Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is likely to skip Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Mumbai due to differences between both parties on several issues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Chaityabhoomi in Shivaji Park (Dadar) to pay reverence to Dr B R Ambedkar. He will perform a bhoomi pujan for Ambedkar Memorial at Indu Mills, two metro lines at Bandra Kurla Complex and expansion of JNPT port. Sena has been criticising the policies of BJP through its mouthpiece Saamna. Both the parties have been at loggerheads over the seat sharing issue and had parted ways before the last year’s assembly election. Sena also ensured that the Ghulam Ali concert in Mumbai got cancelled even though Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured to provide protection to the show. However, Thackeray is likely to attend the bhoomipujan of the Ambedkar memorial by Modi on the same day.
The bhoomipujan of the memorial, which will come up at Indu Mills, Dadar(W), has been long pending. Sources said Modi, accompanied by select VVIPs will perform the bhoomipujan at the Indu Mill premises late in the afternoon.
The memorial issue has been pending for many years and the BJP had made it one of the main issues during the Assembly elections last year. Several factions of the Republican Party have been campaigning for the memorial and are now claiming credit. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which were a part of the previous regime, too claim that they initiated the process during their tenure.
“Due to security reasons, selected VVIPs will get a chance to be on the dais; Thackeray may attend the bhoomipujan but may not attend the evening rally with the PM due to protocol issues,” said a senior BJP functionary.
Rahul Shewale, Sena MP who represents South-Central Mumbai, Sada Sarvankar, the MLA from Dadar (W), and mayor Snehal Ambekar can share the dais with the PM as public representatives, said an official. “As the rally would be a government function and not a party event, everything will be according to protocol where Sena MLAs, MPs and ministers or even the mayor can fit in, but not the chief of a political party. So Uddhav would prefer not to attend the rally, instead of sitting in the audience,” he said. Sena spokesperson Arvind Bhonsle refused to comment on the issue.
Uddhav will be visiting Beed to take stock of the drought situation.
“Sena is holding programmes in drought hit districts. The Beed programme was planned well in advance and Uddhavji will be attending it. Farmers’ issue is an important one. We have collected money through his [Uddhav’s] photo-exhibition and will be distributing it among the farmers,” said a senior Sena leader.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said that it was Sena’s problem and not his party’s. “It is a government programme and invitations will be sent in accordance with the protocol. The Sena has joined the BJP government in the State and they should decide their moves,” he said.