A municipal corporation poll may be the undoing of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra. The strained relationship between the two parties ran into more trouble yesterday after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray threatened to pull out of the alliance and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis retorted, saying BJP will not be intimidated by threats.
Differences between the parties spiked ahead of the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) elections. The Indian Express reports: "It was set in motion after senior Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde submitted his resignation as guardian minister of Kalyan and Dombivali to Thackeray on Friday. However, Thackeray rejected the resignation and publicly warned the BJP to shed its political arrogance. In turn, Fadnavis, who addressed a party rally in Kalyan Friday, told the Sena not to undermine the BJP and that his party was not “wearing bangles”.
Trouble started brewing when BJP began campaigning aggressively for the civic elections in Mumbai's suburbs, where the Sena is contesting in 122 seats. Anxious about not letting BJP take over the local bodies in Maharashtra - traditionally Sena strongholds - the party started pointing an accusing finger at BJP's failures in governance. The latter hit back at Sena too, accusing them of misconduct. They also traded accusations of their respective cadres attacking the other.
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According to a report on The Economic Times, Fadnavis tore into Sena after Thackeray threatened to pull out. "" Your 18 MP's got elected due to this, and since you were not with us during the assembly polls, everyone saw what was your performance. Those who dined with Javed Miandad should not teach us Nationalism. We have totally anti Pakistan. Till there is an Akhand Bharat, we will continue to oppose Pakistan, this is not some issue that will be raised just before the elections."
However, Thackeray was not one to swallow the insult. He retorted: "They say that because of Modi we got 18 MP's. If he would not have campaigned then we would have got 25- to 30 MPs. Modi also campaigned in the Delhi assembly polls, why didn't the BJP perform well in Delhi then."
It must be pointed out here that the Sena-BJP alliance has been strained right from the beginning. Shortly after the elections in Mahrashtra towards the end of 2014, Sena and BJP found themselves in a deadlock over which party gets to claim the post of the chief minister. While Uddhav Thackeray had his heart set on the position, the BJP - flush from it's general elections victory a few months back - wouldn't back down either. The logjam continued for very long and at one time, it seemed that the alliance would be called off. Sharad Pawar's NCP actually jumped on to the opportunity and offered to ally with the BJP is the Sena doesn't budge from it's position.
In fact, Uddhav's son Aditya Thackeray had a 'meltdown' of sorts on Twitter when he reminisced about the days when all was well between the Sena and BJP, under the leadership of Bal Thackeray and L K Advani.
However, Sena had to eat the humble pie and accept a BJP leader as the chief minister. Over the past few weeks, the party has been at loggerheads over several issues.
Recently, the Sena forced the cancellation of Pakistani Ghazal icon Ghulam Ali's concert, and faced criticism from the BJP. On the other hand, when PM Modi mentioned in an interview that incidents like the cancellation of Ghulam Ali's concert and the Dadri lynching where 'very sad', though the Centre had nothing to do with them, Sena snapped at the party.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut kicked up a storm by commenting, "The Narendra Modi that the world knows is by Godhra, for the same reason we respect him. If the same Narendra Modi has called the controversy surrounding Ghulam Ali sad, then it is unfortunate."
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