A cornered sena
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Two of them involve the survival of the Shiv Sena. One is about the coalition with the BJP and the other is about the MNS. When the next elections take place, the alliance between the Shiv Sena and the BJP would have completed 25 years. Currently, it is under severe strain. The Shiv Sena was the more powerful partner in the coalition until 2009. That has now changed. The BJP is now impatient with the Shiv Sena. Sensing that Uddhav does not have the popular image his father enjoyed, the BJP would be looking for excuses to wriggle out of the coalition. The Raj Thackeray factor would be crucial here. Sections of the BJP have already discovered the virtues of Raj Thackeray and have been arguing that the Shiv Sena allow the MNS to enter the coalition. Should the BJP dump the Shiv Sena in favour of the MNS, it could add tremendously to the Sena's problems.
One related issue is to do with the strategy the Sena adopts on its ties with the MNS. It is hotly debated whether the two cousins will make up, a scenario that sounds more suited to a Bollywood film. A more realistic line of inquiry is, who will attract the workers of the other party. Without the towering image of Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena runs the risk of losing its more vociferous following in Mumbai to the MNS. This will be the true test of Uddhav Thackeray's leadership and patience. Will he unveil a programme of collective action — that was the hallmark of an earlier Shiv Sena — in order to retain the faithful or will he have the skill to divert their energies to more routine party work? He may take the calculated risk of losing some diehard vigilantes in order to keep the party on the road that he has charted for some time now.
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