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Shiv Sena fires again at BJP: rakes up UCC and alleges humiliation

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 4 July 2016, 23:08 IST
Short truce
  • CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray met to discuss a Maharashtra cabinet expansion
  • The outcome of the meeting gave hope that the warring allies were coming to a truce
Fresh salvos
  • However, Thackeray has opened up two new fronts to attack the BJP
  • He has raked up the issue of the Uniform Civil Code in an editorial
  • The party is also alleging humiliation in connection with the cabinet reshuffle at the Centre
More in the story
  • Thackeray\'s latest comments on Muslims and the Congress\'s \'appeasement\' of them
  • Why the Shiv Sena feels slighted by BJP national president Amit Shah

For several months, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been fielding barbs from its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena. The tussle went from verbal exchanges to violent protests, and then a short truce - but things seem to have gone pear-shaped again.

The situation seemed to be under control when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray to discuss a cabinet expansion in Maharashtra. Both leaders discussed the expansion at length and arrived at a consensus about the inclusion of new faces in the cabinet.

The outcome of the meeting gave BJP reason to celebrate, because by agreeing to the proposed expansion, Shiv Sena leaders had almost signed a truce. Fadnavis went to New Delhi via Nagpur, to discuss the proposed expansion with leaders of the party and the RSS, and also to receive credit for getting consensus from the Shiv Sena.

But even before Fadnavis could meet BJP national president Amit Shah and give him the good news, Thackeray - in typical Shiv Sena style - opened up a new front through an editorial in the party mouthpiece, Saamna. The editorial relates to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), and Thackeray wants the Centre to bring it in as soon as possible.

The demand has come as a shock to BJP leaders, and the alliance seems to be precariously placed at the moment.

Thackeray's vitriol

Taking a cue from the strong objections made by some Muslim organisations to the decision of the government to invite suggestions on the UCC, Thackeray advised the government to ignore the objections and push the proposal.

"The Modi government is pushing its agenda despite opposition from Congress and other parties. Similarly, it should curb the opposition to UCC and push it forward. Bringing UCC is in the national interest," he wrote.

Thackeray added that since the Modi government had a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, no one should be upset by the demand to bring in UCC. He praised the Prime Minister for being a beacon of hope for millions of Hindus, who were eagerly waiting for the UCC to end the 'injustice' meted out to them over the last six and a half decades.

He also reminded Modi of his opinion on the UCC before he became Prime Minister.

Interestingly, while praising Modi and his style of functioning, Thackeray took a clever dig at red tapism and bureaucratic jugglery that 'delayed' the processes. Criticising the decision of the government to seek the opinion of the Law Ministry, Thackeray said it was the standard trick of the trade to delay implementation of any decision.

"Legal opinion is sought when the government intends to delay decision making. Once this happens, the issue goes on the back burner for ever. This has been the track record of previous governments. But hopefully, this will not happen now. I feel that the Uniform Civil Code Bill should not be tangled in this process and unnecessarily delayed," he wrote.

Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP have been long-time supporters of the UCC

Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP have been long-time supporters of the UCC. Thackeray said the Congress appeased the minorities in the name of secularism, which had become highly unbearable for Hindus living in the country. To have different laws for Hindus and Muslims of the same country is nothing but provoking the creation of another Pakistan, Thackeray said.

"This is the reason that millions of Hindus hoping for UCC are elated after Modi came to power. This is the government of those who, once upon a time, dared the then governments to bring in the Bill and alleged that Congress was appeasing Muslims in the name of secularism. So people are not at all at fault if they have started feeling that the day is not far when the Uniform Civil Code will be implemented in the country, and the Ram Temple will be constructed at Ayodhya," he said.

But he added: "It would be highly unfortunate if this is the BJP's political game with an eye on the Uttar Pradesh elections. It is beneficial for the country and will eliminate instability arising out of vote bank politics, will end the miseries of Muslim women who are rendered homeless after triple talaq (divorce).

"Refusal for family planning just because the Shariyat doesn't permit it and continuing to increase the number of wives and children are not the signs of a healthy society. The root cause of the miseries of the Muslim community in the country are the misleading discourses by religious leaders and highly communal political leaders. They deliberately keep the community illiterate and poor, so that their importance is maintained.

"Even they know that if Muslims get educated and come out in the mainstream, there will be no one to follow them. But the Modi government must ignore all these tricks and bring in the Uniform Civil Code Bill."

Humiliation in New Delhi

Even as BJP leaders were contemplating on how to react to the editorial, Thackeray fired another salvo. BJP president Shah met 12 MPs from the party's various allies, including Ramdas Athawale of the RPI(A) in New Delhi, ahead of Tuesday's cabinet reshuffle. However, humiliatingly, no one from the Shiv Sena was invited to meet Shah.

Reacting to the humiliation, Thackeray said: "We are being ditched by the BJP. Earlier, a cabinet seat was offered and then it was reduced to MoS without any consultation or even prior information. We are not beggars. Shiv Sena will not continue the alliance at the cost of self esteem."

Asked about the proposed cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, Thackeray denied having discussed it with the Chief Minister. "He met me yesterday, but there was no concrete discussion. It was just superficial talk about the expansion. I don't even have detailed information about it," Thackeray said.

A senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said: "This is nothing but an attempt to hide their infighting for a ministerial berth at the Centre. The Shiv Sena leadership wants Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut to be included in the cabinet. But we are against him for his unparliamentary jibes at PM Modi in the recent past. There are other Sena MPs who are more deserving than Raut. As far as a ministerial berth at the Centre and meeting Shah is concerned, Shiv Sena should have sent the names; it is not our responsibility to invite their MPs to the meeting."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 4 July 2016, 23:08 IST