scrape through.
In 2018, at the party’s annual Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park, Uddhav Thackeray announced the party's decision to go solo in any election thereafter. In fact, the party workers were relieved and even excited at the prospect of doing it their way and not follow the BJP line.
However, change of hearts - perhaps driven by worried Sena MPs, who saw prospects of victory reduce without an alliance with BJP – just before the election campaign began once again led to the coming together of two parties.
Amit Shah, the master strategist of BJP/NDA, managed a truce after visiting Matoshree (Thackeray residence) and got Uddhav on board. Following the episode, Uddhav Thackeray attended the filing of nomination of Amit Shah at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
And the outcome is for everyone to see. “In more than 220 assembly constituencies our vote share (BJP-Sena) is more than that of Congress-NCP, so we should be able to win in the upcoming assembly elections as well,” says Gorhe, indicating that the alliance is likely to continue for the upcoming Assembly Elections.
The Sena-BJP victory in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections has further consolidated the coalition for the upcoming Assembly elections. However, the continuing agrarian crisis and water shortage in the state could dampen their prospects.
Just after election results, Uddhav's son Aaditya Thackeray said on Twitter, “Personally, I humbly bow down in respect to all the voters across India, and of course Maharashtra who reposed such immense faith in the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, supported by Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray ji and other allies in other States."
Personally, I humbly bow down in respect to all the voters across India, and of course Maharashtra who reposed such immense faith in the NDA led by Prime Minister @narendramodi ji, supported by @ShivSena President Uddhav Thackeray ji and other allies in other States.— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) May 23, 2019
Issues are aplenty and the voters are waiting eagerly.