The Shiv Sena will contest the assembly elections in West Bengal due later this year, the party’s Sanjay Raut announced on Sunday, jutting into the high-pitched contest between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and a surging BJP.
“So, here is the much-awaited update. After discussions with Party Chief Shri Uddhav Thackeray, Shivsena has decided to contest the West Bengal Assembly Elections. We are reaching Kolkata soon,” Mr Raut, an MP and the party’s top spokesperson, tweeted.
So, here is the much awaited update.
After discussions with Party Chief Shri Uddhav Thackeray, Shivsena has decided to contest the West Bengal Assembly Elections.
We are reaching Kolkata soon…!!
Jai Hind, জয় বাংলা !
— Sanjay Raut (@rautsanjay61) January 17, 2021
The Bengal election has become a closely watched battle nationally with the BJP pumping in its vast resources to carve out a base in the state that has long eluded it by remaining a communist citadel for three decades before being wrested by Mamata Banerjee in 2011.
After turning several states since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s win in 2014, the BJP leadership has signalled that they have made Bengal one of its top priorities in recent years, gunning for Ms Banerjee and launching an aggressive poaching campaign from local parties.
The tumult has opened the Bengal race wider than it has been in years, making it easier for a right-wing outfit like Shiv Sena, deeply rooted in Maharashtra since its inception, to pry its way into the state where the BJP has strived hard to pitch Mamata Banerjee as anti-Hindu.
The Shiv Sena has had a patchy take Mamata Banerjee, beaming out occasional sound bites when it came to needling its friend-turned-foe BJP but slamming her on other occasions for her left-leaning, pro-minority policies.
The Shiv Sena’s partner in Maharashtra, the Congress is contesting in alliance with the Left the elections for the 294-seat assembly that are expected to be held in April-May, with the tenure of the Trinamool Congress government ending on May 30.