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BJP-Shiv Sena lock horns over Ram and Rafale

Though earlier, the Shiv Sena took a decision to go solo in the assembly elections, the party chief Uddhav Thackeray is yet to make up his mind on whether to go for a seat-sharing formula with BJP or snap poll ties with the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Nonetheless, with the nearing of the elections, Sena is leaving no stones unturned to take a dig at its oldest ally party over Ram Mandir and Rafale Scam issues.

On December 24, addressing a rally in Pandharpur, Uddhav Thackeray, as usual in an aggressive stand against its ally BJP, made the remark in a context which was different from the Rafale fighter jet deal issue, on which most of the Congress attacks had been focused. He plagiarised another jibe from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to target the BJP. ‘Chowkidaar chor hai’, forgetting their alliance with Modi-BJP. He further attacked BJP for not building Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya, the Shiv Sena chief said that it has been 30 years since the Babri Masjid was razed, but the Ayodhya matter is still in court. Thackeray asked the BJP to clear its stand on the Ram temple issue and demanded a discussion in the Parliament even as it mounted an attack on its senior ally over a range of issues, including the Rafale jet deal. He further stated that his party will not allow any “jumlas” (rhetoric) in the name of Lord Ram or any other Hindu god.

In a conversation with AV, Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Shinde expressed, “The Rafale scam is known to everyone and BJP will face problems for it. The Ram Mandir issue is not a vote-bank issue for the Shiv Sena, it’s a religious issue for us. The BJP government has been in power for four-and-a-half years but still, they have not progressed with the Ram Mandir issue. That’s why, the Shiv Sena is raising the question that if the Ram Mandir was in BJP’s electoral agenda, why aren’t they progressing with it?”

Uddhav Thackeray gave a strong message to BJP by passing the statement, “I want to tell BJP one thing, we can forgive you on “Achhe din” jumla and the promise of Rs 15 lakh to each person. But we will not forgive you if you come up with one more jumla on our faith or in the name of god. We will not allow you to make any more false promises in the name of Ram or any other Hindu god,”. The Shiv Sena will expose such “jumlas” in Maharashtra, Thackeray added.

National activist and political analyst Dr. Mukesh Kumar stated the Ram Mandir issue as a political issue more than a religious one. “On this issue Shiv Sena wants to aggressively “hunt two birds with one stone”. Through these issues Shiv Sena can maintain their identity in national politics and expose the BJP’s limitations in Maharashtra. The same agenda of Congress “siege on corruption” was used by BJP during 2014 Lok Sabha election to beat Congress. However, truth is that in the country, none of the capitalist political powers are able to give democracy full justice.”

However, after the Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the BJP government in rafale’s case, in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Shiv Sena hit out against Modi government saying that there is a sham and fraud across the nation while doubting the Supreme Court’s decision on Rafale deal case. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked if this issue has overpowered the judiciary system. Thackeray said, “The question is that if the government has fooled the Supreme Court or did the apex court fool the people?”

After a few days of a veiled attack by Sena that aimed at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on December 31, said he would give a “befitting” reply at the “right time”. He also said that the BJP didn’t attach importance to bickering ally Sena’s diatribe against Modi, and hailed the Prime Minister for “spending each moment of his life to work for the country”.

BJP MP Raksa Karse said, “Ram Mandir has been one of BJP’s most important agendas and we are working on it. We will build the Ram Mandir within our tenure. Why the Shiv Sena, even after being our ally, is raising such questions, is a mystery. In the case of the Rafale issue, our Central leaders have already given their statements. I think the Opposition is unnecessarily creating an issue out of it.”

Thackeray’s remarks were in the lines with Congress president Rahul Gandhi who has been repeatedly hurling the “chowkidar…” jibe at Modi to claim irregularities and favouritism in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. Thackeray, however, had used the slogan in a different context while narrating an incident during the rally.

Congress MLA Varsha Gaikwad commented,“The Rafael issue is a matter of national security and the scam that BJP has committed is harmful for the nation. The ruling government is working for its own interest. They have only made false promises, the Ram Mandir being one of them. How can the Shiv Sena create an issue out of it while still holding on to its partnership in the government? They have no other issue to raise. If they have so much concern, they should leave the government and raise their voice.”

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s latest salvo against ally also led to unease and irritation in the camp of the ruling party.Criticising Sena for using uncivilised language and hurling abuses against the Prime Minister and the BJP, the mouthpiece of RSS, who is the parent organisation of the ruling party said that the mighty elephant keeps walking as the dogs keep barking. It also wondered about the ignorance of Thackeray on good works carried out by the state as well as the Modi government for the past four years.

Referring to the recent seat-sharing pact finalised between the BJP, JD(U) and the Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray said, “I congratulate BJP for joining hands with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had given a slogan of RSS-free Bharat.”

Thackeray has, however, indicated his unwillingness to enter into an alliance with the BJP for the upcoming polls.

 


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