If it survives the hardships in nature, one of the 2 crore saplings that were planted across Maharashtra on Friday should stand testimony to the efforts of reviving a weakening bond, between the BJP and Shiv Sena.
CM Devendra Fadnavis, Uddhav Thackeray, Union Minister for Forests Prakash Javadekar at the inauguration of the plantation programme at Mahim Nature Park
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was magnanimous on Thursday in accepting a BJP minister's invitation to launch a tree plantation drive in Mahim Nature Park, did not let the ruling partner down. Friday morning, Thackeray planted a sapling to which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis fed manure and water. And as if they have decided to turn over a new leaf, then they vowed to steer the state out of trouble by working together.
Thackeray's generosity was surprising, as the two parties have been fighting on the streets and in social media, using unprecedented language to belittle each other over the past one month. Senior leaders, spokespersons and other office-bearers, elected representatives from both parties were engaged in a verbal war that culminated into public protest.
The latest trigger for a fight was Thackeray's criticism by BJP's spokesperson Madhav Bhandari in his party's mouthpiece Manogat. Angry Sena leaders boycotted government functions that were hosted by the BJP ministers, while the BJP leaders retaliated by skipping the Sena-organised government ceremonies. On Friday, Thackeray sent out a message that his party would support the government if initiatives undertaken were for public welfare.
With you in the good
Against the backdrop of tension between ruling partners, Thackeray explained why he was there at the function hosted by the BJP minister. "Someone asked me if I would go to this function. I said why not? And let me say I'm not here as a bad omen. I am with you in whatever is good," he said.
Oops: State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar slipped and fell at the function, and was helped to his feet by the CM. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
"I will be there but also work shoulder to shoulder wherever you need me," Thackeray told a gathering that included Union Minister for Forest and Environment Prakash Javadekar, host and State Forest and Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, several Sena leaders and Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao.
Thackeray appreciated Mungantiwar's initiative of planting 2 crore saplings on Friday across the state and another 50 crore saplings in the next three years. He asked the Sena cadre to take the initiative forward and turn it into reality.
If things come up roses
"Global warming is increasing across the globe. We have destroyed what we have here (on the planet). They say that some cities in the world will go under water because of global warming and Mumbai will be one of them," said Thackeray, who doubles up as a nature photographer when he is off politics.
Fadnavis took off where Thackeray ended. "We have heard what Uddhavji has said. The message is clear. Uddhavji had planted a tree and I have watered it. I'm sure it will grow huge," he said while welcoming the Sena chief's gesture.