Mumbai, Jan 23: In a major decision, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday decided to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections independent of its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), besides spreading its wings nationally.
The Shiv Sena National Executive resolved to fight the next round of state and central elections and all future elections separately, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said here.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray also announced that henceforth the party would broaden its horizons beyond Maharashtra to contest elections in all states.
"Be prepared for the next elections. It may be announced simultaneously in December 2018 or may be held separately," Thackeray goaded his party leaders in his presidential speech at the National Executive meeting held at Worli.
He said that over the years the party had consciously refrained from fighting in other states - barring a few attempts in some states like Gujarat and Goa - to prevent a split in the Hindutva votes.
"Now, we shall contest elections in every state and that too on the Hindutva plank. It is immaterial whether we win or are vanquished but our Hindutva will never be abandoned," Thackeray said in a hard-hitting speech targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is the second time in four years that the Shiv Sena has decided to go it alone in Maharashtra.
In the October 2014 assembly elections, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance had broken down and both parties fought the elections independently. However, barely six months before April 2014, both parties had contest the Lok Sabha polls as allies with spectacular results.
Later, the BJP emerged as the single largest party while the Shiv Sena sat as the main opposition party for a month and then joined the ruling BJP.
During the February 2017 BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation polls, the Shiv Sena contested separately and emerged as the single largest party to capture the country's biggest and richest civic body, pushing back its NDA ally to the second slot.
At that time, many leaders campaigned on the need to contest all future elections separately, which after nearly 11 months got a formal stamp of approval at the National Executive.
The day also marks the 92nd birth anniversary of the Shiv Sena founder-supremo, the late Bal Thackeray, who passed away on November 17, 2012.