Sena, BJP stop sparring as Pawar enters the fray | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Sena, BJP stop sparring as Pawar enters the fray

After a week-long public spat, the saffron allies on Wednesday took steps to tone down hostilities. Shiv Sena ministers participated in the state cabinet meeting, after which chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave a patient hearing to all their complaints.

mumbai Updated: Oct 15, 2015 00:45 IST
HT Correspondent
Shiv Sena

After a week-long public spat, the saffron allies on Wednesday took steps to tone down hostilities. Shiv Sena ministers participated in the state cabinet meeting, after which chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave a patient hearing to all their complaints.

It was business as usual at the state secretariat: Sena ministers marked their attendance in the state cabinet and no sparks flew; the Sena took the conciliatory route and met Fadnavis later to complain about the snub their party chief Uddhav Thackeray got last week, when he was invited, only at the last minute, for the Indu Mill function where PM Narendra Modi was present.

The step down by both allies, interestingly, coincided with NCP chief Sharad Pawar queering the pitch for the BJP by saying his party will no longer support the Fadnavis government, if the Sena walked out. BJP leaders have so far been relying on the NCP for outside support, in the worst case scenario of Sena walking out of the government.

Industries minister and close Uddhav aide Subhash Desai led the delegation, which included environment minister Ramdas Kadam, transport minister Diwakar Raote and health minister Deepak Sawant.

“We told him [CM] we are clearly unhappy. It wasn’t that we had demands to make, it was just that the entire party is unhappy with the way things were happening,” said a senior Sena cabinet minister, not wishing to be named.

The minister said the delegation specifically pointed to instance of the last-minute invite to Thackeray as an example of just how much importance the Sena was being given.

The delegation also spoke of poor coordination between the allies and asked the CM for a solution, the minister said.

Sources from the chief minister’s office confirmed the meeting, as did Desai, who said the Sena delegation got a patient hearing.

It is learnt that Fadnavis – who had rapped the Sena about the attack on ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni on Monday – took the middle path. “The CM told the Sena delegation the BJP’s intention never was to belittle them, referring to the Indu Mill function invite. He assured better coordination while organising events,” said a close aide of the CM’s.

There was no discussion, however, about the cancellation of the Ghulam Ali concert or the attack on Kulkarni, at the meeting.

The BJP’s state unit had been accused of hijacking the Indu Mill function for political mileage. While the BJP insisted it was a state function and protocol would not allow Thackeray space on the dias with Modi or Fadnavis, Thackeray decided to skip the event entirely and asked his party men to boycott the PM’s functions in the city.

Although it appears now that both Sena and BJP do not want to stretch their tussle too far, this may not last long, with the Kalyan-Dombivli polls round the corner. The Sena and BJP will face off as rivals and things are likely to get ugly, as the BJP makes a bid for a civic body that has been in the Sena’s control for the past three decades.

The BJP will hold a state-level review meeting on Thursday, where legislators and MPs could raise the issue of alliance with the Sena. Senior leaders have indicated it is not the time to go public with grievances.

“If we were leaving the government, I will not be here talking to you,” Bhuse told mediapersons at his office.

BJP’s food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat also said there was “no trouble in the alliance”. “The cabinet went off smoothly.”