The tussle between the Shiv Sena and BJP turned bitter on Tuesday with the parties making contradictory statements on Bal Thackeray's refusal to meet L.K. Advani, in the city for a party function.
“Balasaheb normally doesn’t meet anyone after noon as he rests. Since the appointment was sought at 3.30 p.m., it was difficult as we couldn’t disturb Balasaheb,” Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said.
Thackeray’s refusal has made the BJP uneasy as the Sena is already leaning tow-ards the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). A recent dinner meeting between Thackeray and NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal is being seen as an indication that the two parties could come together in the future.
Sena leaders also said Thackeray and his son Uddhav were irked as the BJP sought a meeting at the 11th hour though the programme to felicitate Advani was planned months ago. “They could easily have fixed the meeting in advance. This shows they take the Sena for granted,” said a senior party functionary.
Ties between the Sena and BJP — allies for over two decades — are already strained due to a tussle over seat-sharing for the parliamentary elections.
Late on Tuesday, the BJP clarified that a meeting with Thackeray wasn’t on Advani's agenda. “The names of the two leaders should not be used for cheap politics,” BJP’s Madhav Bhandari said at a hurriedly convened press conference.
Earlier in the day, Advani demanded a judicial probe into how the 26/11 attacks took place despite intelligence inputs. “Fourteen days before the attacks, the prime minister himself said there was the possibility of a terror attack by sea,” Advani said at the BJP function.
He said Pakistan was the origin of terror attacks and three of these had had Mumbai as the target — the 1993 blasts, 2006 train blasts and 26/11. “While the first caused maximum death and destruction, the most recent one had a greater impact on India and the world,” he said. “A sense of insecurity prevails everywhere.”
Advani said India had the potential to end terror but every politician and party must swear not to compromise on security for votebank politics. “We have to change the image of the ugly Indian politician.”