A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray slammed its ally over a range of issues from price rise to the Dadri lynching incident, the BJP maintained a studied silence on the matter.
The party has decided not to engage in public bickering with the Sena, as the BJP leaders claimed the tussle with its ally was taking away from the government’s performance ahead of the first anniversary as well as party’s overall agenda. Sources in the BJP, however, told HT the Sena’s Dussehra rally had widened the rift between the allies and reduced the chances of a compromise.
Thackeray’s potshots come even after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had softened his stance and said the saffron allies will contest the upcoming 2017 Mumbai polls together. “With the CM’s statement, the issue should have been brought to a close. But they [the Sena] chose to escalate matters and targeted both the CM and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now, we have decided not to engage with them in a public spat.
There are other ways of telling them to fall in line. We have tolerated them for more than a year now,” said a senior BJP leader.
He said the Sena should have got an indication of things to come after the BMC mayor’s letter on shoddy road contracts was leaked. The BJP has been pushing the Sena in the corner over its shoddy manner of functioning in the BMC, as a way of getting it to toe their line. It will also hold up Cabinet expansion to further frustrate its ally and sideline Sena ministers in the government.
However, food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat said, “The BJP should accept the ground reality that our numbers have increased and we are the big brother. That’s it. I don’t believe we should discuss our differences, if any, at a public forum. We are still allies.”
For now, the BJP will focus all its energies on the Kalyan-Dombivli civic elections, where the allies are fighting the polls solo. If they succeed in wresting this civic body from the Sena, which has been reigning over the civic body for the past three decades, the latter will find it difficult to gain lost ground.