BJP president in Mumbai: Amit Shah wants Shiv Sena to stay with party for 2019 polls
Offering an olive branch to ally Shiv Sena in the face of the changing political arithmetic in Maharashtra and the country ahead of the 2019 polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday said it is “our heartiest wish that the Sena should stay with us”.
Shah’s remarks at a press conference in Mumbai an hour after the party’s massive rally on their 38th foundation day, points to likelihood of the saffron alliance in 2019 elections, even though the Sena leadership is yet to comment on the issue. “The Sena is part of our NDA government in the Centre and Maharashtra. It is our heartiest wish that they stay with us,” said Shah.
While asking party workers to ensure victory with absolute majority in the 2019 polls, Shah took care to say the NDA government will come to power again in the Centre and the state.
Ruling out speculation, Shah clarified the state’s Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections would not be held together in May 2019, and the Fadnavis-led government would get its full tenure of one-and-a-half years until October 2019.
Through the day at the rally in Bandra-Kurla Complex, BJP’s top brass appeased its bitter critic and ally Shiv Sena, signalling a patch-up to counter the Congress-NCP.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis evoked Bal Thackeray, as he started his address by remembering BJP ideologues and stalwarts. “There is one idol I have to mention here even though he is not from our party. He was an idol for all Hindus and, with the BJP, raised the consciousness of Maharashtra, Hindu Hriday Samrat Bal Thackeray,” said Fadnavis. Before this, revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, in his address, slammed Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar for comparing the Sena to ‘two-faced earthworm’ earlier. “The Sena is not an earthworm, but you [NCP] are termites attacking the nation. The Sena is part of our government,” said Patil, adding, “In the coming year, other NCP leaders, too, will find themselves in jail like Chhagan Bhujbal.”
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the party’s executive meeting in January had announced that his party would contest all polls independently henceforth. Since then, the BJP has suffered in successive bypolls in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, even as the Opposition has started bandying together to form an anti-BJP front.
With the rally, Shah sounded off the bugle for the 2019 polls in a distinctly electoral speech that targeted the Opposition parties and reiterated the BJP’s commitment to Dalits, the poor, the backward and farmers.
While Shah slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi, state leaders took swipes at NCP chief Sharad Pawar. “Those [NCP] who looted the state exchequer through irrigation scam are today on the streets with the ‘Halla Bol’ campaign...these political unemployed are now coming together against us like a pack of wolves,” said Fadnavis.
“The coming days are important, attempts are being made to spread misinformation about our party among Dalits, tribals, OBCs. Let the media show what it wants to... We will not rely on this media. If you workers reach out to people then no one can defame us,” said Fadnavis.