In a veiled warning to the Shiv Sena, BJP president Amit Shah said Sunday that if an alliance happened, the party will ensure victory for its allies, but if it did not, the party will thrash its former allies in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
Amit Shah's statement came immediately after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set the BJP workers a target of winning 40 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Reacting to the statements, the Shiv Sena said it was ready to take on whoever challenges it.
The BJP chief and Devendra Fadnavis addressed BJP workers from Latur, Osmanabad, Hingoli and Nanded districts in Latur city on Sunday.
"Party workers should get rid of confusion about (prospects of) alliance (with the Shiv Sena). If the allies join us, we will ensure their win, or else will defeat them too ("patak denge"). Party workers should start preparations at every booth," Amit Shah said.
He compared the coming elections to the third battle of Panipat, in which Maratha forces were defeated by the army of Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali). The BJP chief said after this battle, the country was "enslaved" for 200 years.
"If we win this election, our ideology will continue to rule for the next 50 years. We should aim to win at least 40 out of 48 seats (in Maharashtra)," Amit Shah said.
This is for the first time the BJP has taken an assertive stand in the matter of alliance with the Shiv Sena. The Sena has been regularly hitting out at the BJP despite being part of the government in the state and the Centre. Its leaders have often said they would contest the next polls on their own.
Speaking before Shah, Fadnavis said, "The party president will decide what to do with the Shiv Sena and the proposed alliance. But the BJP should aim to win 40 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state."
"The victory of 2019 will be bigger than 2014. Last time we won 122 seats in (state) Assembly and received 1.50 crore votes. We need two crore votes to attain power on our own. The number of people who have benefited from the state government's policies is more than that," he added.
The Shiv Sena and BJP had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in an alliance but split up at the time of Assembly elections. The Sena joined the state government later.