Whether the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance for the Maharashtra assembly election survives or not, possible damage to electoral prospects has been inflicted. At the moment of writing it is undecided if the alliance will remain. Shiv Sena chief Mr. Udhav Thackeray has given his final ultimatum. Now Mr. Modi and Mr. Amit Shah have to decide. Whichever way they decide the damage cannot be undone. It remains to be seen if it can be contained if both parties fight together.
Mr. Thackeray is insisting on seat sharing numbers between both parties that have been repeatedly rejected by the BJP. The party which was trumpeting to the world the overriding Modi wave continues to hum and haw. The BJP party workers in the state already embittered by the aggression displayed by their future possible alliance partners are urging the leaders to go it alone. The workers want the BJP to contest all the assembly seats. If in the light of recent events the BJP leaders climb down for an agreement with Shiv Sena, with what face will they confront their party workers? The BJP created this mess by its own confused electoral strategy.
The confusion and contradiction between the BJP’s declared goal and its electoral tactics became evident during the parliamentary poll campaign. It was emphasized in these columns. Mr. Modi had declared that the BJP would aspire only for a single party majority. At the same time the party forged a large number of alliances with small parties. This betrayed lack of commitment to its own declared goal. It is the result of that dichotomy between precept and practice which is presently haunting the BJP in Maharashtra. br />
BJP workers ask why the leaders are dithering after repeatedly asserting that the Modi wave can sweep all opposition aside. This becomes especially relevant after the BJP did obtain a single party majority in parliament. That is why party workers now expect the BJP to contest the assembly poll on its own with Mr. Modi campaigning for the party.
HHowever Mr. Modi and Mr. Amit Shah have been prevaricating. Why? Do they lack confidence in the efficacy of the Modi wave? This suspicion is heightened after the reluctance displayed by BJP leaders to contest the Delhi assembly polls. It would have been better for the party in the long run to go it alone regardless of the outcome. A consistent approach would in the long term have brought it dividends. This flip flop between single party claims and desperately seeking allies simultaneously is not only making the BJP an object of public ridicule, it is also confusing and demoralizing the party’s rank and file.
Now if the alliance with the Shiv Sena remains intact it will most likely be only after a humiliating climb down by BJP leaders. What should worry BJP leaders is how the demoralization of workers and their bitterness created against Shiv Sena counterparts might affect the smooth functioning of the campaign even if the alliance remains intact.