Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray all set to become Cm of Maharashtra after a great political drama. However, the much-heated debate is the support of Congress given to Shiv Sena.
Past instances show that though the two parties have never shared power, they have helped each other on several occasions.
Sena was among the few political parties to support the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975. The then party chief, the late Bal Thackeray, had said the move was in the interest of the country.
Two years later, when the Emergency was called off, neither the Congress nor the Sena could win a majority in the Mumbai municipal polls, with the Janata Party winning more seats. Thackeray had then lent support to the late Murli Deora to become the mayor of Mumbai. To justify this decision, the Sena had said the Congress leader was married to a Marathi woman and was the son-in-law of the Marathi community.
In 1980, the Congress again received the Sena’s help in the Assembly elections as a result of the personal bond between Thackeray and senior Congress leader Abdul Rehman Antulay, the then chief minister.
Senior journalist and political commentator Abhay Deshpande said there have been many instances where both the Congress and Sena made moves benefiting each other. “They have never shared power. But there is a history of both helping each other out,” he said.
The Sena rarely extended open support to the Congress after joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in late 1980s and turning to hardcore Hindutva ideology. In 2007, however, it went against the BJP by supporting the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) candidate, Pratibha Patil, in the presidential election. The Sena had played the Marathi card then too, saying it couldn’t oppose a Maharashtrian.
Five years later, the party again backed the UPA candidate, Pranab Mukherjee, for the President’s post. This time, Mr. Mukherjee’s personal visit to Matoshree, the Thackeray family residence, did the trick.
Despite being political opponents all their lives, Thackeray had also sided with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who was with the Congress before forming the NCP in 1999. The Sena founder had gone to the extent of saying that his party would support Mr. Pawar if he were to become Prime Minister.