On Sunday, 17 January, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that after discussions with Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, the party has decided to contest the upcoming April-May West Bengal Assembly elections.
Political observers in West Bengal say that while the Shiv Sena has no presence in Bengal, its entry into the electoral race may help Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) as the “Hindu” votes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might get divided.
The West Bengal elections will be a tight race between BJP, which has reiterated that the state is now a priority, and CM Banerjee’s party, TMC. The Congress and the Left Front are seat sharing for the elections and will be announcing more details by the end of the month. Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) has also started poll preparations in full swing.
However, this is not Shiv Sena’s debut polls in the state. The party had previously contested from 15 seats of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal. All the candidates were “Hindus”, the party had announced in Kolkata.
In the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, the Sena had contested from 21 seats and all its candidates forfeited their deposits. The party had received a total of 49,218 votes in the 21 seats, with a vote share of 0.09 percent.
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