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Sena’s Pune unit likely to boycott Prime Minister Modi’s function in Pune today

Published On : 25 Jun 2016   |  Reported By : Courtesy: The Hindu   |  Pic On: photo credit: The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): The discord between ruling alliance partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena has moved on from historical figures and has spilled over into Bollywood. The intensity has reached a level where Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Friday warned the BJP leadership of serious consequences.

On Thursday, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari compared Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to a Sholay character, played by Asrani, in the party mouthpiece Manogat . He even asked Mr. Raut whether he wants talaaq from the BJP.

On Friday, the Sena MP retorted saying Sena has taken the criticism very seriously. “The Sena has taken serious cognisance of the criticism against Uddhavji by some awful people in the BJP. Sena activists are extremely disturbed. You will find it difficult to handle [things] if the resentment spills onto the streets,” he warned.

Mr. Raut further attacked the BJP saying they should realise that it is the Sena whose support has kept the government afloat. “Otherwise, you are free to run the government with support from Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare and Ajit Pawar,” he said. All three leaders are from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and are facing allegations of corruption. Mr. Bhujbal is already in jail and is being tried for money laundering, while Mr. Tatkare and Mr. Pawar are facing Anti-Corruption Bureau inquiries on their role in the multi-crore irrigation scam. The NCP’s alleged ‘corruption’ was the BJP’s chief plank in the 2014 assembly polls.

The BJP has ,distanced itself from the article written by its spokesperson. Its leader and State Finance Minister Sudhir Munguntiwar said on Thursday that the article does not represent the party’s view. On Friday too, the BJP’s state unit chief Raosaheb Danve-Patil maintained that leaders of both parties have targeted each other.

“We believe that both should maintain respect for each other while speaking. Some newspaper’s opinion does not become party’s opinion. Hence, activists must show restraint,” he said. Mr. Danve-Patil added that he has instructed BJP leaders to maintain calm as this government is going to run for five years and expects the Sena to issue similar instructions to its cadre as well.

The Sena, however, is not satisfied with the explanation. “We demand an explanation from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Criticism can be over policies, but individual criticism won’t be tolerated. It seems that some people in the BJP are hell-bent on destroying their own party and Maharashtra as well,” Mr. Raut a close confidant of Mr. Thackeray, said.

He asked the BJP leadership to put a stop to statements by its leaders. “Otherwise, Sena activists are capable of doing it (withdrawing support to the BJP). And this not an individual’s opinion, but the party’s opinion,” Mr. Raut said.

The Shiv Sena is likely to escalate the matter when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Pune on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of the Smart City Mission by launching 14 projects. “Our party unit in Pune wants to boycott the PM’s function, and they will,” Mr. Raut told The Hindu.

In a rally in Mumbai on the party’s 50th anniversary, Mr. Thackeray had asked Sain iks to get ready to fight the elections independently, while BJP activists made a similar demand at the party’s state executive meeting in Pune.

Sources believe the infighting is in preparation for the upcoming municipal elections in Mumbai, similar to what happened during in the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) election. In KDMC, both contested independently and forged an alliance after the election results were declared.

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