As it faces criticism over the allegations against its ministers in Maharashtra, the BJP is probably not in a mood to antagonise its ally Shiv Sena completely. Describing Shiv Sena as its oldest ally at the two-day executive meeting of the Maharashtra BJP unit in Pune on Saturday, Union minister and senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in the state, asked leaders of both parties to sit together and sort out their differences.
While the Sena is not leaving a single opportunity to criticise the Fadnavis government and also target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the suggestion by Naidu shocked party workers present at the meeting. Naidu’s suggestion assumes significance as the BJP leadership is under pressure from its workers to contest next year’s municipal corporation and zilla parishad elections independently, sources said.
The elections to 26 zilla parishads and 10 civic bodies including Mumbai to be held between October this year to March next year is being considered as mini-assembly polls and probably be seen as a referendum on the Fadnavis government’s performance.
The relationship between the BJP and Sena is particularly sore in Mumbai, which is the Sena’s stronghold. The BJP is preparing to win the civic body that governs India’s financial capital on its own though it has been in power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation as Sena’s junior partner for over two decades.
Naidu’s conciliatory tone surprised party functionaries who were attending the Pune meet. Naidu recalled BJP’s friendship with the Shiv Sena during the Vajpayee-Advani days and urged both the parties not to air their differences in public.
“There are problems in a family. Problems will also be seen between two brothers. We are also two separate parties. All of us should understand our responsibilities, sit together and sort out the problems,” Naidu said.
Party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said that both the parties are bound to a common ideology and they wish to work together.
Inaugurating the meeting, Naidu also launched an attack on the Congress and Communist parties. “Both the parties are yet to digest the reality that Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister”, he said and added that both the parties are shrinking every day.
Stating that country is making progress in all the spheres under Narendra Modi, Naidu appealed to BJP workers to highlight the achievements of the Modi government to the people.