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Arun Jaitley credits current narrative of nationalism to Bal Thackeray

The two leaders shared a stage on Saturday evening in Mumbai, speaking at the release of a compilation of a hundred interviews of Bal Thackeray in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece publication, Saamana.

mumbai Updated: Aug 20, 2017 01:04 IST
Manasi Phadke
Manasi Phadke
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,arun jaitley,politics

At a time when relations between allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena have been increasingly choppy, senior BJP minister Arun Jaitley held out an olive branch, attributing the current narrative of nationalism and “parivartan” (change) to the ideology of Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, however, reminded the BJP that it was his father, Bal Thackeray, who suggested that the two parties ally together, and that the Sena was with the BJP at a time when no one was willing to join forces with them.

The two leaders shared a stage on Saturday evening in Mumbai, speaking at the release of a compilation of a hundred interviews of Bal Thackeray in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece publication, Saamana.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar skipped the event citing poor health.

Jaitley, who holds the finance and defence portfolios in the Union government, said, “I give a lot of importance to Bal Thackeray’s personality and the role he played in public life. What he kept saying all his life since the 1960s, is being accepted today. Bal Thackeray and people like him always put the country first. Today, this very parivartan (change) is being seen.” Jaitley also praised Bal Thackeray as a gifted communicator, and drew a comparison between PM Narendra Modi and the Sena founder.

Jaitley said, “Very few people have the capacity of directly communicating with people. If the media did not convey Bal Thackeray’s message correctly, he would directly speak to the people and built a mass of following. Since 2002, the media has widely criticised Modi too, but he managed to directly communicate with people.”

Uddhav Thackeray attributed the establishment of a Hindutva agenda, which both the Sena and BJP share, to his father, Bal Thackeray with his “Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain” slogan. (Be proud and proclaim we are Hindus).

Disgruntled with the BJP’s aggressive electoral strides in Maharashtra, Uddhav also taunted the BJP saying it was the Sena founder who brought about the alliance of the two parties.

“He said, both parties have the same ideology. So, instead of dividing votes, let us come together. You look after Delhi, we will look after Maharashtra,” Uddhav said.

The Sena-BJP alliance has been on shaky ground since 2014, when the BJP registered a massive victory in the Maharashtra assembly elections, turning tables and making the Sena its junior partner in the state government.

Since then, the Sena has been increasingly unhappy with the BJP’s aggressive electoral ambitions in Maharashtra and has donned the role of an opposition within the government with an eye on contesting the 2019 assembly poll independently.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 01:04 IST