Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday he expects all “secular but Hindutva” parties to join hands against the “pseudo-secular” Opposition for the Maharashtra Assembly elections in 2019.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader made the remark even as relations remain strained with alliance partner Shiv Sena, the other major Hindutva party in the state. While the Shiv Sena has often threatened to quit the ruling coalition, Fadnavis has expressed confidence in the past that the party would not do so.
“The Shiv Sena may be a party led by Uddhav Thackeray, but it is run on the ethos of the late Balasaheb Thackeray,” Fadnavis said in an interview with Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana. “Looking at the current situation, I can say that all secular but Hindutva parties will come together to counter the pseudo-secular Opposition. This was Balasaheb’s thinking as well.”
Fadnavis was speaking to Shiv Sena MP and Saamana Executive Editor Sanjay Raut. In response to Raut’s question about how Fadnavis knew his party’s plans, the chief minister said: “The Shiv Sena is a political party and hence it is easy to predict what it will do in future.”
He said the alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena had broken before the 2014 Assembly elections in the state because they could not agree on a seat-sharing arrangement. “We had offered you [Shiv Sena] 147 seats, but you were adamant on 151,” Fadnavis said. “Had you accepted our offer, the Sena would have got more seats than the BJP, and either Uddhavji or you [Raut] would have become the chief minister.”
In January, the Shiv Sena had said it will contest the 2019 Assembly elections as well as the Lok Sabha polls alone, not in alliance with the BJP. The party had passed a resolution to this effect at its national executive meet.
The Shiv Sena has repeatedly criticised the BJP-led government in Maharashtra and at the Centre over the past several months and often threatened to quit the alliance in the state. In October, Raut had called the BJP the “principal enemy” of his party and said the Sena was part of the Maharashtra government “just for the sake of it”.