Maha stalemate: Marathi daily likens Raut to 'Betaal'

Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut (PTI File Photo)

Amid the stalemate over government formation in Maharashtra, a Marathi daily, widely seen inclined towards the RSS, on Monday likened Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut to a clown and 'Betaal', the mythological ghost who challenged King Vikramaditya with his witty riddles.

Coming down heavily on Raut, Tarun Bharat, the Nagpur-based publication believed to be close to the Sangh and its political extension BJP, said he was hurting the chances of BJP-Sena alliance to come to power in Maharashtra.

It is important to have a "stable government" in the state as the Supreme Court's verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid land dispute case is expected in the near future, the publication said.

Without naming Raut, it called him a "clown" and said, "his attempt to portray a picture that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is isolated in the BJP is nothing but pure entertainment".

It also said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray frequently asserted that its priority was farmers' interests. "But it is unfortunate to see that he is not walking the talk when it comes to actual government formation," it added.

Raut, the Sena's Rajya Sabha member and executive editor of its mouthpiece 'Saamana', has been at the forefront of voicing his party's demands over the equal distribution of power and sharing the chief minister's post with the BJP in the next Maharashtra government.

He mocked the BJP on multiple occasions by asking questions like "Itna sannata kyon hai bhai..." (why is there so much silence), using the popular dialogue from Bollywood blockbuster "Sholay", on the economic slowdown.

On Monday, Tarun Bharat published an editorial titled 'Uddhav and Betaal'. The term 'Betaal' is also used in Marathi where it means a person indulging in loose talks.

"Late Balasaheb Thackeray spent his entire life for wresting power from the Congress and NCP. But this Betaal is trying hard to shatter his dreams and there will be no disappointment like this to see the Sena dragging behind one loud-mouth," the Marathi daily said.

Referring to Mahabharat, it said the Sena leader's first name - Sanjay - was also that of a character from the epic who gave a "live relay" of the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas to blind King Dhritarashtra.

"Sanjay's job is to provide valuable inputs. But he himself is turning a blind eye, then there is need to worry about Sena's future," the editorial said in remarks laced with sarcasm.

The Shiv Sena must be aware of the fact that one who cuts a branch while sitting on it is not a wood-cutter but "sheikh chilli" (a comic character known for his vain boasts), it quipped.

"The BJP as a single largest party can always stake a claim for government formation and it will get time to win the vote of confidence till the next session of both Houses. The mandate is for the 'Mahayuti' (BJP-Sena alliance) and going by the number of seats won, people have decided who is the big brother between them," it said.

There is a message behind why the BJP is not staking a claim for government formation, as the party knows the meaning of the mandate, the publication said.

Unlike the last Assembly elections, the BJP and the Shiv Sena this time fought elections in alliance with each other. The BJP won 105 seats and the Shiv Sena 56.

The editorial wondered if the Shiv Sena while being the senior ally during its term in power with the BJP in 1995-99, ever thought of sharing the chief minister's post at that time.

Till 2009, the post of leader of the opposition (LoP) was also with the Sena. The BJP first time got one seat more than the Shiv Sena in 2009 and got the LoP post, it noted.

"How can the party which stuck to numbers for the post of LoP now demand the chief minister's post?" it asked.

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