Former chief minister Manohar Joshi, also a senior Shiv Sena leader, on Friday indicated that all is well in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance, despite much speculation over its future, and praised the Narendra Modi-led government’s demonetisation move.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray shared stage for the third time this week at the book release of Joshi’s latest title ‘Ayushya Kase Jagave?’ (How should one live life?) on the occasion of his 79th birthday. Earlier this week, the chief minister and the Sena chief shared stage and exuded camaraderie at the opening of a new disaster management cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the launch of a new water supply tunnel in Mumbai.
While both the chief minister and the Sena Chief on Friday chose to focus their speeches on Joshi’s life and achievements, the former chief minister indicated that the relationship between the Sena and the BJP is still as strong as it was earlier.
Joshi, who was Maharashtra’s chief minister from 1995 to 1999, said, “When I was chief minister, the alliance was strong and lasted for 25 years. I wonder why people are concerned today about whether the alliance will continue. I deliberately invited the chief minister today to put all such fears to rest.”
Joshi, Maharashtra’s first non-Congress chief minister, added, “At a personal level, I know that the Shiv Sena chief and the chief minister are very close to each other.”
Relations between the Shiv Sena and BJP have been choppy ever since the 2014 assembly elections when the allies split only to come together in a post-poll tie up, with Sena, which traditionally had the upper hand in the alliance, being relegated to a junior partner. The party, despite being in the government, has had constant spats with the BJP over issues such as changes in the land acquisition Act, the closure of Mumbai’s abattoirs during a Jain festival, the alignment of a Metro railway line and so on.
Thackeray and other Shiv Sena leaders also sharply criticised the method of implementation of Modi’s demonetisation move, saying it is causing distress to the common man and the government should have been better prepared.
Incidentally, Shiv Sena’s Joshi, who has had differences with Thackeray in the past, praised the Union government’s decision to demonetise.
“The prime minister is himself taking steps for the country’s progress and directly addressing people. This is something new happening in this country,” the former chief minister said.
He added, “Those who haven’t even understood the (demonetisation) scheme are talking about it. But I can say with conviction, if our country has to progress then such measures are important.”
Joshi, who served as Mumbai’s Mayor, a legislator, a chief minister, a parliamentarian and a Lok Sabha Speaker, has had a long and chequered political career. The Shiv Sena leader was known to be a trusted lieutenant of former Sena chief Bal Thackeray. The leader, however, had his share of clashes with son Uddhav Thackeray, when the latter just took over the party’s reins after the former Sena chief’s death.
Joshi’s chief ministership also ended on a controversial note as he had to step down facing allegations of favouring his builder son-in-law in an apartment project.
The Sena leader’s book, launched on Friday, outlines his own journey from the clutches of poverty during his childhood, his education, his growth as an entrepreneur and a politician.