Mumbai: The Shiv Sena today decided not to align with the BJP and go solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls, declaring that it had so far not contested elections outside the state to keep the Hindu vote together but that would no longer be the case.
The Sena, which had stayed away from other states to ensure that the Hindu vote did not get divided, would in future contest all Assembly polls, irrespective of the outcome, said party chief, Uddhav Thackeray.
He also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for flying kites with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu 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.
The Sena has shared an uneasy alliance with the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
The resolution to part ways with the BJP and go it alone in the elections next year was tabled by Sena MP Sanjay Raut at the party’s National Executive meeting.
“I move the resolution for the Shiv Sena to fight the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls on its own in 2019,” Raut said while tabling the resolution, which was passed unanimously.
He said the party would win at least 25 Lok Sabha seats (out of a total 48 in Maharashtra) and 150 Assembly seats (out of a total 288) in the state.
“The BJP allied with the Sena in the name of Hindutva and the Sena kept its patience for Hindutva. However, the BJP in the last three years has been demoralising the Sena and using power to do so,” Raut said.
Senior Sena leaders backed Raut’s resolution.
The Shiv Sena held its internal polls to elect its party president and other functionaries today, the birth anniversary of its founder Bal Thackeray.
Uddhav Thackeray, who was re-elected Sena president, criticised Modi’s recent camaraderie with Netanyahu in Ahmedabad and said the nation would have been proud if he had hoisted the tricolour in Srinagar rather than flying kites.
“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 tricolour 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 Pakistan.
“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 neighbouring country was also brought in for Gujarat elections… there is no correlation between the two,” Thackeray said.
The situation became such that Pakistan had to formally ask India not to drag it into its internal issues, he said.
According to the Sena chief, despite Modi’s promises of ‘acche din’, soldiers were sacrificing their lives every day and their mutilated bodies were being brought to their native places and consigned to flames.
“However, we just give talks about teaching Pakistan a lesson every time. Once and for all, take concrete action rather than just talk,” Thackeray said.
He also slammed Union minister Nitin Gadkari for his recent remarks on defence personnel. If Gadkari does not want to accept their demands, the BJP should also not take credit for the surgical strikes, he said.
Gadkari had on 11 January said that “not an inch” of land would be given for Navy housing in south Mumbai, wondering why all their personnel here want to stay in the posh area when they should be at Pakistan border.
Gadkari had made the remark while voicing his disappointment at the Navy’s objection to a floating jetty plan at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, where a floating hotel and seaplane service are planned.
Thackeray said, “If you say you are the government and the Army personnel should go to the border rather than make demands, why did you take undue credit for the surgical strikes? Did you even go to the border then?”
“People are saying you came to power by indulging in scams. The Army not just has a 56-inch chest, but valour as well,” he said.