The cracks between the Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra widened on Thursday when Uddhav Thackeray, despite attempts by Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh to mollify him, brought up the trust deficit issue.
The Sena chief did not mince words to say his party was capable of fighting its own battles and would not compromise on trust even if it meant losing power.
“It’s time to get rid of speed breakers (referring to BJP’s Nitin Gadkari) and stick to the alliance dharma,” Uddhav told the media after penning his thoughts in a hard-hitting editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna.
He also pointed out that the BJP was treating its allies unfairly in other states. “The BJP did not consult Kuldeep Bishnoi in Haryana while getting OP Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal into the NDA fold, nor did it take Chandrababu Naidu into confidence while inducting NT Rama Rao’s daughter who was a Congress minister until recently,” Uddhav said.
He also referred to senior BJP leaders being unhappy with certain alliances: “Ram Vilas Paswan’s return to NDA has not pleased many. Advani is not happy that Yeddyurappa has been re-inducted, while Sushma Swaraj is unhappy with Venod Sharma’s entry.”
Uddhav’s outburst is the fallout of his estranged cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray openly declaring support to Modi on Sunday, which was in response to Gadkari’s persuasion of Raj to stay away from elections to prevent splitting NDA votes. “After several BJP leaders tried to pacify us, what is the guarantee it will not happen again?” Uddhav asked.
He also reminded the BJP of “alliance dharma”, mentioning how in 1996 Sena’s then chief Bal Thackeray had rejected BJP rebel Shankarsinh Vaghela’s offer to form a Shiv Sena led government in Gujarat.
But hitting back at the Sena, former state unit president Sudhir Mungantiwar said a national leader like Gadkari deserved respect: “The BJP chose not to take a public stand against Sena on several issues.”
Taking offence, Uddhav said Mungantiwar should keep quiet to prevent more confusion: “Both Modi and Rajnath have assured me that nothing will come between us. They said they would get back to me in two days over who is in charge in Maharashtra.”