Sena Dismisses PM Narendra Modi’s Remark of “Respect for Balasaheb”
MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that he will not target former ally Shiv Sena in his campaign in Maharashtra, but the Sena isn’t very taken with his stand.
In rallies in Maharashtra over the weekend, the PM said, “This is the first election in Maharashtra to be held after the passing of Balasaheb Thackeray. I have decided not to speak a word against the Sena.”
“Where was this respect when the alliance ended over seat-sharing?” asks a vitriolic editorial today in the Sena mouthpiece. The unsigned editorials are sanctioned by Balasaheb’s son and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Sena is the BJP’s oldest ally but last month, their 25-year-old collaboration ended amid irreconcilable differences over how manyseats each party should contest in the state elections on the 15th of this month. The alliance had swept the parliamentary elections in May, winning 42 of the 48 seats, so their disengagement ahead of the assembly elections baffled many.
Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has attacked the BJP over “betrayal” but has not yet withdrawn from the coalition union government headed by the PM. Last week, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari indicated that his party is not closed to a post-election alliance with the Sena.
In his multiple rallies over the weekend, the PM referred repeatedly to the legendary 17th-century warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji. The Sena editorial bristled at this alleged attempt by the BJP to appropriate the legacy of Shivaji.
The editorial also scratched at recent comments made in Mumbai by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben urging industrialists to relocate and invest in her state instead of focusing on what she described as a crowded and congested Mumbai. Gujarat is the home state of the PM, who is credited with focusing on economic development and industry-friendly policies in his multiple terms as chief minister.
“Isn’t this a form of looting?” extrapolated the Sena editorial from Anandiben’s comments.