BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar at the mid-day office yesterday. Pic/Rane Ashish
Irked with the Shiv Sena’s recent attempts to malign the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP hit back and called the Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray an ‘icon of hatred’.
During a candid conversation at the mid-day office, BJP’s Mumbai chief, Ashish Shelar said, “In recent times, they have praised Arvind Kejriwal, Kanhaiya Kumar and Hardik Patel. This has earned the Sena chief nothing but the image of being an icon for those who are known for spreading hatred.”
Enemy of my frenemy
All three – Delhi CM Kejriwal, JNU student leader Kanhaiya and Patidar Patel leader Hardik – are staunch opponents of the Modi government. Upset that the BJP is meting out inferior treatment to them, the Sena, too, has pounced on every opportunity to attack its ally of 25 years.
During the 2014 Parliament elections, the BJP had swept the polls in what came to be known as the ‘Modi wave’. Following that, however, the BJP lost badly to the AAP in Delhi Assembly polls. At the time, Uddhav had stated that the “Delhi poll sweep by AAP is a tsunami, and an indication of a downslide in the Modi wave.”
Then, when the BJP government had a face-off with Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya, Thackeray had said that it was wrong on the government’s part to label Kanhaiya as “anti-national”. But the recent episode that would have hurt the BJP most was Uddhav’s decision to invite Patidar agitation leader, Hardik Patel, to Matoshree.
Asked about the split in the alliance and Uddhav dragging PM Modi’s name in almost every speech, Shelar claimed that if the Sena doesn’t take Modi’s name, there will be no audience or publicity for their rallies. “We have great respect for the late Balasaheb Thackeray. Had the senior Thackeray been alive, the saffron alliance would have sailed smoothly,” said the BJP leader, hinting that it was Uddhav’s leadership that had failed to keep the alliance intact.
Meanwhile, BJP Maharashtra spokesperson Shweta Shalini admitted that BJP has some work to do before it receives the same kind of support in Mumbai as it has in the General and Assembly elections. “Mumbai voters are looking for a change. I am confident that this time, voters will show equal enthusiasm and support the party as they have been doing in Assembly and General elections.”
Refuting allegations that the party is promoting newcomers and sidelining loyalists, she said, “This is not the case. Those who are capable of turning the tables and winning are being given preference.”
Echoing similar views, Shelar said that of the 192 seats contested by the BJP for civic polls, only six tickets were given to candidates who jumped ship to BJP from other parties.