Shiv Sena decides to go it alone; draws opposition ridicule, BJP says ready for challenge

Mumbai: Widening its rift with ally BJP, the Shiv Sena, on January 23, announced that it will go all alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena, which has been routinely attacking the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state over a variety of issues– also said it would now contest elections outside Maharashtra. The party, however, remained silent about its continuance in the governments at the Centre and in the state, drawing ridicule from the Congress which dubbed the announcement as “laughable”.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was re-elected as party president on January 23, said the party did not contest elections outside Maharashtra to ensure the Hindu votes do not get divided, but would try its luck in all Assembly polls in future, irrespective of the outcome.
Thackeray slams Modi
Addressing the party’s National Executive Meeting, Thackeray attacked Modi over range of issues including cow vigilantism, Kashmir, and the recent visit by Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. Thackeray slammed Modi for flying kites with his Israeli counterpart instead of focusing on insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP government was spending money only on advertisements, Thackeray alleged, and said such a dispensation should be brought down.
“Why did you have to take the Israeli PM to Ahmedabad? What purpose did it serve? The nation would have been proud of you had you taken him (Netanyahu) to Srinagar and hoisted the tricolor there or taken him to Lal Chowk and hoisted the flag there,” said Thackeray.
This government, he said, spends money on advertisements but seemingly nothing on the actual implementation of schemes and should be brought down if it was doing so. “If killing a cow is a crime and is banned, then speaking lies for power should also be considered a sin and be stopped,” he said.
Thackeray also took up the issue of Modi’s indication during the Gujarat poll campaign that Pakistan was trying to influence the results of the Assembly election.
“Today, we do not know if the country is going forward or backward. The environment in the country is such that Pakistan has become an election issue. The neighboring country was also brought in for Gujarat elections… there is no co-relation between the two,” Thackeray said.
Congress, NCP taunt Shiv Sena
The opposition Congress and NCP ridiculed Sena announcement as laughable and illogical. They also said that people have stopped taking Shiv Sena seriously. “The Sena remains an ally in the government, and continues to be critical of its policies. The party has scored
a century of announcements to pull out of the government which it has not done so far. The people do not take the Sena seriously,” Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik demanded that the Sena withdraw from the BJP-led state government and face mid-term polls. “We are ready for elections,” he said. The fear of defection from its ranks is stopping the Shiv Sena from pulling out of the government, Malik alleged.
“The party is unable to come to terms with being the younger brother in the alliance with the BJP,” the NCP leader said.
BJP says it’s Shiv Sena loss
The BJP, on the other hand, said the Shiv Sena’s decision to go it alone in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections would backfire on them. “It will be their loss,” Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said. “We were keen on the alliance. But if the Shiv Sena isn’t keen, then the BJP is ready (to go it alone) and Maharashtra is also ready,” Shelar added.

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