Shiv Sena parts ways with BJP, but only for Maha civic polls

RSTV Bureau

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The 25-year-old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which shaped the contours of post-Mandal politics in Maharashtra, is on a brink of total collapse. Though Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced that his party will not ally with BJP in the upcoming municipal polls, including that of prestigious BMC, it still remains the part of BJP-led governments at the state and the centre.

Reacting to the development, the BJP, which is leading the state government, appeared confident that their government will complete its term.

Earlier on Thursday, Uddhav Thackeray announced that it would go solo in all the upcoming civic body polls in Maharashtra. In a combative speech, he also criticised his long-time ally over the replacement of Mahatma Gandhi’s photos with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on calenders of Khadi.

“I have not received any call from any senior leader in BJP. Shiv Sena is 50 years old; however, the 25 years of our time in alliance (with BJP) is rotten one,” Uddhav Thackeray said, adding that his party “will unfurl the bhagva (saffron) flag in Maharashtra all alone”.

“We always hailed you (BJP) on Hindutva issue. However, Sena is not born for the sake of power. Whoever tries to underestimate Sena, we will ensure they will be uprooted,” he told the gathering of party workers and leaders in Mumbai.

While Sena is a junior alliance partner in the NDA governments at Centre and in Maharashtra, it is a ruling party in the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where it has been in power with the BJP for over two decades.

Elections to 10 municipal corporations, including Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur, would be held on February 21. Elections to 25 zilla parishads will be held in two phases, on February 16 and February 21.

“I will not go to anybody with a begging bowl for alliance and will not be at anybody’s mercy. I have decided there will be no alliance for any of the coming municipal corporation or zilla parishad polls,” he said amid applause.

In the last two years, Shiv Sena have taken a disparate stand on various issues vis-à-vis BJP, including joining the Opposition TMC-led march to Rashtrapati Bhavan against Modi government’s demonetisation move.

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

Lately, Shiv Sena had disapproved of BJP’s claim to contest 114 out of total 227 seats for BMC. The former was willing to give no more than 60 seats to the BJP.

In the 2012 BMC polls, Sena had contested 158 seats and won 75, whereas the BJP won 32 out of 69 seats it had fought.

Attacking the BJP-led central government, he said there was an “atmosphere of fear” in the country today as anyone who spoke against the ruling party was being branded as anti- national.

On the other hand, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remained unfazed, saying, “Power is not our ultimate goal but it’s a medium of development. We will take along those who come with us and leave aside those who don’t. Transparent administration is our agenda. Change will happen irrespective of those who come with us.”

BJP state unit president Raosaheb Danve said the state government will complete its full term as Thackeray has not said anything on Sena’s continuance in the dispensation.

“The government is strong and will last its full term. We were keen for an alliance for the civic polls on the agenda of corruption-free and transparent administration. We are confident that BJP will win all civic bodies on its own,” he said.