Is the Shiv Sena getting impatient with ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s remarks on Sunday, that the BJP is out to finish the Sena and asking the cadre to start preparing for elections might be a statement meant to achieve different things and targeted at different groups but, in the end, might be a sign that the Sena might be losing patience, with no solid assurances coming from the BJP for an alliance in the all-important civic polls next year.
The BJP, on the other hand, is convinced that the Sena hardening its stance is a clear indicator that it does not want the alliance to continue for the Mumbai civic polls and is paving way for a split ahead of 2017, even at the cost of the government crumbling.
In fact, Monday also saw the two parties deciding to fight the elections to 17 ward committees in the city separately. So far, the two parties have divided the ward panels between each other, with each bagging chairmanship of two panels each. The Sena has, however, decided to nominate candidates for chairman of all 17 panels.
In the Assembly, BJP legislator Ashish Shelar trained the guns on corruption in the civic body and alleged irregularity in construction of a road connecting Vidyavihar station and Santacruz Chembur Link Road. He demanded a probe into the project. He also criticised the Sena for its opposition to the car depot for Metro-3. “It is undoubtedly an achievement of the government, but ‘our friends’ have been opposing the Metro,” he said.
Many in the Sena believe that Thackeray’s words were meant as much for the BJP as they were for his party. A party leader, who was a part of the meeting, said, “Since we are part of the government at the Centre and state, the cadre is confused about whether they are supposed to hit the streets or maintain silence about people’s problems. Uddhavji’s statements are meant to mobilise this cadre and spell out a clear line - that we must start working assuming that we will fight alone.”
BJP leaders, however, said that the Sena hardening its stance is a clear indicator that it does not want the alliance to continue. “In the current scenario, we don’t think Sena wants an alliance in the BMC. They don’t want to concede any additional seats to us. We also suspect that Sena is willing to trip the government,” said a senior party functionary.
He added that even in the ongoing session of the state legislature, Sena has been aligning itself more with the Opposition. “There seems to be a clear alignment between the Opposition and the Sena on certain issues; the party can easily align itself with NCP in future.”