Amid uncertainty over a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for civic polls, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to spell out the party’s stand when he addresses the Sena cadre on Monday evening, on the 91st birth anniversary of the late Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections are less than a month away, seat-sharing talks between the Shiv Sena and BJP have come to a standstill, with the former willing to give 60 seats and the latter asking for 114 of the 227 wards. The parties are simultaneously preparing to contest solo.
Late on Sunday night, the Shiv Sena even indicated it might go separate ways, as Thackeray told his city-based office bearers to fight in a way that the party does not need anyone and the Sena gets a mayor on its own strength, party sources said.
While the Sena has been holding the BMC’s reins with the BJP for 20 consecutive years, this is the first BMC election that party chief Thackeray will lead alone, without the presence of his father, Bal Thackeray, who sowed the seeds of the Sena in Mumbai and deepened its roots. Speaking on the occasion of his father’s birth anniversary, Uddhav Thackeray is likely to elaborate on his plan for a victory, when he addresses Sena workers at Shanmukhananda auditorium in Sion.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena in its mouthpiece, Saamana, taunted its ally for forgetting the principle of alliance. “The Shiv Sena chief 25 years ago took a strong stand that neither do I recognise the BJP, nor do I recognise the Shiv Sena. I recognise Hindutva. There is a dire need for it,” the Shiv Sena quoted Bal Thackeray in an editorial in Saamana.
The party added, “Whoever has forgotten this stand has been a traitor to Hindutva in a way.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a tribute to Bal Thackeray with a tweet on Monday morning, saying, “Balasaheb Thackeray personified courage and emerged as a voice for the aspirations of many people.” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP Chief Amit Shah too tweeted their wishes.
Balasaheb Thackeray personified courage & emerged as a voice for the aspirations of many people. Tributes to him on his birth anniversary.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 23, 2017
The Sena also said that it was because of Bal Thackeray that the BJP did not oust Narendra Modi, now prime minister, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, after the communal riots following the Godhra carnage. “After the Godhra riots, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was about to remove Modi from the post of the Gujarat chief minister, explaining what ‘rajdharma’ (political religion) is supposed to mean. But Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray said in clear words that he should not make the mistake of removing Modi from Gujarat, and if Modi goes, then even Gujarat will go,” the Sena said in the editorial.
The party said the country’s current condition is depressing, and political administration has taken the meaning out of life. “People do not find interest in anything. Fighting for life has remained to be their only national duty. Only the Shiv Sena chief’s [Bal Thackeray] teachings can give direction to the country now,” the Sena said.