Mumbai: The Shiv Sena, which had caused an uproar in the Bharatiya Janata Party camp when Uddhav Thackeray had compared Team Modi with Afzal Khan’s army ahead of the Assembly polls, seems to be at it again.
Controversy brews: The message that is doing the rounds
Through a post being circulated on social media, Shiv Sainiks are attempting to send out the message that Uddhav achieved something akin to Shivaji Maharaj’s defeat of Afzal Khan when he refused to bow down to pressure from the BJP and appointed the party nominee for the leader of opposition post.
“On this day (November 10) itself in 1659, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj had killed Afzal Khan, and on the very same day, the Sena announced its nominee for leader of opposition post against Afzal Khan in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly,” reads the message, which started doing the rounds on Monday, when Sena announced that Eknath Shinde, their strongman from Thane, would be their nominee for the LoP post.
The Shiv Sena, however, has said it had nothing to do with the message and that it may be the handiwork of party supporters.
BJP leaders say that they have taken offence to the message, but can’t do anything about it officially, as the message is purportedly being sent out by Sena supporters. “Neither is Uddhav Shivaji Maharaj, nor is any BJP leader Afzal Khan. This is not the way to belittle leaders of other parties. While the Sena is stooping lower with every passing day, we cannot do anything, and it’s better we don’t react, because we don’t know whether the message is being sent out by the Sena or by some supporters,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP’s hands are also probably tied because it had also used its supporter base to spread anti-Sena messages on social media during the campaigning phase (‘BJP Declares War Against Sena on Social Media’, mid-day, October 5).
While the Sena is officially denying it had anything to do with the post, leaders have admitted off the record that such messages are necessary to keep supporters’ morale high in the current times of uncertainty.
“We have not sent any such message to anyone. Some supporter must have done this and the party doesn’t subscribe to the views expressed in the message,” said Samadhan Sarvankar, who is a Yuva Sena IT core committee member and son of Dadar MLA Sada Sarvankar.
A senior party leader, however, said that the Sena has been facing heavy criticism and the party’s image has been dented because of the flip-flops and contradictory statements on whether it would be part of the government in the state.
“The decision has been made, but there is still uncertainty about the party’s stand. The indecisiveness has affected the party. But the leaders cannot be blamed completely, as a section of the Sena wanted it to be part of the government, while another wanted it to stay in the opposition,” said the leader.
“Now that the decision has been made, the fact that the Sena hasn’t changed and is still like the Maratha Warrior Shivaji, who led from the front against opponents, has to be made clear and these kinds of messages will keep resurfacing,” he added.