Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday suggested to party workers that they may have to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections without an alliance, PTI reported. The Shiv Sena is currently in alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra but their relationship has soured in recent months.

“Party workers should get rid of confusion about [prospects of] alliance,” Shah said while addressing BJP workers from Latur, Osmanabad, Hingoli and Nanded districts in Latur city. “If the allies join us, we will ensure their win, or else will defeat them too. Party workers should start preparations at every booth.”

Shah added: “If we win this election, our ideology will continue to rule for next 50 years. We should put in extra efforts to win this election.” He added that the BJP should aim to win at least 40 of 48 seats in the state.

Fadnavis, who was also at the meeting, said, “The party president will decide what to do with the Shiv Sena and the proposed alliance. But the BJP should aim to win 40 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.”

“The victory of 2019 will be bigger than 2014,” the chief minister added. “Last time we won 122 seats in [state] Assembly and received 1.50 crore votes. We need two crore votes to attain power on our own. The number of people who have benefited from the state government’s policies is more than that.”

In response, the Shiv Sena said Maharashtra will show the BJP its place, according to The Indian Express. “The BJP national president’s arrogant remarks have exposed his party’s stand,” the party said in a statement. “It is now clear that the BJP does not want to ally with those who believe in Hindutva.”

‘Modi’s image has lost shine’

Earlier in the day, the Shiv Sena had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stature had diminished. In an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, MP Sanjay Raut wrote: “The country is heading for a fractured mandate and prime minister Narendra Modi is responsible for it.” The full mandate that Modi had won in 2014 was a wasted opportunity, he added.

“Modi’s larger-than-life image has lost the shine now,” Raut wrote. “Rahul Gandhi’s leadership is not as towering as Modi’s but he has gained importance as people are disappointed with the current government.”

“While senior leaders in the BJP are worried about its possible poor performance in coming elections, Nitin Gadkari’s statements are an indication of which way the winds are blowing,” Raut claimed. “A leader like Gadkari has equal acceptance in the RSS as well as among other BJP leaders.” He added that Gadkari was waiting for a hung Lok Sabha in 2019, suggesting that he would then become the top choice for the post of the prime minister.