In an interview to his party's mouthpiece, Saamana, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has strongly come down on the Sena's long-term ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Speaking on the occasion of the Shiv Sena completing 50 years, Thackeray said nearly half of this period has been a "waste" for the party for having spent in alliance with the BJP. Although the two parties, he said, "grew up holding each other's hands", relations have soured since the last assembly elections. "The way certain things unfolded, including breaking up of alliance in previous (assembly) elections... Shiv Sena has wasted 25 years in the alliance," he said. These years, he emphasised, had turned "rotten".
However, Thackeray was not entirely dismissive of the potential the allies still had. He admitted the two parties had come together due to their shared Hindutva politics, but the time has come for them to work out "what is the basis of this alliance right now".
When asked why he and his party keep making allegations against the government in spite of being a part of it, Thackeray said, "Shiv Sena has never slapped baseless and wild accusations and neither it made personal comments." Thackeray, who turns 56 today, claimed that the moment he feels he and the party "are not getting proper treatment," he will give up power. "But I will never blackmail the government. I will speak out, but never backstab," he added.
Shiv Sena's decision to be part of the government has not been an easy one. The party had initially opted to sit in the Opposition after winning 63 seats in the last assembly elections, in spite of the BJP's score of 122 seats, following the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But matters took a different turn after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) decided to support the BJP government from the outside. In a bid to keep the NCP away and to form a strong alliance, the Sena joined hands with the BJP and accepted a slightly compromised post-poll partnership.
Thackeray's new remarks on the BJP seem to indicate that his party is willing to walk the way alone if it feels neglected by its bigger ally. "I am in touch with the chief minister [Devendra Fadnavis] who is new," he said, "but I am closely monitoring his commitment and restless efforts."