MUMBAI: Despite the much-publicised joining of hands that Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brass displayed last month in Maharashtra, party workers on the ground don’t seem to have taken to the alliance.
Grassroots workers and state leaders had already started campaign preparations for their seats when the alliance was announced. Some of those seats have now gone to the other party as part of the tie-up. In other constituencies, workers want the incumbent MPs changed. Moreover, leaderships of both outfits are finding it difficult to cater to multiple suitors for several seats.
State Cabinet minister and Shiv Sena leader Arjun Khotkar was the first to raise a flag of protest. He had been preparing to contest the Lok Sabha polls against state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve. After the alliance was announced, he even threatened to join the Congress to keep his word of contesting against Danve. On Monday, senior BJP minister Subhash Deshmukh tried to pacify Khotkar in a joint meeting between him and Danve, after which Khotkar toned down a bit, but said he would only listen to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Warora MLA and Sena leader Balu Dhanorkais is also planning to quit the party to contest the LS polls against Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir. “I’ve apprised the party leadership of the ground reality and urged him to allow me to contest at least a friendly fight,” Dhanorkar said in a media release issued after a meeting with his confidantes on Monday. He also indicated that Congress had offered him a ticket.
Among BJP ranks Sena MP Anandrao Adsul is facing fierce opposition from the district BJP, who have two major complaints about the two-time MP — he doesn't belong to the constituency and is hardly available for local leaders. However, functionaries within the BJP have said they will be able to pacify local leaders.
In Parbhani, the Sena has a peculiar history wherein four of its past MPs switched over to other parties after one term.
But this time around, the problem for MP Sanjay Jadhav is BJP aspirant Meghana Bordikar, daughter of former BJP MLA Ramprasad Bordikar. She had helped Jadhav clinch the seat in 2014. After the announcement of alliance, it remains to be seen if she switches parties or contests the election independently.
Yet again, the equations are frazzled in different way in Aurangabad. A majority of MLAs from sitting Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire’s constituency have expressed displeasure over his style of working. The disgruntled MLAs are from both the BJP as well as the Sena. Ironically, grassroots workers of both parties have come together against Khaire and are supported by the Sena’s district chief.
Raigad, Yavatmal, Maval, Shirdi and Satara are other Lok Sabha constituencies where the local party organisation of the Sena has gone against sitting MPs.
Apart from these constituencies, in Mumbai North-East constituency local Sena workers are likely to oppose the candidature of sitting BJP MP Kirit Somaiya or any member of his family. The prominence of Gujarati votes in the constituency had helped Somaiya win the constituency twice. However, after he allegedly used expletives against Sena leadership during a BMC election two years ago, the workers are gunning for him.