Amit Shah asks party cadre to teach a lesson to Uddhav faction in BMC election

Mr. Shah reiterated that there was no closed-door promise of equally sharing the CM’s post between the two estranged saffron allies.

September 05, 2022 10:19 pm | Updated 10:19 pm IST - Pune

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis visits Lalbaug cha Raja, the prominent Ganesh mandal, in Mumbai, on September 5, 2022.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis visits Lalbaug cha Raja, the prominent Ganesh mandal, in Mumbai, on September 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Upping the ante against Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena faction ahead of the crucial Brihanmumbai Corporation (BMC) poll, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday lashed out at the Sena president, accusing Mr. Thackeray of deceiving the BJP during Sena-BJP alliance in the past, while exhorting his party cadre to teach the Thackeray faction a lesson in the upcoming civic body election.

Mr. Shah, along with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, addressed BJP office bearers and MLAs in a closed meeting at the ‘ Meghdoot’ in South Mumbai’s.

Squarely pinning the blame on Mr. Thackeray for having ruptured the longstanding ties between the BJP and the Shiv Sena in the past, Mr. Shah said that the only reason the Sena became the ‘smaller party’ in Maharashtra during its alliance with BJP was due to “Mr. Thackeray’s arrogance.”

“The BJP has never made the ‘bigger brother-smaller brother’ comment. It is your [Uddhav’s] arrogance that is responsible for the Sena being the smaller party today. In 2014, Uddhav Thackeray had broken the alliance with the BJP for the sake of a mere two seats [during the seat-sharing negotiations],” said the Home Minister.

Mr. Shah reiterated that there was no closed-door promise of equally sharing the CM’s post between the two estranged saffron allies.

“In 2019, Mr. Thackeray and the Sena had sought votes in the name of PM Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis [then CM candidate of the BJP-Sena coalition]. It was decided that CM would be from BJP [Mr. Fadnavis]. But later, Uddhav Thackeray betrayed us and backstabbed the BJP by allying with the NCP and the Congress so that he could become CM… I am witness to the entire chronology. There was no power-sharing deal,” he said, adding that the BJP does not do such deals behind closed rooms.

Serious fault-lines in the BJP-Sena alliance had first emerged after the two long-standing allies of more than 25 years decided to independently contest the 2014 Assembly election. Bickering over seat-sharing arrangements coupled with PM Modi’s ascendancy at the Centre had led to this schism.

However, the two parties formed an uneasy coalition after the 2014 election which lasted till 2019. The final rupture came after the 2019 Assembly election when Mr. Thackeray fell-out with the BJP over the CM’s post and allied with the NCP and Congress despite the BJP-Sena winning the mandate.    

Urging the BJP leaders and office bearers to defeat Mr. Thackeray’s Sena faction and wrest control of the BMC, Mr. Shah said while injustice could be tolerated in politics, there was no room for tolerating deception.

He accused Mr. Thackeray of “drowning all principles” of his father, late Sena founder Bal Thackeray, by allying with the ideologically opposed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress after the 2019 Assembly election results.

“The time had come to show the Thackeray faction its place and finish-off anti-Hindutva politics from Maharashtra,” Mr. Shah said.

According to sources, the Home Minister has set a target for the BJP to win 150 of the 227 seats in the cash-rich BMC.

Issuing a clarion call of ‘now or never’, Mr. Fadnavis exhorted his partymen to fight the BMC poll like “it was their last election.”

Meanwhile, the Thackeray faction delivered a strong riposte to Mr. Shah with Uddhav camp loyalist MP Arvind Sawant stating that the Union Home Minister was part of “a new BJP” that habitually reneged on its word.

“They [the BJP] should not forget that they could grow in Maharashtra only because of Bal Thackeray. The BJP became big by holding Balasaheb’s hand,” he said.

Remarking that the ‘old BJP’ of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani had all but disappeared, Mr. Sawant pointedly remarked that the ‘new BJP’ of Modi and Shah failed to understand the meaning of ‘gratitude’.

“Today, your [BJP’s] agenda is to destroy all your regional allies. Uddhav Thackeray understands this all too well,” he said.

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