Forest Minister uses trees and tigers for Shiv Sena-BJP truce

The BJP and the Shiv Sena seem to have realised that it takes two to tango. After a series of clashes in the media and on the streets, the two ruling partners have decided to call a temporary truce. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took a step forward in accepting an invitation to share a dais with senior BJP leaders such as CM Devendra Fadnavis and union forest minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Sudhir Mungantiwar
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Sudhir Mungantiwar

The credit for breaking the ice between the partners went to state Forest and Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar who visited Thackeray’s Bandra residence yesterday to extend the invitation to the Sena chief. The two leaders spent about 80 minutes together.

“We discussed the measures to increase the population of tigers in the state,” said Mungantiwar after the meeting.

Friday’s event will have Thackeray, Fadnavis, Mungantiwar and other leaders flagging off the state forest department’s initiative to plant 2 crore saplings in the state in a day (July 1) at Mahim Nature Park. The state plans to enhance forest cover by planting 50 crore saplings in the next three years.

Thackeray welcomed Mungantiwar’s gesture but said that his party will continue to express on policy matters that they have a different view. “Resolving the issues between us depends on the two parties,” he said.

He supported forest minister’s view that the population of tigers in the state and the country must increase. Mungantiwar gifted Thackeray a fibre replica of a tiger on the occasion.

Tense times
The past month has been tense as far as the Sena and BJP’s relations are concerned. The Sena and BJP top leadership has been abused by workers from both parties.

In a sharp retort to a local BJP leader’s reported warning of burning copies of its mouthpiece Saamana, Sena had said doing such a thing would be like setting ablaze the RSS’ ideology and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s basic ideals.

Sena cadres had recently burnt effigies of BJP state spokesperson Madhav Bhandari over his article in party publication Manogat, in which he had dared Thackeray’s outfit to walk out of the alliance.

2 crore
Number of saplings to be planted all over the state today. 1.5 crore will be planted by the Forest and other government departments. The rest 50 lakh trees will be planted by citizens, corporates, NGOs, schools and others.

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