Here’s What Uddhav and Shah Discussed in Their 100-Minute Meeting
What were Amit Shah and Uddhav Thackeray talking about for almost two hours? What did the Shiv Sena supremo tell the BJP president, and what did he hear in return? The Quint has all the details on what happened between the two behind closed doors.
One condition that Uddhav Thackeray stuck to throughout the meeting was that if an alliance happens with the BJP it will be based on the previous terms. The future of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance hinges on what Amit Shah’s response was to this condition.
Shah’s Response to Shiv Sena’s Condition
Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray met on 6 June in Mumbai. According to The Quint’s sources, in the 100-minute long meeting, faced with Shiv Sena’s grievances, Amit Shah had also come with a list of complaints. A lot of venting happened. But the issue got stuck at formula for an alliance.
What Will Be the Formula for This Alliance?
Shiv Sena’s condition is that an alliance will only happen when the BJP gives them the chief minister’s chair. In return, they will let the BJP contest from more seats in the Lok Sabha elections.
However, the BJP is insisting that the chief minister’s position go to the party that gets more seats.
One-on-One Talks in Seclusion
According to The Quint’s sources, as soon as Amit Shah spoke about an alliance, Uddhav Thackeray started talking and he let loose with a shower of complaints.
The Shiv Sena's complaints include neglect, insult, paranoia, etc, by the BJP government.
Obviously the response to a complaint can’t be another complaint, and then as soon the conversation turned from politics to self-esteem, a stalemate ensued.
Shiv Sena Angry at Prabu’s Acceptance
Uddhav expressed his anger, to Amit Shah, over the inclusion of former Rail and now Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu in the BJP. According to sources, Uddhav expressed his anger in very strong words over the issue of Suresh Prabhu breaking away from the Shiv Sena, joining the BJP and being made rail minister.
The Shiv Sena chief reminded Shah of the party being ignored in the Union Cabinet expansion.
Uddhav told Amit Shah that Shiv Sena has been treated in a very humiliating manner by the BJP. He said that whether it was participation in the central government or ministries in the state, they got less than promised in both cases and now the party will not suffer any further humiliation.
What Amit Shah Said to Uddhav
The BJP president had strong objections to the fact that these days Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamana has been publishing sharp commentaries against the Centre and the state government. He said that even though Shiv Sena is also in power they still keep targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Modi in Saamana.
Shah’s advice – “Jin muddon par aapaka mat alag ho, usase saarvajanik jagah par bolane se pahale ek baar baatacheet honee chaahie, isase janata mein bhram paida hota hai, jo donon ke lie theek nahin (The issues on which your opinion differs, should be discussed before being publicised, it creates confusion in the minds of people, which is not good for both).”
On this, Uddhav Thackeray responded that since the time of Balasaheb Thackeray Saamana has always expressed its views openly on every subject. He said that from Sonia Gandhi to Sharad Pawar or Advani, Saamana has always carried political commentary and will continue to do so.
Uddhav's Displeasure on Shiv Sena Being Referred to as 'Mafia'
Uddhav Thackeray was also angry at the kind of language used by BJP leaders with reference to Shiv Sena during the campaigning for BMC elections. He reminded Shah that Kirit Somaiya and some BJP leaders had called Shiv Sena a mafia. He reminded the BJP president that this kind of language was never used for BJP in Saamana.
Request to Forget Grievances and Come Together
Amit Shah requested Uddhav that they forget old issues and both parties make a fresh start together. He said that Shiv Sena first need to make up its mind for the coalition, after that the division of seats is not a big deal.
But the truth is that it was due to the sharing of seats in the 2014 Assembly elections that the 25-year-old Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, formed on the basis of Hindutva, was broken.
Uddhav Under Pressure
Shiv Sena might be talking of going solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, but sources inside the party say that many MPs and MLAs are not willing to step out alone into the fray. They are pressurising Uddhav for a coalition.
The Shiv Sena chief is also well aware that if Shiv Sena fight alone and Congress-NCP go together then the return of the Congress-NCP coalition to power is almost guaranteed. At the same time, Shiv Sena’s stronghold in Mumbai can also be in danger, so Uddhav does not want to get caught in a hasty decision.
What Will Shiv Sena Do?
Shiv Sena wants an alliance with the BJP based on Bal Thackeray and Pramod Mahajan's formula.
This means that for Lok Sabha BJP contests from a larger number of seats, while in the Assembly Shiv Sena gets to fight from more seats. if they come to power in the state, both get an equal share and the chief minister will be Shiv Sena’s.
But according to BJP sources, the party is not ready for any agreement over the chief minister’s position. The BJP’s argument is that the party that wins the majority of seats, gets to choose the CM.
Uddhav-Modi Meeting Possible
Because of no decision being reached in the Amit Shah - Uddhav Thackeray meeting, the matter has now gone to PM Modi's court.
According to sources, Uddhav Thackeray is likely to have talks with PM Modi soon. Close sources say that in fact Amit Shah himself has advised Uddhav that he should talk to Prime Minister Modi and maintain the dialogue.
(Translated from Hindi by Mariyam Shaheen)