Shiv Sena to go solo in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and contest all Assembly polls
Mumbai : The Shiv Sena on Tuesday decided to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections on its own strength even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed confidence that the BJP-Sena government will last a full term.
Fadnavis said: "The Sena had said a similar thing in the past. But I am confident the BJP-Sena alliance government will complete its full five-year term in office".
Earlier, the Shiv Sena National Executive resolved to fight the next round of state and parliamentary elections and all future elections separately, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said here.
Confirming that his party would go it alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, Raut predicted that the Shiv Sena would win at least 25 of 48 the Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra as well as 125 of the 288 seats in the state Assembly.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray also announced that henceforth the party would broaden its horizons beyond Maharashtra to fight all state elections.
"Be prepared for the next elections. It may be announced simultaneously in December 2018 or may be held separately," Thackeray told his party leaders after he was elected for another term at the National Executive meeting.
He claimed that over the years, the party had consciously refrained from fighting in other states - barring a few attempts in Gujarat and Goa - to prevent a split in the Hindutva vote.
"Now we shall contest elections in every state in the country and that too on the Hindutva plank. It is immaterial whether we win or are vanquished but our Hindutva will never be abandoned," Thackeray said in a hard-hitting speech targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is the second time in four years that the Shiv Sena has decided to part ways with the BJP and contest elections independently in Maharashtra.
In the October 2014 Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance broke down and both fought the elections separately. However, barely six months earlier, both had contested the Lok Sabha battle as allies with spectacular results.
Later, the BJP emerged as the single largest party while the Shiv Sena sat as the main opposition party for a month before joining the ruling BJP.
In February 2017, the Shiv Sena contested the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation polls separately and emerged as the single largest party to capture the country's biggest and richest civic body.
At that time, many leaders campaigned on the need to come out independently and contest all future elections separately.
Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar said the Sena's decision to contest elections would prove to be detrimental for that party and benefit the BJP.
The Sena announcement came on the 92nd birth anniversary of the Shiv Sena founder-supremo, the late Bal Thackeray, who passed away on November 17, 2012.