Indicating the state BJP’s voice will get shriller on the ‘nationalism’ debate, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said every Indian will have to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. He said crores of Indians feel that those who can’t say this shouldn’t live in the country.
Fadnavis was speaking at a party workers’ rally at Nashik on the first day of the state party executive meeting being held with an eye on the 2017 civic polls as well as the increasingly uneasy relationship with its ally, the Shiv Sena. Fadnavis’ statement is being seen as the party’s decision to bare fangs on the issue and claim its Hindu right wing space, challenged by the Sena, ahead of the polls.
Recently, AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan was suspended from the state Assembly by all parties after he refused to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. The BJP hopes to corner the Congress and the NCP on the debate, even as it scores a point with its core support base.
The CM also took on ally Sena over the its aggressive stance against former advocate general Shrihari Aney’s statement on a separate Marathwada. Without naming his ally, Fadnavis said some people were creating a bogey out of the ‘United Maharashtra’ movement and attacked even women under this guise.
The reference was to the recent attack on BJP Mahila Morcha national president and leader Vijaya Rahatkar in Nasik on the Marathwada issue.
Besides the crucial Mumbai civic polls, elections to eight other cities, including Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur , Amravati, 15 municipal councils and 29 zilla parishads are slated next year. And there are signs that the allies are unlikely to contest a majority of these polls together.
“Where is the morality in such a stance? In Marathwada, you make one statement and in Nashik you carry out morchas even if some water is being released to that drought-hit region,’’ said Fadnavis targeting the Sena. The majority sentiment in the state executive meeting held earlier on Saturday was that it would be difficult to continue and alliance with the Sena given the bitterness between the allies.
State party president Raosaheb Danve indicated as much saying, “The state leadership will not foist its decision. The decision to contest elections with the Sena or without it will be made by local party units assessing ground situation.’’ In Nasik and Pune for instance, the BJP is preparing to go solo.
As such, the focus of the meeting is to prepare for the polls. It inducted five MNS corporators from Nashik and will induct NCP city unit leaders into its wing on Sunday. The big worry before the BJP leaders is the beginning of an anti-incumbency against the government, and as such many ministers used the occasion on day one to drive home the upcoming challenges before the party and recount decisions taken by the government before state party workers.
“We can’t perform miracles in just a year-and-a-half, but I can assure you that we are sincere in our efforts and have taken decisions based on promises made to people and their aspirations,’’ said revenue minister Eknath Khadse in his address.
“Unless our organisation gears up for polls and reaches out to people with the good decisions we have taken and our policies, it’s going to be difficult for us. If we perform well in the 2017 polls, it will reflect our strength and readiness for the 2019 general elections. And there is no doubt that in 2019, we will contest solo without the Sena as our ally,’’ said a BJP minister.