SS chief hints at BJP strife creating crisis in alliance

SS chief hints at BJP strife creating crisis in alliance

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s charge that a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader has been trying to create a rift between the SS and it’s ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an indicator of the fissures within the BJP’s Maharashtra camp.

The five-party coalition “Maha-Yuti (mega alliance) led by the SS and the BJP has been continuously running into troubled waters with BJP’s former national president Nitin Gadkari hobnobbing with Uddhav’s estranged cousin Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.

Notwithstanding Uddhav’s opposition, Gadkari keeps on rubbing salt on SS chief’s wounds by tom-tomming his request to the MNS leader “not to put up candidates as it will only lead to SS losing its vote bank”.

According to BJP insiders, behind Gadkari’s veneer of “seeking support from a rival party leader to save SS” also lies his desperation to nullify Gopinath Munde effect in the BJP state unit which wants to keep the old flame between the two parties burning.

BJP insiders said the party in Maharashtra is racked with a bitter fight between Munde – who has support from his roots in backward class – and Gadkari, who flaunts his closeness to leaders sitting in RSS citadel in Nagpur. 

Gadkari has been baying for Munde’s blood after the coup that forced him to step down from the party’s throne and his earlier proximity to Raj Thackeray provided him an opportunity to antagonise and sideline Munde, who abhors the MNS chief.

Gadkari’s friendship with Raj Thackeray did not go sour even when Raj showered praises on Modi who was one of the key persons responsible for Gadkari’s ouster from the prominent seat.

Party insiders said Gadkari, by side-lining Munde, can easily strain ties between the BJP and the SS before the state Assembly polls are announced.

The BJP-SS alliance is one of the oldest alliances. However, the BJP which rode piggyback on SS for years wants a leader who is stronger than the soft-spoken Uddhav as an ally.

Apart from having sway in a few pockets in Vidarbha region, the BJP was never considered a considerable force in Mumbai when compared with SS, which was led by Bal Thackeray till his demise in 2012.

This is the first election the SS is going to fight without Bal Thackeray, known as the Machiavelli of Mumbai politics, and the BJP, which has managed to widen its political space in Maharashtra in the past two decades, now finds SS a millstone around its neck.

With Bal Thackeray dead and Raj practicing the alleged “xenophobic” politics of his late uncle, the estranged nephew fits the BJP’s bill. Besides, Raj is an ardent admirer of Modi also has ideological moorings rooted in RSS.

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