Shiv Sena threatens to pull out of Maharashta government again

Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday met the party’s legislators and parliamentarians at his Bandra residence, Matoshree, during which the elected representatives said that it is high time that the party withdraws support, party leaders said.

mumbai Updated: Sep 19, 2017 00:29 IST
Manasi Phadke
Manasi Phadke
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,shiv sena,maharashtra government
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray

With growing disgruntlement within the Shiv Sena cadre against the Devendra Fadnavis-led government, and strife between the party’s legislators and ministers, the Sena on Monday threatened to pull out of the government.

Sena’s Sanjay Raut, MP in the Rajya Sabha, said party chief Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision soon. Thackeray met the party’s legislators and parliamentarians at his residence, Matoshree, to hear out the grouses of the party’s elected representatives and ministers and assess their performance.

Party sources said all MPs and MLAs at the meeting unanimously urged Thackeray to snap ties with the BJP-led Maharashtra government. “MLAs from rural and urban areas alike have time and again told the party leadership they are unable to get any work done despite being in the government. It is better to snap ties. At some point, the party leadership has to pay heed to these sentiments,” a Sena legislator said.

The BJP has not taken the threat of their ally-turned-rival pulling out seriously. “We are hearing about this threat only from the press and television media. So, it makes little sense to comment on it,’’ said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.

Soon after the meeting, Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said, “What should we do with the government? Yes, Shiv Sena will soon take a decision. Wait and watch. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take the right decision at the right time. That time has come closer.”

Citing the increasing petrol prices and inflation, Raut said, the Sena does not want to be party to the BJP’s sins.

The Sena’s latest threat comes close on the heels of a planned cabinet expansion within the BJP-led Maharashtra government, of which it has been a part since November 2014 following a bitter break up and an acrimonious poll battle. Within the government, the party has always played the role of Opposition. On a number of occasions, the party has issued veiled threats of withdrawing support to the Fadnavis-led government and has even dared the BJP to call for mid-term polls.

A senior Sena leader said, “This time, the MLAs and MPs present for Monday’s meetings unequivocally, in as many words, said it is time the Sena steps out of the government. They said being with the BJP is like a huge burden on their heads. On critical issues such as the implementation of the farm loan waiver, the government has not acted swiftly. The Sena chief has taken note of their views and will take an assertive decision soon.”

Meanwhile, there has been a growing rift between the Sena’s elected representatives and cabinet ministers with the former complaining that ministers are often rude to them and don’t use their powers within the government.

Even in Monday’s meeting, there were sparks flying as disillusioned MLAs raised this issue and cabinet ministers retorted saying their own powers within the government are clipped, party sources said.

With the recent internal disagreements within the Sena increasingly coming to the fore, the party’s leadership decided to keep Monday’s meeting completely confidential with all attendees asked to switch off their mobile phones and personal assistants strictly kept out.

Whether the Sena’s threat of pulling out is serious or it is a way of flexing muscles ahead of the proposed reshuffle remains to be seen. But the unhappiness among legislators and party cadre is genuine.

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 17:22 IST