Sensing that Narendra Modi’s ‘olive branch’ of refraining from attacking the Sena out of respect for Bal Thackeray was a ploy to win over Sena supporters, Uddhav launched an all-out attack against the BJP and the prime minister
While some political observers saw PM Narendra Modi’s declaration in Sangli on Sunday that he would not say anything against the Shiv Sena out of respect for Bal Thackeray — as an indication that he wanted to keep the option of a post-poll alliance open, the Sena saw it as a masterstroke designed to win over its vote bank.
Uddhav Thackeray at the rally in Tuljapur yesterday. Pic/Rajesh Varadkar
The Sena had decided to adopt a wait-and-watch policy on attacking the BJP after the split, and had planned to take a call based on whether Modi said anything against the party in his speeches in Mumbai and elsewhere. Now, it is being forced to launch an attack against its erstwhile ally despite, or rather because of, the ‘restraint’ shown by Modi.
Such was the intensity of the ripples caused by Modi’s statement that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray set a new record for himself yesterday, addressing seven rallies in and around Solapur. Never in his many years in politics had Uddhav addressed more than two rallies a day before this.
Uddhav set the tone for the day early, using his first rally at Tuljapur in Osmanabad to launch an attack on the BJP and the Prime Minister. “PM Modi has come to Maharashtra to divide the state, and I will ensure that his plans are ground to dust,” the Sena chief told the crowd.
The Sena chief also compared BJP’s election team, comprising leaders from Delhi, to the army of Afzal Khan, a commander from the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, who had fought against Shivaji. “They have come to conquer the state,” he said.
Uddhav went on to address rallies at Madha, Malshiras, Mangalvedha, Mohol, Solapur and Karkambh, keeping the tone nearly the same. After an overnight halt at Solapur yesterday, he is scheduled to address rallies in the Konkan region today. “Modi’s move to avoid attacking the Sena by invoking Balasaheb’s name is a calculated ploy to win over Sena supporters.
Uddhav realises that this can disturb his plans to win the maximum possible seats by cashing in on the fact that the BJP had broken ties with us. Thus, he was forced to address so many rallies and attack the BJP and Modi,” said a senior Sena leader.
Addressing a rally on Sunday at Tasgaon in Sangli district, the home turf of senior NCP leader and former home minister R R Patil, Modi had said, “I won’t criticise the Shiv Sena, as this is the first election after Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s death. This is my tribute to his great contribution.”