‘Not part of UPA’: Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena’s reality check for Congress
Sanjay Raut underscored that the Shiv Sena was not part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress.Updated: Dec 19, 2019 06:03 IST
Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena that stayed away from the Congress-led group of opposition parties that petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind against the citizenship law has said there was no reason for the party to join the delegation. Why should we have gone with the opposition leaders, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. It was a rhetorical question.
Raut, 58, went on to answer his question declaring that the Shiv Sena, which had tied up with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra, still had its “own identity” in Delhi.
The Sena lawmaker, also the editor of the party’s mouthpiece, Saamna, underscored that the Shiv Sena was not part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress.
“We are not with the UPA. We are out of (the BJP-led) NDA but are not with the UPA. We have our own identity in Parliament,” Raut told HT.
The Shiv Sena had voted for the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha that its alliance partner Congress has opposed ever since the Narendra Modi government presented the first draft of the law in parliament four years ago. In its final version, the government had attempted to address some of the concerns that had been raised particularly relating to the northeastern states. But it has remained steadfast in its resolve to implement the law that allows the government to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In the Rajya Sabha, however, the Sena had sought to accommodate the Congress and abstain from voting for the new law. It has since then fired stinging darts at the BJP over the law without attacking the attempt to give citizenship to hindu refugees from the three Muslim-majority countries in India’s neighbourhood.
But the Sena drew the line when Rahul Gandhi was seen to attack Veer Savarkar, the Hindutva icon who the Shiv Sena wanted to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. Or when the Congress led opposition declared they would ask President Kovind to scrap the law.
Sanjay Raut suggested this wasn’t the only case where his party would take a stand that may be at variance with the Congress’ line.
“There will be more such instances where we will take an independent stance,” Raut said.
It was a possibility that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party had anticipated when the two pre-poll allies were negotiating the power sharing deal with the Shiv Sena.
In the common minimum programme that was sealed between the three parties, it was decided that the three parties would “take a joint view” on contentious issues of national importance, particularly those that have consequences on the country’s secular fabric.
A Congress leader said the Sena stand wasn’t strictly within the agreement among the three parties. But there is some understanding that it would be difficult, even impractical, to expect the Sena to take such a sharp u-turn on its ideology that it loses its support base.