Amid growing speculation that the BJP could lose some NDA allies before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the saffron party is increasingly being seen as non-accommodative, party president Amit Shah is planning an outreach aimed at reinforcing the alliance’s unity at a time when the Opposition is trying to stitch together a coalition for the general elections. On Wednesday, Mr Shah will meet Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, on the following day, he will call on Shiromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh.
Mr Shah’s visit to Matoshree, the Bandra residence of Shiv Sena chief, has been planned under the BJP’s “Sampark Samarthan Abhiyan” to make people aware about the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. But the meeting is being seen as part of the BJP’s continuous attempts to get Sena on board for the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
“Amit Shah sought time to meet Uddhavji. Accordingly, an appointment for tomorrow evening has been given to him,” confirmed Sena MP Sanjay Raut, whose party had earlier announced to contest the next Lok Sabha polls alone.
Rift between the BJP and the Sena has been widening ever since the former staked claim for chief ministership in their coalition government in Maharashtra, though the latter considered itself as the “big brother” in the partnership in the state.
Mr Thackeray has made public his stand that the Sena will contest the upcoming elections on its own and the BJP is trying to pacify him, said sources. Terming Mr Shah’s visit on Wednesday as an attempt to sustain the alliance in “troubled times”, Mr Raut said that the Sena would still go “solo” in the Lok Sabha polls next year. “The BJP is losing its partners and the atmosphere in the country is turning against them. There is a lot of resentment among public against the BJP. No wonder that they have planned to meet the Sena chief,” Mr Raut said.
Replying to a query on whether the Sena would be convinced by the BJP to stay with the NDA in 2019, Mr Raut said it is not possible.