On the eve of BJP chief Amit Shah’s Mumbai visit, ally Shiv Sena warned the former that they won’t let anyone divide Maharashtra to carve out a separate Vidarbha state. The BJP is in favour of statehood for Vidarbha, a region in eastern Maharashtra.
In an editorial in its party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said it would oppose anyone who wants to split the state. The Congress, two days ago, had vowed to keep Maharashtra united when the party launched its poll campaign from Hutatma Chowk.
The Saamana editorial lauded Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who advocated a united Maharashtra and opposed a separate Vidarbha. “Ashok Chavan propagated the idea of united Maharashtra. We praise him for that. He also alleged that BJP is trying to divide Maharashtra. Whether it is BJP or anyone else, we will never allow such a thing to happen,” said the editorial, which is considered to be the opinion of party president Uddhav Thackeray.
Sena’s statement comes at a crucial juncture, as Shah arrives on his maiden visit to the city after taking over as BJP president. The Sena was kept in the dark about Shah’s trip, and they are not pleased, as it has been an alliance tradition that BJP’s national leaders always visited Matoshree, the Thackerays’ Bandra home, when Bal Thackeray was around.
Sena is the only party, which has throughout opposed creation of Vidarbha state and still managed to win Assembly and Lok Sabha seats in the region. Sources said Sena is now using the Vidarbha card to mount pressure on the BJP as it knows the latter will be wary of drawing ire of the electorate in other parts of Maharashtra over the issue.
The allies have also been at loggerheads over seat-sharing formula for the upcoming Assembly polls, with BJP demanding 144 of the 288 seats.