Shiv Sena’s ‘balancing act’ part of poll strategy

Maharashtra environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray is on a trip to Ayodhya along with senior party leaders. The trip, planned and executed with much fanfare, is interpreted in political circles to show that the Shiv Sena has not ‘abandoned Hindutva’.

At a recent rally in Aurangabad, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had come down heavily on BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remark on the Prophet. The CM had slammed the move to ‘search for shivlings within mosques’. The Ayodhya trip is seen as Sena’s ‘balancing act’.

Though the Ayodhya tour was planned long ago, with civic polls in mind, political analysts told ET that the Sena’s ‘course correction’ has a larger goal. “The Sena game plan is to peddle a version of Hindutva that is different from the BJP on Gyanvapi and other issues. The Shiv Sena seems to be making a pitch for a future tie-up with the Nationalist Congress Party, probably minus the Congress, to take on the BJP in the state,” said political analyst Ravikiran Deshmukh.

He said that it was significant that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray mentioned his father Bal Thackeray was not against Muslims or Islam, in his Aurangabad speech.

Deshmukh’s claim of an NCP-Sena electoral understanding may seem farfetched, but NCP state chief Jayant Patil is on record that his party would have an alliance with the Sena even without Congress.

The Sena game plan, however, faces some issues. “While NCP’s votes may be transferred to the Sena in an alliance, it is doubtful whether the core Sena voter would be willing to vote for NCP,” said analyst Yuvraj

.

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