Senior Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders will meet on Sunday, a day before the state budget session takes off, to mend differences that have cropped up following the latter’s suggestion of a tri-partite alliance with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
There has been some tension in the 22-year-old alliance over the past month after senior BJP leaders suggested that the saffron allies join hands with Raj Thackeray’s party, the Sena’s arch rivals.
It started with senior BJP leader and Member of Parliament Gopinath Munde talking about a tri-partite alliance on February 6, followed by similar statements from BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and senior state leader Eknath Khadse.
The issue has taken a serious turn with the BJP taking help from the MNS and the Nationalist Congress Party last week to get its candidate elected as chairman of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s standing committee.
Sena chief Bal Thackeray has, though editorials in the party’s mouthpiece Saamna, ruled out any such possibility.
On Monday, a strongly worded editorial in Saamna said: “Such national parties [such as the BJP], which piggyback on regional parties to get a mainstream status end up ill-treating them. Such parties do not have any principles or any religion.”
The editorial, which is considered to be Thackeray’s view on an issue, went on to criticise the soft stand that the BJP had taken in the Ram Mandir issue and the common civil code, and that it has changed its ‘mask’ to come to power.
“Shiv Sena has a Shivaji and has Lord Shankar too. If Shankar opens his third eye then you will turn to ashes,” the editorial said. “Don’t bring it to the point that the same shoulders that proudly carried you are made to carry you [to your end].”
A senior Sena leader, confirming the meeting, said that both the parties are sure to come to a consensus because the Mumbai civic polls are barely a year away.
While the BJP kept pressing for an alliance with the MNS, Raj Thackeray ruled out any such possibility saying his party is capable of winning on its own. “There is no proposal to tie up with the MNS right now. About the issues raised by Balasaheb, we will meet Sena leaders in the next week to sort out any problems,” Khadse said.