After snapping ties with BJP, Sena under pressure to quit government

Mumbai, Jan 27 (IANS) After the Shiv Sena’s unilateral decision to snap its 25-year-old ties with the BJP for next month’s civic polls, the party on Friday came under pressure both from within and outside to also quit the government in Maharashtra and at the Centre.

Thousands of Shiv Sainiks broke out in delirious celebrations after party chief Uddhav Thackeray made the announcement at a party office-bearers’ meeting here on Thursday night.

“We shall not go around with a begging bowl. We have rotted 25 years in this alliance. But no more. Shiv Sena will contest all the civic body elections independently and will not have an alliance with them (BJP) henceforth,” thundered Thackeray on Thursday evening.

A day later, he came under strain, with many workers openly demanding that the Shiv Sena also quit the government for total severance of ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Shiv Sena MP and Executive Editor of party’s mouthpiece “Saamana”, Sanjay Raut, intervened to clarify that they are continuing the alliance in the state government as they do not want political instability in Maharashtra.

He also described Shiv Sena’s continuing participation in the government as more of a “support” rather than an alliance.

The Republican Party of India (A), a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Centre, on Friday decided to side with the BJP for the upcoming civic polls.

RPI President and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, while expressing his unhappiness at the snapping of ties between the BJP and the Sena, said he is supporting the BJP with which his party will have a poll tieup.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar reacted with an obvious smirk: “We are very sad to hear of this breakup after 25 years of alliance.”

To a question by media persons whether the NCP could play a role now, Pawar replied with a smile: “I will think about it if they come to ask for help to save the government.”

In a sharp reaction, the Maharashtra Congress said that Uddhav-Fadnavis are strange bedfellows who realised, albeit late, that the sheet has become too soiled to stay under together.

“Dost dost na rahaa… Marriage of convenience cannot last forever. The breakup was inevitable and not surprising. ‘Tata, bye-bye 2’,”, the party said.

Describing the breakup as nothing but an empty show, state Congress President Ashok Chavan dared the Shiv Sena to walk out of the governments in Maharashtra and in the Centre.

Referring to Thackeray’s comments, NCP’s Mumbai President Sachin Ahir sarcastically said usually after “rotting”, a stench emanates, but it seems the Shiv Sena did not sense it or just bore it for 25 years.

“Is Sena serious or just fooling the people of Maharashtra? If it has the guts, it should move out of the state and the central government for Thackeray to be taken seriously,” Ahir said.

Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam termed the development as “a huge hoax, a farce and dramatics” by Thackeray.

“Doesn’t he have the courage to withdraw all his ministers from the Centre and state government. This snapping of ties is a conspiracy to divert the people’s attention from the over two decades of corruption and inefficient rule in Mumbai when they miserably failed to provide even the basics to the citizens,” Nirupam said.

Adopting a diplomatic approach, Fadnavis reacted by saying that power is not an end for us, but a mere means to achieve development through transparency in governance.

“We will achieve it with those who join us, or without them,” he declared after the breakup on Thursday.

Several other political leaders from across the spectrum have expressed similar sentiments, with many finding it strange that while local level ties are snapped, the Shiv Sena continues to remain in power in the state and the Centre.