BJP warns Uddhav Thackeray about ‘opportunistic’ NCP

BJP spreading canard to sow dissent within the tripartite MVA, says Sena leader Sanjay Raut

April 02, 2022 01:40 am | Updated 01:40 am IST - Pune

Amid raging speculation of a rift within Maharashtra government allies — the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — over the State Home Department not being ‘efficient’ enough, the Opposition BJP has dubbed the Sharad Pawar-led NCP “opportunistic” while ‘warning’ Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray that Mr. Pawar’s party would ultimately “betray” him.

The latest note of discord within the ideologically opposed, ruling tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition (of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress) was struck by Sena leader and spokesperson Sanjay Raut. He insinuated that the Home Department under the NCP’s Dilip Walse-Patil was not being ‘aggressive’ enough in its response to frequent raids by central agencies on MVA leaders — which the three parties have long accused of being the handiwork of the Centre.

“The Home Department should be more efficient. I had discussions with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in this regard. The fact that investigating agencies are brazenly entering Maharashtra and taking action [against MVA leaders or persons connected to them] is an assault on the Home Ministry. Such incidents should be taken seriously. If anyone is ‘soft-pedalling’ or restraining themselves, then they are preparing a noose for their own hanging,” Mr. Raut had reportedly said, urging the State Home Department to take “bold steps” and face up to the Centre’s alleged misuse of probe agencies.

Mr. Raut’s statements created enough stir to prompt Chief Minister Thackeray’s office (CMO) to issue a statement denying a rift brewing within the MVA and Mr. Thackeray was happy with all Ministers under him.

Seeking to drive a wedge between the three partners, BJP State president Chandrakant Patil claimed that after the MVA had been formed (in November 2019 to keep the BJP out of power), he had apparently urged Mr. Thackeray to keep the Home Department with him. “But I was ridiculed at the time…the NCP is such a party that will put ‘Matoshree’ [the Thackeray’s residence] under surveillance,” said Mr. Patil.

Dubbing the NCP as a “selfish, opportunist party” with a “history of about turns”, the BJP leader claimed that it would betray the Sena at some point in their alliance.

Meanwhile, after his provocative remarks, Mr. Raut hit out at the BJP by stating that the ‘canard’ about the CM being upset on the functioning of the Home Department was deliberately being spread by the BJP in order to sow dissent within the tripartite MVA.

“BJP leaders have no reason to poke their noses into our [the MVA government’s] affairs. Who are they to accuse the Sena of wanting the Home Department for itself? Are they to decide on our portfolio allocation?” he said.

Accusing central agencies of carrying out “terrorist activities” under the pressure of the BJP-ruled Centre, Mr. Raut said that Maharashtra adhered to the rule of law, the MVA government would never undertake such action against its opponents.

“Myself and other leaders are of the view that the BJP’s ‘terrorist activities’ should be answered in kind,” Mr. Raut, while stressing that the Home Minister [Mr. Walse-Patil] was doing “a great job.”

“There is no disagreement among the key leaders in the government. Our parties have trust in each other hence this government is functioning smoothly,” he said.

After the central agencies’ arrests of NCP leaders Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, the Sena has been lately feeling the heat of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with the agency attaching properties worth ₹6.45 crore owned by Shridhar Patankar, Uddhav Thackeray’s brother-in-law.

This was followed by the ED attaching properties worth ₹11.35 crore of Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and filing a chargesheet in a money laundering case against Pravin Raut, reportedly a close aide of Sanjay Raut.

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