Jai-Veeru no more: BJP & Sena call each other 'Asrani' & 'Nizam'
The conflict between Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has intensified. The oldest constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are now fighting it out on the streets of Maharashtra. After Shiv Sena compared the state and central government with that of the Nizam of Hyderabad, BJP decided to give it back in the same coin by ridiculing Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray.
The Nizam jibe was made by Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut at the party convention in Aurangabad a couple of weeks back. Uddhav Thackeray continued the offensive during the Sena's golden jubilee celebrations in Mumbai earlier this week, by criticising the BJP on several issues ranging from Indo-Pak relations, Kashmiri Pandits to the drought in Maharashtra.
"We are capable of coming to power on our own and I shall achieve this soon," Thackeray said. As he hinted at the humiliation his party faced because of the post-poll tie-up with the BJP, he cautioned the latter that the alliance will never be at the cost of the Sena's pride.
The criticism seems to have rattled the BJP. The party's chief spokesperson in Maharashtra Madhav Bhandari wrote an article in the party publication Manogat daring Raut to walk out of alliance. The article titled, 'Mr Raut, when are you taking a divorce?' is a direct challenge by the BJP to the Sena.
He pointed out that the Sena is part of the very government it equates with the Nizam. Bhandari also questioned the so called might of Thackeray. "If Thackeray breaks the alliance, his situation would be like the jailer in film Sholay (played by Asrani), who is left with no soldier behind him when he needs them the most," the article says.
As expected, the jibe hit Shiv Sena where it hurts the most. In an article in party mouthpiece Saamna, Raut has come down heavily on Bhandari and BJP. "BJP must not forget that their government is dependent on our support. If we walk out, the government will fall. Of course, BJP can happily continue to hold power with the support of corrupt people like NCP's Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare and Ajit Pawar. Shiv Sena will not tolerate any derogatory remark against Uddhav Thackeray," Raut said. He also said that while central leaders of BJP are in favour of continuing the alliance, some insignificant ones at the state level are hellbent on breaking it. "Shiv Sainks will show BJP its place," he added.
Responding to Bhandari's 'Asrani' jibe, Shiv Sena MLA Neelam Gorhe said, "We have criticised the wrong decisions and policies of the government. But we never stooped to such a low level by personally attacking their leaders. They should have some sense," After the article was published in Saamna, Sena cadres, reacted violently. An effigy of Madhav Bhandari was burnt at Nashik apart from violent protests at many places in the state.
A senior BJP leader who did not wish to be named, said, "We have done nothing wrong. Shiv Sena leaders have, on many occasions, personally criticised our leaders over the last 25 years. The root cause of Shiv Sena's pain is that the BJP has won more seats and is in a commanding position."
Apparently BJP workers are upset over the behaviour of Sena leaders and this was communicated to the BJP leadership during the state executive meeting in Pune this week.
When contacted, Bhandari said, "I have not criticised anyone personally. I only tried to put facts before Shiv Sena leaders who are threatening to break the alliance at the drop of a hat. We will not tolerate this any more."
Political observers, however, feel that the bickering would continue but the alliance won't break.
"Such conflict is inevitable but not fatal for the alliance. Neither the BJP nor the Shiv Sena will walk out of the alliance. This tussle is to establish total control over the financial capital of the country. Both Sena and BJP want to control Mumbai," said veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar.
Elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are due in 2017.
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