Bal Thackeray's party: Shifting alliances, single agenda

Bal Thackeray

In the 1973 BMC elections, Sena came to power with the help of the RPI. Two years ago, it revived its links with the RPI which had been severed after remarks by Thackeray had angered Dalit groups. The party has made inroads in rural local bodies in Vidarbha and Marathwada.

Playing the Mumbai card, Pramod Navalkar claimed in the legislative council that attempts were being made to separate Mumbai from the state. This was supported by then Congress CM Vasantdada Patil. The Sena won 75 seats and Chhagan Bhujbal was elected mayor. It was during '70-80s, Sena was referred to as "Vasant Sena" and allegations were made about its closeness with the Congress. The Sena supported the call for Emergency and over the next decade seemed to support the Congress. In 1979, the Sena tied up with Muslim League but the alliance didn't succeed. In 1980, it supported Congress candidates and won two council seats in exchange. The party suffered setbacks during this phase.

In 1987, the Sena adopted the Hindutva line. The Sena and the BJP tie-up had been forged in 1985 and remains intact but has seen a few hiccups. The Sena contested the 1984 elections on the BJP symbol, the lotus.

In 1989, the Sena-BJP alliance won four seats and the Sena entered Parliament. During the 1999-2004 NDA rule, Sena held three ministries and former chief minister Manohar Joshi was elected Speaker.

In 2007, two parties appeared on the verge of snapping ties. In recent interviews, Thackeray had said that he does not share the same rapport with new BJP leaders as he did with A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and Pramod Mahajan. With the growing prowess of the MNS, the ties between these two allies have been strained amis regular calls for a three-party alliance.

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