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Civic polls: Raut hints at Sena going it alone

In a strong signal to his coalition allies, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Sunday said his party would go it alone in the crucial 2022 civic body polls in Maharashtra unless a “respectable seat sharing arrangement” was reached among the three parties of the ruling ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) government.

Mr. Raut, who was addressing a Sena workers’ meet in Pimpri-Chinchwad as part of preparations for the civic body poll expected to be held in February next year, stressed that the Sena was used to fighting alone.

“Now, people will be thinking whether we will have an alliance [before the polls]...there will be the inevitable bargaining and bickering before seat-sharing. Why to get into all that? We [the Sena] are used to fighting alone and must be prepared to fight on all seats. If there is an alliance [with the Congress and NCP] then fine, else we will go it alone…we will not compromise on our self-respect,” said the Sena leader.

Mr. Raut, addressing the grievances of Sena workers in Pimpri-Chinchwad, drolly ‘warned’ Deputy Chief Minister and Pune Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar to pay heed to their needs as Chief Minister Thackeray had visited Delhi today, mischievously hinting at the possibility of the Sena moving towards the BJP.

‘Chief Minister in Delhi’

“Pune’s Guardian Minister is not from the Sena. Some complaining that he [Mr. Pawar] does not listen to Sena workers in Pimpri-Chinchwad despite the Sena holding the Chief Minister’s post…This is not done. Ajit Pawar too listens to the CM Thackeray. We must tell him that it will be better if he starts paying attention to the grievances of Sena workers given that the Chief Minister has gone to Delhi,” quipped Mr. Raut.

However, the Sena MP immediately prefaced his wry comments by urging the press not to misconstrue his statements. stating that Mr. Thackeray had gone to “size up Delhi” with the objective of making the Sena a national party.

“Tomorrow, we [the Sena] must extend our footprint to Delhi. Hence, the Chief Minister’s visit today to see where the South Block is, where the Prime Minister sits, where is the Home Minister’s office…gradually, we have to get there,” said Mr. Raut, in a bid to enthuse party workers.

Mr. Raut’s ‘show of strength’ remarks are the latest in a line of similar statements made by top MVA leadership (including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray) reflecting both the unease within the ideologically opposed Sena-NCP-Congress alliance as well as the individual party building drive ahead of the polls.

‘Future colleague’

Earlier this month, Mr. Thackeray had raised political eyebrows after he alluded to senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Raosaheb Danve as a probable “future colleague” during a public function at Aurangabad, triggering frenzied speculation of the Sena and the BJP coming closer in the near future.

Before that, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Chief (MPCC) Nana Patole’s refrain of the Congress contesting alone in future polls gave headaches not only to his coalition allies but sections within the State Congress as well.

Mr. Raut also urged workers to acknowledge the fact that the Sena was routed in the 2017 civic polls owing to weaknesses within the party’s organization in Pune and exhorted them to introspect as to why the party’s outreach is so poor in the district.

‘Pune Mayor from Sena’

“Despite [late Sena founder] Bal Thackeray being born in Pune and having a strong connect with the city and the district, it is regrettable that the Sena’s saffron flag has not fluttered over the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies… The next Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation results must be such that whatever be the seat tally of the other parties, the Mayor must be from the Shiv Sena. I’m not saying we should win 100 seats, but I expect 40-45 seats at least,” the Sena spokesman said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 4:38:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/civic-polls-raut-hints-at-sena-going-it-alone/article36687040.ece

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