Saffron alliance totters as Sena hits back at BJP

Saffron alliance totters as Sena hits back at BJP

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai, Nov 8 (IANS) The saffron alliance in Maharashtra on Friday tottered as Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party, virtually calling it a party of "liars". Responding to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' statement that there was "no discussion between BJP and Sena on sharing the post of CM", Thackeray shot back: "Amit Shah (BJP President) himself gave me this assurance. Now they're going back on their word. That's why we have stopped talking to liars." Appearing to take the final stage of no return, the Sena chief said: "Giving the state a Sena CM was a promise I made to my father (the late Bal Thackeray). We don't need the support of the BJP, Shah or Fadnavis for achieving this". He called upon the BJP to immediately stake its claim to form the government as it was the single largest party, failing which he warned that "all options are open before the Sena" and the party (Sena) would not leave the people of Maharashtra in the lurch. Responding to Thackeray's stance, BJP minister Sudhir Mungantiwar dismissed the contention that they had resorted to "lie" and again appealed for respecting the peoples' mandate for a 'Maha-Yuti' government. "We absolutely deny the allegations of being untruthful. We do not love 'satta' (power) but only 'satya' (truth). We are sincere and still open for alliance on forming the next government as per the people's wishes," Mungantiwar said. In his most stringent censure of the BJP in the past over five years, Thackeray said: "I am accused of being a liar by Fadnavis. This is not acceptable to me. I cannot face my party and Sainiks with this slur. A Sena CM was the promise I made to my father, the late Balasaheb Thackeray. We don't need the BJP, Shah or Fadnavis to achieve it." Recounting the developments, he said when Shah had called him up, he (Thackeray) made it clear to the BJP chief that the CM's post must be shared. "Shah not only assured this, but also agreed to equitable distribution of ministerial portfolios. Now Fadnavis is playing around with words. They are trying to finish us off with their sweet talk. I am not going to make an alliance only for the post of Deputy CM," Thackeray thundered. The Sena chief added that it would have been understandable had they spoken about who would be the first term and second term CM from the two allies, but he (Thackeray) would never accept their contention that there was no promise about sharing the post of CM. Taking a leaf from his estranged cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray played video clips to demonstrate how the BJP's newest ally, the JJP in Haryana, lead by Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala had made personal attacks on Modi and not the Shiv Sena. He also referred to similar attacks by Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed and other allies of the BJP. "I still don't consider BJP as our enemy, only they should not indulge in such blatant lies. I always understood their constraints and scaled down our demand from 144 seats to 124 in the elections. Stop taking people for a ride. We don't turn back after giving our word. Admit that you are not willing to honor your commitment," Thackeray said. Dismissing Fadnavis' contentions, Thackeray said what about the BJP's lies: "The CM (Fadnavis) keeps claiming he will form the government. Without having a majority, how can the BJP do so? I am not a BJP-wala who fibs and don't talk with those who paint others as liars." On the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), he said he held it in highest esteem but "where does Hindutva fit in such blatant lies of the BJP?". Countering Fadnavis's allegations, Thackeray said he never criticized or used foul language for either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Shah and whatever differences expressed were never on a personal level but on policies only. "Recently, we had praised them for the abrogation of Art. 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. We have always kept our word and that's what my father taught us," he said. To a question whether the saffron alliance would survive now, Thackeray said: "It's up to the BJP whether this partnership will continue or not. They should first take an oath not to lie, then we can think of the alliance. I am not interested in allying with such liars." He again called upon the BJP to stake its claim for forming the government by virtue of being the single largest party with 105 MLAs. "I have not discussed anything with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party. First you form the government otherwise all options are open before us. We will not abandon the people of the state," Thackeray declared. Against the backdrop of the open war between BJP-Sena, top Congress leaders such as state party President Balasaheb Thorat, former CMs Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and others rushed to meet NCP President Sharad Pawar where Sena MP Sanjay Raut was also present.

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