Mumbai: As the proxy war between the Shiv Sena and the BJP continues, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has delivered a subtle message to ally Sena.
Speaking at the BJP’s state committee meeting in Kolhapur, Mr Fadnavis said, “If we had not fought the assembly elections alone we would not have known our strength. Today we know our strength. We won over 120 seats.”
With the BJP fighting to shake off its anti-farmer image, over the past few months the Sena has been constantly attacking the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Sena even questioned PM Modi’s promise of aid to Mongolia while the farmers of Maharashtra die.
But in a bid to reign in its ally, Mr Fadnavis said, “Even Hanuman was not completely aware of his powers until someone reminded him that he can not only fly but also has the power to control the sun. It was then that Hanuman realized his power to fly and his ability to even burn the whole of Lanka. It is that courage that Amit Shah and Modiji gave us to start facing people. Ever since BJP took its flight. In the history of Maharashtra, since 1990 no party has won hundred seats. But we won 120 seats in Maharashtra.”
But it is not just allies. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has also consistently attacked the government ever since his return from his leave of absence.
Defending his party against Mr Gandhi’s allegations, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Rahul Gandhi has suddenly become active. He says we are ‘suit boot’ sarkar. Arun Jaitley gave a fitting reply. He said this is a ‘sooj booj’ Sarkar. I say their government was a ‘suitcase’ sarkar and Ananth Kumar said there’s was a ‘jhoot loot’ sarkar.”
But the strongest defence for the Prime Minister came from his trusted lieutenant, BJP President Amit Shah, who said, “People tell me Modi travels a lot. I say, Modi travels as much as Manmohan Singh did. Only nowadays people know that the Prime Minister is travelling. Earlier a two page speech would be read out. Today we give the world a message. We get the respect we deserve today.”
“I appeal to you to adopt every seat we have lost and build an organization there. Don’t leave even one seat or one block. Plant the BJP flag everywhere in Maharashtra,” Mr Shah further added.
But former union minister Kapil Sibal hit back saying, “Modi says we want a Congress-free India, let him make Maharashtra toll-free. Fulfil the promises at least you have made Mr Modi.”
As the Congress targeted the BJP, Mr Fadnavis met anti-toll activists assuring them that toll in Kolhapur will be abolished.
One year since its historic election the BJP now has to deal with an aggressive opposition in the Congress and unhappy allies especially in Maharashtra like the Shiv Sena. The big question therefore is, will this uneasy Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra survive till elections to one of Asia’s largest civic bodies are complete? The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections in Mumbai are scheduled in 2017 and the two allies fighting separately seems a possibility.