Other States

Sabre-rattling over ‘Hindutva’ ahead of BMC polls

former Maharashtra Chief Minister amd BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.  File photo

former Maharashtra Chief Minister amd BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. File photo | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray taunted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the latter’s ineffectual ‘Hindutva’ at a Mumbai rally, BJP Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis hit back stating that Mr. Thackeray spoke in the Congress’ voice and that the CM’s late father, Sena founder Bal Thackeray, could never have imagined that reciting Hanuman Chalisa would tantamount to sedition in his son’s regime.

Riposting Mr. Thackeray’s jibes at the BJP, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. Fadnavis, who addressed the ‘Hindi Bhashik Sammelan’ at Goregaon in Mumbai on Sunday evening, reiterated his charge of the Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) being a hotbed of corruption.

The ‘Hindi Bhashik Sammelan’ at Goregaon saw the participation of social outfits from the Hindi-speaking belt of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the function pointedly began with a collective recital of the Hanuman Chalisa.

Shiv Sena’s power base

The sabre-rattling between the BJP and the Sena has peaked ahead of the much-anticipated poll to the cash-rich BMC, which is the Shiv Sena’s power-base and the party’s major resource centre in Maharashtra. 

While the Sena held absolute sway over the Mumbai civic body for two decades, the BJP – riding high on the ‘Narendra Modi wave’ – had rattled the Sena by putting up a spirited performance in the 2017 civic body poll, when the party snared 82 of the total 227 seats, second only to the Sena’s tally of 84 seats. 

The Sena’s strength later increased to 97 with the support of some independents and the defection of some corporators from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). 

In 2017, the Sena was in still in alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra. However, this time, with the two saffron parties on opposing sides in the political arena and much bad blood between them, the stakes for the BMC contest has never been higher. 

‘No talk on city development’

“They [the Shiv Sena] were calling it [Mr. Thackeray’s rally of Saturday] a ‘master sabha,’ but it turned out to be a laughter sabha instead. Did the Chief Minister speak on a single issue of corruption in the BMC? One of his ex-ministers [Anil Deshmukh] is in jail for extortion and other is an associate of Dawood Ibrahim [referring to Nawab Malik] but is still not being dismissed from the cabinet. The Mumbai metro work has come to a standstill,” alleged Mr. Fadnavis, stating, “But the CM has not given a single speech on development of Mumbai city.”

The BJP has been targeting the Shiv Sena since the formation of the unlikely tripartite ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election, when the Sena severed its 25-year-old alliance with the BJP over the CM’s post to ally instead with the ideologically opposed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar and the Congress.

“[The late Sena founder] Bal Thackeray could never have imagined that in his son’s regime reciting Hanuma Chalisa would tantamount to sedition [alluding to the recent arrest of political couple Navneet and Ravi Rana] while bowing before Aurangzeb’s tomb would be etiquette.”Devendra FadnavisBJP leader in Maharashtra

Renaming Aurangabad

Targeting the MVA’s ‘impotence’ following AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s recent visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb in Aurangabad, Mr. Fadnavis said: “[The late Sena founder] Bal Thackeray could never have imagined that in his son’s regime reciting Hanuma Chalisa would tantamount to sedition [alluding to the recent arrest of political couple Navneet and Ravi Rana] while bowing before Aurangzeb’s tomb would be etiquette. Akbaruddin Owaisi pays respects before the tomb of Aurangzeb, who had murdered Chhatrapati Sambhaji [son of Shivaji] because he refused to change his religion while the Thackeray government merely stands by instead of taking action.”

Knowing well that the renaming of Aurangabad into ‘Sambhajinagar’ is a source of friction between the Sena and its MVA ally, the Congress, Mr. Fadnavis said Aurangabad would never be renamed until the BJP came to power in the Aurangabad civic body (which currently has a Sena Mayor).

“The Shiv Sena appear to have assured Congress president Sonia Gandhi that they would keep it as Aurangabad….Bal Thackeray may have been a Tiger, but today in this country there is only one Tiger whose name is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a changed India. If a single Hindu is killed in Kashmir, then three terrorists are gunned within 24 hours,” said Mr. Fadnavis, in his turn challenging the Sena to prove its ‘Hindutva’.

Accusing Mr. Thackeray’s associates like Sena leader and BMC corporator Yashwant Jadhav of aggrandizing their own property, the BJP leader claimed that the CM’s speech on Saturday at the Bandra-Kurla complex echoed the Congress in its abuse of the leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).


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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:13:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sabre-rattling-over-hindutva-ahead-of-bmc-polls/article65417478.ece