In Maharashtra, Sena-BJP skirmish continues

In Maharashtra, Sena-BJP skirmish continues

The bickering between the BJP and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena continued throughout the year, but the alliance partners in Maharashtra ensured that their government is stable, setting an informal benchmark on when to withdraw from war-of-words.

For Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, despite bickering, it was more or less easy sailing and he continued to steer the alliance even though he was targeted by the Sena and also some of his own senior colleagues.

On December 12, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strongman, turned 75, and right from President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi attended the birthday celebrations, reflecting his relations cutting across party lines. During the year, Modi also visited Baramati, Pawar’s home turf, so did Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Fadnavis.

The relations between the Sena and the BJP reached a low with “Saamana” executive editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut directly targeting Modi twice, once after the drubbing in Bihar polls and once in the wake of protests against Pakistan nationals.

The three major protests involved campaign against Ghulam Ali, the Pakistani ghazal maestro that led to cancellation of a concert in memory of Jagjit Singh, blackening the face of chairman of Observer Research Foundation-Mumbai Sudheendra Kulkarni, whose face was blackened in the month of October by Sena workers for inviting Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Pakistan foreign minister, during the regime of Parvez Musharraf, at the latter’s book launch.

Besides, they also managed to cancel the talks between BCCI chief Shashank Manohar and his Pakistani counterpart Shaharyar Khan, for resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan.

Modi, in one of his comments had said, “Incidents like Dadri and the protest against the Pakistani singer (Ghulam Ali) are really sad but what is the Centre’s role in them?”

Raut retaliated: “If our prime minister has indeed said this, then it is very disappointing and unfortunate. He is known all over the world for Godhra and Ahmedabad... If it is the same Modiji, who is saying such things, then it is very sad. I feel like his statement is that of a prime minister and not of our dear Narendra Modiji.”

The war-of-words between the two parties at regular intervals also prompted Fadnavis to put on hold the Cabinet expansion as the Sena has been asking for more, making it difficult for the BJP to accommodate other allies.

The Congress-NCP, however, targeted the BJP for the chikki scam involving Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late BJP veteran Gopinath Munde. They had also targeted the BJP-Sena government for failing to provide relief to the drought-affected people of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. 

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