After a 30-year alliance that lasted through good and bad times, the Shiv Sena on November 4 broke all ties with BJP as the power sharing formula in Maharashtra drove an irreparable wedge between the two partners. But reports have now surfaced saying that cracks in the Shiv Sena and BJP alliance had started appearing even before this summer’s Lok Sabha elections.
A senior BJP functionary told the Hindustan Times that the hectic parleys between the top leadership of the two sides helped overcome the differences at that time. Sharing of power, especially the post of the chief minister on a rotational basis, was the bone of contention between the Sena and the BJP which resulted into a deadlock. The Sena and the BJP were locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of the post of the chief minister for many days after the results of the assembly polls were announced.
According to Hindustan Times report, the relationship between Shiv Sena and BJP went sour in February, when the two sides announced a tie-up for the Lok Sabha polls. That is when Shiv Sena had raised issue of joint chief ministership, as a condition for an alliance for the national elections. A BJP functionary told the leading daily, it was just weeks before voting in the national elections, which began in the second week of April. Devendra Fadnavis, then Maharashtra chief minister, placed a call at 2am to BJP president Amit Shah, now the home minister, after a frustrating round of discussions.
The Hindustan Times has quoted an unnamed BJP leader who said that Fadnavis asked Shah that, "What if the alliance breaks down?”, that is when Shah told Fadnavis that the chief minister’s post was not up for rotation and the BJP would accept it if it were the end of the alliance. The BJP leader told the leading daily, “The feeling among our cadre and leaders was that we couldn’t give that position to someone who uses every opportunity to attack [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi.’’ The BJP leader, referred to Sena mouthpiece Saamana that has, time and again, criticised the central government over several issues — from the invalidation of high-value banknotes to the Rafale jet deal controversy. But the PM did not want to lose an ally, according to this BJP leader.
The two parties fell out over the Sena's insistence on a 50:50 division of power that involved the Chief Minister's post. The Sena claimed the agreement was made during BJP chief Amit Shah's meeting with Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and was furious when the BJP not only refused, but denied that such an agreement was made. The Sena also pulled out its lone minister - Arvind Sawant who was in charge of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises portfolio -- in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. The Shiv Sena also exited the BJP-led NDA at the Centre.