The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were seen together yesterday while protesting against tainted city MP Suresh Kalmadi, who in the afternoon visited the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to inaugurate the new office of the sports committee.
It was Kalmadi’s first visit to the PMC since his release from Tihar jail in January. When young BJP and MNS workers showed black flags to Kalmadi, BJP alliance partners Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India (Athawale) were missing from the protest.
Not told: Sena, RPI
The Shiv Sena and RPI leaders claimed they were not informed by the BJP about the protest. Political experts said the incident was evidence that the BJP was trying to woo MNS considering current strength of the party led by Raj Thackeray in state politics.
“The entire event was a repercussion of the state-level discussion among the leaders of the BJP and the MNS,” political expert Prakash Pawar said. “After the recently conducted PMC election, parties like the BJP may consider MNS as a future alliance partner. High-level talks between the BJP and MNS leaders are already on since the past three months to discuss the same.”
He said the decision of the local BJP unit to keep its alliance partners in the dark during the protest against Kalmadi’s visit to the PMC indicated that the city BJP is already reflecting on the ongoing discussions.
RPI (A) group leader Dr Siddharth Dhende said no one had informed him about the protest. “I came to the PMC around 3 pm and it was only then that I got to know the protest against Kalmadi had been arranged,” Dhende said. “The parties in the Mahayuti never take into consideration the existence of the RPI, and this time also RPI didn’t have any joint talks with its alliance partners.”
Shiv Sena leaders claimed their workers were busy in the preparations to welcome the palkhi. “We always oppose the tainted Kalmadi, but we didn’t have any idea about the protest that was being organised against him by the BJP,” Shiv Sena group leader in PMC Ashok Harnawal said. “Moreover, our workers weren’t available for the protest as they are busy in the preparations to welcome the Palkhi.”
Leader of the opposition Vasant More of the MNS said his party had organised the protest without knowing about the BJP demonstration, about which they learnt only after reaching the PMC.
BJP group leader in PMC Ashok Yenpure said the demonstration happened spontaneously, because of which the alliance partners were not present. “The protest against the tainted city MP was a spontaneous reaction and there wasn’t any need to invite the alliance parties. In future, we are likely to hold one more protest against Kalmadi with our alliance partners.”
Cops foil MNS gomutra ‘purification’ plan
MNS workers were prevented by the police from sprinkling gomutra (cow urine) inside the PMC to “purify” it after the visit by the tainted Suresh Kalmadi. The MNS workers had brought bottles of gomutra with them, but the police did not allow them to enter the civic house. “It was decided to sprinkle gomutra and purify the house, which had become inauspicious because of the presence of the tainted MP, but the police didn’t allow us to go inside the house,” MNS corporator Rahul Tupere said.