A day after Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, Sena leader Sanjay Raut said his party has passed a resolution to contest future elections alone. The two parties are allies in the Maharashtra government.

“We know what the agenda of Amit Shah is, but Shiv Sena has passed a resolution that we will contest all upcoming elections on our own,” Raut told ANI on Thursday. “There will be no change in that resolution.”

In January, the Shiv Sena had announced its decision to contest the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls alone. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that the Shiv Sena had more to lose if it stuck to its decision to go solo. In April, Shah had said it was the BJP’s “ardent desire” to ally with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

Strained ties

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.

The meeting between Shah and Thackeray came days after the bye-election in Palghar brought differences between the two parties to the fore again. The two parties, who are ruling Maharashtra in an alliance, fielded separate candidates in the bye-election. The Shiv Sena lost the bye-election to the BJP’s candidate.

On Wednesday, an editorial in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana mocked the BJP for its “Sampark for Samarthan” programme. The Shiv Sena said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a world tour, and Shah on a national one, which meant that this was a “global outreach programme”. “The BJP has lost its sampark [contact] with the people,” the editorial claimed.

The editorial wondered why Shah had chosen to begin his outreach programme soon after the saffron party lost several bye-elections to state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha. It added that unlike the BJP, it does not need “poster boys” to win elections. The editorial also ridiculed Shah’s aim of the BJP winning 350 seats in the 2019 elections.