How Balasaheb, Pramod Mahajan cemented BJP-Sena ties
The relations between two oldest allies of Indian politics - Shiv Sena and BJP - has broken and seems to be beyond repair now. The development would see political churning and change in dynamics in Maharashtra in the days to come. The two saffron allies clearly missed legendary leaders Bal Thackeray and Pramod Mahajan, who had managed to keep the alliance intact despite ups and downs.
It was late Thackeray, the Shiv Sena founder and Mahajan, the BJP's trouble shooter, who had sealed the saffron alliance more than three decades ago. Mahajan had direct access to Matoshree and for Thackeray, late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former home minister LK Advani, were just a phone call away.
"The void that was created after the death of Balasaheb, Mahajan and Munde could never be filled," says veteran political analyst Prakash Akolkar, who has been watching the saffron alliance since inception. According to him, Thackeray's son and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray never enjoyed similar kind of relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Besides, leaders like outgoing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP president Chandrakant Patil could not emulate Mahajan-Munde.
Mahajan, aged 56, died on May 3, 2006, because of gunshots fired by own brother Pravin Mahajan, while Thackeray, aged 86, passed away on November 17, 2012. Mahajan's brother-in-law Gopinath Munde, who too had direct access to Matoshree, died in a car crash on June 3, 2014.
Those with best Matoshree access like Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late Munde and Poonam Mahajan, the daughter of late Mahajan, were kept out of the thick of things, political observers said.
Akolkar, who has written three books on Maharashtra politics vis-a-vis Sena-BJP said, "As of now, it appears, the relations are beyond repair."
"It was an ideology based on Hindutva and common goals like Ram mandir, abrogation of Article 370, implementation of Uniform Civil Code, Triple Talaq ban and welfare of masses, in this case Marathi manoos," he said.
Veteran political analyst Ajit Joshi said that it is now a do or die battle for Shiv Sena. "It is a calculated decision of Shiv Sena," he said, adding that in BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, Shiv Sena's one-sided supremacy is declining. "Also, we need to accept the reality that new generation is taking over in both parties, their profiles are different, aspirations are different," said Joshi.