After Raj Thackeray’s MNS opposed the ruling Shiv Sena’s plan to involve the BMC in conserving the legendary aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, the Sena has launched a blistering attack on the MNS.
Despite reports that the BJP may be attempting to reconcile the two warring Thackeray cousins before the Lok Sabha elections to prevent the split in anti-Congress, anti-NCP votes, harsh words by the Sena for the breakaway party may indicate that a patch-up may be a long haul.
An editorial Saamna, which has party president Uddhav Thackeray as its editor, charged that the MNS’s opposition to the plan was just for the sake of it, an insult to servicemen and martyrs and “an attempt to spit on the shining sun of public sentiment”.
The Navy initiated moves to scrap India’s first aircraft carrier after attempts to develop it as a museum and helipad fell through. The Sena wants the BMC to provide Rs100 crore for conserving the ship.
Terming the opposition by the MNS, which asked the BMC to instead focus on civic amenities and repairing potholes, as “treachery”, the editorial pointed to how the aircraft carrier had protected Mumbai during the 1971 war.
“It is the political business of some people to oppose good work and public sentiments. Even the Shiv Sena chief’s smruti udyan at Shivteerth (Shivaji Park) was not spared... people have kept you in the opposition party and you will have to sit in the opposition for the rest of your life,” the editorial charged.
A Shiv Sena leader admitted that any political tie-up with the MNS may be a long haul. “I don’t think they will come together anytime soon,” he said, admitting that chances of the two warring cousins joining hands after the Lok Sabha polls would depend on the prevailing situation.
An MNS leader said there was little chance of his party joining the Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI (Athavale) alliance, preferring to test its own strength in the polls — the first without the presence of Shiv Sena supremo, late Bal Thackeray. The MNS leader, however, added that mutual “seat adjustments” were likely to happen in the Lok Sabha elections.
“Regardless of his proximity to Modi, I do not see any possibility of Raj inking any alliance with the Shiv Sena and BJP,” said senior journalist Prakash Akolkar, who is the author of ‘Jai Maharashtra,’ the first biography of the Shiv Sena, pointing out that neither Raj nor Uddhav had significant stakes in the LS polls.
“Raj will like to pit hINSelf against Uddhav at least once after Balasaheb’s death. The Lok Sabha elections are like preliminary exams. Both parties have major stakes in the state assembly polls,” said Akolkar, political editor of the Sakal group, adding that Raj was likely to contest the LS polls independently.