The war of words between the saffron allies continued on Sunday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mumbai party chief Ashish Shelar taking on Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray over the remarks made by him a day earlier at a party function to commemorate founder Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary.
Shelar, who was in Delhi on Sunday, told reporters that despite the Sena’s stings and barbs, the BJP will emerge as the largest party in the upcoming civic polls.
He said similar claims were made by them during the state assembly elections held in 2014, but the BJP succeeded in getting 15 seats in Mumbai on its own strength.
The ongoing verbal spat between the allies is being seen as a warm up to the turf war between the two parties ahead of the city civic polls in 2017.
Thackeray on Saturday had taken a dig at BJP state president Raosaheb Danve’s comments earlier this month that his party’s flag would be unfurled atop the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) building.
“They want to unfurl the BJP flag atop the BMC, but don’t even know the bylanes of Mumbai. They should remember Mumbai has constantly trusted the Sena because it is the only party that runs to their rescue, no matter what,” Thackeray had said.
Shelar said, “Last time, too, the Sena had made personal attacks, in spite of which we [the BJP] succeeded in winning 15 seats in Mumbai.”
“First they pretend to be our allies and then there is this ‘noise pollution’ about us. We have every right to strengthen our party base,” he said.
There seems to be more that just what meets the eye to why Shelar spoke of the BJP’s seat strength in Mumbai.
The BJP wants its ally to take into account its assembly strength to negotiate a seat-sharing formula for the civic polls. Sena is unlikely to agree to this.
While chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is keen on an alliance with
the Sena in the BMC polls,
there is too much bitterness between the allies on the ground. Both parties have said it is too early to announce whether they will contest solo or as an alliance, but clearly the gloves are already off.