Neither the Nationalist Congress Party nor the Shiv Sena is willing to back down as the very public verbal tirades against each other get more virulent by the day.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s comments against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray criticising him for ‘not doing any constructive work’ during his political career have sparked clashes between the parties.
On Friday, Sena workers were seen protesting on the streets of Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune burning effigies of Pawar. Sena has decided to continue its war till Pawar apologises. “Pawar has indulged in this tirade to malign our party and to ensure that the new united force we have with RPI does not work. He does not have the moral right to comment on the Sena chief and we will continue our protests till he apologises for his comments,” Shiv Sena general secretary Anil Desai said.
Desai said the comments had been made to divert the attention of the people from the various scams in which Pawar has been named. Even after the protests, Pawar continued his tirade and in a statement at Pali (Raigad) on Thursday, he questioned Thackeray's source of income.
While Sena leaders are busy encouraging their workers to keep the protests going, the NCP top brass on Thursday advised the party cadre and leaders to lie low on the issue.
Ajit Pawar’s public outbursts are being seen as a clear departure from his uncle NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s strategy, which has been to largely ignore criticism by the Opposition and the media. However, sources in the NCP said there is a view that of late the party has been sitting quiet too often even as the Opposition, allies and the media heap allegations on senior leaders or the Pawar family. And, this should now change. The nephew firmly believes in taking the bull by its horns.
“In politics, you should be able to take criticism sportingly, especially when you criticise others in the political arena. Uddhav Thackeray has often criticised NCP chief Sharad Pawar so what’s so wrong if Ajit Pawar says something against the Sena chief,’’ said party spokesperson and MLC Prakash Binsale.