The Sena-BJP alliance flagged off its election campaign at a meet in Vikhroli yesterday, where gathered leaders took potshots at a slew of opponents, including Kripashankar Singh, Sharad Pawar and Sanjay Nirupam

The bandwagon for the BMC election campaign has finally rolled out. It was flagged off by the saffron alliance at Vikhroli yesterday, which is, significantly, an MNS stronghold. The rally witnessed the enthusiastic participation of all the bigwigs from the saffron alliance, as well as 10,000 loyalists.

United we stand: Ramdas Athawale, Uddhav Thackeray and Gopinath
Munde and other senior bigwigs from the ruling alliance flag off the first
campaign rally from Vikhroli ahead of the BMC elections.

Pic /Sayed Sameer Abedi

The congregated leaders did not hold back on the fireworks, with Ramdas Athawale, Uddhav Thackeray and Gopinath Munde taking snipes at Kripashankar Singh and Sanjay Nirupam, who seemed to be their common target.

Uddhav vented his spleen against the Congress, claiming that the party had not done anything for the city, even after the 2005 floods. Claiming that it was the BMC and its workers who always clean up the mess, he complained that Sonia and party always come in at the last minute, to claim credit.

"Sonia didn't even bother to stay for more than a few hours, and then they claim that they are working for Mumbai," said Uddhav.

RPI chief Ramdas Athawale acceded that the party hadn't managed to acquire as many seats as desired. Worried about winning, he said, "I hope that we will win the seats that we are contesting, and the other parties in the alliance do not ditch us."

Joining the league of Kripashankar's detractors, he asked his party members to vote for the alliance, and keep the man out of BMC. "I was with the Congress-NCP alliance for a long time, but they just used me," said Athawale.

In a major slip-up, Munde forgot to mention the RPI while speaking of the alliance, causing an irate Athawale to prompt him. Munde said, "We will see to it that Mumbai is developed to an extent that other countries talk about it as a city to be emulated," he said.

Uddhav concentrated on speaking about the development work covered by the ruling party, reiterating that the governments at the state and centre had destroyed the country.

Thackeray didn't spare Sharad Pawar either, blaming him for luring people away from his party. "He has played by the divide-and-rule policy. In spite of being the Agriculture Minister, he is never seen with the families of farmers who committed suicide. But you will frequently spot him with cricketers," said Uddhav.

However, what surprised everyone gathered was the constant attack directed at Kripashankar Singh and Sanjay Nirupam. It was evident that the alliance was targeting the Marathi electorate, which has betrayed them in the assembly and general elections in the past. 

A senior leader even stated that Raj Thackeray was betraying the Marathi manoos by supporting the Karnataka government on the Belgaum issue. "He has cheated the Marathi manoos. He supports the Congress with whatever seats he wins. Whoever voted for him in the past has understood his politics and won't vote for him ever again," said Sena leader Ramdas Kadam and BJP leader Vinod Tawde.

The alliance even inducted a few party members from the MNS into its fold, perhaps to send the message that people were shifting base to the saffron alliance.