A day after snub, Sena goes soft on ally BJP
Uddhav Thackeray said his party would not indulge in ‘blackmail politics’ and that ties between the two parties were not strained or broken after the episodemumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2016 01:11 IST
A day after the Shiv Sena was left out of the Union cabinet expansion, the party, known for its aggressive stance, turned mellow with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray refusing to criticise his ally.
Going against speculation that the Sena would go on the offensive after the BJP snub, Thackeray said his party would not indulge in ‘blackmail politics’ and that ties between the two parties were not strained or broken after the episode.
“I have never blackmailed anyone and made demands and I will never do that. We will do what is in the interest of the nation,” Thackeray said. He, however said, “It is the responsibility of both parties to ensure relations are sound.”
In political circles, however, the Sena’s move is being seen as a tactical stance to ensure it gets a better deal in the state cabinet expansion that is likely in the next few days, expected before July 10.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis now has a difficult task at hand if he has to keep the Sena happy. According to the old formula, the Sena was to get two junior ministerial posts, but this is unlikely and it will have to make do without a cabinet berth. It is generally expected that the central leadership will concede a cabinet berth to the Sena, given that they were ignored at the Centre, but there is no confirmation.
Thackeray played his cards close to his chest. “There has been no discussion on the issue. Let there be a formal discussion, after which we will disclose our stand. Our ties are not strained or broken.”
BJP and Sena sources told HT that Thackeray’s politically correct stance also comes in the wake of the fiasco on Monday. It is learnt the BJP state leadership had asked Thackeray to call party president Amit Shah to make amends and request for a cabinet berth at the Centre, which he refused to do.
“Shah was angry with the Sena over the name calling against him and referring to him as Gabbar Singh. A single call from Thackeray could have gone a long way, but that was ruled out. Otherwise, Sena’s induction was near final. They are likely to get a cabinet portfolio here, but this has not yet been endorsed by our top leadership,’’ said a senior BJP functionary.
A Sena MLA reasoned the party’s stance was pragmatic. “An inconsequential minister of state post would barely have any political benefit. Instead, the thought in the party is to get a better deal with the state cabinet. A significant portfolio in the state will help us,’’ he said.
The state expansion is expected before Fadnavis leaves for Russia on July 10. The cabinet rejig will see induction of around nine new faces, including two junior posts for its allies besides another two for the Sena. Senior leader and former minister Eknath Khadse’s significant ministries, including revenue, state excise and agriculture are also up for grabs.
(With inputs from Kunal Purohit)