The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance is sure to win few brownie points after intensifying the protests at Jaitapur against the 9,900MW nuclear power project proposed by the government.
According to political experts, the party had used the same tactics during the protests against the Dabhol Power Project, popularly known as the Enron project, in the 1990s.
The Shiv Sena-BJP had launched a strong campaign against Enron, accusing the Sharad Pawar-led Congress government of working out a tacit deal with Enron to set up a power plant. They had termed the government’s power-purchase deal with Enron as a “sellout'” and raised questions over Pawar's role.
Similarly, the Sena jumped into the Jaitapur issue in December 2010 by helping the residents intensify their agitation. On April 9 this year, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray held a rally, which attracted over thousands of people.
“What the government has done on Monday is not acceptable. It has opened fire on activists and our own people,” said Sena leader and legislator Ramdas Kadam.
Analysts said the Sena's aggressive stand coincides with the upcoming 2012 civic and district elections in areas such as Mumbai, Thane and Pune. The party will have to reclaim its lost ground amongst voters from the Konkan belt if it wants to win the elections.
“The timing is perfect for the Sena and so is the cause. But they have also given people power to express themselves. Otherwise the government would not have heard them at all,” said political commentator Surendra Jondhale.
This could also help the Sena reclaim its hold over this belt. “Sena is going to gain enormously from this campaign. They are winning the hearts of people from the Konkan which will help them in the elections,” Jondhale said.