With Uddhav Thackeray extending an olive branch to Raj Thackeray, the Republican Party of India (Athawale) - in alliance with Shiv Sena and BJP under the banner of Maha-Alliance in the BMC - is up in arms against the proposed Sena-MNS union.
The party has indirectly threatened the Shiv Sena saying that if the proposed alliance goes through, then the RPI (A) may pull out of Maha-Alliance. Following Uddhav Thackeray’s statement in his party mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday about being open to an alliance with the MNS, the RPI (A), an ally of Sena, expressed unhappiness over the move and is adamant of keeping its own terms and conditions to accept MNS as an ally. On the other hand, the BJP has no qualms with Uddhav’s offer.
President of RPI (A) Ramdas Athawale made it clear that he would accept Raj Thackeray only if the latter dissolved MNS and joined Shiv Sena. “Uddhav Thackeray has extended an olive branch to his cousin and everyone wants the cousins to come together. However, if Uddhav wants Raj to be a part of the alliance, then Raj should dissolve his party and join Shiv Sena,” he said.
If MNS enters the picture then seat-sharing shall be a major issue and MNS doesn’t not have a major base, Athawale pointed out. “I wouldn’t disagree that Raj Thackeray is a great Marathi leader but then if the Sena-BJP say that in the 2009 elections they lost 25-30 seats because of MNS, they then they should also note that RPI wasn’t with them at that time. Now, together, we would win all seats without MNS in the 2014 polls,” he asserted.
When asked, why would Raj dissolve MNS that has 12 MLAs and 28 corporators in the BMC and join Sena? “Well, if they can drive in one car, they can work in one party,” he replied.
Athawale hasn’t spoken to Uddhav on the issue yet, but as every one is expressing their opinion on the proposed alliance, he — being an ally of the saffron parties - thought it to be his primary duty to clarify his stand. “If Raj dissolves his party and joins the Sena, I have no issues. However, if the MNS isn’t dissolved and forms an alliance, then I will have to re-think and consult with my party cadre before any decision,” he said.
Earlier, Athawale had lost his seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections to a Shiv Sena candidate. Now, he is planning to contest from the same seat and win in the 2014 elections. He alleged that his own allies - Congress and NCP - had worked against him and had led to his defeat.
Later, during the Rajya Sabha polls, Athawale had expected that the seat vacated by Sena leader Manohar Joshi would come to him, but the seat went to Sena leader Anil Desai. Before joining the Sena and BJP alliance in 2011, he, along with leaders of Samajwadi Party and Left parties, had floated a Republican Left front in 2009, but even that did not last long.