M’rashtra civic polls: No end to war of words between BJP & Sena

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackarey in Mumbai, December 2016. Photo - PTI

FILE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackarey in Mumbai, December 2016.
Photo – PTI

There’s no end to the war of words between the BJP and the Shiv Sena even as the first phase of polls to Maharashtra Zila parishad were held on Thursday.

A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said there was an emergency-like situation over BJP’s demand for a three day ban on the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, the party upped the ante and launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Sena blamed him for the deteriorating law and order situation in Nagpur.

“The deteriorating law and order situation in Nagpur is having ill effects on schools as well. The CM is from Nagpur and holds the Home portfolio. Yet, people are at risk of an untoward incidents everyday…Women are not safe. Cases of murders, dacoity and rapes are on the rise. Women fear to go out after sunset and there are scores of chain snatching incidents being reported in Nagpur,” an editorial in the Saamana said.

“The Chief Minister and his men (BJP leaders) are eyeing Mumbai and Pune when CM’s own city Nagpur is in shambles. While the CM compares Mumbai to Patna, he should first answer if Nagpur has been left to become the crime capital of the world,” Sena alleged.

The editorial comes in the backdrop of relations between the two parties hitting all-time low ahead of the civic polls, despite continuing to share power in the state and at the Centre.

“The CM cannot see all of this but compares Mumbai to Patna. The CM and his ministers are misleading people. It is important to save cities like Nagpur from the crocodile jaws of the BJP before they turn into Chicago,” the Sena warned.

Sena leaders have also alleged that Fadnavis’ stint as Mayor of his hometown Nagpur years back, was not corruption-free, a charge BJP has rejected.

On Wednesday, the Sena chief had criticised the BJP for bringing in an emergency like situation by curbing press freedom.

“I just got a message that BJP has complained to Election Commission seeking ban on printing Saamana on February 16, February 20 and February 21. My question is if you blame Indira Gandhi for imposing Emergency, isn’t this an Emergency?” Thackeray had said.

The campaign continues to be dominated by trading of charges, especially in the case of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Asia’s richest civic body with an annual budget of Rs 38,000 crore.

It has become all the more important for Shiv Sena to retain control over Mumbai, its political heartland ever since its formation in 1960s, after its dominant role in state politics eroded when BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly polls in 2014.

And, the BJP is now eyeing to wrest the BMC from the Sena, with which it has been ruling the Mumbai civic body for last 22 years.

The Congress, which has always been a divided house in the city, has failed to put up a united fight. Congress veteran Gurudas Kamat openly criticised city party chief Sanjay Nirupam and AICC general secretary Mohan Prakash over their style of functioning and not taking along all the leaders in decision-making.

Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has ruled out extending support to the BJP government in the event of Sena pulling the plug, saying his party would rather prefer mid-term polls.

Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Elections for BMC will be held on February 21 and counting will take place on Februrary 23.

The second phase of the civic polls will be held on February 21 along with the second phase of the state Zilla Parishad elections.

(With inputs from PTI)