Mumbai: Shiv Sena is unlikely to contest the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls to avoid division of anti-BJP votes, according to sources.
The Sena had earlier supported Hardik Patel, leader of Gujarat’s Patidar community who is considered to be anti-BJP. However, the party will not get into the actual election process of contesting, highly placed sources said. Sena had contested the last two Assembly polls in Gujarat but did not get any seat. While Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is yet to officially declare his party’s stand on the Gujarat polls, given the way relations between Sena and BJP have soured in the past few years, it seems unlikely that Sena will support its ally in the neighbouring state.
A Sena leader on condition of anonymity said, “The Sena is unlikely to contest in the Gujarat polls. We do not want any vote division in Gujarat. We will be observing from the outside this time. However, Mr Thackeray will officially announce the party stand on the Gujarat Assembly polls soon.” Last year, Sena had openly declared its support to Patel who had started an agitation for reservation for the Patidar community. The Sena had also said that Hardik would be their face in Gujarat. However, political equations have changed in the last few months, and there is a possibility that Hardik might extend his support to Congress. Sena cannot go with the Congress and does not want to support the BJP. Hence, the party leadership has decided not to participate in the polls, sources said. In a way, Sena’s non-participation in the polls will help the Congress as anti-BJP votes will not be divided.
Sena had contested against BJP in Goa and Bihar in assembly polls held earlier. However, the two parties were allies in the Lok Sabha 2014 elections.
Interestingly, just a day before, Sena MP Sanjay Raut praised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, saying he is capable of leading the country. Raut also said that calling Rahul “Pappu” was wrong....