In a bitter race against ally BJP to spread its presence across Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena stepped up its attack, ahead of the elections to 212 local bodies in the state. One Shiv Sena leader accused the BJP of wielding criminals to rent muscle power, while the party’s mouthpiece Saamana lashed out at a BJP leader for his stance on the Maratha protests.
“With elections coming up, in the BJP, criminals are being shielded,” said Sena MLC Neelam Gorhe. Her statement comes just days after photographs of CM Devendra Fadnavis with tainted leaders from other parties in Pune caused the ruling party some embarrassment.
While Pune’s guardian minister Girish Bapat has already refuted claims that criminals were being inducted in the party, Gorhe said on Tuesday, “During the 2014 Assembly elections too, we noticed criminals were being let out on parole. They were put behind bars after the election is over and their purpose is served. The same thing happened during the Kolhapur municipal corporation polls.”
Gorhe criticised the state for its inaction in investigating a complaint from a BJP woman leader, who said a party colleague had outraged her modesty.
“The accused was known to be a close aide of BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar. The woman spoke about the involvement of a Cabinet minister. The chief minister, in March during the assembly session, assured of quick action by the state women’s commission,” said Gorhe, adding, that no progress was made for six months forcing the woman to withdraw her complaint.
Gorhe demanded the state women’s commission and the Bombay HC take suo motu cognisance of the incident.
On the Maratha protests across the state, the Shiv Sena has been on the backfoot after facing flak for an ‘insensitive’ cartoon about the issue in its mouthpiece Saamana.
But a remark by BJP minister Rajkumar Badole that the protests were successful because of the money poured into organising them gave the Sena some ammo. In an editorial on Tuesday, the Sena said, “It is not right for a minister to say the protests are a play of money power. The BJP is in a spot because of Badole’s statement. What Maharashtra really needs now is restraint on wagging tongues,” the Saamana editorial said.
The BJP was quick to hit back. “Rajkumar Badole has already apologised to the Maratha community saying he didn’t mean to belittle their protests. So, the matter ends there. Secondly, we refute all allegations by Gorhe. BJP has not inducted any criminals in the party. It is only a legislator making these statements. If the Sena chief makes such remarks, our party leaders will take it up with him,” said party leader Madhu Chavan.