'Uddhavji has accepted now that the majority of his family wants to ally with the BJP, then we should think about it, but there are issues around how to go about it.'
Hemant Godse, the Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MP from Nashik who attended the meeting of MPs called by Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, July 11, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com that Uddhav wants to ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party, but is possibly waiting for "a window to open."
On forming an alliance with the BJP...
Well, about 80-90 per cent, or 13-14 of the 18 Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MPs, during our meeting with Uddhav saheb, expressed the opinion that the Shiv Sena should form an alliance with the BJP because they are our natural allies.
Uddhavji said our alliance should happen, but we are at a stage where we had allied with the Maha Vikas Aghadi for two-and-a-half years, but now to go with the BJP, a window should open.
Uddhavji has accepted now that the majority of his family (elected members of the Shiv Sena in the Maharshtra assembly and Lok Sabha) wants to ally with the BJP, then we should think about it (alliance with the BJP in the state and for the Lok Sabha election of 2024). but there are issues around how to go about it.
When this could happen is anybody's guess as this decision is not time bound.
Most of the MPs who believe that we have a natural alliance with the BJP met him (Uddhav) three-four times and opened their heart out before him.
The problems with the MVA...
The alliance with the Congress and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) was an artificial one, and most of the elected representatives of the Shiv Sena -- even at the grassroots level -- have had to face the consequences of it.
Most of us, given the odd situation the alliance with the MVA put us in, realised that it won't be an easy task to increase the strength of our Shiv Sena's elected representatives and expand our party's base in rural Maharashtra.
There are six Vidhan Sabha seats in the Nashik Lok Sabha constituency, from where I am the MP. Three of these urban seats were won by the BJP and in the remaining three Shiv Sena candidates lost to the NCP and Congress in Sinnar, Igatpuri and Deolali respectively.
If we are to remain in the MVA then, what will these three (Shiv Sena) candidates who lost to the NCP and Congress do? How can we increase our Vidhan Sabha tally in such an alliance?
We also have serious doubts about how much NCP's Chhagan Bhujbal -- against whom I had contested the 2014 election -- will help the.Shiv Sena retain the Nashik Lok Sabha seat.
We have been traditional political opponents for decades and so it will definitely become strenuous for us as well as them (the NCP and Congress) to fight together in an alliance.
Overtures to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde...
We have been emphasising the same logic even to the MLAs who have joined the Shinde camp now: That the (two factions of) the Shiv Sena should come together as one single family. In unity lies our strength.
We ardently hope that we will be one single family once again, but let's see how we can do it practically.
While we are not yet in talks with anybody from the Shinde camp, we have been expressing our desires regularly before (Uddhav) saheb.
None of us (the Shiv Sena MPs who have expressed desire to ally with the BJP) have sent any overtures yet to the Shinde camp, but it is a known fact that there is a strong sentiment among us that we should all be a united family again. They (the Shinde camp) must surely be following what our feelings are through our interactions with the media.
I am sure all the MLAs in the Shinde camp today are also yearning for unity and, in fact, they have been repeating it on every given occasion.
Maybe, four-five of them may not want it (union of the two Sena factions), but a majority of them too want to come back and be part of one big family.
Only if we come together will we be able to increase the Shiv Sena's strength and achieve Balasaheb (Thackeray, the late Shiv Sena founder)'s dreams.
About 12 Lok Sabha MPs joining the Shinde camp...
Majority of the MPs whom Uddhavji met yesterday (on July 11) were of the opinion that we should do something (unite again) keeping the interests of the party and party's future in mind.
Things are moving at a faster pace and we should take this opportunity to come together.
If we succeed in coming together it will solve many difficulties faced by Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs in the current situation.
We will be really in a difficult situation if we remain with the MVA; it will put our political future in jeopardy.
On supporting Droupadi Murmu for President...
Every MP who met Uddhavji yesterday was of the opinion (of supporting Murmu's candidature) as we want to send a message that Shiv Sena believes in emancipation of Adivasis and support women when they seek to run for the highest office of the country.
Uddhav saheb has taken a very considerate and well-thought decision to support her and all the MPs have thanked him for listening to their opinion. It makes us feel that our opinions, which only help strengthen our party and party's image, matter.
We all are striving sincerely to bring the two factions together and hopefully we will use all our convincing power to help the Shiv Sena and BJP fight the next Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections together in alliance.
While we are hopeful, only time will tell how much we succeed in our endeavour.