Shiv Sena-BJP rift widens?

Jun 21, 2012, 07:20 IST | Varun Singh

Sena announces support for suspended vice president of BJP Mumbai Manisha Kayande for the upcoming Council elections

There are no permanent friends in politics and the ongoing ‘cold war’ between Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is its recent example.
It appears that both the parties — part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) — are busy playing tit for tat, which is further widening the rift between Sena and BJP.

Beginning of the end? Manisha Kayande shares the podium with Uddhav Thackeray, and RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athawale at Shanmukhananda Hall, on the occasion of Shiv Sena’s 46th foundation day on Tuesday. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Taking their cold war one step ahead, the Sena announced its official support for Manisha Kayande, the suspended vice president of BJP Mumbai, for the upcoming Council elections. Kayande was suspended after she refused to accept BJP’s official nominee for the Teacher’s constituency, Sharad Yadav.

The cold war
Earlier, the BJP had ditched Sena during the Nashik mayoral elections following which the latter took its revenge by supporting the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. Defending his party’s stand on supporting Mukherjee, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray pulled up NDA for being unable to field a suitable candidate who the Sena could back. He was speaking on the occasion of the party’s 46th foundation day that was celebrated on Tuesday at Shanmukhananda Hall.

Prompt reply
Not taking to the criticism kindly, BJP hit back with a prompt reply. BJP state president Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “We hope that when the Sena decided to support Pranab Mukherjee, they have also decided to hang Afzal Guru, the moment Mukherjee becomes the president. If not, then their decision to support Mukherjee is an unfortunate one.”

According to a senior BJP leader, of late, Sena has been acting like a big brother, something that hasn’t gone down well with the others in the party. “The Sena should realise that if the infighting amongst the alliance partners continues , then in 2014 the Congress will once again win the elections,” he said.

If insiders are to be believed, then BJP warming up to Raj Thackeray-led MNS, is one of the reasons Sena seems to be altering its equation with BJP. “In the past, BJP has given more importance to MNS than Sena. There are many leaders who prefer sharing podiums with MNS leaders rather than with their alliance partners,” another senior leader said.

All’s well: Athawale
While Sena-BJP continue to fight, it’s their partner, the Republican Party of India (RPI-A) that is left to do the talking. Dismissing the ongoing ‘cold war’ between Sena-BJP as a rumour, RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athawale that differences should be sorted behind closed doors. “I will personally see to it that Sena, BJP and RPI are there in the alliance. I will not let the alliance break because we want to win the elections and it’s only possible if we stay together,” Athawale said.  

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