Shiv Sena’s IT cell has decided to challenge the BJP by making placards of the statements made by Hardik Patel, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader against BJP on social networking sites. Sena also is highlighting the comments made by Hardik in favour of it on social media. Thus Sena has decided to up the ante against BJP ahead of Gujarat assembly polls to woo Gujarati voters. Of late, Shiv Sena has seen a decline in its traditional Marathi voter base; hence the party is supporting Patel to lure Gujaratis. The party is keen to make a dent in the traditional BJP vote bank by raking up demonetisation and GST issue by terming them as failure. Thus Sena is trying to play a cheerleader to Hardik Patel.
Despite having an alliance with BJP, Sena is extending support to Hardik Patel, a move which will be opposed by the former. On the other hand, Patel addressed himself as a fan of late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and endorsed the work done by Sena in Mumbai. He is keen to follow the footsteps of Thackeray and claimed that he is a leader and not a politician. Patel had already backed Sena in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election. He has been spearheading an agitation in support of reservation for the powerful Patel community under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota in government jobs and educational institutions for more than a year.
Neil Kirit Somaiya, BJP corporator said, “Gujarati people reside in various parts of the country and they have high regards for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Uddhav Thackeray had said, even though he has differences with BJP in Maharashtra but still his party will continue to work with them. Sena’s IT cell must tread cautiously before supporting Hardik Patel as he is not going to take Gujarat anywhere. If Sena is indulging in this act then Gujaratis will be disappointed. Hardik was brought forward just to divert people’s attention. He lacks clarity whether to form his own party or to support Congress.”
Ramesh Solanki, Shiv Sena IT cell core committee member said, “If one supports BJP, he is called as a deshbhakt (patriotic). If one doesn’t support BJP he is termed as deshdrohi (traitor). We are against all those who have spoken about nationalistic sentiments. We don’t believe in this theory. Shiv Sena has never circulated Hardik Patel’s statement on social media. I don’t think that Hardik is against BJP as he is fighting for Patel’s reservation. Sena has nothing to do with statements issued by Hardik.”
Manisha Choudhary, BJP MLA said, “Shiv Sena should first set its house in order. BJP had worked hard to reach where it is today. Whatever Sena is doing is none of BJP’s concern. The party should refrain from commenting against BJP.”
Amit Bhadricha, Shiv Sena social media member said, “We have not supported Hardik on social media. People had said that Sena is supporting Hardik when he had come to Mumbai. We had highlighted some of the statements made by him and about the wrong policies of BJP.”
Amit Malviya, head of BJP’s IT cell said, “Every party is free to take its stand against any issue affecting the country. Any person can express his opinion as India is a democratic nation.”