Accusing the BJP of “backstabbing” his party and declaring that he was “not going to go with a begging bowl to anyone”, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced Thursday that he was calling off the Sena alliance with the BJP. He said his party would contest elections to urban bodies in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra on its own.
Thackeray did not, however, comment on Sena’s continuance in the BJP-led government in the state. The Sena has been targeting the BJP in the state and at the Centre, its attacks more pronounced after the demonetisation announcement.
WATCH VIDEO | Shiv Sena Breaks 25-Year Alliance With BJP In Maharashtra, To Go Solo In BMC Elections
In first remarks, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP would usher in change in the state on its own. On Twitter, he wrote: “Power aint our ultimate goal but a medium of devpt. We’ll take along those who come with us & leave aside who dont. Transformatn is inevitable!”
Addressing party workers in Mumbai, Thackeray said: “We lost 25 years. I am announcing a new path for the Sena. Henceforth, I am not going to go with a begging bowl to anyone. From now on, everything that is there will belong only to my Sainik, the saffron flag and Bal Thackeray. Today, I announce that the Sena will not have an alliance with anyone for the upcoming elections.”
The Sena and BJP have been governing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) together since 1997 with the Sena playing the lead role. But the Sena grip has loosened — its seat count fell from 103 in 1997 to 75 in 2012.
The BJP, which believes it has gained ground in Maharashtra, especially after the 2014 assembly elections, wanted to field 114 party candidates for the 227 BMC seats. But the Sena wanted the BJP to contest only 60 seats.
There was speculation earlier that talks between Thackeray and Fadnavis would resolve the crisis. But Thackeray said the BJP did not seem interested in the alliance and he never received a call from any senior leader. He said the Sena put up with the alliance “for the sake of Hindutva and the belief that Hindu votes should not get divided”.
He accused the BJP of backstabbing its ally. “The posts of the PM and CM are with you. We have never hankered for power. Did we ever ask for the post of the Deputy CM or lucrative ministries? But you (BJP) have taken it further, deciding to attack us in our own home. I am not the one to take this lying down. Today, I set you free,” he said.
Thackeray also claimed that the BJP was “staring at defeat” in Uttar Pradesh. “The one who removed the picture of Gandhi is now being forced to say Hey Ram in UP. They know they are losing in that state, so they have started taking the name of Ram and Ram Janmabhoomi,” he said.