Maha polls: Sena raises 3 Ms, BJP replies with 2 Ns

Maha polls: Sena raises 3 Ms, BJP replies with 2 Ns

In the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 122 seats and Shiv Sena 63 in the 288-member house. Photo/AFP

With the hard bargaining over seat-sharing between the Shiv Sena and the BJP underway in poll-bound Maharashtra, a silent war of words between the two saffron alliance partners'  leaders continues.

While Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray is trying to bank on the 3 Ms -- 'Mandir', 'Motor' and 'Metro', Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has responded with 2 Ns -- 'Nanar' project, and 'Narayan' Rane, the veteran politician who is being pursued to join the BJP.

To explain - 'Mandir' here stands for the Ram Mandir issue, 'Motor' for the hefty challans imposed in the amended Motor Vehicles Act and 'Metro', the car shed of the Metro Line 3 that is coming up in the Aarey Milk Colony, a green lung of Mumbai.  On the other hand, 'Nanar' is the mega refinery project that had to be scrapped as part of the alliance deal before the Lok Sabha polls.

Thackeray had urged the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre to construct the Ram mandir at Ayodhya as early as possible by taking strong decision like the way it abrogated Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir.

"The issue has been going on since 1990-92.... how much to wait?  The Supreme Court must give its decision as early as possible. The government should take a strong decision like (abrogation of) Article 370 in case of Ram mandir too," Uddhav said.

The amended Motor Vehicles Act has also emerged as an issue - as State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote of the Shiv Sena had put the implementation of new fines on hold and written to Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari to revisit the fines.

As regards Aarey, Uddhav's son and Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray had sided with various environmental groups protesting against the proposed chopping of 2,700-odd trees to pave the way for the proposed car shed. Thackeray Sr had gone to the extent of saying that the Aarey car shed would go the Nanar way.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, when then BJP president Amit Shah and Fadnavis met and finalised the pre-poll alliance, the project at Nanar in Ratnagiri district had to be scrapped as locals of Konkan, where the Sena has a significant presence, were against it.

The Nanar project involved an Indian consortium consisting of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) had signed an MoU with Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco)  to set up India's largest and world's biggest single-location refinery complex and petrochemicals project.

After Sena's Aarey statement, Fadnavis has now spoken of reviving the Nanar project.  "It’s a green refinery and it will give jobs to one lakh youth of Konkan and transform the region. But because of allegations and protests, the project had to be stopped. After looking at your enthusiasm, I think we must discuss to bring this project back here, once again," he said.

Another flashpoint between the two partners could be Rane, a former chief minister and BJP-sponsored Rajya Sabha member. Rane has assured that he would merge his Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha with the BJP.  Rane, the bete noire of Uddhav, may join the BJP in as early as next week in Mumbai.