The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday hit back at Shiv Sena for "stooping to a new low" by launching a personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in its Hindi mouthpiece ahead of the assembly elections, saying its former ally should have desisted from making 'disparaging' remarks against him.
"It is sheer disappointment that Sena has stooped to a new low. What kind of politics is this, where you insult his (Modi's) father? We are very hurt," senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse told reporters in Mumbai.
An article by 'Dopahar ka Saamna' editor Prem Shukla on October 14 had poured vitriol on Modi, accusing that he and his party had forgotten Sena's contribution to their landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections though Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray later distanced himself from the article.
"The BJP did not win the Lok Sabha elections due to Narendra Modi alone. If the Sena had withdrawn its support before the Lok Sabha elections, just as BJP has done now (by breaking the alliance with Sena before assembly polls), even...could not have won in Lok Sabha elections," the article had said.
Khadse told reporters that though BJP criticised Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the leadership of NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the hustings, the party always maintained a decorum and stayed away from making personal remarks against any political leader.
"During our election campaigning, we did criticise the Gandhis and Pawar's leadership in our speeches. But we never ducked so low in our words. We had made the corrupt Congress-NCP government our enemy and not any particular leader. But the Sena targetted only Modi," he said.
Responding to a query, Khadse conceded that several rebel candidates who joined BJP at the eleventh hour after being denied tickets by their parent parties stand a slim chance of victory despite contesting on BJP tickets.
"There is no doubt of a Modi wave in Maharashtra. But there are 7-8 leaders that I feel won't win the election, despite we as a party backing them strongly. This is because the anti-incumbency factor will not leave them alone though they contested (polls) as BJP candidates," Khadse said. Khadse said that those BJP leaders who were given an opportunity to contest for the first time in the aftermath of BJP severing ties with Sena contested with vigour to prove their mettle to the party leadership.
BJP leader Vinod Tawde, who was also present at the media gathering, said that Maharashtra will not enter the Diwali celebrations period under the President's rule.
"This year's Diwali celebrations will not happen while the state is under the President's rule. We are confident of forming the new government before the Diwali period sets in," he said.
Tawde added that the party will do exceptionally well in the Vidarbha region in east Maharashtra, besides in northern region and in Mumbai and Thane areas.