BJP-Shiv Sena fight gets fiercer over Sushant Singh Rajput’s death probe

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Published on Sep 11, 2020 01:28 AM IST
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The proxy war between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Sushant Singh Rajput probe has widened the rift between the former allies-turned-foes, diminishing scope for reconciliation in Maharashtra in the future.

The BJP’s shadow attack on Sena scion and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray in the case and now Centre’s backing of actor Kangana Ranaut has rankled and irked the Sena. A close political aide of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said the CM and his wife Rashmi Thackeray were upset with the way Aaditya, who has been groomed and launched as the political heir of the Sena, got dragged into the controversy.

“The CM has been hurt with the way the BJP twisted the entire SSR probe narrative to defame and malign his son, when he had absolutely nothing to do with the case. He even conveyed his displeasure through his aide and minister Anil Parab to the former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis around 10 days ago, asking the latter to back off from personal attacks,” said this aide of Thackeray.

It is learnt that Thackeray conveyed that while he understood there would be political attacks like in the case of Palghar lynching of sadhus, he was dismayed with the way his son was attacked through trolls and BJP leaders.

Parab’s missive, the aide added, had prompted Fadnavis to point out in public that the BJP had never directly named any Sena minister in connection to Rajput’s death. And, there had been a toning down of the attack from BJP after this.

When asked, Fadnavis did not comment on this missive to HT; Sena also did not officially confirm this.

However, soon after this missive from Sena, Ranaut versus Sena verbal tussle cascaded, leading to the demolition of the actor’s office on Wednesday. The beginning of Ranaut’s verbal spat with Sena MP Sanjay Raut is also linked to the BJP. She said she was scared of Mumbai Police in response to a tweet from BJP leader Ram Kadam, who questioned why the Maharashtra government had not offered protection to the actor, who had said she could expose Bollywood and drug mafia.

The ongoing clash with actor Ranaut has further hardened party lines.

“By providing security to Ranaut, the Centre has in a way unleashed this actor on our leadership. The way she has spoken about Thackeray will not be taken lightly by us,” added this leader. He added there was no question of a future reconciliation with the BJP given that the latter was openly attacking Thackeray’s leadership.

A senior state BJP leader also said that the way SSR probe narrative had been played out dealt a death knell on any future alliance with the Sena. “This is a point of no return. It stems from this government’s lack of political acumen and arrogance because they failed to get even an FIR filed in nearly three months in the case. Our party decisions are made in Delhi and not here. It is clear that for now focus is on Bihar polls,” he said.

The leader added, “For now, there are no plans for Maharashtra. But we don’t see a future alliance with the Sena or NCP possible now. An alliance with disenchanted Ajit Pawar, if he breaks out ahead of elections, can be imagined, but our party seniors are in no rush at the moment.”

Political analyst Hemant Desai also opined that post SSR probe, the Sena had now closed all doors on BJP and the party would sharpen its attack on the Opposition and vice versa.

“The way Aaditya was targeted and the way Ranaut has taken on Thackeray with a clear backing of the BJP-led Centre, one can say reconciliation is not possible now. The Sena and NCP alliance will get cemented, although Ajit Pawar’s role remains shaky. And, BJP will keep that door open,” said Desai.

BJP state spokesperson Keshav Upadhyaya said the party was only focussing on taking up people’s issues and playing the role of a strong Opposition. “We are not thinking about future relations, reconciliations etc. Our job is to be a responsible opposition and we are expressing people’s sentiments and anger over SSR probe, that’s all.”

Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the issue of Ranaut was over for the party. “This issue is over for us. Our alliance is doing fine as is our government.”


    Ketaki Ghoge is an associate editor with Hindustan Times. Based in Mumbai, she covers politics and governance in Maharashtra. Journalist for the last 13 years, Ketaki enjoys dicing government policies, administration and analysing politics of the day.

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